Photos of airships, from the turn of the 20th century and 1915, indicate flying machines that were mistaken in some quarters, by some people, for other-worldly craft or advanced human-created aircraft.
Here are some German Zeppelins that show the kind of light rays that Anthony Bragalia found in his research of the 1966 Wanaque UFO sightings. (Everything old is new again, apparently.)
And sights of balloons, such as this one, guarding the English coastline, surely provoked awe among the general population of Britain, causing speculation that the flying contraptions were something other than what they really were.
The human imagination has a tendency to run away with itself. as a mechanism against the reality and/or boredom of everyday life.
Such fevered imaginings may also account for many flying saucer sightings of the late 1940s and 1950s, and some even today, rooted in the need for people to be part of something beyond the routine of daily living.
UFO researchers would do well to separate the wheat from the chaff; that is, they (ufologists, to use that coined epithet) have to search out truly unique UFO events, those that represent something more than a light in the sky.
We'll concentrate more and more, here, on sightings, new and old, that speak to something truly unusual, including those sightings that appear to be induced by psychopathology or hallucinatory elements. (Such bizarre sightings have been eschewed, pretty much, by some early flying saucer/UFO investigators, such as the eminent Donald Keyhoe and the NICAP crowd, while others, such as John Keel and Brad Steiger, got sidetracked by paranormal aspects of sightings that had nothing to do with the UFO sightings themselves, but were merely appurtanances that their personalities were attraced to or attracted.)