In the winter of 1896, a spate of airship sightings spread out from California, stampeding across the United States until, in the Spring of 1897, they hit a wall in the midwest, after a brief flirtation on the East Coast. The sightings totalled in their tens of thousands and many included fantastical descriptions of both the ship and the people riding it. As the ships flew from state to state, the stories often grew bolder in their claims until they were heavily dovetailing with the science fiction of the day. With airships still incapable of sustained flight in 1896, were any of the sightings true? Or were the witnesses seeing something else in the sky? Are some of the more outrageous stories, actually far closer to the truth than they may at first seem, or was the whole affair just one big medley of lies, hoax and misidentifications?