This is another very weird story that my friends and I have been talking about recently during one of our “secret” meetings at the Smile Diner in Vancouver (well, we like to think they are secret but they’re not really!).
The story came about when one of our number mentioned about his uncle being an active Freemason and some of the codes they use, such as one very commonly known phrase they use with each other, “Are you on the Square?”, meaning to ask someone if he is a Freemason, too.
Well, as usual, the talk kinda went off at a tangent as always, and another guy told us about a butcher from Texas, who also had links with some secret society and stuff, and who, it turns out, is seen by some to be another Einstein in his own way.
Apparently, the guy was just a normal Joe Public type of person, working as a somewhat miserable butcher first in California, then moving to Texas.
He arrived as an immigrant from Hamburg in 1853 as a 25 year old, and not being able to find administrative work, possibly due to his weak grasp of the English language, he took up learning the butchering trade, which served him well, in fact, right up to his retirement.
However, it transpired that unknown to all of his family and friends, he was a member of a secret men’s club called the Sonora Aero Club, which met in California in the mid 19th century. Here it is said that the members discussed machine designs that could be made air-worthy, amongst other things. One suspects that it was also probably an excuse for middle-aged and elderly men to meet, just as they today in some countries, like the US, Canada and Europe.
After retirement, Charles Dellchau liked to spend his days filling his home-made journals with notes, ideas, cuttings etc from his youth and the meetings at the Sonora Aero club.
Nothing unusual about that you’d say….people still fill their journals today with stuff that is nostalgic to them. But here’s the thing that makes you wonder what kind of a mysterious man Charles was….how did he and his Aero club colleagues develop such advanced aircraft designs, when the first human flight in a man-made machine hadn’t even taken place….the Wright brothers first flight was made in 1903, whereas the material that was found in Charles’ journals was written many, many years before that? Where for example, did he get the idea of airships and helicopters flying through the air, with revolving generators and retractable landing gear, something that was unheard of at the time?
What makes the yarn even more interesting is that no records have ever been found of the Sonora Aero club, and some researchers say that his work hides some kind of yet undeciphered secrets.
He apparently designed more than 100 aircraft, all of which were to be powered by a secret formula fuel or propulsion system he and his friends called “NB Gas”, which could bring gravity down to zero and that would run the aircraft’s compressors, wheels and metal panels. Amazing when you think that air travel was viewed as a mystical impossibility at the time!
Some UFO researchers argue that the Sonora Aero club was an acronym itself for an organisation that was run by alien beings!
That sounds a bit far-fetched but the question remains to this day….was Charles a genuine wolf-in-sheeps clothing? Was he an unfound genius? Or were his words, illustrations and drawings the delusional twaddle of an elderly man passing the time?
Nobody knows, even today. But this much is fact…just a single page from one of his journals, which are now owned by museums and private collectors in Paris, New York and Texas, commanded $15 000 back in 1990!
At his death in 1923, all his books were stored for a while in a house where his relatives lived, but at the insistence of the local fire authority, who ruled that they were a fire hazard, most were thrown out and lost forever, but 12 of them survived, and were bought by a furniture dealer in 1969.
Subsequently, later that year, an art student was browsing through the furniture dealer’s wares, when she came across the books. in which she discovered a remarkable collection of strange water-colours and collage pieces, more than 2500 intricate drawings of flying machines alongside cryptic newspaper clippings filled the pages, crudely sewn together with shoelaces and thread.
Whatever truth emerges from further research into his work, which is still ongoing, it just makes one wonder how many gifted people like Charles there may be in the whole world, but unlike him, their work and ideas may never be uncovered….cures for cancer, the common cold, new propulsion techniques, and whole lot more….
all photos courtesy flickr.com