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  • Notre Dame to Montmartre by Bird Wings in 1840 May 11, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Notre Dame to Montmartre by Bird Wings in 1840

    Beach tries not to exaggerate – at least in this place* – but of his forty odd flight stories this is perhaps his favourite. Not a mean feat given that those stories include flying Anglo-Saxon monks and Chinese kite men. We are in Paris in 1840 A man, carrying a large bundle, applied some days […]

    Greek Hot Air Balloon? May 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Greek Hot Air Balloon?

    This little tale appears in a vaguely sceptical Aulus Gellius, whose Attic Nights provides some very enjoyable reading for those wishing to travel back into the ancient world. that which Archytas the Pythagorean [obit 347 BC] is said to have devised and accomplished ought to seem no less marvellous, but yet not wholly absurd. For […]

    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect? December 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect?

    Another fairy wings question thinking of the last two posts on the origins of fairy wings and on the production of fairy wings: what do fairy wings look like? Here Beach is going to start wide by looking at all winged flying supernatural creatures including angels, Cupid, putti (curse them), cherubs (curse them), Psyche and […]

    Making Fairy Wings December 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Making Fairy Wings

    After yesterday’s post on the origin of fairy wings, Beach now asks a parallel question. If from the later 19C children were wearing fairy wings at parties who actually made the damn things. Today there are special firms. What about in 1850 or 1890 or 27 October 1933. Here is a short article from that […]

    In Search of the Earliest Fairy Wings December 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Earliest Fairy Wings

    Next year Beach has to write an article on the history of fairy wings, something that he is greatly looking forward to: for absolute beginners fairies were not shown with wings until relatively recent times. There are three big historical questions: (i) when were fairies first portrayed in art or literature as wearing fairy wings; […]

    Death by Plane October 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Death by Plane

    Death by plane, the latest in the unusual execution series. Imagine, you are bundled, for a terrible crime, into a bomber bay and tied to a bomb. The bomb is, then, dropped, after a terrifying wait, from 10,000 feet on the enemy. Will you die by explosion or by falling? Some stories are so terrible that […]

    Earliest Manuscript Broomstick Witches August 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Earliest Manuscript Broomstick Witches

    A few months ago Beach offered the evidence for early images of broomstick riding witches. There are three important manuscript sabbats that come down to us from the period 1450-1500 and that offer the best early visual evidence for the belief that witches attended sabbats by broom. The first of these images dates to about 1450. […]

    Watchers of the Sky: The Modern UFO Cult May 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Watchers of the Sky: The Modern UFO Cult

    The sky was not a big thing in the supernatural before the early modern period. Yes, there were the odd wild hunts, some dragon flights (aurora borealis?) and some airy elementals. But there was no sense that the heavens were worth watching for the supernatural in their own right. Then the modern age begins: Protestantism, […]

    Flying Girlfriend, Frightened Boyfriend and the Witch Orgy October 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying Girlfriend, Frightened Boyfriend and the Witch Orgy

    Beach has recently become obsessed with stories about witches’ flying exploits. Here is a tale (sounds almost a folk tale) from the pen of the dreadful Jean Bodin, one of Europe’s most important sixteenth-century witch theorists. There was… at Lyons a young noblewoman a few years ago, who got up at night and, lighting the […]

    Flying with the Devil or with the Mind? September 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying with the Devil or with the Mind?

    This account dates to southern England and 1873, but to judge from some dating clues in the texts the old man who wrote this extract was probably a boy in the early part of the nineteenth century when he heard the story: perhaps in the 1810s or 1820s? It sounds, meanwhile, as if James Carter, […]

    Broomstick Accidents September 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Broomstick Accidents

    A simple question today. Are witch’s broomsticks dangerous? Well, anything that takes human beings out of the natural element, namely the earth and places them with the birds could go wrong and depending on how high witches were flying, horribly wrong. The greatest in flight danger that witches faced was accidentally saying a Christian name […]

    The Churchill Coventry Myth September 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Churchill Coventry Myth

    Did Churchill allow Coventry to be bombed to save the Enigma secret?

    Landing on the Wrong Carrier July 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Landing on the Wrong Carrier

    This is the most bizarre aircraft carrier story of them all. It involves suitably enough a Japanese and an American aircraft carrier. May 7 1942 American and Japanese forces are fighting in the Coral Sea. Both American and Japanese planes have been flying off the flat-tops, hoping to hunt down the enemy’s ships. It was […]

    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi February 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi

    When is a swastika a good sign? The answer is, crudely, when it predates the Nazi party’s adoption of the crooked cross in 1920, for the swastika is one of the most ancient and one of the most widespread of human symbols. In many countries it remained an essentially religious symbol, locked into a pre-modern memory […]

    Bombing Roulette October 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bombing Roulette

    In the early part of the Second World War the bombing of cities was deadly but piecemeal. The result was a ghastly kind of lottery as a split second of difference in letting the bombs away would decide the difference between the destruction of this street or that street: Roald Dahl has some fine short […]

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