Dellschau + Sonora Aero Club Mysteries
June 15, 2005 2:16 AM   Subscribe

Legend has it that Charles Dellschau (1830-1923) was the draftsman for the secret Sonora Aero Club, a collective of 60 or so mostly German immigrants who reportedly constructed dirigible like aircraft in California in the 1850's. One club member was said to have discovered suppe -- the magic antigravity fuel alleged to have lifted the craft. There were sightings of these 'airships', tenuously linked back to the club, up to the end of the 20th century.
Dellschau, described variously as butcher, inventor, civil war spy, scientist and America's first visionary artist, retired at age 70 in Texas and spent the last 2 decades of his life as a recluse, producing mixed media art works that record the craft and workings of the fabled Sonora Aero Club. They are accompanied by cryptic symbols, newsprint about aircraft and detailed notebooks and were salvaged from the garbage in 1967. His artworks were selling for $15,000 each 5 years ago. A would-be author and long-time sleuth believes he has unlocked the mysteries of Dellschau's cryptic accoutrements and may be publishing a book on the legends this year. via
posted by peacay (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
err....20th should be 19th century, of course.
posted by peacay at 2:21 AM on June 15, 2005

This is all very interesting, but smells like a hoax to me: what with all the dodgy conspiracy-site links, & the mention of ‘Luther Blissett’ in the third link. Or maybe I’ve just read a few too many books…
posted by misteraitch at 4:19 AM on June 15, 2005

Hoax? Conspiracy? Who cares? It's full of cheesy goodness. Thank you Peacay, I'd never heard of this.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:28 AM on June 15, 2005

Fascinating! I'll add it to my "myths about flying" folder.
posted by acrobat at 4:33 AM on June 15, 2005

Zeppelins! Victorian UFOs! Germans in the Desert! Can't wait to explore this, it's right up my alley. Thanks.
posted by mwhybark at 6:27 AM on June 15, 2005

Thanks Peacay, this is great.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:25 AM on June 15, 2005

What's suppe?
posted by mert at 9:20 AM on June 15, 2005

It's not a hoax. At least, Dellschau isn't a hoax. He's a real "outsider artist." The air club... that's probably just some weird delusional thing. Still, it's interesting.

I read somewhere that Dellschau's art was discovered by a garbage man or something like that. The house had flooded, and they were throwing out crazy dead uncle Charles's drawings, someone saw them and said, "Hey, this stuff is.... good."
posted by papakwanz at 2:32 PM on June 15, 2005

Oh, yeah, didn't notice that "salvaged from the garbage" in the post itself. Sorry.
posted by papakwanz at 2:33 PM on June 15, 2005

Hoax? Conspiracy? Who cares? ... Thank you Peacay, I'd never heard of this.

My sentiments exactly. Wonderful post.

Speaking of weird airships in Texas, I wrote an article years ago for Air & Space magazine [May 1991, not online, sorry] about The Ezekiel Airship. Supposedly designed and flown in 1902 after a Baptist minister figured out the plans from reading the Bible.
posted by LeLiLo at 6:21 PM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Great post, peacay! It took me a while to go through the links, but it's fascinating stuff.
posted by dhruva at 5:22 AM on June 16, 2005

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