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NYMZA Aeros – The Airships of the 1850’s

by Jimmy Ward & Pete Navarro

dellschau-fig4 Have you heard of Schultz’ Hydrowhir Auto, also known as the “Cripel
Wagon”?  If not, perhaps you have  heard  or  read  somewhere  about
Peter Mennis’ “Aero  Goosey”?   How about Schoetler’s  “Aero  Dora”,
which was built  in  1858 and was destroyed in a fire which consumed
the town of Columbia, California  that  same  year?  Chances are you
never heard or  read  about  any  of  the above or  the  many  other
“Aeros’, or aircraft that were designed and actually built and flown
by members of  the  Sonora  Aero  Club around the middle of the last
century in California.

These aircraft were navigable airships, designed and built at a time
when the only means of flight was  the  aerial balloon, which lacked
maneuverability and was subject to the whims of the wind.

According to C.A.A. Dellschau, a member of the Sonora  Aero Club who
kept a secret  record  of all their activities and experiments which
they carried out in the vicinity of  Sonora and Columbia, California
during the years 1850 to 1858, several of their airship designs were
built and flight-tested in the area which is now  an  airfield  just
outside of the  town  of  Columbia.   It  is  conceivable that these
aircraft may have flown over the region as far as the giant redwoods
area of California for Dellschau states  that  one of their airships
became accidentally entangled in the branches of a  giant California
redwood, resulting in the death of its pilot, who fell from the Aero
and broke his neck.

Dellschau referred to  this  aircraft  model  as  a  “flying  trap”,
perhaps because it contained a device  that  was hung underneath the
carriage of the airship and served as a “ballancier”.  However, this
device was dangerous,  as  it  could easily get caught upon any tall
tree or obstacle close to the ground.

dellschau6It is very possible that these aircraft  were the progenitors of the
Mystery Airships that  were observed flying over Oakland  and  other
points in California  and in the Southwestern part of the country in
the 1890’s.

What leads me to believe that there  was  connection  between  these
aeros and the Mystery Airships is the fact that, although  Dellschau
was an avid  collector  of  news  stories  dealing  with airships or
anything aeronautical; not ONE item  concerning  the Mystery Airship
sightings is to be found among his collection.  Cout  it  be that he
was reluctant to   show  any  connection  because  of  the  fear  of
divulging matters of secret trust?

In one of his books the name WILSON  is  mentioned,  and  alludes to
Wilson and his  CREW.   Anyone  who  has  read of the  stories  that
appeared in the newspapers of the 1890’s is probably well acquainted
with this name,  for  it  is  the  name of the pilot of one of these
Mystery Airships, and  it  is  very   possible  that  Dellschau  was
acquainted with him and his crew.  But why all the secrecy?

It may be said here that members of the Sonora Aero  Club  were also
adjoined to a  secret  organization  or  society  known  only by the
initials N-Y-M-Z-A, which oversaw  the  workings  of  all its junior
members.  They were  all subject to strict obedience  of  the  rules
imposed by this  Secret  Society  and  the  divulging  of its secret
operations was not permitted.  It  was  for  this  very  reason that
Dellschau kept all this to himself and eventually,  when  he finally
decided to write  about  it he did it secretly, and this in code and
in cryptograms and symbols, which  only  those with the patience and
willingness to spend time in deciphering his writings  would be able
to read it and know what had been accomplished by them.

index1 ——————————————————————–
Vanguard note..

Strangely enough, I (Jerry) know a lady technical representative
who is  based out of Hollywood, Florida.  In December of 1991, I
was telling her about the Aeros  and  the  mysterious  substance
known as N.B. or “float” gas.  She was much interested  and told
me that  her  late grandfather was a member of some super-secret
group which had secret meetings  and  seemed  to  have  contacts

She said  that  as  a  little  girl,  she  had  lived  with  her
grandfather for  one  summer.   He  had  a huge library with all
sorts of strange books, some  in  a  code type of language.  She
was not allowed entry into the library or certain  rooms  of the

When asking  her  father about what her grandfather was involved
with, he told her that his  father  was  a  member  of  what  he
claimed was  a very secret and very ancient group.   This  group
was several  hundred  years  ahead  of  mankind and members were
sworn to secrecy under threat of death.

The lady also told me that when her grandfather died, men showed
up at  his  house  with  signed  papers giving them the right to
remove whatever  they felt was  necessary.   The  men  took  the
majority of his library and all his private papers.   They  also
took what  was  in  the  rooms  she  was forbidden to enter as a

Her father was also forbidden  to  pursue the matter although he
also spied on his father when he was young.  The  mysterious men
also collected  the  majority  of  the grandfather’s inheritance
which was bequeathed to the group.   This might possibly give us
a clue  since  there  must  be  records as to WHO  received  the
inheritance, either  a  person  or  a group.  That in turn would
give us a further name to look into.

The grandfather was a strict vegetarian and had very precise and
detailed habits which he believed had allowed him to live to his
ripe 70’s, yet he looked like  a man in his late 40’s.  She also
said he  would  walk in the grass early every morning  and  said
that the dew was very beneficial to life.

I have  asked  her  for specific names and any other information
she could gather relating to  her  grandfather,  specifically  a
newspaper article she was sent about 2 years ago.   She promised
to find  it and make me a copy.  This could lead to something if
such a group exists in fact.

I asked her if the group might  have  been either Rosicrucian or
of a  magical  nature  and  she  said,  no,  that  it  was  very
scientific and  dealt heavily with music.  Her grandfather owned
and operated a school of music  in which he got heavily involved
after joining the group.  Prior to that, music was not his means
of income.

Also, as to the name NYMZA, Jimmy and Pete say that these German
immigrants might  have  used either German or a  combination  of
German and English.  Since they were based in the East, it would
follow that NY would equal New York, M could equal Mechanical, Z
could very  well equal the German word Zephyr (meaning wind from
the west), and A could mean Association.

So we have the term, New York  Mechanical Zephyr Association, or
NYMZA, indicating mechanical flying devices from  the  west,  as
would be  seen  through a European (eastern) viewpoint.  Just an
attempt to derive a logical name, might be incorrect.

The tragic case of Jacob Mischer and his Aero will serve to point to
the severity with which the rules  of  this  secret society known as
NYMZA were enforced.

Jacob Mischer was  the  designer and builder of a rather  large,  or
medium-sized aircraft which  was called the “Aero Flyerless Gander”.
This airship was flown on a hundred  mile  trip and was successfully
landed on land and on water, for it had wheels as well as pontoons.

Jacob Mischer, however, met a most unfortunate end,  for  he  became
greedy and desired to make a profit from his invention, intending to
use it for  hauling  material  and  equipment  for the miners in the
area.  This was looked upon by the headmasters of the secret society
as being strictly  against  the rules and, one way or another, Jacob
Mischer ended up dead when his ship  was  destroyed  in  a  blinding
aerial explosion.  Dellschau alludes to this incident  as  something
that was deliberate and NOT accidental.

The most successful  of their aircraft, and probably the first to be
flown was Peter Mennis’ “Aero Goosey”,  which  was built in 1857 and
set the precendent  for  all subsequent Aero designs  and,  although
modifications were gradually  added  to  new  Aero designs, the Aero
Goosey continued to be flown as originally  designed with only minor
changes and was  the  aircraft  favored mostly by Peter  Mennis  for
short flights.

Peter Mennis ranged  far  and  wide on several occasions, but he was
able to land and use his Aero as a  place to spend the night, for it
was equipped with a canvas conver which served as a tent.

The original “Aero  Goosey”  was  a small craft with  a  basket-type
affair in which  the  pilot  and passengers sat at the bow and stern
ends of the airship.  It carried  a  liquid  fuel  container  in the
center of the  craft and a gas converter under the seats.   Attached
to the center  pole  was  the  air-pressure  motor which was used to
propel the airship, and two gas bags  were  on  the sides.  It was a
very simply designed  airship,  and,  despite all modifications  and
improvements that were made upon this original model and its “motor”
design, the mode  of operation and function of its internal workings
remained basically the  same  in  all  subsequent  models  with  the
exception of size  and  appearance  and  the  addition   of   useful
conveniences such as  galleys,  toilets,  beds,  tables,  and  other
gimcracks of one kind or another.

Louis Caro, another member of the Sonora Aero Club expressed it very
well when he said that he and his  colleagues  agreed  on one thing;
and that was  the  fact that they all longed for an  airship  design
which would have  all the features of the Aero Goosey, but be larger
and yet be safe.  Several very large  models  were  designed  toward
this end and  proposed but were never built.  There  were,  however,
several medium-sized models which were actually built, and flown.

One of these  was  the  “Aero  Dora”,  which was another of the most
favorable designs.  This Aero was  first  envisioned by Ernest Kraus
and was later elaborated upon by several other members  of  the club
who were very  pleased  with its appearance and function and used it
as a basis upon which to apply their own ideas.

The Aero Dora  was equipped with  a  “sucker-kicker”,  which  was  a
device for compressing air and operated very much  like  a  JET  for
propulsion.  Yes, several of these Aeros had devices that were years
ahead of their  times,  and included up to date contrivances such as
retractable landing gear,  shock absorbers,  gas  converters,  spot-
lights, and many other novel ideas for their time, for one must take
into consideration that  these  were  entirely  new   concepts,   or
designs, with absolutely  no precendent to go by, and it is for this
reason that some of the aircraft look so fantastically monstrous and
absolutely unfeasable as aeronautical  machines.   In  other  words,
none of them look like they could even BEGIN to get  off the ground,
much less fly!

This was no problem for them though, for they possessed a formula
for producing a  SPECIAL  GAS, called “NB” gas, which was capable of
lifting the most ponderous construction  with a minimum of gas.  The
gas was produced on board the aircraft and carried in one or several
gas bags on top or on the sides of the airship.  Marthin  Karo,  one
of the members  of  the  Club  and inventor of a “hood” for carrying
excess gas referred to this lifting  agent  as  “FLOAT”,  which is a
good description of its function.

George Newell was the inventor of a “gas motor” called “VOLTA” which
produced the “Lift Power” used on most of the airships.   This was a
modified version of  earlier gas motor designs or “converters” which
were used in earlier Aero models.

As for the Cripel Wagon…this was  actually  a wheeled land vehicle
designed in 1837 by Friderich Schultz but was adapted  in  1857  for
use as an  airship by August Schoetler with the addition of gas bags
and “air squeezers” which made the  vehicle  airborne, converting it
into an airship with hydrowheels (wheels with water  inside  instead
of air).  “Air  squeezers”  were  similar  to  “sucker  kickers” and
consisted of a tube through which  air  was  compressed  and ejected
(similar to a jet engine).

The “Aero Buster” was an airship that was built but never flown.  It
was designed and  built  by  Max  Miser  and  was  equipped  with  a
parachute-like device.  Before  it  was completed Max Miser remarked
that if his Aero ever got off the  ground  he would not want anybody
going up in it but him.  “I am enough to break my neck”, he said.

The Aero was  completed  except for the installation  of  the  power
chamber and the fuel which only Peter Mennis could provide, since he
was the only  one  who  knew  the  secret  formula for producing it.
However, for some unkown reason, Peter Mennis refused to provide the
fuel or help  Miser  with  the construction  of  the  gas  producing
chamber and consequently this aircraft was never able to get off the
ground.  Many years later (in 1912) Dellschau would  reminisce about
this incident and  would  remark  on  whether  gasoline  would  have
“filled the bill” and would have made  it  possible for this airship
to fly.  Of course, gasoline had not been discovered yet.

Of the more  than  one hundred airship designs in Dellschau’s  books
probably not more  than  eight or ten were actually built and flown.
And they were a howling success!

Why they didn’t announce it to the  world  and  reap  their share of
profits and fame from their efforts is strange indeed.   Could it be
that they were  only  conducting  tests for others to follow?  It is
only too clear that NYMZA was a very  strict  organization  and that
any member who disregarded the rules of this secret  society usually

Dellschau faced the  same threat to his life and it is believed that
he may have  died  a  violent  death,   although  this  is  strictly
conjecture.  The fact is that Dellschau died in the year 1923 at the
age of 93 and was buried in Washington Cemetery in  Houston,  Texas.
He left behind  a  dozen  large volumes in which he told many things
about their activities in California,  but  he  never would say WHAT
NYMZA WAS, nor what the initials stood for, except  to  say  that it
was work being  done  FOR  THIS  ORGANIZATION.  Thus NYMZA remains a
mystery to all except to those who may read this and KNOW its
significance, for there  may  still  be  members of this society who
will continue to keep their vows of secrecy and may still be working
on yet other clandestine projects.   You  may  very  well  ask; What
experiments could they (the present members of NYMZA)  be engaged in
today?  The spaceships of the 1990’s?  Who Knows?

P. G. Navarro
Source File


  1. This site certainly has all the info I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  2. Cet article est très bien réalisé. Voulez tenter de comprendre le phénomène magnétique comme avec
    les magnétiseurs?

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