The 10 Most Bizarre Objects That Have Fallen to Earth
By Jake Rossen, Mental Floss, 5 December 2017.
By Jake Rossen, Mental Floss, 5 December 2017.
Rain, snow, sleet - we're accustomed to getting drenched or otherwise inconvenienced by precipitation falling from the skies. But occasionally, circumstances force people to deal with far more unusual threats from above. Check out 10 times the clouds parted and allowed for an almost Biblical forecast of golf balls, chains, and other things umbrellas just weren't built to handle.
1. Golf balls
Meteorologists have sometimes described foreboding hail storm projectiles as being "golf ball sized," but there was at least one time in history where actual golf balls rained down on an unsuspecting populace. In 1969, residents of Punta Gorda, Florida, were pelted with the sporting good staple, necessitating clean-up on streets, lawns, and gutters. No one was sure what exactly caused the incident, although some observers theorized that a nearby tornado near the Gulf of Mexico managed to scoop up balls from a course and then deposited them over the area.
2. Non-dairy creamer
Depending on the timing and whether you had an open container of coffee, residents of Chester, South Carolina could get their beverage flavored on the go. In 1969, a nearby Borden factory had issues with its exhaust vents. All clogged up, they wound up emitting powdered creamer into the air, which would dispense over the town and collect on surfaces to make for a milky, sticky nuisance when it got wet. Borden eventually fixed its workplace issues. (It also paid a small fine.)
Surprisingly, this phenomenon isn't restricted to gentlemen's clubs. In 2007, a resident of Worms, Germany stopped her car to collect a small storm of paper euro notes that were swirling around her. Despite the enigmatic source of the cash, the woman felt it was best to report it to area police.
4. The mystery globe
It’s been an inciting incident for many 1950s B horror movies: A mysterious gelatinous orb falls from the sky, seemingly harmless but soon to transform into a man-eating glob of alien aggression. Fortunately, no one was devoured when a large, gooey, translucent globe dropped into a resident's yard in Miami in 1958. Observers said it had a honeycomb design and pulsated as though it were alive. One brave police officer stuck a finger into it without any consequence. Before it could be studied further, the mass just dried up.
5. A camera lens
We're not quite sure what home insurance companies say when you file a report saying a two pound camera lens has just come crashing through your roof, but homeowner Debbie Payne probably found out. In 2011, a Canon camera lens burst through her home, leaving a cratered rooftop and other damage. Called to investigate, the Federal Aviation Administration said that such an object falling from an aircraft was possible but hard to prove. Payne lived just 200 feet from an elementary school and said she was grateful the projectile didn't land there.
In 1977, a British couple were strolling down a street in Bristol when the husband, Alfred Wilson Osbourne, heard a click and thought buttons had fallen off his coat. He quickly realized the clatter on the pavement wasn't a clothing malfunction but a shower of hazelnuts, which were falling down all around him. After a brief pause, another man experienced the same odd nut fall in the same spot. You'd expect a looming hazelnut tree to be the cause, but none were reported to be in the area. And even if there had been, it was March - far from hazelnut season.
Residents in Lake County, California were surprised to see clumps of sugar raining down over two days in September 1857. The candy portions were about a quarter-inch in size and seemingly edible: Some of the residents there made syrup from the phenomena.
In 1901, editors of Science magazine recorded an account of a mud shower in Easton, Pennsylvania courtesy of a reader from Lafayette College who wrote in to describe the incident. "Window glasses on the western exposure of houses were covered with thousands of drops of dirty water," he wrote. Under a microscope, he observed "little membranous bags containing grains of dust." Some theorized a dust storm had mixed with precipitation to create a brown deluge of filthy rain.
9. A red hot chain
Image: Felix Morgner/Flickr
Detritus from aircraft is not an uncommon source of falling objects, but it's hard to conceive of what an 18-inch length of chain would be doing in a plane. In 1959, a man named Wallace Baker was working a bulldozer in Missouri when the chain fell on his equipment. That would be plenty unusual, but what astounded Baker was the fact that the chain was so hot it was glowing. When he tried to pick it up, it burned his work gloves. No source was ever located.
10. Human waste
Image: Karl Baron/Flickr
The most unfortunate of all rain substitutes is actually not all that uncommon: Some models of airplane toilets discharge wastewater in such a way that leaking contents create freezing globs of poop that break free of the aircraft and plummet to the ground below. In 2015, a Levittown, Pennsylvania girl's Sweet 16 party was interrupted when poop showered over the festivities. Joe Cambray, the girl's stepfather, told People that "we just got done with the cake" when the feces flew.
Top image credit: Pam loves pie/Flickr.
[Source: Mental Floss. Images added.]