On Dec. 10, 1881, three men left from Bath in the balloon Saladin. The balloon descended at Bridport on the coast of the English channel and two of the men got out. The balloon shot up into the air with one man, Walter Powell, still on board, and was apparently lost. However, reports came in about a luminous object seen on the evening of the 13th, according to the London Times, near Cherbourg, and on the 16th at Laredo and Bilbao, Spain. It was said in the Morning Post to have shot out sparks. A steamship off the coast of Scotland, 25 miles from Montrose, reported something seen in the sky in the morning of Dec. 15 (Standard, Dec. 16, 1881). Through glasses it seemed to be “a light attached to something thought to be the car of a balloon, increasing and decreasing in size–a large light–‘as large as the light at Girdleness.’” It moved opposite to the wind.
–Charles Fort, New Lands, p461-462 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).