Time Travelers: Journeys Into the Past and Future

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Time machines might only be available in the movies, yet many people have experienced unexplained events that seem to be temporary but very real slips into the past or the future.

What date would you go to if you could travel through time? It's a question people have long enjoyed contemplating—the possibilities are so fraught with wonder and excitement. Would you watch the pyramids of Egypt being built? Join the spectacle of a gladiator battle at the Roman Colosseum? Catch a glimpse of real dinosaurs? Or would you prefer to see what the future holds for humankind?

Such fantasies have fueled the success of such stories as H.G. Welles' "The Time Machine," the "Back to the Future" movies, favorite episodes of "Star Trek," and countless science fiction novels.

Although some scientists think that it might be at least theoretically possible to travel through time, no one (as far as we know) has devised a sure-fire way to make it happen. But that's not to say that people haven't reported traveling through time. There are many fascinating anecdotes from people who claim to have visited—if only briefly—a time outside the present. These strange events, often called time slippages, seem to occur randomly and spontaneously. Those who experience them are often bewildered and confused by what they see and hear, and afterward are at a complete loss to explain what happened.

Flight Into the Future

In 1935, Air Marshal Sir Robert Victor Goddard of the British Royal Air Force had a harrowing experience in his Hawker Hart biplane. Goddard was a Wing Commander at the time and while on a flight from Edinburgh, Scotland, to his home base in Andover, England, he decided to fly over an abandoned airfield at Drem, not far from Edinburgh. The useless airfield was overgrown with foliage, the hangars were falling apart, and cows were grazing where planes had once been parked. After passing over it, Goddard encountered a bizarre storm. He lost control of his plane in the high winds and began to spiral toward the ground. Narrowly averting a crash, Goddard found that his plane was heading back toward Drem.

As he approached the old airfield, the storm suddenly vanished. Goddard's plane was now flying in brilliant sunshine. This time, as he flew over the Drem airfield, it looked completely different. The hangars appeared new. There were four airplanes on the ground: three were familiar biplanes, but painted an unfamiliar yellow; the fourth was a monoplane, which the RAF didn't have in 1935. The mechanics were dressed in blue overalls, which Goddard thought odd since all RAF mechanics dressed in brown. It was strange, too, that none of the mechanics seemed to notice him as he flew over the airfield. Leaving the area, he again passed through the storm but managed to make his way back to Andover.

It wasn't until 1939 that the RAF painted its planes yellow, enlisted a monoplane of the type that Goddard saw, and switched its mechanics' uniforms to blue. Had Goddard somehow flown four years into the future, then returned to his own time?

Caught in a Temporal Vortex

Dr. Raul Rios Centeno, a medical doctor and an investigator of the paranormal, recounted to author Scott Corrales a story told to him by one of his patients, a 30-year-old woman, who came to him with a serious case of hemiplegia—the total paralysis of one side of the body.

"I was at a campground in the vicinity of Markahuasi," she told him. Markahuasi is the famous stone forest located about 35 miles east of Lima, Peru. "I went out exploring late at night with some friends. Oddly enough, we heard strains of music and noticed a small torch-lit stone cabin. I was able to see people dancing inside, but upon getting closer I felt a sudden sensation of cold, and I stuck my head through an open door. It was then that I saw the occupants were clad in 17th-century fashion. I tried to enter the room, but one of my girlfriends pulled me out."

It was at that moment that half of the woman's body became paralyzed. Was it because her friend pulled her out of the stone cabin while she was halfway inside it? Was half her body caught in some temporal vortex or dimensional doorway? Dr. Centeno reported that "an EEG was able to show that the left hemisphere of the brain did not show signs of normal functioning, as well as an abnormal amount of electric waves."

Highway to the Past

In October 1969, a man identified only as L.C. and his business associate, Charlie, were driving north from Abbeville, Louisiana, toward Lafayette on Highway 167. As they were driving along the nearly empty road, they began to overtake what appeared to be an antique car traveling very slowly. The two men were impressed by the mint condition of the nearly 30-year-old car—it looked virtually new—and puzzled by its bright orange license plate, which said only "1940." They figured that the car must have been part of an antique auto show.

As they passed the slow-moving vehicle, they slowed to get a good look at the old model. The driver of the car was a young woman dressed in vintage 1940s clothing, and her passenger was a small child likewise dressed. The woman seemed panicked and confused. L.C. asked if she needed help and, through her rolled up window, indicated yes. L.C. motioned for her to pull off to the side. The businessmen pulled ahead of the old car and turned onto the shoulder of the road.

When he and Charlie got out, the old car had vanished without a trace. There was nowhere the vehicle could have gone. Moments later, another car pulled up. The driver told L.C. and Charlie that he had seen their car pull off to the side...and the old car simply vanished into thin air.

The Future Roadhouse

One night in 1972, four students from Southern Utah University were driving back to their dorm in Cedar City after spending the day at a rodeo in Nevada. It was about 10 p.m. and the girls were eager to get back to their dorm before curfew. They were traveling along Highway 56, which has a reputation for being haunted.

They turned off onto a road going north, and a little while later were surprised to see that the black asphalt beneath them had turned into a white cement road leading directly to a cliff face. They turned around and tried to find their way back to the highway, but soon became concerned about the unfamiliar landscape—red canyon walls that gave way to open fields and pine trees, which they had never encountered before in this part of the state.

The girls were relieved when they finally found themselves approaching a roadhouse. They pulled into the parking lot, and one of the students poked her head out the window to get directions from one of the men coming out of the building. Suddenly, she screamed, and she ordered the driver to get out of there—fast. As the girls sped off, they realized they were being chased by men in strange egg-shaped vehicles. By the time they reached the canyon, they seemed to have lost their pursuers and found their way back to the familiar desert highway. The reason for the scream? The men, the girl said, weren't human.

Hotel Time Warp

Two British couples vacationing in the north of France were driving, looking for a place to stay for the night. It was 1979. As they drove, they noticed signs that seemed to be advertising a very old-fashioned circus. The first building they came to look like it might be a motel, but the men standing in front of it told the travelers that it was an inn and that a hotel could be found down the road.

Further on, they did find an old-fashioned building marked "hotel." Inside, they discovered, almost everything was made of heavy wood, and there were no modern conveniences such as telephones. The rooms had no locks, only simple wooden latches. The windows had wooden shutters but no glass.

In the morning, while the travelers were eating breakfast, two police officers entered wearing very old-fashioned caped uniforms. After getting what turned out to be very bad directions to Avignon, the couples paid a bill that came to only 19 francs, and they left.

After two weeks in Spain, the couples made a return trip through France and decided to again stay at the interesting if odd but very cheap hotel. This time, however, the hotel could not be found. Certain they were in the exact same spot (they saw the same circus posters), they realized that the old hotel had completely vanished without a trace. Photos taken at the hotel could not be developed. And a little research revealed that French police officers had stopped wearing caped uniforms in 1905.

Preview of an Air Raid

In 1932, German newspaper reporter J. Bernard Hutton and his colleague, photographer Joachim Brandt, were assigned to do a story on the Hamburg-Altona shipyards. After being given a tour by a shipyard executive, the two newspapermen were leaving when they heard the drone of overhead aircraft. At first, they thought it was a practice drill, but that notion was quickly dispelled when bombs began exploding all around and the roar of anti-aircraft gunfire filled the air. The sky quickly darkened. Hutton and Brandt realized they were in the middle of a full-blown air raid. They quickly got into their car and drove away from the shipyard back toward Hamburg.

As they left the area, however, the sky seemed to brighten and they again found themselves in the light of a calm, ordinary late afternoon. They looked back at the shipyards, and there was no destruction, no bombed-out inferno, no aircraft in the sky. The photos Brandt had taken during the attack showed nothing unusual. It wasn't until 1943 that the British Royal Air Force attacked and destroyed the shipyard—just as Hutton and Brandt had experienced it 11 years earlier.