How did folks describe UFO phenomenon before we had the science fiction constructs to fill in the blanks of interstellar travelers from deep space? Probably a lot like 12-year-old George Campbell of Sherman, Texas in 1898.
“Last night papa and I were riding along the ‘Eighty-foot Road’, about two and a half miles [4km] north of town, when all at once everything got very bright. We saw a great ball of fire coming down toward the ground. It got within about three feet [90cm] of the ground and seemed to rest for a while and then it went back up until it got clear out of sight. There was a buzzing sound all the time.”
George described the ball as 10 feet wide and not emitting any heat.