Finally a good episode. I actually remember seeing this episode as young boy. I distinctly remember the scene where someone goes up in a hot air balloon and wondering if ancient people used hot air balloons?
I started out thinking this episode was going to be just about the "Nazca lines". But that's because I forgot the broader theme of the title. I liked the references to ancient civilizations and the stories and legends of early flight by humans.
Nimoy doesn't jump on the ancient aliens bandwagon just yet. He keeps it more real by saying the evidence suggests than ancient people may have known more about flight than we realized. Next there is a cut to a few minutes of a man in a glider and weird almost video game sounds straight from the 70's that convey the message that something bizarre or unusual is going on. I guess this implies that ancient people may have had gliders?
"Every ancient culture known to us has legends of men who flew." Nimoy reminds of the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, implying this story may have some truth to it. From legend to a bit more substance, we next hear about Leonardo Da Vinci and his famous helicopter like machine he designed. Nimoy goes on to show and discuss the "Jantar Mantar" located in India. It is some sort of ancient observatory for the heavens above. The ancient Indians left behind some chants that describe an airborne vehicle called a "Verana" that used as a fuel a form of energy called "Sidley". If you have ever watched "Ancient Aliens" on the history channel, they have also talked about this. These Hindu mantras could just be fantasy of course, but they are interesting nonetheless.
Now for the Egyptians! Thanks to the "Stargate" movie and TV series, most people are vaguely aware of some of the depictions of flying in anceint Egypt. Hence the plotline of aliens traveling via a portal to ancient Egypt with advanced technology. As usual, Nimoy casts a wide net. He throws out a bunch of intriguing examples, but doesn't dig very deep with any of them. So with great speed he is on to the Maya who were in modern Mexico. The highly accurate ancient Mayan calendar is mentioned as a possible connection knowledge of the stars.
Now we get closer to modern times with a brief story about the Wright Brothers and their ideas leading up to the first recorded manned flight. Finally back to the "Nazca lines". Nimoy asks the question we all have. Why did the ancinet people in Peru create these designs that can only be seen from the air? There is even one of these images in modern day Barstow, California. In an attempt to recreate a person in flight directing men on the ground, an experiment is conducted with men in a hot air balloon. It seems plausible that men could be directed from a high enough point to see the image. Except of course they didn't have hot air balloons because they weren't nivented until the 1700's!
"Then as now, there is a purity to balloon flight. An exhilaration undampend by the drone of engines or the blur of supersonic travel." A poetic litlel soliloquy from Nimoy. Now we are ready to consider some "other explanations" besides the hot air balloon. Some ancient tribes refer to "Shamans " who could fly. Nimoy is ready to hit us with the big idea here. "Indian Shamans may have been intermediaries who traveled between a primitive culture here on Earth and a more highly one in the sky." BOOM! Ancient Aliens here we come. If not for Erich Von Daniken's famous book Chariots of the Gods, I'm not sure this little piece would have been included. The book was a year old when this episode first aired, so many people will have at least heard this idea before. Thanks to a lot of books, movies, TV shows, and the internet it's become an almost mainstream theory now. But for 1977 it would have still been a bit out there.
But alas, we still haven't seen the best evidence. Nimoy tells us the best evidence is in a museum in Liam, Peru. These are stones found not far from the Nazca lines.They depict drawings of people on flying obejcts. What looks like a bird and possilby a shuttle type of craft.
The message of the stones is controversial as we are told the Government of Peru will not discuss them. Big surpise! Does the U.S. Government discuss UFO's? This seemed a little odd to me, but Nimoy moves on quickly to flying over the Nazca plain showing us the famous lines.
Nimoy tells us about German mathematician Maria Reiche who has been stuyding the lines. We get a nice closeup shot of her. I don't want to mean, but this closeup is the scariest thing we see all epsiode! It seems like they could have gotten a better shot to me. (Of course she has been working under a blistering hot sun!)
She hasn't figured out the lines, but National Geographic research seems to think the lines have some connections to astronomical alignments. "And yet the lines seem to be pointing. Do they point the way to other outposts where ancient aviators once touched ground?" Nimoy seems to think so! Truly fascinating one way or another.
Good solid episode here. I think this is the first one and more representative of the majority of the "In Search Of... " series. There was plenty of images of evidence and solid questions asked.
You can watch this episode "Ancient Aviators" below.