(The following article first appeared in a very limited edition of The Miami News that was published on newsprint made from Manila hemp for thirty-one exclusive subscribers. This article was extracted from a copy of that edition which was salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas by a student from the Mortuary Science School at the University of Texas. He was recovering the remains of victims of the tragic accident in the Gulf of Mexico one year earlier. Portions of the article were lost at sea.)
Titusville, Fla. – Archaeologists found a journal that offers evidence that the first recorded circumnavigation of the globe was a kite flight made by Benjamin Franklin. His flight log was discovered during an evacuation of what researches believe is an ancient burial pond used by the Paleo Indians five to ten thousand years ago.
The incredible flight journal was found in excellent condition among the well-preserved remains of hundreds of Paleo Indians resting in the burial pond. The still water of the pond, depleted of oxygen, retarded the decomposition, covering what may be the oldest viable samples of human brain and skin tissue yet recovered.
“We found the journal entangled in some burial artifacts. It had settled between a layer of ceremonial fabric and woven mats,” said Professor Sarcophagus of the Native American Indian School of Research, based at the University of Florida. “A handmade pencil was recovered near the journal. A preliminary examination indicates it is the pencil used by Franklin to inscribe entries into his flight log.”
The entire contents of the astounding journal will be released to the public after a panel of experts complete their unilateral study. The goal of their scientific testing, which will be conducted within the research facilities of the universities around the world, will be to determine if the journal and pencil are authentic Franklin artifacts. These experts express differing opinions.
“We have discovered a veritable fountain of youth,” said Dr. Francine Stein. “The old Paleo Indian burial pond has yielded livid scalp samples. Early tests results prove some of them are at least ten thousand years old. We haven’t figured out how hair could remain saturated for such a long time and not get split ends.” Dr. Stein teaches Anatomy and Biochemistry at Florida State University.
Count Aaer Fetter disagrees, “That precious book would have survived without the aid of that stagnant old pond. Ben Franklin designed a flight log that could withstand every imaginable extreme of conditions, the very conditions he was prepared to encounter during his flights around the Earth.” Count Fetter is Great Britain’s most distinguished Parliamental Archivist and Chief Librarian at Oxford University.
Professor Tip O. Berg, who is the Senior Research Assistant of the Cryogenics Lab at the University of Florida, said, “There is enough evidence to support both opinions. I examined the remains of the Paleo Indians, their artifacts and the Franklin artifacts. When submerged, the journal was more protected.”
One of the journal’s large folding maps guided a team of deep water divers to Poe Springs, Florida where they salvaged what could be the remains of Franklin’s gothic kite. Professor Randi MacNally was the first to examine the journal’s maps. She is the Dean of the School of Bookmaking at Harvard College and a fiber selection consultant for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
“Franklin milled the book from a single sheet of paper,” said MacNally. “He cut the huge folio in half, trimming a wide strip from each of the three uncut sides of each half. The halves were cut and securely bound into four signature of eight pages each. On each side and in between each thirty-two page section he placed two, two-sided maps that were folded into the book. The six maps were made from the long segments of trim. Paper trimmed from the edges of the maps was milled into the book’s covers.”
According to handwriting expert Birdie Scrawlings, Ph.D., “All sixty-four pages of handwritten text, the two-sided aerial maps and the mysterious symbols inside the back cover were engraved by Franklin with his pencil. The only real question, aside from the meaning of those strange symbols, is why did Franklin leave the inside of the front cover blank after cramming the whole world into seventy-two pages?”
One researcher found hard evidence that links the discovery of the journal to the recovery of the kite fragments. A professor of chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. M.T. Beekers, conducted chemical analysis of the journal, the pencil and the kite fragments.
“Not only was the journal constructed from a single sheet of paper, it was a piece of paper left over from the much larger one used to manufacture the kite,” said Beekers.
In a joint report released early today Beekers and MacNally concluded, “The flight log and the kite were made from a single piece of paper. That paper was blended from fibers of several types of wood, silk, rice, burlap, cotton, Manila hemp, tobacco, corn, tea leaves, and root filaments from coconut, sunflower, and cypress grass plants. The mixture was ingrained with whale blubber, wax, olive oil, rubber extract, Banyan sap, pomegranate peels, lime juice, and several unidentified compounds.
“This pulp was mashed by marble rollers over a large granite slab. The kite supports were set into the deep rims of the pulp and it was then baked in the summer sun. An emulsion formed on the surface of this paper, it not only protected and preserved it, but also reacted with the core of the pencil, developing a permanent ink.”
The report’s findings on the pencil and kite supports was inconclusive, “Cypress was the predominant wood, but there were many layers of veneer, including some that were metallic, instilling both strength and much flexibility. The cores of the kite struts were the same as the pencil. We have identified gold, platinum, diamond dust, graphite, gypsum, coal, pearl grindings, clay, and mud dredged from the basin of the Mississippi River. An equal number of elements remain unidentified at this time. It is likely that some of the ingrains reacted with the surface of the paper, forming inscriptions that withstood rain, snow, sleet, and hail.”
“Despite their obvious durability, many of Franklin’s entries were difficult to read,” said Birdie Scrawlings. “Some of them may never be deciphered, including his perilous takeoff from Lookout Mountain, the many course corrections written admist trecherous crosswinds and the final entry made during his crash landing into a giant tree over Poe Springs.”
Profesor Sarcophagus advances a theory that explains how the journal made its way from Central Florida’s Poe Springs to the waters of the Paleo Indian burial pond on the east coast. His speculations are basaed upon the journal’s entries, maps, and unexplained symbols drawn on the inside of the back cover.
“Franklin designed his kite to make but one flight around the globe. Fortunately, it went beyond its design. He had nearly completed two laps when the kite fatigued under the stress, forcing him to make an emergency landing.
“Failure must have been on Franklin’s mind as he wandered east toward the Paleo Indian burial pond. He didn’t know that his flight was a success. Entries into the flight log and confused mapping prove that he thought the flight had fallen several hundred miles short of a complete circumnavigation of the globe. It wasn’t until after Franklin discarded the F=flight log – leaving the pond to conceal his shame – that he realized his flight had been a success doubling his expectations.”
Dr. Francine Stein said, “Benjamin Franklin was a man of many secrets. The kite flight was certainly his biggest, but there is evidence to prove he secretly returned to Florida seventeen times, attempting to recover his flight log.”
“Benjamin was a vain man,” said Count Aaer Fetter. “In the name of Franklin he wanted to brag, but he was too much a coward to face the skeptics of his time without proof lost in his flight journal.”