It was an "obviously very successful practical joke" that mobilized England’s air defense system.
Here’s another entry in my series of how to do a great practical joke, this time from the 1960s in the UK.
In 1967, a bunch of engineering apprentices created six fake UFOs, then placed them in a line, an equal distance apart, miles across Britain. The UFOs, which looked like sleek sunny-side up eggs, were programmed to make a strange wailing noise, and secreted inside was a strange foul-smelling goo (a boiled bread concoction made by the pranksters.) From a recent Daily Mail article:
"The students constructed six oval flattened objects, 54 in long, 30 in wide and 20 in deep, moulded from fibreglass and laced with artist’s graphite to give them an other-worldly sheen. They looked more organic than mechanical, and indeed the team always referred to them as ‘eggs’ rather than flying saucers."
The hoax was helped by a coincidence. The night before the flying saucers were found, a local woman alerted a newspaper about strange lights in the sky. In reality, none of the saucers flew at all. They were merely placed in their various locations the previous night by the students, who hid the saucers in their cars. Some were put in fields, and one placed in a golf course.
When the six saucers were discovered, authorities responded with a bomb disposal squad, RAF helicopters, intelligence officers and four different police forces.
"I think I have the heavy end." "Oh, quiet."
Scientists examined the devices, including a weapons designer at British Aircraft. One UFO was blown up by a bomb squad. A bomb disposal officer checked another saucer with a portable X-ray machine. (He might have been the one who discovered the Ever Ready batteries inside the device, proving the UFOs were of a more terrestrial origin.)
To be fair, the government was not as concerned about UFOs as they were about weapons from the Soviet Union.
The student pranksters were motivated by "rag week," a week-long event at British universities where fun events raise money for charity. At the end of the day when the saucers were discovered, the students held a press conference.
‘We believe that flying saucers could land one day, so we landed our own to give the authorities some practice.’
The students raised about £2,000 for charity by selling the surviving saucers.
All this information recently came to light when the UK’s Ministry of Defense and the National Archive released thousands of pages of UFO-related documents.
All right, potential hoaxmeisters and practical jokers. What are the lessons here?
- Meticulous planning.
- Technological know-how.
- Team of dedicated hoaxsters.
- One saucer is a joke… six saucers is an event.
- Fastidious attention to detail.
- Exploit public’s fascination with a current subject (you can call this a current "meme," if you must.)
- Knowing the likely response of authorities.
- Nobody gets hurt.
- Makes great story in the media.
- Do for charity instead of personal gain.
Okay, now you’re on your own.
– Attack of the flying saucers! How six ‘UFOs’ sparked a nationwide panic when they landed in Britain in 1967, Mail Online>>
– Remember the ’67 UFO student hoax? Get Bracknell>>
– Government X Files reveal students were behind UFO invasion of Sheppey, Yourthanet>>
– What is Rag? UKRag.net>>
– Newly released UFO files from the UK government, The National Arcjhives, UK>>