Sign in with your favourite social login to share, comment and pin your favourites.
The man who foiled an alien invasion
Nigel Watson is a man who deals with terrifying, otherworldly beings every day – UFO enthusiasts.
Watson, author of the Haynes Guide to UFO Investigations is used to dealing with people who have had alien encounters, been ‘probed’ by them, and even taken to other planets. Then he discovered plans for an alien invasion online earlier this year – staged, not by little green men from Alpha Centauri, but a far nearer, and nerdier enemy: drone enthusiasts.
Watson says, “‘The Big UFO Project’ was originally scheduled to run on April Fool’s Day, but they changed it to 05 April 2014 so that it would not seem like an obvious prank. Anyone who has a multi-rotor drone or anything that can carry a strip of LED lights and hover was invited to join in this event.
“The plan was to launch the craft at 8pm local time for maximum impact. This is when there are most people around to see anything in the night sky, and by keeping the craft at a long distance they will not be able to see what is carrying the lights.”
When Watson reported his findings, several things happened, one of which was quite surprising, “Several sites have claimed I’m the mastermind behind this planned hoax. I’ve pointed out their error. I hope they retract this soon.” Headlines such as “UFO Author plans worldwide hoax,” didn’t help.
The forum quickly went quiet, and various hoaxers said on Twitter that the entire thing had been called off. But it’s not clear if the plan has “gone dark”, and is unfolding in secrecy – or if it’s genuinely been cancelled.
UFO hoax cancelled?
Watson says the plan was to “cause a wave of UFO sightings around the world and an apocalypse-like idea in the media,” as one plotter put it.
“As it is very difficult to judge the height and speed of such objects, witnesses can think they are passing relatively close to them and they can imagine seeing windows and the body of a larger craft behind the light or lights,” Watson says.
He adds, “It is surprising how easy it is to fool people into thinking they have seen a UFO, especially if it is a light in the sky. Satellite re-entries and meteors can be very striking and cause people to think they’ve seen a fast moving UFO streak across the sky.
“For example, on the night of 30 March and early morning of 31 March 1993 numerous sightings were made throughout Britain of what was variously described as fast moving lights to a large craft resembling two Concordes flying side by side. Sceptics claim this was a combination of a Russian rocket booster re-entering the atmosphere and other mundane phenomena, but ufologists assert it was genuine UFO activity.”
“Drone technology is getting cheaper and easily available to people who want to carry out hoaxes like this. Though even very cheap and simple Chinese lanterns can be used to trigger UFO sightings. This is a relatively simple and unsophisticated operation, but it could have a big media impact. When such incidents occur, people tend to look for UFOs in the sky and so it could trigger further sightings.”
The viral spread of UFO videos on YouTube could contribute to the frenzy, Watson thinks. He says, “Only recently, in September 2013, a UFO-like drone was flown over a baseball stadium in Canada to promote a newly opened planetarium. Videos of it were widely distributed on the internet before the hoax was revealed.”
Posters on the drone forum now claim that the hoax has been called off. But news reports of the hoax, and Watson’s alleged role as mastermind, have one common factor – most sign off with an instruction to watch the skies on April 5. Whether or not any hoaxers – or aliens – oblige by flying overhead remains to be seen.
Watson says that the end result is likely to involve large amounts of weirdness: “Even if the hoax is revealed, or called off, some ufologists will state that this is a cover-up for real UFO sightings and/or a project to get us used to the idea of UFO invasion in preparation for full disclosure of their reality by our world governments.”