Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of a UFO invasion in England. On September 4th, 1967, six flying saucers touched down at various locations marking out a line, sparking fears of invasion from outer space. The things bleeped and burped and there were tales of flashing lights
This invasion had a second lease of life in 2013 when the MoD released files relating to the incident. Big revelation! It was a student prank from apprentices at Farnborough’s Royal Aircraft Establishment. Hey, I knew that when I was a spotty five-year old.
The Beeb have the nitty-gritty from a couple of the perpetrators ahead of a tv feature tomorrow:
From the moment apprentices at Farnborough’s Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) came up with the idea for the hoax, there was a determination it should be convincing, said engineer Chris Southall.
All of them were interested in sci-fi, and they set out to create a design that would not be recognisably human.
There could be no giveaway features on the saucers, such as portholes or aerials, nor anything that might be seen on terrestrial inventions such as a plane or a boat.
First they made the metal-coated, fibreglass saucers by forming plaster moulds to build them in two halves, and then they sandwiched them together with electronic sound equipment inside.
This is where I have an element of frustration. As it happens, my Dad was covering the story for the local paper and came home one evening with photographs of the invaders. Somewhere, buried in Rivers storage is a picture of the inside of a UFO - wires, the odd bulb and a chunky Ever Ready battery of the kind I had stuck in a toy or two. Is that what made it fly?
As it stands, I can’t find that print for love or money. Phooey!
The Beeb have a description of the flying saucer’s gizzards:
“When you turned the saucers upside down, it flicked a switch and started a battery,” Mr Southall said.
“We were putting them out in secret, in the middle of the night, in the early hours, and we didn’t want them to make a noise until then. Only when we left, we turned them upside down and the noise started - and then we got away quick.”
The saucers were also filled with a flour and water mix that fermented inside and turned into foul-smelling slime.
“We wanted to make something that looked really alien,” he said.