Faking UFOs

Faking UFOs
Several Ways Of Letting People Believe They Have Seen An UFO
Crop Circles,Frisbees,Ultralights,Hanggliders,Erich Von Daeniken,Nazca Plain,George Adamski
Pranks, Shenanigans, Hoaxes, Or Jokes About UFOs
UFO Faking
Jellyfish, 1001 Uses Of
Means Of Transportation For The Earth-Confined Hitchhiker

Roel van der Meulen


Crop Circles created by Tony Blews (c) Tony Blews Crop Circles created by Tony Blews (c) Tony Blews Crop Circles created by Tony Blews (c) Tony Blews Crop Circles created by Tony Blews (c) Tony Blews Figure of a bird on part of the Nazca Plain

One of the more amusing things you can do to make your life exciting is letting people believe they have seen some kind of alien spacecraft, better known as UFO (although by definition an Unidentified Flying Object is anything you see in the sky and cannot easily identify as a certain star, planet, or other object, and in 95% of the time can be easily explained as natural or manmade objects) or the effect of one. From now on I shall use the letters "UFO" as name for alien spacecraft.

In this article I want to focus not on convincing people orally that a certain aircraft or strange cloud or burnt spot on the ground must be an UFO or must be caused by one, but on you being part of an UFO yourself or making an apparatus that can fly or making strange markings on the ground so that people watching are sure they have witnessed an UFO at work. What I mean to say is that just throwing frisbees, jellyfish, or trash can lids in the air and taking photographs of them is not enough (although this is also a very amusing pastime, if it works). But if you throw them in the air and from observing that people believe they have seen an UFO, then you have achieved your goal. I do, however, have a little difficulty with imagining what kind of people might fall for such simple tricks.


In a Dutch newspaper "de Volkskrant" of 19940325 there was an article titled (translated) "It flies, buzzes, and emits white light." It was about a series of UFO sightings that were reported to the Rotterdam police. It is not unusual for the police to receive UFO reportings, but this time there were a lot of them and they were very detailed as well.

The first sighting was at 18:55 by two surveilling police officers at Rotterdam-south. In the vicinity of the Maashaven they spotted a triangular object flying over at 100 to 200 meters. It came from the south-west at low speed and had a beam of white light emanating from it. There was also a small blinking green light attached, possibly a starboard navigation light from an airplane, were it not that the only sound to be heard from it was a soft buzzing noise. The officers reported their observation immediately and their amazed colleagues in the radioroom at once contacted Zestienhoven airport, but nothing was visible on the radar, possibly because the object was too low.

At 19:04 the next sighting was reported. A man living at the Aert van Nes straat was awakened by a bright beam of light and a buzzing noise. He wondered if the police knew what it was.

Twenty minutes later another sighting was reported from someone living in a flat at the Nieuwe Maas, this suggesting that the object must have turned to the south. The occupant of the flat reported a strange aircraft that had almost flown into his living room. The object was an aluminum-like contraption and had a man hanging underneath.

A further sighting came almost immediately after that, from the Brienenoord bridge. At the same time a lot of people phoned to Zestienhoven airport and the Rijksluchtvaartdienst with observations of a strange flying object buzzing past.

The next day the airport police at Zestienhoven started to investigate the radar tapes just in case. Although the object hardly emitted noise they continue to think it was just an airplane. It has happened before that a plane with landing lights already on flew so low that a lot of flying saucer reports were caused.

Of course we all know it was just someone with an Ultralight (a deltawing or hangglider with a small motor) who illegally flew over the city. Ultralights are too small and fly too low to have a reflection on the radar. He must have given a lot of people unusual experiences.

And so we see that not only a paraglider can be used to pull pranks. I think that round and about every vehicle able to fly can be used for posing as an UFO. But now let us proceed to another example, and a very famous one too, of a successful way of letting people believe UFOs have landed or that certain mysterious natural phenomena exist. It is the case of the crop circles in the UK.

Crop Circles

Let us see what Tony Blews (hat@mono.org) wrote to me:

"About 9 months ago, myself and a few friends created 4 crop circles in a field. The circles were of varying diameters between 10 and 30 meters. We got the photos [1] in the local paper, and were on the local radio news."

He explained to me how to produce these circles:

         "You need a group of people who will do exactly what you tell
         them, otherwise you'll end up with spirals shooting off in all
         directions, and that'll look rubbish."

He goes on to explain that this is what you will need:

  1. a ball of string
  2. a broom handle about 1 meter long
  3. a garden roller (nice but not essential)

And here is a quickie guide on what to do:

  1. Find a field of corn with vehicle tracks in it (they are important [2]).
  2. Walk along the tracks to the middle of the field, then walk out about five meter from the tracks. This will be the centre of the first circle.
  3. Unwind about eight meters of string (the length is unimportant but must be greater than five, or however far from the tracks you walked).
  4. Get someone large and strong to stand at your centre and hold one end of the string. Then get someone else to hold the other end and pull it tight. This person then has to walk in a circle keeping the string tight, to define the edge of the circle.
  5. Once this is done, you start at the edge of the circle and spiral inwards, pressing the grass down with the broom handle or roller, until the circle is complete.
  6. Walk out on a tangent from the circle to create a line to the next circle you are to create, and keep on going from step 3 again, varying the sizes of the circles.

I asked him what he thought about people who, even though so many hoaxes have been exposed, still believe aliens made the circles, and go into great length to dish up arguments to convince you.

"My thoughts on the 'true crop circle' believers... They do say that in true crop circles the molecules in the stems are altered to make them grow sideways, and that is why real circles continue to grow. Also, the circles I did were branded as fake because 'the colour of the corn was wrong.' Apparently real circles only appear in mature golden corn. The circles I did, did admittedly look a little rough around the edges, but with practice we've got better. In my opinion the self-proclaimed experts and book writers desperately want us to believe that it's something more than a hoax."

"I would really like to believe that 'real' crop circles are the product of an alien intelligence trying to communicate with us in a cryptic way, but it seems far more likely that they're fakes or the product of some natural phenomena. I quite like that idea of the two old men, Doug and Dave [3], wandering around Wiltshire at night, making circles."

And then there were the results:

"It was dead funny the next day, watching the experts at work. My only regret is that the newspaper didn't do a helicopter shot of it."

The sci.sceptic FAQ has this to say on the cellular changes in the plants:

"What about cellular changes in plants within crop circles?

Yes, what about the changes? Although this is another claim that is widely circulated among ufologists and cerealogists, the evidence is simply not very good. A few photographs of alleged changes in the 'crystalline structure' of wheat stems were published in some magazines and UFO publications. The method used was spagyrical analysis. This is a technique involving crystallization of the residue of organic material after harsh processing, invented three centuries ago and popularized by Sir Kenelm Digby. Digby is known for other wonderful inventions like condensation of sunlight and the development of sword salve (which you had to put on the weapon rather than on the wound, in order to cure the wound). The fact that this technique was tried at all casts serious doubts on the 'researchers' involved."

Owl (rhenry9-2@mail.id.net) gave me a final tip to make your circles extra strange: "I also heard from somewhere that people would get strange or unusual chemicals (ones not used in that area or that perticular field) and throw them all over where the circles and or lines where. This would confuse the heck out of investigators and media..."

I think this should give you enough info to make aliens land on cornfields planetwide.


A further reasonably cheap, often-used way of convincing people they are witnessing an UFO is the balloon prank. The balloons can be made of household trashbags, dry-cleaning bags, and for even more lift, one or several weather balloons. Note that trash bags are too heavy and not of sufficient volume to get airborne. To make one of these balloon UFOs you should tape up the hole(s) at the top of a dry-cleaning bag and tape a light loop of wire around the bottom to hold the hole underside and to connect a "basket." Then you should put some cotton on the very light basket construction you made under the hole. The ignited cotton should be able to produce enough warm air to lift the balloon and let it fly away, and should also be able to give the impression that the whole balloon is one large light. Be careful though in area's with a dry climate, such as Northern California. You don't want to burn anyone's house down [4].

Kaye Matkins (kmatkin@calvin.linfield.edu) had another suggestion: "My idea for a semi-ufo shen... It'd be kinda cool to attach a penlight to the bottom of a balloon (filled with helium, of course), tie it to the back of your car with about ten feet of cable, and drive around late at night at high speeds like it's after you..."

To show balloon pranks actually work here are several experiences:

Gordon Horner (ghorner@unixg.ubc.ca) actually launched some dry-cleaning bags and had this to say: "I had the satisfaction following one successful launching many years back of overhearing some visiting friends of my parents describing with awe the mysterious fireball they'd seen in the skies above their house the previous evening! Very rewarding!"

Tom Elliott (tosh@zikzak.apana.org.au) wrote to me: "I was a `victim' of a UFO shen for a short while. I was driving at night, when I saw a group of lights in a circular pattern hovering above the suburbs. The lights gave the impression of a circular object rotating. As I got closer (and more curious) I realized I could see an object above it. As I got within several hundred meters I finally realized that it was a large balloon with a circular object underneath with flashing lights - a rather elaborate shen, really. Though it was effective.

Shortly after the second world war, my father (I think about 12-14 years old at the time) purchased from an army surplus store a large meteorological balloon. It was capable of lifting fairly large objects (including his friend's young sister). They released the sister and let the balloon up into the air on a line, until the police arrived looking for the cause of the obstruction to air traffic. They released it, but it made the news as being an `unidentified object' hovering over the neighbourhood."

Dave Sweeney (dave@integware.com) wrote: "Let's have a moment of reverent silence for Larry Walters, the truck driver from Los Angeles who tied 45 (count 'em, 45) weather balloons to his aluminum lawn chair and floated up 11,000 feet above his back yard. Mind you, he wasn't unprepared. He had a parachute, a CB radio, a six-pack, a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a BB gun to shoot a couple of balloons when he decided it was time to return to Earth. Of course, he didn't set up his flight plan very well -- he floated right through the approach corridor to Los Angeles International Airport, one of the busiest pieces of airspace in the world. Kinda like riding your tricycle across the freeway...

His comments to the press after landing were priceless. When he was asked why he did it, he responded, 'You can't just sit there.' Was he glad that he did it? 'Oh, yes.' Would he do it again? 'Nope.' My kinda guy!"

Frank Reid (reid@ucs.indiana.edu) added: "Airline pilots spotted him, and FAA busted him for numerous violations. It made national (US) news, and numerous sympathizers helped pay his fine."

Ancient Froods

A lot of ancient people, especially in South America, were real hoopy froods. I think they are the best experts ever at letting people believe all kind of weird stuff about aliens. You have only to think of all the work that must have been put into creating those "cosmic runways" which can only be detected from high in the air, on the Nazca Plain in the Andes, Peru, and of all the weird sculptures and figurines of kosmonauts. These dudes must have certainly had an extremely good foresight to be able to trick so many people even in our century! Maybe one of the most famous people they tricked was Erich Von D\"aniken, the famous Swiss author, who wrote loads of books with names like "Were the Gods Kosmonauts?," "Back to the stars," "Gold of the Gods," etc. etc. (or was Erich a prankster himself?). Couldn't we, the people of the twentieth century, do something similar and start a project to fool generations to come in thousands of years? Something on the moon maybe? Anyway, let us give a big applause to the earliest group of people who had the genuine hitchhiker spirit! (Sound of applause. [5])

There is one other ancient frood I want to mention and that is Piri Re'is, an admiral of the Turkish fleet in 1513, who has created a map of the world in such a projection as only a satellite above Cairo could photograph! Or an UFO of course. Boy, was this man subtle! [6]


A man from our century who has tried to let us believe a whole load of crap is George Adamski. He told lot's of stories of how he was taken by aliens to look at the vegetation, animals, and cities at the far side of the moon, and to see movies of the civilizations on Venus. He told about what the UFO's and their Mothership looked like, and about what the aliens looked like and what they thought. But he has also done something that fits this article better. He led people to believe that strange footsteps he made in the sand were made by aliens. As this took place in the year 1952, lot's of people believed that. Nowadays it is a lot more difficult to fool people this way, what with all the different kind of sneakers around. But today it might work the other way round. There could be a large market for sneakers with supposed alien soles like the one Adamski designed. Think about it, and remember I thought of it first. Anyway, Adamski did manage to get a lot of attention and was asked all over the world to tell his story.

The Professionals

The military is a professional UFO faker. Numerous research aircraft tests have resulted in people convinced they had seen an UFO. This is however not a good example because the prank is just a side effect of trying to create further stronger weapons. I don't think that's cool, do you? Except...

A reliable source visited a UFO conference in Twenty Nine Palms, USA [7] some time ago, and after the actual conference they went camping in the desert for one night. That same night strange lights appeared in the sky above the desert and moved around quite a bit. Even the experienced observer (the source) was baffled by it, and the rest of the conference went bonkers and started to record it with all kinds of weird instruments. It turned out there was a military base a little further on, where they knew about the conference, so they treated them to some amusing night exercises.

Other Hoaxes

In 1967 Chris Southall, David Harrison and some other students from the Farnborough Royal Aircraft Establishment (UK) made six beeping saucers, with diameters of about 1.5 meters, and left them lying in several fields. The objective of the hoax (one of a series over three years) was to publicise their rag and thereby raise money for charity. They were pretty succesfull too, which proves that UFO pranks can be an effective tool for fundraising as well.

If you have more ideas or experiences on the terrain of faking UFO's, send them to me! Your contribution will be much appreciated by the whole hitchhiker's society.

Also note that I never said alien spacecraft don't exist (hahaha, <nervous laughter>). I will have been right all along, whatever UFOs turn out to be. (Wimp!!)


As a riddle for the readers I leave with a case from a few years ago concerning Rotterdam police officers observing a strange object in the sky, which hovered over some farmland and then suddenly disappeared. What contraption did the hitchhiker who caused that use? (And now don't say an electronic thumb!)

[1] These can be found at http://subnet.virtual-pc.com/bl386816/crops/
[2] Note: Here we see that hoaxes are detectible by tracks running through them. To fool people even better, find a way to get to the first circle without using or leaving tracks (parachuting, paragliding?).
[3] Doug Bower and Dave Chorley. Many others have been caught, not only in Britain but in other countries such as Canada. Their methods range from inscribed circles with a pole and a length of rope to more complex systems involving chains, rollers, planks, and measuring devices.
[4] Advice freely given by Grant Moulton (grantm@hpsadl2.sr.HP.COM).
[5] Wouldn't it be neat to include sound files in the articles!
[6] The very simple explanation as I see it is to just grab a globe and take it from there. Mind you, I'm not so sure about the dates involved (was the earth soccerballshaped already; had America recently been rediscovered?)
[7] Yes, it does have 29 palms.

See also

Several Ways Of Letting People Believe They Have Seen An UFO
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Roel van der Meulen
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UFO Faking
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Crop Circles,Frisbees,Ultralights,Hanggliders,Erich Von Daeniken,Nazca Plain,George Adamski
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