By Nigel Watson
A few months after my book the UFO Investigations Manual was published, I discovered
an online forum that planned to stage a fake UFO scare on 01 April 2014 using drones
fitted with lights.
This story got reported across the internet, including an article ‘UFO author finds plans
for worldwide UFO hoax in April’ by Alejandro Rojas on the openminds website:
Much to my surprise this headline got distorted by leaving out the word ‘finds’ and the
story spread that I was the mastermind behind this fake invasion scheme. EA (Enigmatic
Anomalies) YouTube channel repeated this erroneous claim but to their credit they
quickly posted a correction to the alien invasion story. Along with the new video fronted
by Teri Lynge, they noted:
‘In an effort to maintain quality and accuracy EA-News would like to update and amend
our previously aired segment titled:
‘EA-News has discovered that it in fact was NOT originated by Nigel Watson
and that it was HE that discovered this plot and revealed it to the media.
‘Enigmatic Anomalies applauds Nigel for revealing this bold plot and apologizes for the
oversight in this report. Stay tuned for more information about the planned hoax and
drone invasion.’ www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kXPBRHJJPQ
With all the publicity gained from exposing this planned hoax it never happened and I like
to think I helped stop a mass panic or at least prevented distress to those who might
have been convinced we were being invaded by murderous aliens.
The intention of ‘The Big UFO Project’ was to host a worldwide UFO invasion prank
using multirotor remote-controlled drone aircraft. It 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
Anyone who owned a multirotor 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 most people are out and about and most likely to
spot anything unusual in the night sky, and by keeping the craft at a long distance no
one would be able to see what is carrying the lights.
In this manner, the group hoped to cause a wave of UFO sightings throughout the world
and trigger ‘an apocalypse-like idea in all the media’ according to their forum at:
fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?25040-The-big-UFO-project (this is no longer
They recruited 30 volunteers for this project who were located in the USA, UK, France,
South Africa and the Netherlands. More official and unofficial people were expected to
join this project on the launch date.
The scheme could have worked as it is surprisingly easy to fool people into thinking they
have seen a UFO, especially if it is a light in the sky. Natural phenomena like stars and
the Moon, or manmade objects like high flying aircraft or satellites can easily be
mistaken for UFOs especially if they are glimpsed through clouds or haze. 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.
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.
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 others assert it was genuine UFO
activity. This highlights the fact that witnesses can often describe and interpret the same
thing in lots of different ways, even if the stimulus is a UFO or a Russian rocket booster.
Known generally as the Cosford Incident, it is comprehensively documented and
analysed on the uk-ufo.org website.
Staging a fake alien invasion is not too difficult, especially since drone technology has
advanced since 2014. The worst case scenario was played out in the War of the Worlds
radio broadcast, masterminded by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air. The
programme mixed fiction with alleged on-the-spot factual reports of an alien invasion.
The accepted view is that it caused a mass panic when it was broadcast on Halloween’s
Eve, 30 October 1938.
More sober analysis indicates that
it mainly caused its 1.2 million listeners mild fear
and/or excitement. Nonetheless the overall reaction to the broadcast was a media
sensation that led the shocked and surprised Orson Welles to apologise before newsreel
cameras the following day.
Since then other broadcasters have produced shows that have also mingled (or
mangled) fact and fiction to either deliberately or inadvertently cause panic to its
listeners or viewers.
The Big UFO Project was a relatively simple and unsophisticated operation, but it could
have had a big media impact. When such incidents occur, people tend to look for UFOs
in the sky and so it could trigger further sightings.
Sometimes drones or remote-control aircraft can be accidentally seen as UFOs, but I
suspect hoaxers use them especially if UFO reports are in the news.
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.
There are probably plenty of deliberate hoax cases lurking in the files of UFO
researchers. Some might never be discovered but we do have instances where the
hoaxers have confessed or been revealed.
Way back in the late 1960s the Society for the Investigation of UFO Phenomena
(SIUFOP), went to Cradle Hill, Warminster, which was a UFO hotspot at that time and
launched a balloon carrying six torch lights. Even they were surprised by how bright it
looked from a distance of a mile, and skywatchers who were unaware of the hoax
regarded it as the best UFO sighting ever made. As one of the hoaxers, David Simpson,
‘Excitement on the hill was electric and emotional. Telepathic communication was
claimed with the light bulb, which was said to be as bright as a searchlight and also to be
metallic with portholes.’
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. The hoaxers admitted they ‘simply flew the drone and
posted a few images and clips. The Internet did the rest.’
Even if a hoax is revealed, 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. Others might be annoyed that it
is polluting the difference between genuine UFO sightings and misidentifications.
Our perceptions are guided by what we want to believe and one person’s satellite or
drone can be another person’s intergalactic spaceship.
Oh, and be extra vigilant on April Fool’s Day!