The Day Six Spaceships Landed In England

The BBC, as the British national broadcaster for so many decades, now finds itself also performing the function of keeper of a significant part of the collective national memory. Thus they have an unrivaled resource of quality film and audio recordings on hand for when they look back on the anniversary of a particular story, and the retrospectives they create from them can make for a particularly fascinating read.

This week has seen the fiftieth anniversary of a very unusual event, the day six flying saucers were found to have crash-landed in a straight line across the width of Southern England. It was as though a formation of invaders had entered the atmosphere in a manoeuvre gone wrong, and maintained their relative positions as they hurtled towards the unsuspecting countryside.

Except of course, there were no aliens, and there were no flying saucers. Instead there was a particularly resourceful group of apprentices from the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, and the saucers were beautifully made fibreglass and metal creations. They contained electronic sound generators to give an alien-sounding beeping noise, and a fermenting mixture of flour and water for an alien-looking ectoplasmic goo should anybody decide to drill into them. The police were called and the RAF were scrambled, and a media frenzy occurred before finally the jolly hoaxters were unmasked. In those simpler times everyone had a good laugh and got on with their lives, while without a doubt now there would have been a full-blown terrorism scare and a biohazard alert over all that flour paste.

A Hackaday writer never admits her age, but this is a story that happened well before the arrival of this particular scribe. We salute and envy these 1960s pranksters, and hope that they went on to do great things. If you are a British resident you can see an accompanying TV report on their southern regional news programme, Inside Out, on BBC One South East and South today at 19:30 BST, or via BBC iPlayer should you miss it.

Flying saucer confectionery image: jo-h [CC BY 2.0].

36 thoughts on “The Day Six Spaceships Landed In England

    1. We have to be a little careful with our picture rights and attributions. The candy isn’t ideal, but I went with it because the images in the piece aren’t BBC images. Normally it’s OK to take an image from a piece when you are doing a short feature about it, because of the “in review” safe harbour, but this time I felt uncertain whether or not it was appropriate. So I erred on the side of caution.

      There are however some good pics on the BBC piece.

      1. Good call, when the rights to historic pictures (which should be in the public domain) can be hundreds of dollars. This is why newer history books have often been illustrated with drawings and pre-1978 postage stamps, since copyright law has avalanched out of control, to the benefit of corporations, not original artists, I might add.

        1. My father told me that when you find something that works for you, stick with it. Being 29 fit me perfect, so I’m staying 29!
          Since I was ten tears old when the subject of this story happened, that means I’ve been 29 now for, what, 31 years?
          Yeah, sounds about right. :P
          So what the heck, Jenny can be 21. You can be 21, Heck, everyone can be 21! Practice makes perfect. :D

  1. Statistics show that one would rather win the lottery, or die hit by a lightning strike, than by a terrorist attack, yet the world is caging everybody’s freedom because of terrorists. After all, somebody needs to be the scapegoat.

      1. You’re literally orders of power more likely to die slipping in the shower or on the drive to the airport then by international terror attack.
        Heck even bird strike is a greater threat.
        It’s why I call the erosion of freedoms in the name of the war on terror the great farce.

  2. Clark’s Law states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, taking into account our current technological abilities, what would “sufficiently advanced technology” have to look like to fool us now?
    Taking into account computers smaller than postage stamps, GPS, and information being so easy to access you actually run a 50/50 chance of falling victim to rule 34; could we be deceived at all?

    1. sure, the problem is if anyone of us came up with something that could it no longer would and so on.

      but let us say that we just want it to utterly stump 99% of people, in that case we could use several dozens of extant tech, from superconductors exhibiting quantum locking, over teleportation through to the quantum eraser and duncans paradox, there is some seriously weird stuff out there already.

      1. Good point, I recently programmed an arduino to control some neopixels and installed them into a lamp post, That isn’t even a hack by HaD standards, but most of the population around my area think it’s utterly amazing. Let’s rephrase:
        What would “Sufficiently advanced technology”: have to look like to fool YOU?

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