When it comes to aliens, the truth is out there... just not necessarily on YouTube, TikTok or Facebook.
Both the CIA and the Pentagon have released information on ‘unidentified’ flying objects, however, so The X-Files enthusiasts can be forgiven for acting a bit smug these days.
SPYSCAPE examines the world’s best alien ‘hoaxes’, searching for signs of intelligence.
1. 'Dead alien’ found after UFO sighting in Russia
Two Russian men were out for a walk in 2011 when they came across what appeared to be a frozen corpse in the snowy countryside near Irkutsk, in eastern Siberia. But this wasn’t just any old corpse – it was an alien, or was it? Only a month earlier, villagers swore they’d seen bright orange lights in the sky. Could the two incidents be related? Perhaps there had been an extraterrestrial crash? Nyet. More than 12m people viewed the YouTube video and police investigated. It was at this point the men sheepishly confessed: they’d actually made the ‘alien’ out of breadcrumbs and stuffed it into chicken skin as a practical joke.
2. New Jersey spacecraft stops traffic
A large, threatening spacecraft crept slowly across New Jersey’s sky in 2020 and it wasn’t long before the Twitter and TikTok videos went viral. The extraterrestrial ship with blue flashing lights slowed traffic on the turnpike – some people even got out of their cars to take a better look. Turns out, a Goodyear blimp was passing over New Jersey at the time, getting an aerial television shot of an NFL game at the MetLife Stadium, just west of New York City. And yes, the blimp came in peace.
3. UFO visits India
A ‘spaceship’ hovering precariously close to buildings in Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, created panic in 2016, with photos of the large object spreading feverishly. The UFO photographer quickly disappeared (beamed up?) and the cell phone number couldn’t ever be traced. Despite the mystery, experts decided the UFO was probably created by an app, noting it bore a striking resemblance to a UFO in the movie Independence Day.
4. ‘UFOs’ terrify Haiti
An eerie, realistic home video captured 'UFOs' soaring over Haiti in 2007. A woman can be heard gasping. A dog barks. Surely the video must be real? A second video from the Dominican Republic seemed to provide independent corroboration. The Los Angeles Times decided to track down the videographer and others who immediately re-posted the ‘evidence’ and got a swift response from barzolff814 – aka Heather, a 17-year-old Irish girl who’d racked up 2.2m YouTube hits (now 20m!): “Umm yeah. Whatever. You people are stupid. Find something better to do with your time. And get a life.” The Times finally found the source, a professional animator who’d spent 17 hours creating the UFO videos on his MacBook and didn’t want to reveal his name. It seems the animator was just testing his work, thinking he might get a few likes...
5. Six ‘spaceships’ land in England
Wiltshire in southwest England has always been a draw for the alien conspiracists – it is, after all, the home of the legendary Stonehenge, multiple crop circles and a UFO hotspot since the 17th century. But even the locals were astounded when six UFOs landed in Wiltshire, London and four other locations across England in 1967, bleeping, hissing and triggering a major police and military response. The hoax was conjured up by the engineer apprentices at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (later part of the Ministry of Defense) who scattered them overnight. The pranksters wanted to know if the government had a plan if aliens invaded. The Army responded by blowing up one saucer, dropping another and brushing themselves off when one imploded. Police decided not to take action against the apprentices, with one officer saying authorities were “taking it like gentlemen”.
6. Australia’s X-Files
Melbourne’s Kelly and Andrew Cahill said they were driving in August 1993 when they spotted a weird object in the sky with circular orange lights, but that isn’t the shocking part of the story. The couple said they were abducted by tall, skinny aliens with red eyes who burned a triangle into the skin around Kelly’s navel. The couple ‘awoke’ in their car having lost an hour’s time. “I felt this blow to my stomach and went flying in the air and I heard my husband say ‘Let go of me’, and this male voice that said, 'I mean you no harm'," she told journalists. The Cahills’ story was such a sensation it was mentioned by agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) on The X-Files. Ms Cahill published a bestselling book, did the rounds of the talk shows, then went quiet. The UFO experts at Phenomena Research Australia (PRA) investigated the claims and compiled a 300-page report. In 2020, 27 years after the ‘abduction’, PRA said they were considering releasing their findings - just not any time soon.
7. Canada’s closest encounter
Canada has big skies and plenty of land so it should be fertile ground for an alien landing. In May, 1967, amateur geologist Stefan Michalak was prospecting in Manitoba when he spotted two glowing objects. One of the silver crafts landed and Michalak said he had a look inside at the blinking lights. The craft took off quickly, knocking him on his back, and an opening appeared in the upper portion of the 35-foot disc that hissed and smelled of sulfur. (Luckily, the craft hovered long enough for Michalak to sketch the spaceship above). The UFO spotter became ill afterwards, displaying signs of a radiation burn. Years later, a twisted piece of metal was recovered from the site, which was radioactive. Was it a hoax, military test or an alien landing? Neither Canadian nor the US military have been able to explain the event. Tour guides swear it was a UFO sighting, however, and include it on their trips. The Royal Canadian Mint has even issued a commemorative silver coin that retails for $129.95. The one-ounce coin comes with a black light that can be shone on the currency to reveal a yellowish blast resembling the one that (supposedly) burned Michalak.
8. South Korea is a UFO magnet
For a small country, South Korea has a lot of extraterrestrial activity. There have been sightings of ‘Tic Tac’ UFOs (bullet-shaped spacecraft with no wings) and videos showing discs with domed tops hovering over cities and mountain ranges. South Korea’s military took UFO reports rather more seriously in 2019, however, when radar detected ‘traces of flight by an unidentified object’ heading across the frontier from North Korea. Jet fighters were scrambled. Helicopters buzzed over the demilitarized zone separating north and south. Former US president Donald Trump was in the region to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, so the world’s media covered the updates in real time. The frenzy ended minutes later with an announcement from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff: the UFO was a flock of about 20 birds.
9. Mexico’s Mulder
There have been so many UFO sightings at Volcán Popocatépetl, Mexico's largest volcano, it has a UFO-spotting camera trained on it 24-7. 'Spaceships' have been seen floating behind it, hovering above, flirting with the flames and even flying directly into its mouth. So it should come as no surprise that UFO-mad Mexico also has its own celebrity UFO-ologist, Jaime Maussan. Maussan visited Peru in 2017, hoping to analyze mummies discovered near the UNESCO World Heritage Nazca Lines (there’s speculation aliens created the lines too). At least one of Peru’s mummified bodies apparently had an elongated skull and hands with only three fingers, so Maussan teamed up with a TV crew to gather evidence of alien life. Unfortunately, the alien theory was debunked. Snopes, the fact-checking website, pointed out that the website that streamed Maussan’s documentary charges just under $100 a year for videos about alien abductions, crop circles and contact with angels.
10. Roswell, New Mexico’s flying saucer
The Roswell Daily Record newspaper headline was clear: ‘RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region’. It was July 8, 1947, and the Roswell UFO was the best evidence so far that aliens existed. At first, the Roswell Army Air Field announced that a flying disk had landed on a ranch in a thunderstorm but then changed the story, calling it a ‘weather balloon’. In fact, a rancher may have gathered debris related to a classified US military project to detect atomic bomb tests in the Soviet Union, but that information wasn’t immediately released. UFO believers suspected a cover-up. More than 40 years after the crash, an ex-mortician named Glenn Dennis remained adamant that a Roswell Army nurse had walked in on doctors who were bent over three creatures with small frames and huge, bald heads. (Dennis ran Roswell’s International UFO Museum at the time.) Roswell now hosts a UFO festival and science fiction ‘Galacticon’ celebration each July, inviting visitors from around the world to decide for themselves.