Riddle me this: How do you disguise a microlight as a flying saucer?


Leaving aside the strange assumption this witness makes–“The only thing that made me think it was fake was that it was wobbling a bit, and making a humming sound, like a microlight.” (What, it didn’t behave like a REAL alien vessel …? Seen lots of those before, have you …?)–tell me, how the heck do you disguise a microlight (I’m presuming an ultralight aircraft, in US terminology) as a 40-foot, seemingly solid flying saucer? Because either

(a) it was some non-conventional aircraft, not an ultralight, which is huge news
(b) it was an actual ultralight, just disguised as a flying saucer, which is cool. And I want one. (Either way, I want one, actually.) I’ll get a pilot’s license just so I can fly one.

(And try to keep discussion of 1920’s-style death rays to a bare minimum, please. This isn’t the place for it–we’re discussing a 1940s-style flying saucer.)

Wow, that’s a good question actually. Think about it… a microlight is a tiny airplane. Airplanes fly with wings, hence the name. If you covered an airplane in a shell of any sort, including one that looks like a UFO, air doesn’t reach the wings, and so it can’t fly.

So start with an ultralight. Add stuff to it in such a way that it now looks like a UFO. Make sure the stuff doesn’t block the wings or other control surfaces. Make sure the stuff is light enough that the thing can still fly.

I can’t think of how to do that. Bonus points for anyone who can. Double bonus for those who actually DO so, and pull off a stunt as cool as this one!

You never heard of the Facetmobile?


There are actually a few light aircraft that look pretty exotic. Could even be a powered hang glider.

Couldn’t you simply suspend the flying saucer mock up below your plane? Or tow it behind like they do with advertising banners.

If the ‘saucer’ was lit up somehow, and the plane totally dark, I bet people wouldn’t even notice the plane.

That thing looks like the The Vought XF5U, V-173 “Flying Pancake” (about halfway down the page).

Sorry–the link somehow got changed since yesterday. Here it is now:


8:30 PM–could be dark enough for this to work.

Assuming daylight savings time (double daylight?) and a cloudy sky, this would have been my first guess. You actually don’t even need to tow a large object; if they put a series of tiny, but bright, lights on a wire ring pointing downward away from the craft, they would be able to obscure the craft from anyone looking up at it. (How much of a car can you see behind the oncoming headlights on a dark road?) The ring could be something as simple to obtain and as light as standard stock fence, trimmed down to pairs of “rails.”

I suspect that most people would assume (perhaps incorrectly) that an actual alien craft would be of sufficiently advanced technology so that it would not wobble. On the other hand, an ultralight trying to hold itself near stalling speed to give the appearance of hovering, might wobble quite a bit. If the wobble was accompanied by a familar sound (that of the typical ultralight engine), it might be enough to raise suspicions, even if one does not have extensive experience with actual alien craft.

OK, on re-reading the story, I see that the viewers claed it was “metallic” with only a single light. I suspect that some sort of foil hung below the plane would still work: tow it up behind the plane, then winch it forward using a projecting rod to keep it below the plane, itself.

Alternatively, it might well have been the plane. I’m not sure what the British equivalent of the EAA would be, but if a couple of guys decided to test out their new craft with more-or-less circular wings without prior approval, they would certainly have been nervous, as described in the article.

Maybe an airship?

IANAFAAO, but I think that you can actually fly an ultralight without a pilot’s license in the US, subject to some restrictions (I think you have to keep it over private property and out of the restricted airspace of airports and the like). Check your local laws.

The restrictions are not bad at all for ultralight flight in the US.

Ultralight vehicles in the US are regulated under FAR Part 103, which you can see here.

Also, ultralight regs in other countries are typically a lot less restrictive than in the US. An “ultralight” in some other countries can weigh up to 1200lbs!

There was a VERY early model airplane (circa 1910 or so) that actually had a “hollow frisbee” shaped wing.

I forget what it was called, but you can see a version of it fly in “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.”

To return to the OP…

The reports of a ‘modified microlight’ were inaccurate. The ‘UFO’ was actually a custom-built helium balloon, inside a 25ft diameter carbon fibre ring, the whole thing covered in a silver metallic balloon skin.

The balloon had eight tiny electric fan motors spaced equidistantly around the circumference. Each fan motor had a duct to direct the air current. The ducts could be rotated by remote control, and hence the entire balloon could be directed and steered. It was pretty slow, only going about walking pace at full tilt.

A team of highly-experienced model aircraft pilots flew the balloon over the stone circle at Avebury, and past the amazed patrons of the Red Lion pub nearby, before landing behind a copse of trees about half a mile away. A recovery team quickly disassembled the ‘UFO’ and drove it away.

All this was done for a UK Channel 4 TV documentary entitled ‘A Very British UFO Hoax’. The UFO was assembled by a team of special-effects model makers at Elstree Studios, London.

The incident was reported on British TV news, and also appeared on Australian and Mexican TV. The hoax was quickly exposed, partly due to the recovery team having been witnessed disassembling the balloon. See news report here.

The moral? Keep watching the skies, and don’t believe anything you read in the regional press.