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UFO Hoaxers: Doug, Dave and the Crop Circles

In the summer of 1980, there suddenly blossomed across the English rural Wiltshire countryside a series of mysterious and beautiful circular designs in the crops of agricultural fields. These patterns were dubbed "crop cir- cles" and as they proliferated, the cornfields of Wiltshire became a mecca for throngs of people drawn by the phenomenon.   Atmospheric physicists, cerealogists (crop circle researchers), wonder-struck UFO enthusiasts, New Age travellers, and just plain curiosity seekers traipsed through fields of crops, much to the consternation (or occasionally delight) of local farmers.

Apparently no one had ever actually witnessed the formation of a circle (generally they appeared as if by magic in the middle of the night), but explanations and theories about their origins abounded, Whirlwinds, plasma vortices (intense electromagnetic fields), activity from the nearby army training bases, UFOs working under cover of darkness...and hoaxers. It was at this point that the world became acquainted with Englands two notorious and fun-loving senior pranksters, Doug and Dave.  Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, both from Southampton and both in there sixties, had hatched their elaborate hoaxing plans after Doug's return from Australia , where Queensland farmers had created their own circles as a publicity gimmick.

"Why not us?" Doug and Dave asked each other, and so in 1978, the two set out by night to begin a circle-tromping escapade that would go on for several years.  Using sights attached to their caps and planks with ropes, they marched across the countryside, damaging many a crop in Britain 's agricultural districts.

A widely read publication got wind of Doug and Dave's activities in 1980. They interviewed the pair, who became overnight celebrities, although they admitted to being secretly miffed that the public had taken two years to catch on to their merry pranks.  The many crop circles that had bloomed across England , Doug and Dave claimed credit for most, if not all of them. No one thought to question the fact that the jolly senior hoaxers had covered literally hundreds of miles of countryside in a single night.

Why did they do it?  It was fun, Doug and Dave said, to put one over on the experts, with their talk of "plasma vortices, helicopter downdrafts and Celtic symbolism."  Besides, they added, roaming through the summer cornfields was a lovely way to spend an evening.