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April Fool's Day, 1993

Space Shuttle Lands in San Diego. (1993) Dave Rickards, a deejay at San Diego's KGB-FM, announced that the space shuttle Discovery had been diverted from Edwards Air Force Base and would land instead at Montgomery Field just outside the city at 8:30 am. Thousands of commuters immediately headed there, causing enormous traffic jams that lasted for almost an hour.

Of course, the shuttle never landed. Montgomery Field is far too small for the shuttle to have even considered landing there, and there wasn't a shuttle in orbit at the time. The police weren't amused. They announced they would be billing the radio station for the cost of forcing officers to direct the traffic. In its defense, the radio station said, "It was a joke... We're just trying to have some fun."

Barnes Wallis Moth Machine. (1993) London's Daily Telegraph ran an article about a curious new device called the "Barnes Wallis Moth Machine," which was a microlight airplane that could skim over the Indonesian rainforest canopy at speeds up to 50 mph, scooping up moths as it went. It attracted the moths by means of powerful ultraviolet lights mounted on its front. The machine was said to have been given its name because it used the same technology as the 617 Squadron which released Barnes Wallis's bouncing bombs during the Dambuster raids of 1943. There were plans to use the machine on a scientific expedition to the Bengkulu region of the island of Sumatra — the first such expedition since Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles's expedition there in 1820.

The Guardian subsequently identified this story as an April Fool's Day joke. However, the joke was on the Guardian, because the Barnes Wallis Moth Machine was quite real. As the Daily Telegraph later gloated, "our science editor's lepidopterous scoop was genuine."

Nissan Micra - Nobody’s Fool. (1993) Ad for the Nissan Micra that ran in the London Times - Apr 1, 1993.

Joggers Slow Down To Help Squirrels. (1993) Cologne radio station Westdeutsche Rundfunk announced that city officals had decreed that joggers could only run at a maximum speed of six miles per hour through the city's parks. Any faster, it was said, and they would inconvenience the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.

Asterix Village Found. (1993) The Independent announced the discovery by archaeologists of the 3000-year-old village of the cartoon hero Asterix — found at Le Yaudet, near Lannion, France, in almost precisely the location where Rene Goscinny, Asterix's creator, had placed it in his books. The expedition was led by Professor Barry Cunliffe, of Oxford University, and Dr. Patrick Galliou, of the University of Brest. The team found evidence that the small village had never been occupied by Roman forces. They also discovered Celtic coins printed with an image of a wild boar (the favorite food of Asterix's friend Obelix), as well as a large collection of rare Iron Age menhirs (standing stones) "of the precise size favoured by the indomitable Obelix whose job as a menhir delivery man has added a certain academic weight to the books."
PhDs Exempt From China’s One-Child Policy. (1993) The China Youth Daily, an official state newspaper of China, announced on its front page that the government had decided to make Ph.D. holders exempt from the state-imposed one-child limit. The logic behind this decision was that it would eventually reduce the need to invite as many foreign experts into the country to help with the state's modernization effort.

Despite a disclaimer beneath the story identifying it as a joke, the report was repeated as fact by Hong Kong's New Evening News and by Agence France-Presse, an international news agency. What made the hoax seem credible to many was that intellectuals in Singapore were encouraged to marry each other and have children, and China's leaders were known to have great respect for the Singapore system.

The Chinese government responded to the hoax by condemning April Fool's Day as a dangerous Western tradition. The Guangming Daily, Beijing's main newspaper for intellectuals, ran an editorial stating that April Fool's jokes "are an extremely bad influence" and that "Put plainly, April Fool's Day is Liar's Day."

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