In the murky world of conspiracy theories, the people who came up with the idea that the various missions to the moon were all faked now believe that Ryanair is perpetrating the same fraud, and are calling on the British government to act.
“People who believe they've been off on Ryanair flights haven't gone anywhere, and we demand that the powers that be end this sinister cover-up”, says conspiracy theorist Stuart Nasby, who is believed to have been David Icke's right-hand man until they had a falling-out. He has taken a trial Ryanair flight himself and says it just doesn't feel convincing. It lacks the glamour of international travel, he says, with its pennypinching regulations and browbeating of passengers.
Mr Nasby believes the plane simply stays on the runway, then pictures of sky and clouds are rolled past the windows while the cabin crew remind people to fasten their seatbelts and charge £7 for a glass of orange juice. “The sort of people who fly Ryanair aren't in a position to detect these impostures”, Mr Nasby says. “They get off the plane and there's a load of people paid the minimum wage by Ryanair to walk around pretending to be speaking in foreign languages. If you've ever seen The Truman Show you'll know how easy it is to pull this off”. He claims the “airline” has a whole army of those extras, living mostly underground.
The conspiracy theorists have been strengthened in their belief by the refusal of Ryanair to engage with them in debate or even respond to their accusations. “I've written to Michael O'Leary twelve times by registered letter but he won't reply”, said Peter Ellis, another of the conspiracy theory's true believers. “There's a man who's hiding something”.
Stephen Maguire, a plasterer from Lancashire, has been won over to the idea ever since booking a holiday flight with Ryanair. “I was told I was going to Torremolinos”, he said. “What a pathetic lie. You'd think they'd at least make an effort at convincing people. When I got there everyone was speaking English, and you had copies of the Sun and Mirror on sale everywhere. And the place had more fish and chip shops than Liverpool”.