The boys arrive on the island in a plane. They are schoolboys who have been evacuated from their homes in Britain in order to get to a place of safety because a nuclear war is in progress. In chapter 1, Piggy is the first boy Ralph meets, and Piggy persuades him there are no grownups with them on the island. The plane they were on crashed on the island, leaving a "scar," a trail where the cabin of the plane crashed through the trees and underbrush as it landed. The cabin itself has been washed out to sea, possibly with some boys still aboard. Piggy explains that the plane they were on was attacked. Ralph believes the pilot who dropped them there will quickly return to get them, but Piggy knows better. He states, "When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows. I saw the other part of the plane. There were flames coming out of it." Ralph believes his father, a commander in the Navy, will rescue them, but Piggy asks how his father would know where they were. Piggy heard the pilot on the plane say that an atom bomb had struck the airport. Everyone there would now be dead. Later there is further evidence that the air war is continuing when the "Beast from Air" in chapter 6 comes floating down. The "beast" is a fallen paratrooper who died in an air battle similar to the one that brought the boys' plane down. This time, there is a "bright explosion and a corkscrew trail across the sky," suggesting the paratrooper's plane was completely destroyed in an attack. The boys are lucky not to have met the same fate, yet they create their own war that threatens to be just as deadly.
The actual cause of the plane crash is not revealed. However, the reason the boys were on the plane to begin with was because they were being evacuated from a nuclear war in Europe. This parallels with the evacuations of children from London during World War II. The irony this time is that a nuclear holocaust is almost impossible to escape. The boys keep wanting to go home to a place that has most likely been annihilated and conditions at home may be just as primitive as those on the island.