back to article USAF declassifies ‘flying saucer’ design

If it had ever got off the ground, the US Air Force’s 1950s flying saucer would have gone a long way off the ground: all the way to 100,000 feet. A paper recently declassified and made public at America’s National Archives details the project: a few million spent assessing the design feasibility of a flying saucer. The USAF's …

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The Avrocar--a more modest test aircraft based on the same aerodynamic principles--was rather a flop:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avro_Canada_VZ-9_Avrocar

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Anonymous Coward

Reading the article, it seems that the experimental Avrocar was serving its purpose quite well - finding problems and then modifying the design to try and solve them.

Major problem was running out of US funding after a couple of years before they could apply the lessons learned to a new design.

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Anonymous Coward

It flew, but the technology was too advanced for the day.

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FAIL

60 years later

And I *still* don't have my flying car. I blame the Jetsons for this.

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The problem they found with both designs was that as soon as you get into the forward flight mode, a circular "wing" is unfortunately crap.

AVRO had an engineer so addicted to the concept of round wings that he even penned a conventional, fuselaged design sporting a circular wing (like a flying saucer cut in half and glued onto each side). Wind tunnel tests proved that it was still crap.

None of the projects would have got anywhere near as far as they did, save for the US military being all starry-eyed over the idea of OMFG REAL FLYING SAUCERS!!11!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

@TeeCee

Lots of aircraft designers have penned circular wing designs and tested their ideas

Since when was has experimentation been a bad thing.

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Boffin

1974? Or 1794?

The graphic clearly shows 1794.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: 1974? Or 1794?

Fixed - thanks!

Richard Chirgwin

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Alien

Re: 1974? Or 1794?

Maybe an anagram for 1947... Roswell ...

"the Air Force doesn’t seem to have ever built a flying saucer", but maybe someone else did?

(appropriate alien music)

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Boffin

The theory certainly is applicable

Here is an impressive video of an RC model:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXVtUCABiv8

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Lets build it!

Hey, who's in for a kickstarter project?

Free flight(s) to the first 100 donators above $1000 :D

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Re: Lets build it!

Why?

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9

Re: Lets build it!

Why not???

Asking why something should be built in the first place is the reason a lot of things stay on the drawing board. Think if this had been built and performed as it suggests at 100,000ft at Mach4 that would of been an impressive piece of kit that would of outperformed the SR71!!

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Re: Lets build it!

Better and much more enjoyable question: Why not?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets build it!

Would HAVE. Would HAVE. Would HAVE.

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!

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Unhappy

Re: Lets build it!

I suspect "why not" is that a design like that would have required electronic control that wasn't available at the time. Its likely to be very unstable when moving at hight speed if left to its own devices even given the gyroscopic effect of a mooted spinning outer section. I suppose it could be built today so I guess as a design it just doesn't trump conventional aircraft when you take everything into account, not just outright performance.

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Re: Lets build it!

Completely agree with you but what is better? To have tried and failed (with details on how/why/what failed) or To have never tried in the first place??

I would much rather something was tried and found it didnt work than people just give up.

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Alien

Bets on how long until someone claims it was reverse engineered from Roswell?...

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Reverse engineered from Roswell

In a secret hangar in Area 51, of course.

The truth is out there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reverse engineered from Roswell

If you are so sure the truth is in a secret hanger in Area 51, shouldn't the saying be "the truth is in there"?

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Mushroom

Re: Reverse engineered from Roswell

Er....the Roswell craft was actually the inspiration behind the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - - that futuristic looking plane from the 1960s that still looks futuristic today. In other words, it wasn't a flying saucer.

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its been on all the lame ufo documentries since the mid 90s

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Alien

Spinning discs? Nah, everyone knows that all you need is a ring of bright light, preferably blue, and a fuzzy camera.

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Anonymous Coward

Check it doesn't

Infring Apples patents

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Re: Check it doesn't

Does it count if it just has the one rounded corner?

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Black Helicopters

...the Air Force doesn’t seem to have ever built a flying saucer

or at least, that's what they *want* you to think...

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Re: ...the Air Force doesn’t seem to have ever built a flying saucer

the design of them in duff photo's changes to suit the fashion of the decade and they are always linked to aurora

others you cant make out the design appear every 4 years and and do their same old thing for a year

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Facepalm

why bother?

Why bother to build our own when we had perfectly good *functioning* ones the aliens gave our military and political leaders in exchange for being allowed to experiment on us? Sheesh! Don't you watch youtube?

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Anonymous Coward

Nazi may have done them first

Research something called the "Nazi Bell". Read Joseph P Farrell. Its significant that modern day physics came out of Germany. But of course, one may prefer the "its all a hoax", the "there's no such thing", the "its aliens" to any sighting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Its significant that modern day physics came out of Germany

... true, but that had nothing to do with the Nazis. German scientific excellence preceeded them, and then a large part of it left once they had made living in Germany intolerable.

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Childcatcher

Coanda

The US marines complained about the Harrier, "You can't go supersonic on compressed air". Just the same you can't get mach4 on Coanda effect.

Some ideas are bound to bounce.

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Facepalm

Re: Coanda

"The US marines complained about the Harrier, "You can't go supersonic on compressed air".

Really? I guess that's why they bought more.

http://defensetech.org/2011/11/14/the-marines-new-harriers-and-the-f-35b/

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Re: Coanda

Hey, at least they weren't trying to use the cloaca effect. Yuck.

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FAIL

Nice to see the pilot (UFOnaut) surrounded by a ring of highly flammable fuel.

Surviabilty in a crash 0%

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WTF?

even if surrounded by soft fluffy bunnies instead of fuel crashing from 100,000 feet at mach 4 I'd say survivability of pilot is still 0%

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The trick is to jump out right before the saucer hits the ground. And remember to tuck and roll!

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MJI
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British Rail had a go as well

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_flying_saucer

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Re: British Rail had a go as well

Amazing, thanks for that link :)

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Pint

Is that all?

They've only just declassified the fact it was designed in the first place ... five years from now, will we be reading newly declassified stuff about how they built a prototype, found it didn't work but built six more anyway to use up the black projects budget for the year? Or indeed built it, found it didn't work very well so stashed it in a warehouse somewhere to be forgotten.

<-- better way to "use up" budgets.

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Avrocar

The Avrocar that people know about and see in footage did not perform well no. However, they made several refinements to the design (as well as producing other models) which improved the performace dramatically. As soon as the thing started working properly, the whole project went "deep black" and nobody knows what developments there have been since. Project Silverbug is an interesting related topic to this. Anyway, I always think that if the USAF were working on stuff this radical in the 1950s, then what the fuck must they have now??

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Re: Avrocar

they should all disappear and be banned and everything todo with them, no human with any kind of logical thought would buzz around space with a whimpy disc

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WTF?

Recently declassified?

This report on the Avro Canada Y-2 (complete with lots of lovely drawings) was released in 1998.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Recently declassified?

The Canuks? Everybody knows that was a disinformation campaign run by the NBH branch of the NSA. This is the real deal and I'm surprised they let it out. Something big must be up.

AC for obvious reasons.

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Silver badge

Re: Recently declassified?

Actually the whole of Canada is a disinformation campaign run by the NSA

A whole country like America; where everyone is thin, polite, have guns but don't kill people, grow their own drugs and have free healthcare? How can anyone possibly fall for that.

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Terminator

Re: Recently declassified?

No guns mate, no constitutional rights or owt like that...

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Bronze badge

The coanda effect? So all that design work morphed into a garden vacuum/blower thingy ...?

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FAIL

Rubbish bit of kit

Range of 1000 miles?

Is that all?

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone else here only familiar with Avro because of a certain not-Spider-Man webcomic?

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MJI
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No

We are familiar due to Lancaster and Vulcan

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Boffin

$6.168m *not* modest.

IIRC compound inflation since that time puts the current cost at something like *several* $100m

You'd need to see the approximate budget for the SR71 (which roughly dates from that time).

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