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U.S. 'flying saucer' now an embarrassing chapter in military history

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Flying saucers - believed to be saucer-like vehicles from another world hovering about the earth's atmosphere, were at one time a popular phenomenon in the U.S. in the Fifties and the Sixties. Many purported sightings were recorded, of "unidentified flying objects," or UFOs. What's generally not known is that the U.S. Air Force at one time attempted its own version of the flying saucer - which has long since been consigned to the dustbins of history.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Recently declassified files about a U.S. Air Force flying saucer would appear to confirm many longstanding convictions of conspiracy theorists. The recently revealed designs depict a known military project from the 1950s that ended up more in the realm of science fiction rather than science fact.

The saucer-like vehicle come from "Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report," a 1956 document recently uncovered by the National Archives that describes a vertical takeoff and landing craft capable of hovering at ground level and reaching supersonic speeds in the sky.

Tests conducted at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio soon showed that the concept fell far short of its supposed promise.

The U.S. military had hoped the aircraft could reach a top speed of Mach 4, or 2,880 miles per hour and climb to a height of 19 miles, which would have surely beat the Air Force's SR-71 Blackbird spy aircraft that took to the skies during the Cold War.

A Canadian company, called Avro Aircraft, was contracted to build two small models of the "Avrocar" aircraft for testing.

The results were embarrassing, to say the least. According to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the Avrocar's attempts to float above the ground on an air cushion created by its turbojet engines proved too unstable even a few feet off the ground.

The hapless Avrocar suffered from uncontrollable rolling motions during flight tests above three feet never got beyond speeds of 35 miles per hour.

Wind tunnel tests at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, also suggested the flying saucer design was aerodynamically unstable and would prove uncontrollable at high speeds.

The U.S. military disappointedly canceled the project in December of 1961.

The lessons learned did go on to shape future aircraft. Modern aerospace engineers have already made much progress in creating more stable hover technologies for either manned vehicles or drones.

Wonderfully futuristic designs for new aircraft are still on the drawing board. NASA recently awarded $100,000 to study a four-pointed supersonic flying wing that resembles a ninja star.

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