U.S. Air Force declassifies scrapped 1950s plan for flying saucer

Declassified government documents are fun, especially ones that detail the United States Air Force's flirtations with flying saucers. While the aircraft was designed for speeds between Mach 3 and 4, it never quite got there.

The project's ambition is on full display in the declassified documents. The flying saucer, seen in the gallery below, was designed with VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) capabilities in mind, and have a range of 1,000 nautical miles and a ceiling of 100,000 feet. The lofty goals were soon crashing down to Earth.

The USAF and Army contracted the project to Avro Canada, and while some of the of the declassified documents paint a rosy picture, it quickly became clear that the project would not meet expectations. After dropping $3,168,000 into the project — which equates to an inflation-adjusted $26.6 million — the plug was pulled in 1960. Avro Canada was defunct two years later.

For a while, saucer designs looked to be the future. For more, check out 10 real flying saucer designs that were made here on Earth.

National Archive, via The Verge and Wired

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