Declassified: US Air Force’s supersonic flying saucer

US National Archives

We’re still working on finding alien life, but we can tell you that flying saucers really do exist...because we actually made one.Recently declassified documents reveal that the US Air Force and aerospace company Avro Canada worked together in the 1950s to build a supersonic flying saucer known as Project 1794.

As The Verge relays, the flying saucer was designed to reach a top speed between Mach 3 and Mach 4 (2300 to 3000 miles per hour), a maximum altitude of 100,000 feet, and a flight range of about 1000 nautical miles. The aircraft also would have been capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

US National Archives

From the declassified schematics, the aircraft looks as though it was essentially a jet engine pointed downward with the outer section acting as a spinning turbine. The aircraft would have used shutters on the edge of the disc to maneuver, while jet turbines would've provided horizontal thrust.

Unfortunately the Project 1794 never “took off,” as the government scrapped the projected in 1960. One of the declassified memos states that the project would have costed an estimated $3,168,000.

US National Archives

The now-defunct Avro Canada also developed a smaller test version of Project 1794 called the VZ-9 Avrocar. The small-scale prototype was originally supposed to reach a maximum speed of 300 miles per hour and fly as high as 10,000 feet, but when the aircraft was actually tested it never got more than three feet off the ground or flew faster than 35 miles per hour.

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