October 8, 2012
Benjamin Plackett | Wired
Officially, aliens have never existed but flying saucers very nearly did. The National Archives has recently published never-before-seen schematics and details of a 1950s military venture, called Project 1794, which aimed to build a supersonic flying saucer.
The newly declassified materials show
the U.S. Air Force had a contract with a now-defunct Canadian company to
build an aircraft unlike anything seen before. Project 1794 got as far as the initial rounds of product development and into prototype design. In a memo dating from 1956 the results from pre-prototype testing are summarized and reveal exactly what the developers had hoped to create.
The saucer was supposed to reach a top
speed of “between Mach 3 and Mach 4, a ceiling of over 100,000 ft. and a
maximum range with allowances of about 1,000 nautical miles,” according to the document.
If the plans had followed through to
completion they would have created a saucer, which could spin through
the Earth’s stratosphere at an average top speed of about 2,600 miles
per hour. Wow. It was also designed to take off and land vertically
(VTOL), using propulsion jets to control and stabilize the aircraft.
Admittedly the range of 1,000 nautical miles seems limited in comparison
to the other specifications – but if you’d hopped on the disk in New
York it could’ve had you in Miami within about 24 minutes.
The document also hints that the product
development seemed to be going better than planned; “the present design
will provide a much superior performance to that estimated at the start of contract negotiations.”
It begs the question – why was the project dropped? Why aren’t wars being fought with flying saucers? The cost of continuing to prototype was estimated at $3,168,000, which roughly translates to about $26.6 million in today’s money and wouldn’t have been an insane price for such advanced technology. The problem with the other flying saucers developed under the same program (see video) is pretty clear. They didn’t get anywhere near 100,000 feet in altitude, more like five or six if you were lucky – so the military finally pulled the plug in 1960.
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