Project 1794 Declassified: Air Force plans for a flying saucer

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Even if you're not a conspiracy theorist, and you don't believe that aliens have visited us or the U.S. government has developed alien-grade technology, recently declassified images from the National Archives are like a giant WTF.

They reveal Air Force plans to build a flying saucer. Also, it was going to outsource the work. And not to aliens, to Canadians.

A 1956 document entitled "Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report" from the Records of United States Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations includes several remarkable schematics.

The flying saucer was apparently meant to be contracted to now-defunct Avro Aircraft of Ontario, which is still famous in Canada for its Arrow, a supersonic fighter aircraft whose production was abruptly halted in 1959.

A National Archives blog post presents images from the Avro report. The company stated that Project 1794 was meant to be a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft that could reach a top speed of Mach 4. It was to have a range of 1,000 nautical miles and a ceiling of more than 100,000 feet.

Aside from a flying saucer being too cool for school, why would the U.S. government want one? One reason could be that as Cold War tensions heated up, there were fears that ICBMs would wipe out air bases. Thus, a VTOL aircraft that could take to the skies from underground hangars without a runway would be essential.

"It is concluded that the stabilization and control of the aircraft in the manner proposed -- the propulsive jets are used to control the aircraft -- is feasible and the aircraft can be designed to have satisfactory handling through the whole flight range from ground cushion takeoff to supersonic flight at very high altitude," Avro said in the report.

It added a cost estimate of $3,168,000 for 18-24 months, which is about $26.6 million today ( via ).

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