You read that right: sixty years ago, the US military was trying to build flying saucers. As in UFOs. A collection of recently declassified files discovered at the National Archives, including schematic diagrams and project development documents, show a disc-shaped aircraft remarkably similar in design to popular science fiction images from the same era.
Designated “Project 1794,” the Air Force’s flying saucer was supposed to be capable of vertical takeoff, reaching speeds between Mach 3 and Mach 4 and sustaining altitudes up to 100,000 feet. Sound dangerous? The authors of the Final Development Summary for the project disagreed:
“It is concluded that the stabilization and control of the aircraft in the manner proposed … is feasible, and the aircraft can be designed to have satisfactory handling through the whole flight range from ground cushion to supersonic flight at a very high altitude.”
The 18- to 24-month cost estimate was just $3.2 million (about $26.6 million today); or, in US military terms, “chump change.”
The documents offer no clear evidence that Project 1794 was carried to the prototype stage before the project lost funding in 1960. (We’ll let the tin-foil hats and boring realists argue that one out in the comments). But if anyone wants to dig up the full schematics and 3D-print a scaled-down version of this thing, feel free to send a review unit to IGN.
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