Even though the White House has said aliens do not exist -- based on current evidence -- in the mid-part of last century the Air Force was at least trying to emulate the design and technology often depicted as being used by extraterrestrial life: flying saucers.
The National Archives blog recently featured declassified documents of Project 1794. This project, the blog states, was set to design a disc-shape aircraft that could perform "vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) plane designed to reach a top speed of Mach 4, with a ceiling of over 100,000 feet, and a range of over 1,000 nautical miles." The work for the project was contracted by the Air Force to the Canadian company Avro Aircraft Ltd.
National Archives describes images from the declassified report from 1956 as "surprising, perhaps never before seen."
The project's final development summary states that reaching supersonic speed at such a high altitude was possible and the aircraft would have "satisfactory handling throughout the whole flight." If the Air Force moved forward with creating the flying saucer prototype, which it acknowledged in the summary would require more performance tests, it was estimated to cost $3,168,000. Wired notes that today this would be $26.6 million.
Why doesn't our military jet around it flying saucers now? As Wired points out, the project was scrapped in 1960 when they couldn't get anywhere close to the altitude goal of 100,000 feet.
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