in Nevada that was publicly acknowledged for the first time recently.
Could they be related to a U.S. flying saucer project?
We ask that question because the U.S. military did work on building
its own flying saucer in the 1950s, and a recently declassified
Central Intelligence Agency report for the first time publicly
acknowledged Area 51, the cold war-era test site in Nevada near Groom
Putting two and two together, we figured maybe the flying saucer
project and the test site could be related. That could explain some of
the old reports of UFO sightings in the area — reports that have
helped make Area 51 a place of great interest for those who believe in
aliens, UFOs from outer space, and the existence of Bigfoot.
If you’ve never heard of the US saucer effort, it was code-named
Project 1794. The Air Force paid for it, hoping to end up with an
incredibly maneuverable, versatile circular flying machine that could
travel at Mach 3 or above.
While its existence has long been public, the National Archives
recently posted a once-secret final summary of Project 1794 online.
This did not get as much attention as did the Area 51 stuff, but in
some ways it’s just as interesting.
The saucer development was carried out by Avro Aircraft Ltd., a
Canadian firm. The firm attempted to design a flat, circular
vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft that could fly as high as
100,000 feet at great speed.
Propulsion was to be provided by six Siddeley Viper jet engines
whirling a giant horizontal fan within the vehicle. Air from this fan
was to have been directed to a circular ring along the bottom edge,
lifting the thing off the ground and so forth.
Initial work involved design, production of scale models, and initial
wind-tunnel tests. The airflow through the saucer turned out to be
enormously complex. But at the end of this initial phase, Avro was
optimistic. “The aircraft can be satisfactorily controlled and
maneuvered from engine idling to maximum thrust at supersonic speed
through a satisfactory supersonic flight envelope,” the just-released
The Air Force wasn’t so sure. Officials declined to pay a further $3
million for continued development of a big saucer. However, the Air
Force and Army helped fund construction of a
smaller prototype, the Avrocar. Eighteen feet across, powered by three
turbojets, the Avrocar went through extensive testing from 1959
However, this testing appears to have occurred exclusively in Canada.
The Avrocar did reach forward speeds of about 115 miles per hour, but
never got more than a few feet off the ground, despite test-pilot
attempts to blast it higher.
NASA did bring the Avrocar to the United States for further
wind-tunnel tests. This indicated that the saucer might be unstable at
high speeds. The US military finally cut off funds in 1961.
So alas, it looks like neither Project 1794 nor the Avrocar ever flew
at Area 51. The index of the newly declassified CIA report
acknowledging its existence contains no reference to “Avro,” “Avocar,”
“flying saucer,” or “1794.” (“Aliens” isn’t in there, either. Just in
case you were going to ask.)
The CIA report instead deals mostly with the design and production of
the U-2 spy plane, an aircraft which in its own way was as technically
astounding as any flying saucer would have been.