Why did the flying saucer project fail?

In the early years of the Cold War, the US military carried out a secret project called VZ-9 Avrocar with the ambition to create a supersonic speed disc that could take off vertically. However, the project has gradually 'died prematurely' because it did not meet the technical requirements. The implementation of this project contributed to the fabrication of the UFO story.

Confidential project

During the Cold War years, the arms race between the US and the Soviet Union was extremely fierce. Both superpowers strive to develop the most modern and exotic weapons to dominate the opponent.

Picture 1 of Why did the flying saucer project fail?
VZ-9 is the Pentagon's secret flying saucer project. (Photo: Business Insider).

One of the projects that the Pentagon has high expectations and dedication to is developing a plane shaped like a flying saucer with many advanced features such as being faster than the speed of sound and capable of Take off and land vertically. The project was launched in 1955 as VZ-9 Avrocar . This project is essentially the end result of a series of projects developed by designer Jack Frost (an engineer of Avro Canada Company).

In 1952, Avro Canada embarked on the idea of ​​producing a supersonic winged hypersonic aircraft on the periphery of the main body like a flying saucer that is often said to be an alien product. At the time, the aircraft industry was interested in aircraft that could take off and land vertically.

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VZ-9 Avrocar has neither wings nor propellers, it has three jet engines with three air bellows to hover in the air.

Because, it is thought that a nuclear war in Europe would inevitably begin with each other's nuclear attacks to destroy most of the enemy's air bases. As a result, aircraft need to be able to operate in tight spaces at air bases, on the streets or even in fields.

According to Jack Frost, his flying saucer could land and take off vertically with the aid of a circular turborotor powered by a jet engine. Directing the downward thrust creates a ground effect, making the aircraft can hover in midair at low altitudes, and direct thrust into the rear causes the disc to fly forward. Jack Frost believes that the disc will be able to take off and land vertically and at supersonic speed.

Canadian defense officials then financed $ 400,000 for this project. However, things were not easy, after 2 years of participation, the Government of Canada abandoned the project on the grounds that it was too costly to maintain. Fortunately, after the Canadian Government gave up, the US Air Force received information about the project and found that it had the potential to meet their needs. The US military wanted a reconnaissance aircraft that could operate in any terrain, carrying out transport and reconnaissance missions.

The U.S. Air Force, meanwhile, wants a jet that can take off and land vertically, avoiding enemy radars by flying at low altitudes and then fleeing at supersonic speeds. The two needs are different but the same in that the aircraft operates on the Coanda effect mechanism (a principle of bending the airflow to create aerodynamic lift) of Avro Canada if built. The public will meet their wishes.

Therefore, in 1955, the US Air Force signed a contract worth $ 750,000 to revive the project. By 1957, the US poured an additional US $ 250,000 to the project.


The declassified documents of the US later said that after taking over the project from Canada, the US quickly began to produce their flying saucers.

According to the document, the U.S. Air Force flying saucer has been designed to reach Mach 4, which is four times the speed of sound, can operate at altitudes above 30,480m and have a range of about 1,850. kilometer. The aerodynamic design of the VZ-9 flying saucer is very unusual, with a jet engine in the center of the disc. The Coanda effect is also applied to the design. According to the prototype, the US flying saucer has a diameter of 5.5m; has a height of 1.07m and has a weight of nearly 1.4 tons; Maximum load when taking off reaches more than 2.5 tons.

The process of takeoff, flight and landing is controlled by the thrust control system of the airflow located on the outermost ring below the disc. Thanks to the engine in the center, the VZ-9 is capable of taking off vertically quite easily. In May 1959, the flying saucer was finally completed and put into static testing in the wind tunnel. Three months later, in August 1959, the VZ-9 made its first flight.

However, the tests showed that the control of aerodynamic stability of the flying disc is very difficult. The hot air flow of the engine vicious underneath makes the frame structure susceptible to temperature deformation. In April 1961, test flights were resumed after many design improvements. In this test, the flying disc achieved a maximum speed of about 190km / h, 3 times faster than the previous speed of 56km / h but the engineers still could not control the aerodynamic stability for the fly. muscle.

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The Pentagon spent a lot of effort and money on the flying saucer project but still failed.

This problem makes the flying disc constantly stall and lose control, especially when traveling at high speed. The pilot takes 5 seconds to rotate the plane to the left 90 degrees, but it takes 11 seconds to turn right. The manufacturer persuaded the US Air Force that it would try to improve the problem. In September 1961, the VZ-9 continued its test flight for evaluation by the US Air Force.

However, this time, the flying saucer could not even take off the ground, the highest height it reached was less than 1m. The speed of the aircraft is only 56km / h. In December 1961, when problems discovered during the test were still not eliminated, the Pentagon officially stopped funding the project.

According to some sources, the total amount of money that the US Department of Defense spent on this project amounted to 10 million USD, equivalent to about 80 million USD currently. VZ-9 officially failed. However, this project has paved the way for the development of air cushion vessels going forward. Prototypes of later Boeing YC-14 and McDonnell Douglas YC-15 were based on the project's research.

In particular, the central lift fan system of the F-35B vertical takeoff version is said to have also applied some of the technology from the program. Of the two Avrocar models that have been produced and tested, one is currently kept at the US Army Transport Museum in Virginia, and another is on display at the National Air Force National Museum in Dayton. , Ohio.

In addition, this failed project is also believed to have contributed to the fabrication of more mysterious stories about UFOs. People of the sentimental class argue that the images that are rumored to be images of unidentified flying objects are actually disc jets tested by the US at a secret base. .

These people claim that a series of flying saucer accidents reported in the 1950s are also thought to be the result of a series of US secret experiments during this period. However, there are also arguments against this viewpoint because UFO detection cases were actually reported before the US secret project started decades ago.

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