Think flying saucers are nothing but a myth? Think again. The National Archives recently published schematics and details on a 1950s flying saucer project, dubbed Project 1794, in which the U.S. Air Force and a Canadian company (now defunct) we're trying to build their very own flying saucer capable of hitting supersonic speeds!
The recently declassified materials go into detail about the project, revealing that the goal was to create a craft unlike any before it. Even though the project moved into prototype stages, it never really got off the ground, so to speak. According to the document, the saucer would have reached top speeds “between Mach 3 and Mach 4, a ceiling of over 100,000 ft. and a maximum range with allowances of about 1,000 nautical miles.”
What's most surprising is that if the saucer would have actually been produced and seen flight it would have spun through the sky at speeds of over 2,600 miles per hour! And, like the many flying saucers we've seen in movies and on TV, it would have used a vertical take off and landing system that used propulsion jets for control and stability.
So, why was the project dropped? The document leads us to believe product development was going better than expected: “the present design will provide a much superior performance to that estimated at the start of contract negotiations.” Yet, the U.S. Air Force, which went on to actually test other designs (video below), proceeded to end the entire program in 1960. Cost is the first thing that comes to mind, but the amount needed to continue prototype stages was only estimated at $3,168,000 (translating to about $26.6 million in today’s money), which isn't an astronomical number considering the millions spent on today's military aircraft. I guess we'll never know.