Retro Fails: 10 Real Flying Saucers that Never Took Off

us-military-flying-saucers (Image: Bzuk, public domain)

With so many reports of unidentified flying objects in the sky, it’s hard not to be at least mildly intrigued by the idea of ‘flying saucers’. We want to know what – and who – is out there, and there’s perhaps a little bit of us that wants to see it all for ourselves. But throughout the Cold War and earlier a number of bizarre – and very terrestrial – attempts were made to build a range of craft that never quite took off, but may have helped fuel the many alien conspiracy theories that abound today. The latest installment of our Retro Fails series delves into these vintage flying saucer-like designs.

10. Project 1794

In the mid-1950s, the United States government was knee-deep in the middle of an incredibly ambitious – and pretty bizarre – plan. Project 1794, only declassified in 2012, was a collaboration between a Canadian aviation firm and the U.S. military, with the ultimate goal of building their own flying saucer that would revolutionize aircraft. At the time, there were a few mentions in the press about the Air Force’s attempts at designing a new type of aircraft that would lift off vertically – but the full plans were top secret.

project-1794 (Image: National Archives, cc-sa-3.0)

The blueprints show what looks like the flying saucer to end all flying saucers. When you think of what was seen hovering over the streets and descending on terrified civilians in the 1950s, that’s what Project 1794 was trying to build.

The goals of the project were incredibly ambitious. Not only was the craft going to be capable of a vertical take-off, but it was going to have a flight ceiling of 100,000 feet (19 miles), and a top speed of 2,880 miles per hour – that’s Mach 4.

project-1794-2 (Image: National Archives, cc-sa-3.0)

The plans were canceled by 1961. The craft that had the hopes of the nation riding on it could barely get off the ground, and when it did move, it had a top speed of about 35 miles per hour. Plans and blueprints had hoped that it would be capable of out-performing and out-maneuvering anything that the Soviet Union had, giving the United States an incredible edge during the Cold War. Unfortunately, the design just never proved itself, and the plans for the project were relegated to the dark corners of storage facilities.

 
 


 
 
 

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