The US Airforce Tried to Build a Flying SaucerThe US Air Force had an unnatural obsession with building flying saucers. All their attempts failed, but one seems like it might have been feasible, if the project had been funded.
USAF Project 1794
Project 1794 was a 1956 project to build an aircraft capable of 360 degree movement, a 1,000 mile range, and a flight ceiling of 100,000 feet. The feasibility study concluded that the design would be capable of all those things, all for the low, low price of $3,168,000 in 1956 dollars, or roughly $26 million today.
The Air Force didn't bite, and the project was eventually dropped. Instead, other attempts were funded, all of which ended in failure.
It really is pretty disappointing that the craft was never built. The design claims that the craft would have been able to travel at 2,600 MPh. As Wired points out, that is a trip between New York and Miami in 24 minutes.
In the initial testing, things seemed to be going better than expected. The document states that “the present design will provide a much superior performance to that estimated at the start of contract negotiations.”
Cutaway of Aircraft Structure
Of course, given that, it is a little boggling that the project was canned. The likely reason, as Wired points out, is that other flying saucer projects couldn't get near their flight ceilings. Most struggled to get more than a few feet off the ground. And, given the price, the US Air Force wasn't willing to bet on a technology that would fail like the rest.
Still, we can dream of a world where this thing was created, and wars were fought with flying saucers. Might as well throw death rays in there, too; they had a similar development and drop.
You can check out more gorgeous pictures of the project at Wired, who broke the story.