With all the wow and flutter this past few days about Iran’s alleged flying saucer design, I thought it worth reminding readers of just two of the many active flying saucer projects, miniature or otherwise, being worked on around the world in recent years.
Here’s a noisy British-made version, apparently bought by the Pentagon, being demonstrated in 2007:
And here’s another, somewhat more homebrew-looking affair, flying in France around the same time:
Both the above craft utilise the Coanda effect, discovered by Romanian engineer Henri Coanda in the late 1920s and early 1930s, which exploits the way that air flows over a curved surface to create lift.
It’s interesting to note the distinct wobble in the flight patterns of both the above remote control designs, a ‘falling leaf’ motion that has been inherent to flying saucer witness reports dating back to the early 1950s. I’ve often wondered whether some of these people may have seen tests of genuine experimental and – as one commenter has noted below –unstable aircraft.
The design of both these mini-saucers also reflects classic era 1950s and ’60s UFO sighting reports, but this is presumably there to enhance the Coanda effect, rather than their retro-saucer stylings.
As I show in Mirage Men, there’s nothing alien, or even particularly unusual, about disc-shaped or round-winged aircraft, which have been successfully flown since the early 1930s, and sporadically come back into fashion [in fact a mere £10 will get you your very own RC saucer for home use].
As a case in point, here’s rare footage of two of the earliest working American designs , the Arup S-2 and S-4. Designed and built by CL Snyder and Raoul Hoffman, these flying heels performed extremely well in the air but were never able to get off the ground commercially, though the concept would re-emerge in the 1940s as the US Navy’s famed XF5u ‘Flying Flapjack’: