Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dreams of Air Force Saucers in the Wild Blue

I remember when a picture of the AVRO Disc made the rounds back in the late fifties or early sixties -- one of those numerous aviation projects involving disc-shaped aircraft.  Attempts to make the thing a master of the skies hardly went well and it died a quick death.

Thoughts of the AVRO prototype revisited me a few weeks ago when the U.S. Air Force declassified some -- some -- information and drawings from its 1950s top-secret "Project 1794," an enthusiastic undertaking accomplished in conjunction with a Canadian company to build a supersonic honest-to-goodness flying disc.  Make that a flying saucer.

We assume that ambitious plans remained on paper until the project's alleged end in 1960, but the artist's creations - oh, my oh my.  You can find them all over the Internet.  I'll borrow one image and post it here for two reasons.

First, the image depicted here comes from the Web pages of Strike Fighter Consulting, Inc.  I know nothing about them, but inasmuch as their representative Bradley Russell wrote to tell me something about the company -- and features articles about "Project 1794" and other relevant subjects of modern aircraft, weaponry and warfare on their Web site  --  I thought I would mention Strike Fighter here for the benefit of readers current on aviation and, obviously, a world in conflict.  What exactly is Strike Fighter Consulting all about?  According to Russell:

"In case you haven't heard of us, Strike Fighter Consulting consists of
over 50 current and ex-military warfighters that represent the United
States Navy, Air Force, Marines and Army. Its expertise ranges from
fighter pilots, bomber pilots, and test pilots to mission commanders,
intelligence specialists and special operation forces. Strike Fighter
Consulting (SFC) is a military consulting company that delivers the
warfighter to the customer by providing current and diverse expertise
to Department of Defense (DOD) Industry."

So, two links for you today re this site, readers: 

and their article about Project 1794 may be found at: 

Side Note::  Readers sometimes write and expect me to know about military aircraft and weaponry because of my four-year Air Force enlistment during the Vietnam years (see my separate AF blog, linked on the side).  Truth is, as a medical airman I spent most of my time inside USAF hospitals, where flight personnel were plentiful as patients, but aircraft and weapons technology were difficult to come by.  I did fly in a Cessna with an officer who enjoyed "buzzing' cows over Oklahoma and Texas (that was fun), and once took a "hop" during leave from Texas to the East Coast with a brigadier (one star) general and a very gruff major.  I still remember the major because he warned all of us hitching a ride with our box lunches to make sure we left no trash behind upon disembarking.  Well, of course I forgot my trash and, funny as it sounds, even to this day I'll think about that episode and wonder how upset the major must have been when he had to pick up after me.  Sorry, dude.

Now, the second reason why I'm posting the illustration:  Way back  in this blog I posted an article I wrote for the April, 1980 A.P.R.O. Bulletin.  The piece was entitled, "What's a drawing like that Doing in a Place Like This?"  You can find it here:

Yes, even during Air Force basic training in June, 1968, an Air Force-generated illustration of a flying saucer, armed and firing, showed up in training literature which surely would have been seen by each and every airman going through basic at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.  The drawing was crude and simple, but, still, a saucer with a cupola somewhat like the one depicted in the drawing posted here.

Probably no biggies here.  I just feel that the drawing I saw at Lackland becomes even more curious now, and wonder if the Project 1794 artistry and planning had even some minuscule influence upon reasons why the publicly "saucer"-unfriendly Air Force would actually use a saucer depiction in basic training classes (and keep in mind --  that stuff remained with the USAF, airmen were not allowed to take these documents out of the classroom).