Look up in the sky! It’s an Air Force UFO!

Posted by Hillary Brady in July 10, 2015.

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This week in 1947, front page headlines reported a crash on a ranch outside of Roswell, New Mexico. The catch? The crash object was described as a “flying disk,” beginning decades of flying saucer theories and Roswell alien rumors. The idea of the flying saucer was so pervasive that it inspired countless books, movies, TV shows, and, curiously, 1950s US Air Force technology.

An artist's rendering of the completed project.

An artist’s rendering of the completed project.

“Project 1794,” declassified in 2012, shows the Air Force’s detailed plans, budgets, and schematics for its own flying saucer aircraft. The Air Force’s supersonic flying saucer was designed for vertical take-off and landing, using propulsion jets, and to reach Mach 4 speeds. The Air Force contracted a now-defunct Canadian company, Avro Aircraft of Ontario, to work on the project. It was budgeted at approximately $3.1 million in 1956 (which would equate to more than $27 million today).

From the "Project 1794" report.

From the “Project 1794” report.

From the "Project 1794" report.

From the “Project 1794” report.

From the "Project 1794" report.

From the “Project 1794” report.

The project reached a prototyping phase, which you can see images from and read about in these reports, available on DPLA via the National Archives.