At the same time that the Air Force was denying the existence of UFOs back in the 1950s, it was also secretly trying to build its own supersonic flying saucer.
A recently declassified document reveals that the Air Force, in 1956, contracted a Canadian company, Avro Aircraft Limited in Ontario to construct a circular craft that could take off and land vertically, as well as potentially reach a top speed of Mach 4 and fly as high as 100,000 feet over a range of 1,000 nautical miles.
While Air Force personnel were dismissing and debunking UFOs through its Project Blue Book operation, this home-grown flying saucer was dubbed Project 1794.
The report -- released by the National Declassification Center, which is part of the National Archives site -- shows detailed schematic designs of what the Air Force's saucer would look like.
Cover of Project 1794: Air Force Flying Saucer
This is the front cover of Project 1794
Air Force Flying Saucer Cutaway 1
This is a cutaway image of the schematics for the Air Force's flying saucer in 1956.
Air Force Flying Saucer Cutaway 2
This is another view of the Air Force's flying saucer schematic from 1956.
Progress Report of Air Force Project 1794
This is part of a 1956 report prepared by Avro Aircraft Limited, the Canadian company contracted by the U.S. Air Force to build a prototype "flying saucer."
According to the official declassified report, "It is concluded that the stabilization and control of the aircraft in the manner proposed -- the propulsive jets are used to control the aircraft -- is feasible and the aircraft can be designed to have satisfactory handling through the whole flight range from ground cushion takeoff to supersonic flight at very high altitude."
In other words, this thing was not science fiction or from another world -- it was really expected to work. The National Archives posting indicates that Project 1794 "was at least in the initial phases of research and development. That much we know."
And the images of the original schematics are strikingly similar to reported UFOs at the time this project was undertaken.
"Curiously, these pictures bear a strong resemblance to 'flying saucers' in popular science fiction films made during the years these reports were created: 1956 and 1957," according to the National Archives posting.
The estimated cost of the Air Force's saucer was $3,168,000 -- for a period of 18 to 24 months -- which translates to about $26.6 million in today's dollars.
This report concluded, in June 1956, that "additional tests to completely substantiate this [expected vehicle] performance are shown to be required."
Watch initial tests of the Avrocar here