Friday, January 4, 2019

Princeton University's Flying Saucers for the US Army

During the 1950s, there were numerous attempts to build aircraft that duplicated the reported performance of flying saucers. There were also experiments to build hovercraft to use as “flying jeeps,” and sometimes these projects intersected. 

Here's a DTIC document describing the saucer program AVRO. Apparently they had other plans...

A briefing by representatives of Aircraft Armaments, Inc., of Cockeysville, Md., on the flying combat vehicle was given to senior officers and representatives of the CONARC staff sections on 21 August 1957. As a result of this briefing, a letter was sent to the Chief of Research and Development, Department of the Army, on 22 October, stating CONARC interest in the flying saucer concept and requesting initiation of a feasibility study of a "manned flying saucer." The Chief of Research and Development replied on 21 November, advising that he had reviewed a current Air Force project with AVRO Aircraft, Ltd., of Canada, which was similar to the Aircrafts Armaments proposal and which appeared promising.
One of these studies was the Princeton Flying Saucer, a project by Princeton University's Department of Aero Engineering developed for the United States Army.
 Popular Science July 1959, Here Come Cars Without Wheels

As the work developed, the team readied a full-sized passenger model for test flights.

(UPI telephoto) 63-9/29-Princeton, N.J.: A US flying saucer as shown in Newsweek’s 10/5 issue, goes into final production stage (top photo) at Princeton University flight research lab. A canvas skin will be stretched over the steel and aluminum frame, which is scheduled to be launched over New Jersey within a month. The saucers 45-horsepower engine will provide lift and 25 m.p.h. forward speed by driving air through the vents around the saucer’s edge. A tail engine will give right-left control. Bottom photo Is a sketch of what the completed craft will look like in flight. 

A special thanks to 
Louis Taylor of Information Dispersal for the original UPI photo. 

Bedford County Press and Everett Press Jan. 28, 1960
A real flying saucer nears completion at Princeton University's flight research laboratory before air tests were scheduled over New Jersey. A 45-horsepower engine will provide lift and 25-mile-per-hour forward speed with a tail-propeller giving right-left control. At bottom is a drawing of the craft after a canvas skin was stretched over her steel and aluminum frame. These pictures from Newsweek Magazine give a preview of the ship.
The project was a success, and the saucer was capable of manned flight.
Science And Mechanics June, 1960, Analyzing Air Car Designs

There was another disc-like project from Princeton, the "Air Scooter," and it can be seen in flight along with the saucer and other hovercraft projects in the following video, "Early Hovercraft: Army 'Ground Effect Machine Program' from R&D Progress Report No 3 1961 US Army."

For some reason, the hovercraft never replaced the Army jeep - at least as far as we know.

For more information on the Princeton saucers, see the article, Flying Saucers at Forrestal, at the site of  Princeton Alumni Weekly.

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