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Friday, June 23, 2017

Final Fantasy - Quest for the Flying Car

There are two main schools of thought amongst airmen; those that a spouse to the belief that it is safer to stop before landing and those that prefer to land before stopping. The helicopter is one flying machine that conforms to the first school.

Helicopters have been around a long time. In fact, the first helicopter accepted as such was the Focke-
Wulf Fw 61, created in 1936. Sikorsky later mastered helicopters. The term “helicopter” comes from hélicoptère in French, after Gustave Ponton d’Amécourt coined it in 1861. He took it from the Greek helix. It didn’t take long for someone to imagine a car with a helicopter rotor above it.
The flying car animated picture above is a mashup of the following flying cars. 1917 Curtiss Autoplane 1937 Waterman Aerobile 1947 ConVairCar Model 118 1966 Aero-Car 1971 AVE Mizar 2009 Terrafugia Transition 2014 AeroMobil 3.0 2017 AeroMobil 4.0

The fixed wing aeroplane on the other hand usually lands before stopping and to do that safely requires large expansive surfaces such as airports to operate from. Airports are generally associated with large urban centers, served with all kinds of services such as car rental check out counters so, no need for a car that flies in this case. As an flyer myself I have the idea that the most useful form of flying car would be one that stops before landing such as a helicopter or auto-gyro that exhibits also, good driving characteristics with a ground range of about 200 miles. The flying feathers should be easily detachable and the drive-able module electric powered.  The transportation standards have become so extensive over the years for cars with requirements for crash worthy bumpers, airbags,  impact crash testing, roll over standards etc have made it impractical to develop a flying car that complies with airworthiness and roadworthiness standards simultaneously, witness the case where the selling price for the Aeromobile has risen from 200,000 dollars to 400,000 during its development phase.

In my opinion it would make more sense to design the road vehicle comply with standards as a three wheel motorcycle.

1917 Curtiss Autoplane

Glen Curtiss invented and built the first flying aerial limousine - the Curtiss "Autoplane." Curtiss "Autoplane" 1917 The Pan American Aeronautical Exposition of 1917, held in New York's gaudy Grand Central Palace exhibition hall, represented "the biggest and best display of airplanes, aeronautic motors and aerial accessories and supplies ever gotten together on this continent. It was one of the most interesting exhibits at the Exposition.

The Autoplane quickly picked up the nickname "aerial limousine" because the pilot sat at the steering wheel and the two passengers in seats behind him.

The body is a combination of the motor car and aircraft practice, and follows very closely the lines of a modern limousine or coupé car-body. It is constructed mainly of aluminum, the windows being of celluloid. Elaborate upholstery and tapestries are employed for the interior, which accommodates two passengers in the rear and a "chauffeur" forward. Right in front is a circular radiator, through which passes a starting handle for the engine, a Curtiss OX-5 100 h.p., which is located under the bonnet. From the engine, power is transmitted through a shaft, extending to the rear of the body, to the four-bladed propeller located at the top.

There is a pair of wheel fore and aft, mounted in a similar way as on the Curtiss tractor triplane. The axle of the front pair, however, follows motor car practice in that the wheels are pivoted and connected to the control so as to enable the machine to be steered on the ground.

The triplane wings are also similar to the triplane tractor, except that they are staggered and the lower plane is of shorter span. The wing section is "F-2" with an angle of incidence of 4º and a dihedral angle of 3º to the lower plane. The top plane is connected to a cabane mounted on the roof of the "car," whilst the center and lower planes are attached to the body itself. Covered-in K-shaped inter-plane struts separate the planes, and interconnected ailerons are fitted to top and center planes.

The tail is carried by a pair of horizontal tubular outriggers attached to the center plane. The tail surfaces consist of a rectangular horizontal stabilizer, divided elevators, rudder and triangular vertical fin. Mounted on the bonnet, just above the front wheels, is a small plane. The general dimensions are as follows: - Span (top and center) 40 ft. 6 ins., (bottom) 23 ft. 4 ins.; chord (top and center) 4 ft., (bottom) 3 ft. 6 ins., gap, 3 ft. 3 ins.; stagger, 11 ins.; overall length, 27 ft.; height 10 ft.; width of body, 3 ft. 6 ins.; speed range, 45-65 m.p.h.; useful load, 710 lbs.

Development of the Autoplane was superseded by the war effort when America entered World War 1 only 2 month after the unveiling.

1937 Waterman Aerobile

Waldo Waterman's first flying wing aircraft was the unofficially named Waterman Whatsit, a pusher configuration low swept-wing monoplane with fins near its wing tips. The Whatsit also featured a wing-mounted tricycle undercarriage and a trim foreplane. Powered by a 100 hp (75 kW) Kinner K-5 5-cylinder radial pusher engine, it first flew in 1932.] In May 1935 Waterman completed a submission to the government funded Vidal Safety Airplane competition. This was the Arrowplane, sometimes known as the W-4. This adopted a similar layout to the Whatsit but had a strut-braced high wing on a blunt-nosed, narrow fuselage pod with a tricycle undercarriage mounted under it. Its wings had wooden spars and metal ribs and were fabric covered, with triangular endplate fins carrying upright rudders. Its fuselage was steel framed and aluminium covered. It was powered by a 95 hp (71 kW) inverted inline 4-cylinder Menasco B-4 Pirate pusher engine mounted high in the rear of the fuselage. The Arrowplane was not intended for production or to be roadable, but its success in the Vidal competition encouraged Waterman to form the Waterman Arrowplane Co. in 1935 for production of a roadable version. The resulting Arrowbile, referred to by Waterman as the W-5, was similar both structurally and aerodynamically to the Arrowplane, though the fins differed in shape, with rounded leading edges and swept-back rudder hinges. For road use the wings and propeller could be quickly detached. The main other differences were in engine choice, the need to drive the wheels and to use conventional car floor-type controls on the road. The air-cooled Menasco was replaced by a water-cooled engine as used by most cars. Waterman modified a 6-cylinder upright, 100 hp (75 kW) Studebaker unit and placed it lower down in the pod, driving the propeller shaft at the top of the fuselage via six ganged V-belts with a 1.94:1 speed reduction. The radiator was in the forward fuselage, fed from a duct opening in the extreme upper nose. On the ground the engine drove the main wheels through a differential gear, as normal, and the car was steered by its nosewheel. The wheels were enclosed in fairings, initially as a road safety measure. Instead of removing the propeller for the road, it could be de-clutched to prevent it windmilling the engine at speed. The wheel in the two-seat cabin controlled the Arrowbile both on the road and in the air. Outer wing elevons moved together to alter pitch and differentially to bank. The rudders, interconnected with the elevons when the wheel was turned, moved only outwards, so in a turn only the inner rudder was used, both adjusting yaw as normal and assisting the elevon in depressing the inner wing tip. This system had been used on the Arrowplane as a safety feature to avoid the commonly fatal spin out of climb and turn from take-off accident but the raked rudder hinge of the Arrowbile provided the banking component even from a nose-down attitude. There were no conventional flaps or wing mounted airbrakes but the rudders could be operated as brakes by opening them outwards together with a control independent of the wheel. The cabin interior was designed to motor car standards, with easy access and a baggage space under the seats. The Arrowbile first flew on 21 February 1937, making it a close contemporary of the Gwinn Aircar, and a second prototype with a number of minor modifications followed. Studebaker were interested in the Arrowbile because of the use of their engine and ordered five. The third Arrowbile was the first of this order. However there was little market response and the line was halted in 1938, with no more production aircraft completed. The production aircraft had several changes, some of which aimed to emphasise the similarities with cars; there was a radiator grille with a single headlight centrally above it and also car type doors and petrol filler cap. The fourth Aerobile was completed as a conventional, non-roadable aircraft; Waterman initially retained the Studebaker engine but in 1941 replaced it with an air-cooled 120 hp (89 kW) Franklin. In 1943 he modified the wings with slotted flaps and later still replaced the braced wing with a cantilever one, using the wing from the unbuilt fifth aircraft. The last, sixth aircraft was not completed and flown until May 1957. It was a three-seat, roadable version powered by a water-cooled 120 hp (89 kW) Tucker-Franklin. This was cooled by radiators on each side of the engine, fed air by fuselage side scoops. In the absence of the forward radiator the nose was remodelled, becoming shorter and blunter. The fins were also altered so that the upper and lower leading edges met at an acute angle. At some point this particular Arrowbile was renamed the Aerobile, though it was not a name that Waterman used.

1966 ConVairCar Model 118

Consolidated Vultee Aircraft (later Convair) was seeking entry into the post-war aviation boom with a mainstream flying car. Theodore P. "Ted" Hall had studied the concept of a flying car before World War II, with Consolidated unsuccessfully proposing the idea for use in Commando type raids. Following the end of the War, Hall and Tommy Thompson designed and developed the Convair Model 116 Flying Car featured in Popular Mechanics magazine in 1946, which consisted of a two-seat car body, powered by a rear-mounted 26 hp (19 kW) engine, with detachable monoplane wings and tail, fitted with their own tractor configuration 90 hp (67 kW) Franklin 4A4 engine driving a two bladed wooden propeller. This flew on July 12, 1946, completing 66 test flights.Hall subsequently designed a more sophisticated development of the Model 116, with a more refined car body and a more powerful "flight" engine. A 25 hp (19 kW) Crosley engine was in the rear, powering the plastic-bodied 4-seat car and a 190 hp (142 kW) Lycoming O-435C was used for the powerplant of the aircraft. A lofty production target of 160,000 was planned, with a projected $1,500 price tag. Convair anticipated that the Model 118 would be purchased in large numbers to be rented at airports.Operational history[edit] Test pilot Reuben Snodgrass flew the prototype, registration No. NX90850, for the first time on November 15, 1947. On November 18, 1947, while on a one-hour demonstration flight, it made a low fuel forced landing near San Diego, California destroying the car body and damaging the wing. The pilot, who escaped with minor injuries, reportedly took off with little or no aviation fuel aboard. Although the fuel gauge he had visually checked during the pre-flight check indicated that the tank was full, it was the automobile's fuel gauge, not the aircraft's gauge. Using the same wing and another car body, the second prototype flew again on January 29, 1948 piloted by W.G. Griswold, but enthusiasm for the project waned and Convair cancelled the program. The rights reverted to Hall, who formed T.R Hall Engineering Corp., but the Model 118 in its new incarnation never achieved production status.

1971 AVE Mizar

The prototypes of the Mizar were made by mating the rear portion of a Cessna Skymaster to a Ford Pinto.The pod-and-twin-boom configuration of the Skymaster was a convenient starting point for a hybrid automobile/airplane. The passenger space and front engine of the Skymaster were removed, leaving an airframe ready to attach to a small car. AVE planned to have their own airframe purpose-built by a subcontractor for production models, rather than depending on Cessna for airframes. According to Peterson's Complete Ford Book, by mid-1973, two prototypes had been built and three more were under construction. One prototype was slated for static display at Galpin Ford, owned by AVE partner Bert Boeckmann of Sepulveda, California. The other prototype, fitted with a Teledyne Continental Motors 210 horsepower (160 kW) engine, was unveiled to the press on May 8, 1973. It then began a series of taxi tests at Van Nuys, California. AVE made special arrangements to do flight testing at the U.S. Navy's test facilities at Point Mugu, California. AVE stated that FAA certification flights were underway in mid-1973. The Mizar was intended to use both the aircraft engine and the car engine for takeoff. This would considerably shorten the takeoff roll. Once in the air, the car engine would be turned off. Upon landing, the four-wheel braking would stop the craft in 525 feet (160 m) or less. On the ground, telescoping wing supports would be extended and the airframe would be tied down like any other aircraft. The Pinto could be quickly unbolted from the airframe and driven away. Production was scheduled to begin in 1974. AVE had stated that prices would range from US$18,300 to US$29,000. On a test flight from Camarillo Airport in California on August 26, 1973, according to test pilot Charles "Red" Janisse, the right wing strut base mounting attachment failed soon after takeoff. Because turning the aircraft would put too much stress on the unsupported wing, Janisse put the aircraft down in a bean field. After the roadway was closed to traffic, Janisse drove the otherwise undamaged aircraft back to the airport. On September 11, 1973, during a test flight at Camarillo, the right wing strut again detached from the Pinto. With Janisse not available for this test flight, Mizar creator Smolinski was at the controls. Although some reports say the Pinto separated from the airframe, an air traffic controller, watching through binoculars, said the right wing folded. According to Janisse, the wing folded because the pilot tried to turn the aircraft when the wing strut support failed. Smolinski and the Vice President of AVE, Harold Blake, were killed in the resulting fiery crash. Even though the Pinto was a light car, the total aircraft without passengers or fuel was already slightly over the certified gross weight of a Skymaster. However, in addition to poor design and loose parts, the National Transportation Safety Board reported that bad welds were partly responsible for the crash, with the right wing strut attachment failing at a body panel of the Pinto.

2009 Terrafugia

The experimental Transition Proof of Concept's first flight in March 2009 was successful and took place at Plattsburgh International Airport in upstate New York using U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tail number N302TF. First customer delivery, as of March 2009, was originally planned to take approximately 18 months and occur in 2011. On July 1, 2010 it was announced that the Terrafugia Transition had been granted an exemption from the FAA concerning its Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) allowing the Transition to be certified with a take-off weight up to 1,430 pounds (650 kg); the limit matches the MTOW for amphibious light-sport aircraft. The extra 110 pounds (50 kg) granted by the exemption provides more weight allowance for the mandatory road safety features such as airbags and bumpers. Oshkosh July 2008, Proof of Concept Oshkosh July 2011, Production Prototype The proposed design of the production version was made public at AirVenture Oshkosh on July 26, 2010. Aerodynamic changes revealed included a new, optimized airfoil, Hoerner wingtips, and removal of the canard after it was found to have an adverse aerodynamic interaction with the front wheel suspension struts; furthermore, the multipurpose passenger vehicle classification from the NHTSA removed the requirement for a full width bumper that had inspired the original canard design. On November 16, 2010 the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published Terrafugia's petition for a temporary, three-year hardship exemption from four FMVSS standards in the Transition. Terrafugia requested to use lighter weight motorcycle tires instead of RV tires, polycarbonate for the windshield and side windows, basic airbags instead of advanced, dual stage airbags and to not include an electronic stability control system. The NHTSA granted all of the requested exemptions on June 29, 2011, but limited the stability control and airbag exemptions to one year. In June 2011, a delay was announced and Terrafugia's CEO estimated that about another 18 months would be required before first customer delivery in "late 2012", but this was not achieved. December 2011 saw the base price increased to US$279,000 from an initial price of US$194,000. After undergoing drive tests and high-speed taxi tests, the production prototype completed its first flight on March 23, 2012 at the same airport in Plattsburgh, New York that was used for the Proof of Concept's flight testing. The production prototype then made its auto show debut at the 2012 New York International Auto Show in April 2012. In June 2012, Terrafugia announced that the Transition had completed the first of six phases of flight testing. By July, the second phase of testing was underway, expanding the performance envelope in the sky and continuing drive testing on the ground. In January 2013, development continued and the company announced that it might be necessary to construct a third, completely new prototype, due to the large number of modifications required. The modifications to date are said to appear to have improved the previous handling characteristics. By March 2014, the design of the third, updated prototype had progressed to finalization of the major structural members and a statement to investors said that it would be used in final compliance testing for certification before the first customer delivery which was then estimated to take at least another 18 months and occur "in 2015". By April 2014, 12 two-person test flights had taken place; this was the first time that anyone other than Terrafugia's chief test pilot had flown the Transition.As of 22 August 2014, first customer delivery was hoped for in about 18 months "in the second quarter of 2016." In December 2014 the company asked the FAA to allow the Transition to be operated at a gross weight of 1,800 lb (816 kg) instead of the light-sport aircraft maximum weight of 1,320 lb (599 kg) and have a stall speed of 54 kn (100 km/h; 62 mph) instead of the category maximum of 45 kn (83 km/h; 52 mph). The company indicated that the increases were required to allow inclusion of structures to meet FMVSS ground operation safety regulations. The company had previously been granted an increase in gross weight of 110 lb (50 kg) and another LSA aircraft, the ICON A5, was granted a 250 lb (113 kg) exemption to meet FAA spin resistance requirements; this new application would increase the Transition's allowed weight by a total of 480 lb (218 kg) or 36%. During consultations the request for the weight increase was supported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Only a few individuals expressed opposition to the request. The exemption was granted by the FAA on 19 June 2016.In April 2015 the company announced that parts were being built for the third version of the aircraft, and that current planning estimated the first customer delivery after roughly two years. Terrafugia COO/VP of Engineering Kevin Colburn also stated that the company has changed the price estimate from $279K to between $300K and $400K.  In November 2015, the company announced that the third version of the Transition was being tested with a Rotax 912is engine, rather than the Rotax 912ULS that the second prototype had flown with. As of April, 2017, the company's website says "Today, Terrafugia is finalizing production vehicle design and compliance testing in preparation for vehicle deliveries within the next three years."

2014 Aeromobile 3

AeroMobil, a Slovakian company, plans to start selling its creation, the AeroMobil 3.0, in 2017. The company claims on its site that the vehicle "transforms in seconds from an automobile to an airplane" by using "existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes." The vehicle is gas-powered and has wings that fold, which allows it to be parked like a car, though it is nearly 20 feet long. The company's web site features a video where the AeroMobil 3.0 drives out of a hangar and goes down a highway, sharing the road with regular cars until it arrives at an airstrip. The car then unfolds its wings and takes off from a stretch of grass, rather than a paved tarmac, and flies through the air like any other small airplane. AeroMobil spokesman Stefan Vadocz said his company hasn't nailed down an exact price because it's not ready yet. "The prototype is a work in progress," he said in an email. But he said to expect the price to be several hundreds of thousands of euros, somewhere in between a sports car and a light sports aircraft. Related: Challenger Hellcat production suspended The vehicle seats two people -- the pilot and a passenger - and its single propeller is located to the rear of the plane. The company said the car's top speed on the road is at least 99 mph and while flying is at least 124 mph. It can fly for 435 miles before running out of gas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cheerson CX 20 Suddenly Can't Fly

  1. Drone weighted down during the throttle calibration process; no fear of a flyaway with that hunk of rusty tube threaded through the landing skids.
Calibration of the throttle completed and the rotors now throttle up normally but after the session we check and find that throttle calibration may be required at the beginning of each flight now. 

CX20 not lifting off Posted by Rob Nielsen on February 20, 2015 at 2:15pm in QuadcoptersView Discussions I just got my CX20 yesterday, I have been reading up on all the details and quirks so I was ready for it's arrival. I did a complete inspection of the interior components (ensuring I had disconnected the magnetometer in the mast). Everything is secure and in it's proper position. all solder connections seem sound. APM and GPS are in place and secure (they are mounting the GPS on the opposite side from the USB now). I reassembled everything and reconnected the Mag. Checked the propellers for balance. By this tiem the stock battery on the stock charger was completely charged. I updated the firmware and made sure it knew where home is in the Mission Planner software, as well as did a full calibration of accelerometers, Mag and transmitter. Propellers on their proper arms. All set to go. Ok time to fly. I take the unit outside. connect the battery, switch on the TX. The system binds as it should. Everything seems good. I have a solid green (Sats visible). I unlock the motors and try to take off. the moment the throttle leaves the full off position, the motors kick in at moderate revs, not enough for liftoff but flattening the grass. The unit leans forward so i pull back on the cyclic (right stick) to compensate. As i rev to max throttle, there is not difference in the RPM of the motors. At 0 throttle it is off, at 1% and up it is at a fast idle, not enough to take off. If i move the cyclic, i can rock it side to side and front to back, but it doesn't have the power to liftoff. similar to and ICE with the choke applied. I have gone through every permutation of the calibration routines from the incorrect factory ones to the ones used by people who fly this unit successfully many times over. I tried the all at once ESC calibration but this seems to not be the APM that works with that method. The only thing I can think of is doing a manual 'one at a time' ESC calibration but at this moment I am waiting for word back from the supplier. I have been waiting for a while for this to show up and now I am waiting with the thing right in front of me. it's pretty frustrating as you can imagine. Great weather and I can't fly it. FPV and telemetry gear on the way for it. ARG! If anyone has some good suggestions, i am VERY eager to try them. Flying the little Walkera and the Syma is getting old.

Suffice to say that I have been having this very same problem and I could not have explained it any better myself. It has been a very frustrating series of experiences that I have been having ever since I became risky soul  by updating firmware for my drone using the Mission Planner Graphic User Interface (GUI). Those sessions left my Cheerson CX 20 with Throttle settings of 200 when the default value is 1000, rendering it incapable of flight. Several flip-overs later the USB port has been damaged will no longer talk to my computer so you can imagine how excited I was to discover this YouTube video which carefully explained how to re-calibrate the drones throttles using only the controller (transmitter). In my case I didn't even have to remove the blades; I simply slipped a heavy length of steel through the landing skids and carried out the procedure exactly as explained in the video.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake”

Weird But Worked! Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” Flying Pancake

The Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” was an American experimental test aircraft designed by Charles H. Zimmerman and was built as part of the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack” World War II United States Navy fighter aircraft program. Both the V-173 and the XF5U featured an rather unorthodox “all-wing” design consisting of flat, somewhat disk-shaped bodies (hence the name) serving as the lifting surface. Two piston engines buried in the body drove propellers located on the leading edge at the wing tips.
The original prototype, designated the V-173, was built of wood and canvas and featured a conventional, fully symmetrical aerofoil section. Designed as a “proof-of-concept” prototype, the initial configuration V-173 was built as a lightweight test model powered by two 80 hp Continental A-80 engines turning F4U Corsair propellers.
These were later replaced by a pair of specially modified 16 ft 6 in three-bladed units. A tall, fixed main undercarriage combined with a small tailwheel gave the aircraft a 22° “nose-high” angle.

Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942
Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942

The disc wing design featured a low aspect ratio that overcame the built-in disadvantages of induced drag created at the wingtips with the large propellers actively cancelling the drag-causing tip vortices.
The propellers were arranged to rotate in the opposite direction to the tip vortices, allowing the aircraft to fly with a much smaller wing area. The small wing provided high maneuverability with greater structural strength.
In January 1942, the Bureau of Aeronautics requested a proposal for two prototype aircraft of an experimental version of the V-173, known as the VS-135.
The development version, the Vought XF5U-1, was a larger aircraft with all-metal construction and was almost five times heavier than the first prototype.

Diagram of the complicated powertrain

The first flight of the V-173 was on 23 November 1942 with Vought Chief Test Pilot Boone Guyton at the controls. The aircraft’s most significant problem concerned its complicated gearbox that routed power from the engines to its two long propeller shafts.
The gearbox produced unacceptable amounts of vibration in ground testing, delaying the aircraft’s first test flight for months.

Edited NACA image of of a Vought V-173 ("Flying Flapjack") undergoing testing in a wind tunnel.
NACA image of a Vought V-173 (“Flying Flapjack”) undergoing testing in a wind tunnel.

Flight testing of the V-173 went on through 1942 and 1943 with 190 flights, resulting in reports of UFOs from surprised Connecticut locals.

Maiden flight, 1942

Charles Lindbergh piloted the V-173 during this time and found it surprisingly easy to handle and exhibiting impressive low-speed capabilities.
On one occasion, the V-173 was forced to make an emergency landing on a beach. As the pilot made his final approach, he noticed two bathers directly in his path. The pilot locked the aircraft’s brakes on landing, causing the aircraft to flip over onto its back.
Remarkably, the airframe proved so strong that neither the plane nor the pilot sustained any significant damage.

V-173 upside down on the beach

The developmental V-173 made its last flight 31 March 1947. In 131.8 hours of flying over 190 flights, Zimmerman’s theory of a near-vertical takeoff- and landing-capable fighter had been proven.
The V-173 is now part of the Smithsonian collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland.
It was restored at the Vought Aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, as of April 2012 it is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bras d'Or The Little Ship that Flew

Bras d'Or was named in honor of Bras d'Or Lake on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, where inventor Alexander Graham Bell performed hydrofoil experiments in the early 20th century near his estate and new laboratory at Beinn Bhreagh, setting the world watercraft speed record in the process. In 1909 the lake was also the historic site of the first flight of an aircraft in Canada and the British Commonwealth; the airplane, named the Silver Dart, was built by the Aerial Experiment Association under Dr. Bell's tutelage. The lake's name was thus fitting for a hydrofoil vessel which could 'fly' above an ocean's surface. 

HMCS Bras d'Or (FHE 400) hydrofoil served in the Canadian Forces from 1968 to 1971. During sea trials in 1969, the vessel exceeded 63 knots (117 km/h; 72 mph), making her the fastest unarmed warship in the world. The vessel was originally built from 1960 to 1967 for the Royal Canadian Navy, as a project for the testing of anti-submarine warfare technology on an ocean-going hydrofoil.


Specifications: [2] 
Name: Bras d'Or Type: FHE Fast Hydrofoil Escort Class: Bras d'Or 
Displacement: 180 tons
Length: 46 metres - 151 feet 
Width: 6.4 metres - 21 feet 
Draught: 7 metres - 23 feet 
Propulsion: 2 Pratt and Whitney FT4A turbines 
Speed: Turbines - 22,000 shp - 63+ knots; 
Diesel - 2000 hp - 15 knots 
Crew: 4 Officers, 25 men 
Weapons: None fitted 
Pendant/Hull Number: 400 
Builder: Marine Industries Ltd., (MIL), Sorel Quebec 

Ordered: DeHavilland of Canada was given a contract in 1960 to design and build the Bras d'Or hydrofoil ship. 
Laid Down: Hull construction of the FHE-400 commenced in 1964.
Launched: On July 23, 1968 Bras d’Or was towed on the slave dock from the Naval Dockyard to the Halifax Shipyard for launching. 
Commissioned: 19 July 1968 
Paid Off: 1 May 1972 
De-Commissioned: The Bras d'Or was de-commissioned on 02 November 1971. Changes in Canada's defense priorities and cost overruns were the reasons for the project's cancellation.
Scrapped: Project canceled in 1972 by the Liberal Government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, with most of the valuable components sold by Crown Assets or scrapped. 
Current Location: Musee maritime du Quebec at L'Islet, Quebec. 

A combined Anglo-Canadian study (RCN and British Admiralty) into the use of hydrofoils for anti-submarine work and coastal patrol craft began post Second World War. 

This led to a 17-tonne prototype, the R-103, built by Saunders-Roe in the UK, and sea-trials were conducted in Canada.  
The primary contractor was de Havilland Canada, an aircraft company. The Principal Naval Overseer was Commander Donald Clark, CD, RCN, who initiated the project on completion and launch of HMCS Nipigon in 1964. The hull was built upside down out of aluminum and rotated on 22 January 1966 when it was complete. The foil system was constructed from maraging steel. Bras d'Or flew on a set of surface-piercing foils in a canard configuration with a small foil forward and a larger load-bearing foil aft. 

The foils were made of maraging steel coated in neoprene to prevent corrosion. However, the neoprene coating did not work adequately and the foils still suffered from a form of stress corrosion. 

Diamond-shaped front foil The main foils featured several parts: two anhedral foils, two anhedral tips, two dihedral foils, and a center high-speed foil. The steerable front foil featured two anhedral sections and two dihedral sections with a strut down the middle, resulting in a diamond shape.
The surface-piercing foil system of this hydrofoil is very evident from the photo. The main foil carries about 90% of the lift, whereas the small bow foil carries the remaining 10%. The latter is steerable and acts like a rudder for both foil-borne and hull-borne operations. It can also be adjusted in rake, enabling the best angle-of-attack to be selected for foil-borne or hull-borne operation under whatever load or sea conditions that may exist. As in many hydrofoil designs, the different power levels involved in hull-borne and high-speed foil-borne operations dictate separate propulsion systems. 

The accompanying illustration shows the layout of BRAS D'OR's propulsion system. For the lower-power, long endurance hull-borne system, fuel weight is a critical factor which made the selection of a high speed diesel engine a logical one. A Paxman 16 YJCM diesel rated at 2,000 hp drove two three-bladed propellers on pods mounted on the main anhedral foils. These 7-foot diameter, fully-reversible, controllable-pitch propellers were 30 feet apart in the lateral direction which provided excellent maneuverability at low speed through differential pitch control. 

Foil-borne power was provided by a FT4A-2 gas turbine developing 25,500 horsepower (19.0 MW) at 21,500 rpm through General Electric gearboxes to a pair of three-bladed super-cavitating propellers. Hull-borne propulsion was driven by a Paxman Ventura 16YJCM sixteen-cylinder diesel engine to a pair of variable-pitch propellers. Auxiliary power and electrical power while foil-borne was provided by an ST6A-53 gas turbine powering an auxiliary gearbox. Both of the P and W turbines were built by United Aircraft of Canada. There was also a Garrett GTCP85-291 gas turbine for essential ship electrical requirements in emergencies.The foil-borne propulsion system consisted of a Pratt and Whitney FT4A-2 gas turbine engine, rated at 22,000 hp, driving two fixed-pitch, three-bladed propellers 4 feet in diameter.

The hull was made of welded aluminium and was built upside down. It was righted on January 22 1966 and the superstructure and systems were added at that time. The ship's hydrofoils were constructed of welded 250 ksi marging steel. The main foils were a hollow structure consisting of a 3-D truss-work of span-wise running members, thus forming a closed multi cell bending structure. There were no ribs per-se, except the two end ribs that contained the machined integral connecting lugs. 

DeHavilland subcontracted fabrication of the hull and installation of ship systems to Marine Industries Ltd. in Sorel, Quebec. Hull construction of BRAS D'OR commenced in 1964, but during construction, on 5 November 1966, there was a disastrous fire in the main machinery space which almost caused termination of the program. A de Havilland employee was in the main engine room with the ST6 running when a hydraulic fluid leak ignited on a hot joint in the ST6's exhaust stack, resulting in a flash fire. The technician responsible for the fire-suppression system rescued the employee, but as a result did not have time to activate the fire-suppression system. The fire was put out one and a half hours later by the Sorel fire department. This fire delayed the ship's launch to 12 July 1968 and cost $5.7 million. 

In spite of the delays and cost increase, however, the ship, designated FHE-400 and named BRAS D'OR, was completed in 1967.   A variety of teething problem interfered with the progress of BRAS D'OR's trials. These involved the hull-borne transmission system, the bow foil pivot bearing, the foil-tip and steering actuators, the electrical system, and the hydraulic pumps. 

None of these proved to be insurmountable problems however, and steady progress was made in overcoming them. In July 1969, BRAS D'OR was docked to repair persistent foil-system leaks, and a large crack was discovered in the lower surface of the center main foil. When the neoprene coating was removed, an extensive network of cracks was found, some at least entering into the spar and rib members of the sub-structure. A replacement foil element was constructed, but later, it too developed severe cracking.   


The ship's helmsman had to be qualified as both a sea pilot and an aircraft pilot. Bras d'Or had two propulsion systems; one for foil-borne operation and one for hull-borne operation, which included four engines. 

Bras d'Or arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 1 July 1968 to begin a long series of trials. From September of 1968 until July 1971, when the trials terminated, the ship logged 648 hours, 552 hull-borne, and 96 hours foil-borne. The most operationally representative trial was a 2,500 mile voyage to Hamilton, Bermuda, and Norfolk, Virginia, in June 1971. The biggest disappointment, albeit from a scientific point of view (but not the sailor's aboard), was that the amount of significant rough-water data collected was regrettably small. At no time during the trip were limiting rough-water conditions experienced, either hull-borne or foil-borne. 

This was not to say that BRAS D'OR did not encounter rough water! According to Michael Eames, who describes highlights of these trials in his paper cited, HMCS FRASIER, a 3,000-ton frigate sailing in company during a rough water trial sent a signal as follows: "Weather conditions were considered most unpleasant, heavy seas and 15-20 ft swell, wind gusting to 60 knots, ship spraying overall with upper deck (of FRASIER) out of bounds most of the time. BRAS D'OR appeared to possess enviable sea-keeping qualities. She was remarkably stable with a noticeable absence of roll and pitch, and apparently no lack of maneuverability. The almost complete absence of spray over the fo'c's'le and bridge was very impressive." 

Foil-borne, BRAS D'OR exceeded her calm-water design speed, achieving 63 knots at full load in 3 to 4 foot waves. Sea trials included a comprehensive set of sea-keeping and motions data, all of which prompted the Canadians to conclude that BRAS D'OR showed its performance to be quite a remarkable surface-piercing hydrofoil ship. 

The Bras d'Or first flew on 9 April 1969 near Chebucto Head off the entrance to Halifax Harbor. The vessel exhibited extraordinary stability in rough weather, frequently more stable at 40 knots (70 km/h; 50 mph) than a conventional ship at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Bras d'Or exceeded 63 knots (117 km/h; 72 mph) on trials, quite possibly making her the fastest warship ever built. It was however, never fitted with equipment for warfare (no weapons or weapon systems) and the title now lies with the Norwegian Skjold-class corvettes that do 60 knots (110 km/h; 70 mph), fully equipped. 

Cancellation of the Bras d'Or's trials came on 2 November 1971 by Minister of National Defense Donald S. MacDonald, attributing it to a change in defense priority (from anti-submarine warfare to sovereignty protection). The ship was laid up for five years, then the program was completely cancelled by Liberal Government under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, with most of the valuable components were either sold by Crown Assets or scrapped. 

My Personal Recollections of Canadian Hydrofoils:
The Bras D'Or (FHE 400) was not the first hydrofoil that I had worked on. In 1962 while employed  as a  newly graduated mechanical engineer at Fairy Aviation  in Eastern Passage Nova Scotia working under Benny Walworth, I was given several assignments on the R-103. Those mainly had to do with developing a system for handling towed underwater bodies to house listening devices for detecting enemy submarines.

The R-103 pictures below are credited to David Mills.
She was:
Laid down and Launched: 22 May 1957;
Commissioned: 26 Jun 1957; 
Renamed: Baddeck 1962; 
Paid off: 1973; 
Final Fate: stored Museum ship at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.

Experience gained with this experimental craft resulted in the selection of foil configuration used for Bras d'Or.[2].  Bras d'Or 2 was the fourth vessel to bear that name.

 Bras d'Or finally flying level and roaring westwards along the Menai Strait

 Bras d'Or 'flying' back towards Beaumaris past the old Bishop's Palace where my father lodged around 1945. He told me that he stored his New Imperial TT Replica motor cycle in pieces in the tower. When he rebuilt it he had to wheel it down the spiral stairs and out through the lounge one night to avoid the landlady finding out he had kept it there.

R-103 renamed Baddeck at Halifax prior to being transfered to Ottawa.

 Saunders-Roe R-103 (BADDECK) was retired in 1970 and spent the intervening years sitting in her cradle near the Fleet Diving Unit, Atlantic, on CFB Shearwater waterfront. Her fate then was uncertain, but is now stored in the Museum of Science, Ottawa awaiting conservation. The foils and central propeller skeg have been removed and are safely in storage. Unfortunately both Rolls Royce Griffon engines have long since been removed.

It has been a long time (more than 50 years) since I moved from Fairy Aviation in Eastern Passage (Shearwater) to work on the FHE 400 as a new DeHavilland employee. Much of that is now a distant memory, but some of it is as vivid as if it was yesterday. 

I well remember being at my workstation with one half scale drawings of the main center foil and main dihedral foils spread out on the worktable. My job as a stress engineer was to determine the strength and safety factories for these components. We were all well aware that the foils were to be manufactured of "a Space Age Alloy" maraging steel; a then fairly new product of the steel industry, mainly intended for high temperature applications. 

The allowable stress for that material is 250,000 pounds per square inch but after applying every factor we could imagine, we were not able to predict internal stresses greater 35,000 psi. In other words, the foils could have been made of any aircraft grade steel or for that matter aircraft grade aluminium alloy.

I recall at the time participating in discussions around the water fountain which suggested that the maraging steel was proving difficult to machine and weld. Given the projects time constraints a steep learning curve in its fabrication techniques was anticipated.

About this time I was transferred out of the project to the DC-9 which was ramping up a few yards away on the other side of the divider that separated working groups, in that sprawling old building that was built in the war years to house Victory Aircraft, as part of Canada's aircraft production effort. 

While my first hand involvement with the hydrofoil project had ended I still got to learn news from my near by friends still engaged with the engineering effort. I learned of the disastrous fire caused by a simple hydraulic fluid leak (fire resistant fluid would have eliminated the problem). The fire came close to completely destroying the prototype at the ship yards in Sorel I also heard of the silver lining story; how that fire afforded the designers an opportunity to discover and remedy some potential short coming in the hull, in the area of torsional stiffness. 

The stiffness calculations had assumed the hull as a closed structure, where in reality it had a significant length where the deck was interrupted by a large cutout which was incapable of carrying the shear loads. 

I also heard stories of the monster cracks that were discovered in the center foils which ultimately were attributed to the lack of stress relief of the welded structure, its exposure to sea water and the choice of maraging type 250 ksi steel, no cracks were ever found in structural elements fabricated in the lower 200 ksi strength material [ref 1].

Even today there is still a great deal of confusion in my mind about what vessel people are referring to when they use the name Bras d'OR, as I am now discovering there is a long line of small craft that have been given that name.

1. Bras d'Or Bell's hydrofoil of 1909

2. PT-3 built in the US under the Lend-Lease Program

3. R-103 built in the UK by Saunders as a joint British/Canadian experimental effort

4 FHE-400 designed and built in Canada for the Canadian Navy

The hull and foils of Bres d'Or was saved and donated to the Musée Maritime du Québec atL'Islet-sur-Mer, Quebec where it remains on display to this day.[3]
Canada's once proud hydrofoil ship underway

Ref 1 HMCS BRAS D’OR - The Ship That Flew
by Tom Bennett

Ref 2 FHE 400 - HMCS Bras D'Or Canada's Military Hydrofoil, 6th December 2012

Friday, May 19, 2017

The AvroCar Jet-Propelled Flying Saucer

Avro Car as she exists today at her storage place in the U.S. Air Force Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia.

It was born in the Cold War era as a possible way of hiding high performance aircraft from Russian A-bombs, but it remains shrouded in mystery. The only mention the Air Force makes of that project is in The Report on Project Silver Bug, written in 1955 by the Air Technical Intelligence Center and Wright Air Development Center,  It proposed the Jetmounting of a research and development project into the building of a jet-propelled flying saucer, capable of both vertical takeoff and landing along with supersonic speeds up to 1,500 mph. If successful, the craft would have been based underground, thus avoiding the need for long runways and easily-distinguished bases which would have been easily taken out by a single nuclear bomb or missile warhead.
It was a great idea, actually. The U.S. government had taken the idea seriously enough to import a group of German aeronautical experts to this country after World War II. Some of those German experts had allegedly worked on similar projects under Hitler during the war. Hopefully, they would be capable of building a combat saucer for us under Operation Paperclip, the program which brought them to the United States.

The entire Silver Bug project remained clouded in secrecy and security classifications until the decade of the 1990s, when the one report was finally declassified and released by the Air Force. There is a semi-official story floating around that the Silver Bug project resulted in the ill-fated Avro Car, which only got a few feet off the ground, and the project was ultimately scrapped due to instability of the craft and an inability to fly. But public information officers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, when asked if further reports on Project Silver Bug are available and if the project ever resulted in an operational aircraft, said no further reports on that project are currently declassified.

Persons who have investigated the Silver Bug project find that Air Force statement quite interesting, since it was not a flat denial that anything operational was ever produced from that R&D project ... if the project was a failure, why are any other reports on it still classified? A lot of experimental test aircraft have been checked out by the Air Force, are found to be failures, and are scuttled. Some of those investigators are convinced that Silver Bug actually flew, and that at least some of the resulting craft were and are in existence.

Whether or not the craft actually turned out to be powered by jet aircraft or some other propulsion system is unknown, as well as other aircraft features including size and the use the Air Force would put the aircraft to.

Those questions, as well as others, have no publicly known answers. What the investigators and everybody else are left with at present are only sketchy facts and a lot of speculation ... as well as some sightings of strange aircraft that could be of something Silver Bug resulted in.

What Project Silver Bug was set to begin work on in 1955 was the research and development project to field jet propelled flying saucers which could be dispersed underground in an attempt to get away from the air bases of the day which featured long runways. The jet-propelled disks were to be capable of vertical takeoffs and landings, and would be capable of Mach 3.48--faster than the SR-71 Blackbird.

The Avrocar was developed in Canada under the umbrella of the Silver Bug Project (flying saucer).
 The completed prototype being rolled out of the assembly bay in preparation for the pilot testing program.
 Overhead view of the craft showing the crew enclosures, central air intake and the blades of the compressor stage.

 Early on in the flight testing the craft was hover tested over a concrete pad, first partially restrained by system of slack tethers, which afforded the pilot some freedom of maneuverability, but restricting the chance of a flip over.  

 The Malton factory complex in the late 50's early 60's; built in the war years as part of Canada's aircraft production effort.
 Known as Victory Aircraft when first constructed, later it would become known as: Avro, De Havilland, Douglas, McDonnell, Boeing.
 Construction of the full scale mock-up is shown above and below. The mock-up was an essential step for working out design details of new designs in the days before AutoCAD computer programs

 Fitting of one of the three turbo jet engines into the mock-up is shown in the pictures above and below.
 The mock-up approaches completion  and is almost ready for inspection of the customer.

Assembling the compressor stage.
A view of the annular nozzle around the lower periphery of the saucer shown above and then again below.

Smoke tunnel testing or the jet e flux under the craft.
Testing of flow patterns at the control ducts is shown both above and below.

The analogue computer which was built especially for the project to test the stability and control of the craft is again shown in the pictures above and below..

Construction of the assembly jig for the airframe of the craft is shown above.

Working on the single stage centrifugal compressor.
View showing the details of the wing's D-Nose structure.
Another view of the annular nozzle sections.
The pictures above and below show the egg crate structural members of the main saucer's frame.

Installing the systems into the airframe.
Top view of the intake and compressor.
Fitting the individual compressor blade into the slots of the hub.
The assembly compressor nears completion.

A whirl test of the compressor to test for truness, balance and vibration

Closeup of the nozzles in the annular 
 outlet duct.

hover testing in the adjustable variable height test rig shown above and below. 

Throttle sector for the three turbo jet engines.
Top view of the finished saucer showing the two cockpits and intakes for the 3 engines and the central compressor intake.
Pilot strapping in with the roll over safety bar showing prominently. 
Testing over a flat concrete pad commences  with a 3 wheel landing gear installed.

Flying in ground effect with the propulsion vanes clearly visable.

Shown above flying past a row of new CF 100 Canuck Fighters fresh off the assembly line.

Testing moves to unprepared surfaces now with landing skids replacing the wheels. 

A series of 3 foot deep drainage ditches was traversed by the craft without any difficulties.
 A team of American Test pilots visited the Avro plant in Malton to check out the craft after the company pilots were comfortable with their ability to control the craft in ground effect.
 USAF Test Pilot about to climb out of the cockpit after an introductory session behind the controls.

The Avrocar was probably the world's first Hovercraft but to admit such a fact was unthinkable to its proud designers.
The craft never was taken out of ground effect mainly because of concerns about its stability and control in transitional flight subsequently the project was canceled in September 1961.
I have no doubt that the concept today would be easily proven with modern day advances in technology.

The secrecy continues:
What Batts and his buddy Joe saw at a range of approximately 200 yards in 1977 was a 200-foot diameter flying disk rising out of the ground of the desert with a bright light on its belly and flashing sequential lights at its center. It was silver in colour and Batts says there is no way it could have been a case of mistaken identity through swamp gas or a multitude of other common UFO debunking postulations put forward by debunkers.

The Report on Project Silver Bug, dated Feb.15, 1955, and declassified on March 29, 1995, proposed the development of such a disk-shaped interceptor aircraft. The proposed craft would be capable of vertical takeoff and landing; a maximum level speed of 2,300 mph with reheat (afterburners); a ceiling of 80,600 feet; and a climb rate of 1.76 minutes to 36,090 feet.

Those performance figures were very advanced for 1955, and are not too shabby today. Top speeds of American fighter-interceptor aircraft of 1955 were around 1,000 mph, and they had a lower ceiling than what the disk would have. But the big thing as far as the Air Force was concerned was the potential such flying disks had for being dispersed in underground facilities.

The Report on Project Silver Bug was issued by the Air Technical Intelligence Center along with the Wright Air Development Center at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. While the Silver Bug project has been officially claimed to have resulted in the ill-fated Avro Car, which turned into perhaps the world's first air cushion vehicle instead of a supersonic interceptor disk, UFO researchers have long questioned whether the project actually came to a sudden stop with development of the Avro Car, which was a flop at flight.

Recent enquiries to the Public Information Office at Wright-Patterson prior to Batts' account garnered the response that no further information on the Silver Bug project has been declassified at this time. That is not quite the same as an outright denial that Project Silver Bug actually came up with a workable prototype craft, or an operation disk-shaped interceptor. Nor does it rule out whether or not the project originally resulted in a flop at first with continued research into making a flying saucer actually work.

The Silver Bug report noted that a pair of ongoing U.S. projects involving the building of vertical takeoff aircraft had already occurred, after a discussion of the perceived need to get away from long, vulnerable runways was addressed briefly. The report noted that vertical takeoff craft were the way to get around the vulnerability of conventional air bases but ``tail sitter'' types of aircraft, equipped with turboprop engines, were found to lack the ability to join VTO and landing abilities with the high performance of a fighter aircraft.

The report was more enamoured of a proposed classic flying disk aircraft, which exhibited performance characteristics that were greatly advanced even by current standards. The largest of the proposed disks weighed 26,000 pounds, was powered by a radically new type of jet engine, and could climb to 36,090 feet in approximately one minute and 45 seconds. This is in the performance range of the current F-15 fighter the Air Force uses, and was attributed to a machine in 1955, some 20 years prior to the F-15's first flight.

But the Silver Bug report was not the only publication in 1955 that contained information relating to the development of flying saucers by the federal government.

 Magazine, in June 1955, said in an article that persistent and fairly credible accounts claimed that A.V. Roe, Canada, Ltd., a Canadian aircraft manufacturer, had a saucer design under development since 1953. It had been abandoned since the cost factor was too high for the Canadians--over $75 million to get a prototype model into the air.

That 1955 issue of Look also noted that at a meeting of engineers it was indicated that while flying saucer or sphere projects might have been purely hypothetical then, new air defence problems were setting up requirements for aircraft performance which would apparently be best met by a saucer aircraft.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Kelsey, deputy director of research and development for the Air Force, was quoted as saying that ``Airplanes today spend too much time gathering speed on the ground and not enough time flying in the air.'' The fighters of that time, Kelsey said, needed extremely long runways and there were few in existence then that were long enough.

Those few, he said, and the concentration of planes using them, provided a worthwhile target for an A-bomb. With one blow, the enemy might cripple a substantial portion of the American air defence.

Vertical takeoff planes would not need long runways, he said, and could be dispersed widely and safely. Future airports built for vertically rising flying saucers would have no need of the many vulnerable runways the fighters of 1955 (and of today) require. The complete operation could go underground, the Look article noted, with tunnels with takeoff shafts set in the ground, complete with maintenance bays, fuel, and crew quarters.

Those underground bases, the article said, would be bombproof shelters for a saucer squadron. The shafts would be sealed after takeoff for camouflage and protection. The Look article also detailed what some of the requirements of an ideal defence fighter would be. Those attributes would be the ability to take off and land vertically; a high speed of over Mach 2 (more than 1,500 mph); high rate of climb; excellent manoeuvrability; heavy armament; and the ability to operate at 60,000 feet.

It should be noted that the one disk craft noted in the Silver Bug report met and exceeded all of the criteria listed in the Look Magazine report. But Look's report also noted that such a disk-shaped craft might include a one-man crew, housed in a glass bubble that would provide excellent visibility. The prone position of the pilot would not only allow improved streamlining, but also enables (original wording) the pilot to withstand high accelerations and quick turns. There were some American disk-shaped craft that were developed publicly, namely the Flying Flapjack and/or The Flying Flounder, which did not come to operational use.

Avro-Canada, meanwhile, was reported to be working in 1953 by the Toronto Star to be working on a new flying saucer at their plant in Malton, Ontario. On Feb. 16, 1953, the Minister for Defence Production informed the Canadian House of Commons that Avro was working on a 'mock-up model' of a flying saucer which would be capable of flying at 1,500 miles per hour and climbing vertically.

The president of Avro-Canada also wrote in Avro News that the prototype being built was so revolutionary that it would make all other forms of supersonic aircraft obsolete. The new plane's official name was the Avro Car.

By 1960 it was being claimed officially that the design had been dropped, and the so-called prototype of the Avro flying saucer is reported to be housed in the U.S. Air Force Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia.

A number of German aeronautical engineers were reputedly brought to the United States after World War II to continue their work on VTO flying disks which had originated as a Luftwaffe research and development project, Popular Mechanics said in its August 1997 edition. The Germans, in the closing days of World War II, had one big aeronautical problem--their airfields were under constant Allied aerial attack which kept what fighters they had left from being an effective deterrent against American and British heavy bomber raids on German industrial targets. U.S. Army intelligence officers combed Europe for two brothers called Walter and Reimar Horten following the war, certain U.S. government files say. The brothers were trained as pilots and engineers, and reputedly had close connections to the Reich's high command.

The two brothers were believed to have persuaded German leaders to construct a fleet of saucer-shaped bombers, a Popular Mechanics story in August 1997 said. U.S. military historians acknowledge the Horten brothers built and flew prototypes of circular and flying wing aircraft, the PM story said, but the historians also discount the craft as aeronautical curiosities with no military value.

A service-wide request for information about the two brothers showed the two men had already been found, PM's report said. They had already been released by the UK for exploitation and allocated to the United States on Nov. 15, 1946, via Operation Paperclip.

Operation Paperclip was the American program that put a lot of German scientists and engineers on the U.S. payroll following World War II. These included Wernher Von Braun and some of his associates, who were ultimately responsible for building the American ICBM force and space program rocket boosters.

But the existence of Paperclip was not released publicly until Americans first set foot on the moon, due to the fact that the laboratories at which many of the former German scientists had worked were also Nazi slave labor and death camps. Apparently negative public reaction was the reason the news was kept secret until the space program resulted in a record-breaking moon landing.

The Horten brothers, according to PM and the files it got, had been working on a design for a new generation of circular VTO craft just prior to their capture--with specifications much like those described in the Report on Project Silver Bug.

Other records, PM said, show that models of the Hortens' design, possibly constructed by the brothers themselves, were tested in the wind tunnel at Wright Field, now Wright-Patterson AFB. While the Air Force acknowledges the Hortens were working on a flying disk craft, PM said, the AF also says it was inherently unstable.

Other declassified records gained by PM in the course of its investigation, the magazine article said, suggest the Avro Car built for the Army and a deteriorating plywood Horten flying wing were both shills intended to disguise the existence of more formidable flying machines.

One of the more potent of those flying machines, the PM report said, was developed under the secret Project Pye Wacket. Its object was to design a five foot diameter liquid fuelled missile launch platform to protect American bombers penetrating Soviet airspace.

Samisdat Publications, a right-wing organization based in Toronto, Canada, has said that the Nazis did in fact develop the  Flügelrad, or 'Wingwheel', a saucer-helicopter which could take off vertically. One of the scientists involved with the early Nazi saucer projects was identified as Viktor Schauberger by Samisdat. Schauberger was brought to America after the war, where he was rumoured to be working on a top secret flying disk project in Texas for the U.S. government until his death in 1958. Some reports maintain that some prototypes the government is now developing are as advanced in propulsion and other areas over the Schauberger models as the space shuttle is over the biplane Some of his prototypes include things like the Model I, the most conventional design by today's concepts, which used a standard German Walther rocket engine and was steered by a rudder.

Model II, an improvement over Model I, had a specially designed ``rotary wing'' which stabilized and steered the craft. This model was more manuverable and faster.

Model III was supposedly extremely fast, capable of attaining speeds over 6,000 kilometers per hour and using a jet vacuum propulsion system. The fuel mixture produced vapour trails, an acrid smell, and sometimes flames and sparks. The saucer's propulsion system produced high pitched, whining sounds. The craft was also capable of terrific acceleration, or steady hover. It could also climb and bank steeply and often startled observers with loud sonic booms as it accelerated through the sound barrier. This model was reportedly equipped with telescopic landing gear.

Successors of the Model III, still in the planning stages during the middle 1940s, were said to utilize the Earth's magnetic field in their propulsion systems.

And there is also one home-grown American scientist who apparently had some input into the U.S. government's flying saucer project--T. Townsend Brown, and his Project Winterhaven. Brown was an American physicist, who was heavily involved in electrogravitics research. In the middle 1920s, he discovered it is possible to create an artificial gravity field by charging an electrical capacitor to high voltage.

By 1958, he had managed to work his way to the point where he had succeeded in developing a 15-inch diameter model saucer that could lift over 110 percent of its weight. What his experiments had inaugurated was the new field of electrogravitics, or the technology of controlling gravity through the use of very high voltage electric charges.

By 1952, Brown gave a demonstration to a Air Force major general in which Brown flew a pair of 18-inch disc airfoils suspended from opposite ends of a rotatable arm. The discs were electrified with 50,000 volts and circuited at a speed of 12 miles per hour.

Approximately one year later, he flew a set of three-foot diameter saucers for Air Force officials and representatives from several major aircraft companies. These discs were energized with 150,000 volts, and sped around the 50-foot diameter course so fast that the subject was immediately classified. A report by ``Interavia'' magazine noted that the discs would attain speeds of several hundred miles per hour when charged with several hundred thousand volts.

The secret to Brown's discs was that they were charged with a high positive voltage, via a wire, running along their leading edge. A high negative voltage ran along their trailing edge, also on a wire. As the wires ionized the air around them, a study by Paul A. LaViolette said, a dense cloud of positive ions would form ahead of the craft and a corresponding cloud of negative ions would form behind the craft.

LaViolette said that Brown's research showed that, like the charged plates of his capacitors, these ion clouds induced a gravitational force directed in the minus to plus direction. In short, a gravitational well formed ahead of the disc which pulled the craft, while a gravitational hill formed behind the craft and pushed it. As the disc moved forward in response to its self-generated gravity field, it would carry with it its positive and negative ion clouds and their associated electrogravity gradient. The discs in effect would ride their advancing gravity wave much like surfers ride an ocean wave, LaViolette said.

The occupants of one of the saucers, if there were occupants, would feel no stress at all no matter how sharp the turn or how great the acceleration, LaViolette said. This was because the ship and is occupants and the load are all responding equally to the wavelike distortion of the local gravitational field.

Brown by 1952 had put together a proposal, code named ``Project Winterhaven,'' LaViolette said, which suggested that the military develop an antigravity combat saucer with Mach 3 capability. As early as 1954, according to a report prepared by the private aviation intelligence firm Aviation Studies International Ltd., the Air Force had begun plans to fund research that would accomplish Project Winterhaven's objectives.

That report, issued in 1956 and called ``Electrogravitic Systems: An Explanation of Electrostatic Motion, Dynamic Counterbary and Barycentric Control,'' was originally classified as ``confidential.'' That report mentioned the names of more than 10 major aircraft companies which were actively involved in the electrogravitics research in an attempt to duplicate or extend Brown's work. Since that time, LaViolette said, much of the work in electro-antigravity has proceeded in Air Force black projects on a fairly large scale.

LaViolette's study, known as ``The U.S. Antigravity Squadron,'' has as its main contention that the Air Force is using Brown's antigravity ideas to help the B-2 bomber operate. He says the B-2 accomplishes using high amounts of electric charges on its leading and trailing edges through the same method Brown described in his electrokinetic generator patent.

The saucer craft Brown proposed was to be powered by a flame-jet generator, a high-voltage power supply that had the advantage of being both efficient and relatively lightweight, LaViolette said. That generator design, he said, uses a jet engine with an electrified needle mounted in the exhaust nozzle to produce negative ions in the jet's exhaust stream. The negatively ionized exhaust is then discharged through a number of nozzles at the rear of the craft. By electrically insulating the engines and conveying their positive charges forward to a wire running along the plane's leading edge, the required positively charged ion cloud is built up at the front of the vehicle. Brown, LaViolette said, estimated that such a generator could produce potentials as high as 15 million volts across his craft.

Whether or not Project Silver Bug ever resulted in a prototype or operational jet-propelled flying saucer is publicly unknown, given the fact that cutting-edge military development projects are normally cloaked in tight security. Even the money trail which would normally lead to the existence of top-secret or higher R&D projects is often a closed door. Military aircraft and weapon systems developers normally hide the funding for those projects in other projects, keeping sharp-eyed researchers from finding R&D projects hidden in the federal budget. Various UFO researchers have long been intrigued by the role the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB has played in various projects like Silver Bug. ATIC has since 1955 been known as the Foreign Technology Division, and is currently called the National Air Intelligence Center.

Over the years, despite the name, ATIC has been rumored in UFO circles to be the place where the debris from the alleged Roswell, NM crash of an alien flying saucer was taken for study. ATIC was also the parent Air Force unit for Project Blue Book, which for several years was the official study center for unidentified flying objects.

With no further available declassified reports, whatever Project Silver Bug finally arrived at remains as hidden as an underground interceptor craft installation. Or at least there was no information about any disk-shaped craft being tested by the U.S. Air Force ... until Frank Batts and his buddy got their directions wrong in 1997 and wound up on the wrong side of Nellis AFB.

That's where it stands at present. There is a fair amount of information floating around that would indicate Project Silver Bug did result in some type of actually flyable aircraft. But there is no actual proverbial "smoking gun'' as yet.

Some persons who have researched Silver Bug, and some persons who claim to have worked on secret government aeronautical projects, are convinced or hint that something did fly as the result of Project Silver Bug. Some even say that some operational circular craft have been stationed at some places ... all underground, in effect hiding them in plain sight. But there is a lack of actual hard evidence that ATIC or WADC ever developed an actual operational flying saucer from Silver Bug. Just enough information exists to tantalize those who have investigated it so far, and a lot of gaps which can at present be filled only by speculation.