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Canada's Flying Saucer

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This republication has been made possible thanks to the assistance of
The Airforce Association of Canada
and Palmiro Campagna. Support the Airforce Association!
We hope you enjoy this piece of aviation history.
Scott McArthur. Webmaster, Arrow Recovery Canada

Canada's Flying Saucer

by Palmiro Campagna, P. Eng

Official USAF press release photo of the Avrocar.

 Canadian developments in aircraft design are well represented in literature. For example, one can read about Canadian efforts in the production of Lancaster bombers or in the subsequent design of the CF-100 Canuck jet fighter. Even the Avro Jetliner and the controversial Arrow have been the subjects of books. Squirreled away in Ottawa's National Archives of Canada though, are files which detail aspects of our aviation history which have not been extensively covered in the mainstream literature but which are nevertheless a very real part of our aviation heritage. These files discuss the Canadian Government's involvement in the study of unidentified flying objects (UF0s) and in the design and development of an actual "flying saucer" for the United States Air Force (USAF).
  Towards the end of WWII, some allied fighter pilots reported that strange luminous globes sometimes followed their aircraft during sorties over Germany. The Washington Star of July 6th 1947 recalled an extensive account of one such sighting by the USAF 415th Night Fighter Sqn. To this day, it is not known exactly what the objects were, hallucinations, Nazi secret weapons, some form of battle fatigue or extraterrestrial spacecraft. The objects were never known to have attacked and were dubbed "Foo Fighters." Today, this is the name of a popular musical group.
  In April of 1950, the Right Hon Brooke Claxton, then Canadian minister of national defence, requested that the Joint Intelligence Council investigate the matter of flying saucers in earnest. A committee was to be established comprised of representatives from the Directorate of Air Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Scientific Intelligence, with the Defence Research Board (DRB) acting as chair. Liaison was to be established with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Were flying saucers prototype weapons or extraterrestrial in origin? In a report sent to the Canadian DRB in 1953, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) noted that German engineers had filed patents for flying-saucer-like craft they had supposedly developed towards the end of the war.

    The CIA had interrogated a number of former German soldiers who claimed of having worked on saucer-like aircraft. As it turned out, members of the RCAF and National Research Council (NRC) had also interrogated some of these German engineers about this strange work.
  In 1959, a book entitled, "German Secret Weapons of the Second World War," claimed the Foo Fighters were the product of Hitler's war machine. One individual who believed the Nazis had developed such, devices was aeronautical engineer John C. Frost of A.V. Roe Canada Limited. Avro, as the com pany came to be called, had succeeded in designing, building and flying the Jetliner, the first commercial, inter-city jet transport to fly in North America, back in 1949. Frost himself had been brought in from the U.K. to work on the CF-100 and now, the company was embarking on its most ambitious project, the CF-105 Arrow. A flying saucer seemed a natural progression for such an  advanced high technology aeronautical firm.

Avro engineer John Frost was project director for the Avrocar. Prior to that he was a project engineer on the CF- 100 jet fighter.

  Frost was made chief design engineer for Special Projects A.V. Roe (SPAR). By 1952, not to be left behind in the technological race for vertical take-off and landing vehicles, he had coauthored two technical reports for the design of a circular wing vehicle or, flying saucer. Initially the vehicle was more of a horseshoe or spade shape design. It was called Project Y. It would sit on its tail at an angle, with the pilot looking skyward, as he would if he were in a rocket. He would land in a similar fashion. This made take-off and landing rather difficult and uncertain for the pilot.
    Frost abandoned Project Y and eventually settled on the complete circular wing planform. It became known as Project Y2 in 1954 and was to be developed under intense security at the Avro plant in Malton, Ont.

  The designs caught the interest of Dr Omond Solandt, then chairman of DRB and chair of Project Second Storey, the flying saucer committee that had been established as requested in 1950, by the minister of national defence. Dr Solandt encouraged Frost in his work and provided approximately $300,000 in development funding. He also brought the project to the attention of the British military, and Duncan Sandys, Britain's minister of supply. The ministry though had reservations about the project. Eventually, Dr Solandt put Frost in touch with Gen D.C. Putt, head of the USAF Air Research and Development Command.
  At that time, the U.S. had been investigating the feasibility of a number of vertical take-off concepts put forward by companies such as Goodyear, Chrysler and Hiller.

Scott McArthur.





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