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Official USAF press release photo of
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.
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.
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
engineer John Frost was project director for the Avrocar.
Prior to that he was a project engineer on the CF-
100 jet fighter.
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.
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.
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.
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