UFO Conjectures

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Play as it Leys

In this March 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, Willy Ley writes [Page 78 ff.] about the United States Air Force’s efforts to build a flying saucer, long a rumor among airplane and rocket aficionados.
Ley writes, after his set up, “Then came the Department of Defense ‘flying saucer’ release, dealing not with machines from outer space manned by small green men, but with a product of terrestrial slide rules and American factories, to be flown by American pilots.

“In the Defense Department release Secretary of the Air force Donald A. Quarles was quoted as saying that AVRO Ltd. of Canada had a contract to build an aircraft similar to the popular flying saucer concept” based on the aerodynamics created and used by Henri Coanda, a Rumanian [sic] “who had the distinction of having designed, built and flown a pure jet airplane as early as 1910.” Pages 78 and 80]

Ley offers comments about how the Coanda engineering worked: the so-called Coanda effect.
Ley then writes that “During World War II, Chance-Vought built a plane called the V-173” [which] was horseshoe-shaped…[that] could do up to 400 mph.” [Page 80]

“In spite of repeated Navy statements that the V-173 never flew successfully as a full scale aircraft, scuttlebutt has circulated ever since to the effect that it did fly and did achieve startling performance. Whatever really happened is still classified material.” [Page 81]

Several things to note in this Ley piece: the reference to small green men, the horseshoe-shape of a test craft, not unlike the flying saucers allegedly seen by Ken Arnold in 1947 and the 1947 William Rhodes photograph pictured here:
And the aside(s) about the U.S. Navy, the military organization that I’ve pushed, for many years, as the real fount of information about flying saucers and UFOs, not the U.S. Air Force.



  • Full scans and a transcription of Ley's article can be found here:


    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Tuesday, January 31, 2017  

  • There is no mystery about the V-173. It was a testbed for the more powerful XF5U which never flew. Both designs had two large propellers which were essential to their aerodynamics. Since most UFOs conspicuously lack propellers I think they are not related to the V173.

    By Blogger David Evans, at Wednesday, February 01, 2017  

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