Fake Flying Saucers

US Air Force flying saucers
US Air Force flying saucers

I must admit that I got quite a chuckle out of this one. As soon as I saw the photo, I knew that it was a forgery because I had seen it before. That is to say I'd seen parts of it before. Regular visitors to this site may recognize this picture as a heavily modified version of a photo that appeared in a previous article we posted about Scott Crossfield and the D-558-2 Skyrocket, the first plane to fly Mach 2.

Scott Crossfield poses in front of the D-558-2
Scott Crossfield poses in front of the D-558-2, its B-29 mothership, F-86 chase planes, and support crew

The undoctored photo is supposed to show NACA test pilot Scott Crossfield posing in front of the D-558-2 Skyrocket along with the crew, mother plane, and chase aircraft that supported his record-setting flight. It appears obvious that an enterprising graphics artist superimposed these flying saucers onto the Skyrocket photo in an attempt to make these craft seem more credible.

However, we are unaware of any actual saucer-type vehicles comparable to those shown in the edited picture that have ever been tested by the US military. The US Air Force did conduct some experiments with much smaller saucer shaped vehicles during the 1950s and 1960s, but these craft were closer in size to the automobiles pictured above than to a large aircraft.


Probably one of the best known of these flying saucers was the Avrocar built by Avro Canada for the Air Force and Army. The Avrocar operated similarly to a hovercraft. The vehicle made use of a large ducted fan located in the middle of the craft to pull in air from above and push it out along the edges of the lower surface. Unfortunately, the Avrocar proved unstable and was never able to hover any higher than a few feet off the ground due to control instabilities.

Avrocar in flight
Avrocar in flight

Two of these unique vehicles were built and tested. The prototype is now owned by the US Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia, while the second model is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 28 November 2004

More Evidence?

A reader recently sent in the photo seen below that appears to be of the same style of flying saucer that originally prompted this article. The questioner then asked whether this second picture now proves the existence of these infamous vehicles.

Supposed saucer in flight with an F-86 Sabre
Supposed saucer in flight with an F-86 Sabre

The answer again is a resounding no. Just as before, a five-minute search of the NASA Dryden Research Aircraft Photo Collection has proven this image to be as obvious of a forgery as the first one was. Whoever is responsible for this hoax once again manipulated a NASA photo to insert the computer-generated flying saucer into a legitimate picture of the D-558-2 Skyrocket. The undoctored original photo is shown below.

Actual photo of the D-558-2 Skyrocket in flight with an F-86 Sabre
Actual photo of the D-558-2 Skyrocket in flight with an F-86 Sabre

The guilty party must have an affinity for classic high-speed research planes of the 1950s since both of the pictures we have received were of the D-558-2 and included its F-86 Sabre chase planes.
- answer by Greg Alexander, 20 December 2005

Source of the Photos

We've finally identified the origin of the modified photos described above as coming from the website usafflyingsaucers.com. The site purports to provide evidence that the US Air Force built and tested four different disk-shaped aircraft during the 1950s and 1960s. Illustrating the site are several computer generated drawings, models, and images of the flying discs superimposed into pictures of actual planes. Both the site and the illustrations appear to be the creation of Michael H. Schratt.

Schratt says that the information presented on the site comes from a writer named Jack D. Pickett. According to Pickett, he was asked to visit MacDill Air Force Base in Florida in 1967 to write an article on historic aircraft. Among the planes he says he saw stored at the base were these four saucer-shaped aircraft, and he also claims the base gave him access to hundreds of photos and videos of the craft. Despite this information, Pickett says the Air Force later decided to prevent him from publishing his article about the planes and they have remained a secret to this day.

While we cannot dismiss his story out of hand and the existence of these flying disks may be confirmed someday, there is presently no evidence to corroborate the tale. Perhaps more importantly, the pictures created to support these claims ought to be clearly marked as computer generated conceptual images. It is at best midleading and at worst dishonest to present such pictures without explanation since the reader can easily mistake them for being real. The same comment applies to the entire site since it makes rather extraordinary statements written as though they are accepted facts when they are really conjecture and hearsay. The only disclaimer pointing out the conjectural nature of the site appears on one page in very small text that is easy to overlook. These disclaimers ought to be clearly stated at the top and bottom of every page as well as placed on each image to ensure the reader knows they are not genuine photos.

Note that the site usafflyingsaucers.com expired in January 2006 and is no longer available. An archive of the old site can be found at WayBackMachine.com. A brief overview of many of its claims including additional diagrams can also be seen here.
- answer by Greg Alexander, 30 December 2005

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