1950s: The Avrocar

“The Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar was a vertical take-off and landing aircraft developed as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War. Two prototypes were built as test vehicles for a more advanced USAF fighter and also for a U.S. Army tactical combat aircraft requirement. In flight testing, the Avrocar proved to have unresolved thrust and stability problems that limited it to a degraded, low-performance flight envelope; subsequently, the project was cancelled in September 1961.”

- Wikipedia

7 Responses

  1. KC

    When these things were on test flights, you’ve got a good explanation for the UFO-sighting mania of the 50s and 60s.

  2. Ray Martin

    KC – that’s unlikely. I may be wrong but I don’t think these things ever got beyond tethered flight, a few feet off the ground. They were simply too unstable. The shape of this experimental aircraft design is much more likely a response to the ‘saucer scare’, which was still being treated seriously by the military.

  3. Ptom Harner

    The Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, USA has one of the machines to view.

  4. bookjeff

    I have a book called Unusual Aircraft that claims that the ducted fans in the Avrocar lead to the development of the hovercraft. Just put a skirt around the edge, and voila.

  5. Michael

    The other Avrocar is in the Airplane Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada.

  6. Rory

    I wonder if fly-by-wire would resolve the issue, making them viable nowadays? I’d like one…

  7. DG Cayse

    One of the model companies put out this in model form. I had one. An Uncle who was a Colonel in the Sir Force visited and saw it, He was amazed that it was known about and in public hands. I remember we played with it for hours as he explained the bad aerodynamics of it to me.
    Of course as a kid, about 10/11 yrs old I just knew the thing wouldn’t fly. But it did “hover” pretty well.


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