by Frank Scully

THERE'S an aerodynamic proverb, or if there isn't, there ought to be, that everything has an end – except a flying saucer, which has neither a beginning nor an end.

Exceptions to this might be taken by Leo Bentz, George de Bay, and Jacque Fresco, all of whom have either seen or designed flying saucers many years ago. Bentz, an old-time builder of automobiles, said he saw a confidential demonstration of a flying saucer in Griffith Park, California, as long ago as 1928. It was designed by George de Bay. It skipped through the air like a flat stone, or better, a saucer with its curved side toward the earth. Thus it worked on a vacuum principle, which de Bay explained would require ten times less power for propulsion than what was used at that time. It was not, however, designed to carry a pilot or crew. Bentz lost sight of de Bay before the war and believed he had gone to Russia.

In 1938 Jacque Fresco designed a flying saucer but at that time the aircraft companies said the model was too far ahead of anything they could handle and it was shelved while he worked on a more conventional job, which he did at Pearl Harbor, just before the war, and some Buck Rogers contributions which were his lot at Wright Field during the conflict.

A small dark man with the eyes of a fox terrier and a mind as sharp as an arctic wind, Fresco belongs to the "believe only what you can measure" school of science. Flying saucers might be mirages reflecting from round-shaped aluminum-painted oil tanks, he suggested. "They might seem to move in the sky as the sun moved, thus confusing people either on the ground or aboard planes."

But, even so, disk-shaped aerial ships he thought had a sound aerodynamic future. But he wouldn't go beyond hydrogen gas and turbojets as a means of propulsion. In fact when he heard somebody was offering $25,000 for a saucer that would fly he said that would be like taking candy from a baby. "I can build one for $15,000 and make it fly fast enough to pull a pilot out of his skin," he said, "and I'm working on a way to make even him survive the experience."

The first time I hinted to him that the flying saucers under examination were in all likelihood powered by magnetic energy, the remark stopped his stream of speech and turned him for a moment into a mute, inglorious Milton.

"No aircraft engineer will go that far," he warned. "Mind, I am not stressing flying saucers in the first place, for the simple reason the industry doesn't want them, but if they're made in the future, they will have to be along conservative lines." I leave it to readers to judge what he considers conservative lines.

In the aircraft industry Fresco is known as the man who is forever twenty years ahead of his time. Up to the day I consulted him on flying saucers, hoping to use him as a possible control factor, he had been working on what he said would be the forerunner of space ships. These pre-space ship models, he said, would have to be constructed to handle problems within reach of the earth's gravity. They would have to get rid of the nuisance of static electricity, which most ships do today by the use of a tail wire which discharges extraneous electricity picked up by the skin as the ship cuts through the air. His ships of the future will use that static electricity for added propulsion.

The next problem that must be solved is to stop stalls or spins, especially at low speed. Fresco has designed a system of electrostatic controls which would not let the ship stall even if the pilot lost control. A stream of electrons fanning out from the wings will control a banking ship. Electrostatic action will not only control the ship but increase its speed. An electronic rain baffle will keep vision clear and send a positive charge of electricity through the canopy, thus creating a resistance-free passage for the craft. Raindrops would never hit the canopy, thereby giving the pilot clear visibility, rain or shine.

As for Fresco's regular planes of the near future, they will be rocket types, with snug wings for use if and when needed. Shock wave eliminated through the use of electrostatic power, air can be made to flow in any direction. Resistance thus reduced, 3,000 miles per hour will be commonplace, fast service between Los Angeles and New York a matter of perhaps minutes, interplanetary travel, 100,000 miles per hour.

Conventional motors will be used to start a ship and to bring it in. Between times it will use polarized field motors. These will change the polarity of matter and offset the effect of sudden acceleration, which would otherwise kill pilots.

In fact Fresco is of the opinion that the less you give a pilot to do the fewer people are apt to be killed. He is a great believer in a push-button war on the overworking of pilots.

I told him, according to the flying saucers my informants had researched, that had already been accomplished. The ships examined were completely run by push buttons, had no visible motors and apparently could land safely even with dead pilots.

He insisted that any such talk would only annoy aerodynamic engineers. I told him that Hall Hubbard, vice president and chief engineer of Lockheed, was already annoyed. Hubbard conceded that it was possible to build and to fly a ship that looks like a saucer but he didn't believe it possible with our present knowledge to make them fly with the speed that everybody is talking about.

Fresco wanted to know how fast the magnetic research men said that was. I said as fast as light, 186,000 miles per second. In fact, some argued that 282,000 miles per second was possible, despite Einstein's contention that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Fresco took a middle position between Hubbard and Einstein. "I believe we will hit 100,000 miles per second outside this atmosphere in the not too distant future," he said, "but I balk at anything faster than that, and you'll only make yourself appear ridiculous if you go beyond that even on paper.

To show me how far it would be safe to go he sketched some saucers that could be built even now. He started out with a modest job that was his model of 1938. It had eight jets spaced around the rim of the saucer like a pinwheel firecracker. The center rotated on a turbine held in position like a helicopter, while the outer rim revolved on a turbine. It was before turbojets and hence considered impractical at the time.

Since then, however, he has gone beyond turbojets in an effort to meet space ships from another planet at least half way. He has designed a hydrogen-powered turbine disk which has ten essential parts. The canopy for the crew is of transparent metal. In the center is a sphere containing liquid hydrogen. Three tubes from the sphere convey hydrogen through a nuclear reactor. The upper tube feeds the hydrogen to the upper turbine. This sets the turbine revolving. The hydrogen is then fed back through a duct to the lower turbine. This turbine moves in the opposite direction to the upper turbine. Between them they neutralize the torque in the center as would a helicopter.

A series of blades are turned so as to propel the air from the upper surface of the disk to the lower. The result would be decreased pressure on top of the disk and increased pressure below, lifting the disk vertically to any desired altitude.

The vents are then closed and a cyclic pitch actuator controls the flight direction of the disk as desired. When flying forward the disk would be tilted nose downward. This would cause the air underneath the disk to slip backward, thus propelling the disk forward. Its speed thereafter could be propelled by the use of interstellar radiation, such as the field polarizing type of motor or the harnessing of cosmic rays, thus forcing the saucer to travel in a manner similar to the way meteors travel through space.

I asked him if he knew what meteors are composed of. "Nickel and iron, mostly. Some cobalt."

"Do you know what makes the best magnet?" "Sure. Steel."

"What about manganese and aluminum?"

"They're nonmagnetic. In fact an electromagnet repels aluminum."

"True, but did you know that 61 per cent copper, 24 per cent manganese, and 15 per cent aluminum when combined as an alloy are strongly magnetic?"

He wanted to know what I was hinting at. I told him the magnetic engineers say a meteor travels on magnetic lines of force and the reason they land here now and then is because they have struck a magnetic fault zone in our atmosphere. In fact they say the same thing must have happened to the flying saucers.

"People will never believe it," he said.

I told him when we got through with them they would.