The world's first Flying Saucer - weight: four tons - made history in a cloud of spray and foam June 11.
The world's first Flying Saucer - weight: four tons - made history in a cloud of spray and foam June 11. For the first time it went to sea - and flew one foot above the waters of the Solent at the dizzy speed of 15 miles an hour.
The gleaming four-ton monster - looking like a doughnut-is the Saunders-Roe SRN1 Hovercraft, the brainchild of a 49 year old boat builder, Christopher Cockerall. He conceived the idea six years ago and by sheer tenacity forced this entirely new form of transport into a disbelieving world.
It hovers forwards, sideways, backwards on a layer of compressed air. With its engine off, it floats - or stands - on its own hull. With it on, the 450 h.p. rotor fan gulps in air at the top of its cotton reel centre and forces it below.
The hovercraft's chief designer who took a year to build it visualises a Saucer weighing 10,000 tons that will skim the surface of the sea about three feet up. It could carry 4,000 passengers at a speed of about 130 miles an hour.
With the backers Saunders - Roe, the Aircraft Company, is the Government-sponsored National Research Development Corporation. From the four-ton Saucer of today will be the forty-tonner, leading to a 100-ton cross-Channel ferry for 300 passengers at the rate of twopence a mile in 1964.