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Avro Saucers for the Far North?

Excerpt­ed from Intercept—But Don’t Shoot [1] by Rena­to Vesco.

At the begin­ning of 1953, when no one was think­ing about fly­ing discs, they sud­den­ly began to appear in the columns of Cana­di­an news­pa­pers.

On Feb­ru­ary 11, the Toron­to Star announced in a ban­ner head­line that fly­ing saucers should no longer be con­fined to the realm of fan­ta­sy, because they were actu­al­ly being devel­oped in one of Avro-Canada’s hangars at the Mal­ton air­field. Two columns of details and the news that the device was sup­posed to have a top speed of 1500 mph gave the clear impres­sion that the writer had obtained his infor­ma­tion from a; very well-informed, if not com­plete­ly can­did, source that obvi­ous­ly worked some­where in the pow­er­ful com­pa­ny.

Cer­tain gov­ern­ment experts who were imme­di­ate­ly inter-viewed by reporters from the near­by cap­i­tal sought to extri­cate them­selves from the awk­ward sit­u­a­tion by eva­sive­ly declar­ing:

“The Defense author­i­ties are exam­in­ing all ideas, even rev­o­lu­tion­ary ones, that have been sug­gest­ed for the devel­op­ment of new types of super­son­ic air­craft, also includ­ing fly­ing discs. This, how­ev­er, is still in the begin­ning phase of research and it will be a num­ber of months before we are able to reach any­thing pos­i­tive and sev­en or more years before we come to actu­al pro­duc­tion.”

Accord­ing to the Star, on Feb­ru­ary 16 C. D. Howe, min­is­ter of defense pro­duc­tion, told the House of Com­mons that “the gov­ern­ment was con­stant­ly study­ing ‘new con­cepts and new designs’ for fight­ers . . . adding weight to reports that Avro is even now work­ing on a mock-up mod­el of a ‘fly­ing saucer’ capa­ble of fly­ing 1500 miles per hour and climb­ing straight up in the air.”

On Feb­ru­ary 27 the com­pa­ny involved also joined the cho­rus of “sur­pris­ing” rev­e­la­tions. The pres­i­dent of the firm, Craw­ford Gor­don, Jr., wrote in its house organ: “Like all air­craft com­pa­nies who want to stay in busi­ness, we are direct­ing a sub­stan­tial part of our efforts towards new ideas and advanced designs.

“One of our projects can be said to be quite rev­o­lu­tion­ary in con­cept and appear­ance. The pro­to­type being built is so rev­o­lu­tion­ary that when it flies all oth­er types of super­son­ic air­craft will become obso­les­cent. This is all that Avro-Cana­da are going to say about this project.”

After this vague and incon­clu­sive state­ment, there were almost two months of rel­a­tive calm. It seemed that the sto­ry was about to starve to death from lack of fur­ther specifics and that it would go the way of oth­er jour­nal­is­tic rev­e­la­tions. But this was not to be. On April 21, the Toron­to Star pub­lished the fol­low­ing: “Field Mar­shal Mont­gomery . . . became one of a hand­ful of peo­ple ever to see Avro’s mock-up of a ‘fly­ing saucer,’ reput­ed to be capa­ble of fly­ing 1500 miles an hour. A guide who accom­pa­nied Mont­gomery quot­ed him as describ­ing it as ‘fan­tas­tic.’. . . Secu­ri­ty pre­cau­tions sur­round­ing this super-secret are so tight that two of Mont­gomery’s escorts from Scot­land Yard were barred from the for­bid­den, screened-off area of the Avro plant.”

This news, which was much more author­i­ta­tive since a not­ed mil­i­tary per­son­age was involved, gave rise to the strangest deduc­tions. Lat­er, on April 22 and 23, even the aus­tere Lon­don Times opened its columns to news from the dis­tant Domin­ion con­cern­ing those fly­ing saucers, which it had hith­er­to severe­ly banned from its cau­tious news columns.

On April 24, the Toron­to Star con­firmed its Feb­ru­ary sto­ry, adding that some of Canada’s most not­ed aero­nau­ti­cal engi­neers were secret­ly work­ing on a mys­te­ri­ous fly­ing disc made of met­al, wood, and plas­tics, which would alleged­ly be the “weapon of the future.” For some time, said the Star, there had been rumors that an air­craft of this type was being built in Mal­ton, but no one had got def­i­nite con­fir­ma­tion on it.

Accord­ing to Air Vice Mar­shal D. M. Smith, what Field Mar­shal Mont­gomery had seen was the pre­lim­i­nary study of con­struc­tion plans for a gyro­scop­ic fight­er that could take off ver­ti­cal­ly and fly at a speed of 1500 mph. A gas tur­bine would revolve around the pilot, who would be posi­tioned at the cen­ter of the disc.