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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.