A Dream of Nuts and Bolts

Nigel Watson
Magonia 20, August 1985

The inventive skills of humanity have often been challenged, and without pioneers in what were often thought to be ridiculous and absurd ventures the world would lack an infinite variety of things we now take for granted. The reported speed and aerial dexterity of flying saucers have prompted a legion of modern-day men to seek to construct their own UFO-type craft.

These men might well be mad visionaries, despots or modern-day Noahs, but we have to admire their ideas, their ingenuity and not least of all their guts.

Guillermo Jaimes Gonzalez, a Mexican engineer, seems to have a sound foundation for his man-made UFO: he has been in touch with the aliens and they have let him in on the secret of their propulsion system. With a “completely new metal system” his model of a flying saucer will fly and make odd manoeuvres (just like the “real” UFOs) when hit with an electrical charge of one million volts. I suspect that anything will shift pretty sharpish when hit with a million volts, but who am I to argue with the aliens? (1)

In South America another engineer, called Basil van den Berg, also used messages from the extraterrestrials to build an anti-gravity machine with a “no fuel engine”. He said he was going to Mexico to test the invention. But on the day his secret was revealed in the press he disappeared; perhaps his machine whisked him away before he could discover how to make the return journey! (2)

The doyen of UFO construction experts must be John Searl who has been attempting to build a pilotable saucer for longer than I care to remember. Through his “National Space Research Consortium” he has been able to extract $8,000 from credulous souls, who don’t have a clue about what his twelve-foot-long sheet of calculations means. He has even spent $2,000 on taking flying lessons, in order that he could “get the feel of flight”.

“We have the technology”, he said, but: “It’s just a case of overcoming a bit of red tape and building the three-seat craft. I expect to be setting out on the maiden voyage of my levity [sic] disc before the end of 1978. Or certainly during the first half of 1979.” (3)

He could well have been testing his craft in early 1978 because a group of women from Georgia told Steven Spielberg that they had seen a lighted unidentified aerial object pass low-down over them, and on it they distinctly saw painted along one side of it the letters “UFO”! (4)

Searl’s dream is to construct a levity disc which “will carry 1,000 scientists, doctors and nurses and others. (Presumably the medical staff are there in case of accident.) It’ll be like a city, and measure over a thousand feet in diameter. A very big vehicle”, he said.

Bob Dunn, an American engineer, studied UFO sightings made in the USA and came to the conclusion that: “The nuclear propulsion system, capable of ten million pounds of thrust, enables these craft to travel at speeds of 125,000 miles per hour in the upper atmosphere, and their unique propulsion and exhaust systems allow them to behave in the erratic way described by countless thousands of UFO witnesses: forwards, upwards, downwards, sideways – any direction except backwards.

“I believe the parts were brought in from outer space, causing the sonic booms as they came into our atmosphere. And I believe these craft are manned. Judging from their size and the number of engines, they would need a crew of 25 to 30 to operate.”

Dunn added that: “With today’s technology, I think the United States could produce one of these vehicles within, say, the next ten years.” To confirm his faith in the vehicle he built a small model of it (which “doesn’t fly, of course”) and applied for a US patent. (5)

Meanwhile an engineer at the Johnson Space Center, Alan C. Holt, claimed he was the secretary of the Vehicle International Systems Investigative Team (VISIT). He said: “Our purpose is to study unidentified flying object phenomena in an attempt to gain an understanding of the physics and technology which UFOs may represent.”

Apparently, Holt believes that the energy released by the merging of magnetic fields is the probable source of power used in UFO propulsion systems. However, UFOs travel through “fourth dimension space-time transformation rather than the simple three-dimensional travel we are familiar with”. (6)

Another American – this time an expert on missiles – who masterminded the construction of Evel Knievel’s rocket-powered bike which limped abortively across the Snake River canyon, has come up with the ultimate Model T rocket ship. Astoundingly, he has managed to attract 25 to 30 “volunteers” who are eager to fly in his rocket ship. In all he plans to build three rockets at a cost of $1,000,000, and after investing $800,000 of his own money he has built 80 per cent of the first rocket, which was scheduled for launch in 1979.

“There is no question that the space mission is feasible”, he said, “We have done all the paper studies”. (7)

Democratic candidate John Fritz promised that his “United Fritz Organisation” (UFO) would build a flying saucer factory in Waikiki, Hawaii,if he won a seat in the state legislature. In UFO’s election address he claimed: “A long time ago in a galaxy far away a man named John Aloha Mahalo was born. His mission: to lead Hawaii and the planet Earth into the Galactic Community that has long existed”. (8)

Despite what debunkers were saying in the early 1950s, a circular aerofoil can be perfectly viable. An experimental aircraft with a circular wing set above a conventional fuselage and tailplane was successfully flown pre-war in America. In 1942, the Vought Corporation began test-flying the V-173 “flying pancake”, a lightweight full-scale mock-up of the XF5U-I experimental VTOL fighter. Altogether it logged some 200 flights, and among the test pilots was Charles Lindbergh. The project was abandoned not through any inherent defects in design but because the development of jet engines made the propeller-powered craft obsolete.

Within a couple of days he received 15 replies,
but unfortunately he said they all
came from “crank” callers
In the late 1950s and early 1960s many people patented flying saucer type aircraft with the US Patent Office, (9) and on 10 March 1972 even British Rail filed a flying saucer design at the London Patent Office. (10) Some saucer-type aircraft have been built and marketed. Short’s of Belfast produced a small machine which was nothing more than a propeller and engine housed in a three-foot-diameter shell. It could fly for two hours and could carry television equipment so that it fulfilled a useful reconnaissance role. Also, since the mid-1970s a disc-shaped helium-filled airship called “Sky Ship” has been developed and promoted by Airship Industries. (11)

But 34-year-old Charles King did not want to go to all the bother of designing and building his own saucer. Instead he simply placed the following advertisement in an Adelaide, South Australia, newspaper:

“WANTED: Intergalactic flying saucer, 10-person accommodation minimum.” (12, 13)

Within a couple of days he received 15 replies, but unfortunately he said they came from “crank” callers. It takes one to know one.

  1. The Pittsbugh Press, 23 April 1977
  2. Stem, 29 April 1962
  3. Daily Express, 25 April 1978
  4. Sunday Express, 12 March 1978
  5. Midnight Globe, 4 July 1978
  6. Houston (Texas) Post, 20 May 1979
  7. Sydney Sun, 13 November 1978
  8. The Australian, 9 November 1978
  9. Sachs, Margaret. The UFO Encyclopaedia, Putnam, 1980, pp 242-246
  10. Osman, Tony. “On an H-Bomb to the Stars”, The Unexplained, No. 5
  11. Lord, Ventry and Kolesnik, Eugene. Janes Pocket Book 7, Airship Development, Macdonald and Janes, 1976
  12. Sunday People, 5 June 1977
  13. Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph, 4 June 1977