Man-Made UFOs
The Dream Life of Prototypes

By: Colin Bennett

Margaret Sachs, in her 1981 UFO Encyclopaedia, gives many examples of patents taken in the for “flying saucer” type aircraft designs since 1945.

Although almost none of the designs discussed here were built, accompanying descriptions of performance are nevertheless superlative. There are blushing claims for supersonic speed, altitude performance, and space travel.

Leggett’s 1955 design

One of the very earliest designs was Archie L. Leggett’s 1955 design, for which he took out a patent in 1960. This was to be a rotating disk-shaped aircraft designed “primarily as a rocket for interplanetary or satellite travel, but also adaptable to jet propulsion within Earth’s atmosphere.” How suitable it was for such ambitions can be judged from his plan, complete with propelle.

Lent’s 1957 design

Constantine P. Lent, who was issued Patent 2,801,058 on July 30th, 1957, stated in his application, “The flying saucer described in this invention is not a thing in the realm of phantasy (sic) but a very practical aircraft obeying approved aerodynamic principles.” Intended for “commercial and private, long distance and local flights carrying passengers or cargo,” Lent’s “Saucer-Shaped Aircraft” is designed to rise vertically instantaneously, move transversely, hover and travel at supersonic speeds.

We notice the appeal to common sense, and the rejection of “phantasy.” This appeal to the bourgeois norm (possibly with the thought of not frightening off any possible investors) is present in all the claims for these designs. Even if the thing has quite obviously no more aeronautical significance than a child’s scooter, there is a barefaced appeal for quite revolutionary performance, an appeal straight from Herman Melville’s 1857 novel, The Confidence Man.

Certainly it has something to do with unique creative excitations within the American mind as described by Melville. Quite brimming over with almost totally absurd enthusiasms of every kidney, no other nation produces such quite deliciously crazy energies as these, as irresistible as any American universal icon based on similar impossibilities, from Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson. These mostly paper dreams of quite extraordinary flying machines are a similar assault on infinity. Certainly the normal confines of life are insufficient for often tragic lives that attempt to extend those boundaries that normally define human beings. In this sense their limitless speculations relate to the B-29s made of wood found on cargo-cult islands. Every single one of the machines illustrated here is a prayer for the impossible.

This is a hard way of doing it of course. This kind of designer doesn’t get a couple of aeronautical engineering degrees and work for Boeing for ten years before they get a foot in the door. They take a sheet of paper and design something to go into space, right there and then. Such an act of personal faith not only says something about both Mind and Product, it defines the American psyche. Despite the protestations of rationalists, cynics, and skeptics, we would be dead without people such as this. Somehow they are part of the rainforest of the mind. We bulldoze their silliness out of minds at our peril, for such a thing is an essential part of the last vestiges of Western innocence.

Barr’s 1958
“Flying Machine”

Another disk-shaped craft designed “to hover, travel at high speeds,” and “quickly turn and maneuver in azimuth heading” was Irwin R. Barr’s “Flying Machine” of 1958.

Fleissner’s 1955
“Rotating Jet Aircraft”

The claims for performance become as fantastic as those of Lent or Leggett with Heinrich Fleissner’s “Rotating Jet Aircraft with Lifting Disc Wing and Centrifuging Tanks”. Fleissner did not hesitate to e the present tense when he described his machine:

It takes off from and lands vertically on any suitable ground or water surface, and has the ability to remain in suspension at any point at any desired altitude regardless of weather conditions.” Its inventor claims that “acute angle turning is made possible by the fact that all the turning devices are in proximity to the center of the aircraft and further, the center body is the only portion that is turned in that the wing, extended outwardly therefrom, is continuously rotating and is not affected by the turning of the central body.

Many of these designs look like Adamski-style ships that were publicized round about the time of Adamski’s desert sighting in 1952. Most of them use large-diameter ducted fans, little better than big lawnmower units or fairground drives. At the time, these heavy, noisy industrial fan units were used mainly for air-conditioning, agricultural machinery, and were somewhat inefficient, low-powered, and bulky. Fifteen-foot diameter fans were certainly not an efficient form of drive in any configuration envisaged by these designers, who were of varying degrees of technical competence.

Jet engines, when they appear at all, are stuck pretty well anywhere, as if the designer doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Most designers were amateurs, but even the professionals were seduced by the idea of a completely circular craft, although the aerodynamic virtues were (and still are) extremely doubtful in comparison to the universal swept-wing pencil-shape. There is no rational aerodynamic reason for a having a totally circular shape given present power plants.

Therefore all these designs have one characteristic: they represent monstrous gaps in the chains of technological logic that are supposed to make them do what the makers claimed they could do. But we are here not talking about incompetence or mistakes, or about mock-ups for film sets, frauds, or about creative fictions. These machines were intended to do what most of the designers claimed, that is fly to planets and even the stars.

Nathan Price’s
V.T.O.L. design
US Patent 3,103,324

But as far as even a modest performance is concerned, all of them have wondrous holes in common sense concerning both structure and claimed performance. Whilst the designs look appealing indeed, what are we to make of Nathan C. Price’s claim for a “High Velocity High Altitude VTOL Aircraft,” of 1953? This patent was filed for in January 1953, months before the Adamski pictures were published. Then, as now, the blurbs were as good as any in commercial breaks nowadays. Why was the velocity “High” we ask, and why was it “High Altitude” when USAF conventional prototypes at the time (such as the U-2) were struggling to get up to 80,000 feet? Was Price mad, or just optimistic? Certainly the symmetry and beauty of his drawings do not indicate mental instability. 

Homer Streib’s circular wing design capable of vertical and lateral flight

Homer Streib, 1956

We might ask why Homer Streib’s 1953 machine was judged to be capable of “vertical and lateral flight” just as we might ask why the performance of a ship held up by rotating umbrellas (with rows of brass cannons aboard, no less) was described as a possible “warship of the skies” in 1870.

By 1956, Streib has improved his design. This time he tells us a little more about the power plant. It is a ducted fan, capable of being tilted to obtain a forward drive component. The heavy transmission gear required to do this is not illustrated, and neither is the power plant to drive such a large body and the equally heavy fan at the same time. Cooling, fuel space, electrics are not considered, and where, on this model, with its considerable under hang, any undercarriage could be retracted to is a good question. Given the weight, calculations concerning the amount of lift generated by the turning fan (little more than that for a child’s circus-ride) were optimistic.

John Fischer, 1954

Other designers were even more optimistic concerning practical engineering possibilities, an example being John Fischer’s 1954 design for a “rotating circular aircraft.” There are few details about how the rotation is to be achieved and what is its function is as regards flight and performance. In general, these designers ignore all matters concerning bearings, lubricants, fuels, petrol-electrics, transmissions, gearboxes, or control surfaces. That’s all for lesser men. As long as the machine looked like a Thunderbirds toy, then all is well. Style, not rationale, was the name of the game, although one supposes that few of these designers would ever admit that. This world appears to be in a state of ecstasy where rules of the lower earth do not mean a thing. The rule seems to be taken from one of the oldest engineering maxims: “if it looks good, it will be good.” Those males who are romantics concerning the female of the species will no doubt draw their own conclusions concerning the risks of such a claim.

Therefore power supplies are no problem, if only because in the cases we are considering, they did not exist as far as giving the claimed performances. But like love, dreams and fantasies are compulsive drives. They are not untruths so much as differing levels of approximation, all of which have great attractive power. We can no more get such things out of our minds than we can stop ourselves breathing. As human beings, if we haven’t got a particular piece of the puzzle, we either invent it usually, or ignore it, or simulate it, or often leaving an open space where “it” should be, and get on with less mundane matters. Perhaps we hope that the missing power plant will grow into the open space all by itself, and confounding us again, it indeed it appears often to do just that.

Certainly the circular design has always been most compulsive. Attempts to make a circular craft in defiance of any and every rule has, over a century consumed many lives, like the quest for alchemical gold or the Grail. Even the common sense folk of the Armed Forces of Canada, Britain, and the U.S. caught the magic bug of circularity and tried the principle in one form or another, and all their efforts came to nothing.

At left, in contrast to the above, is a professional civilian effort. As distinct from the examples given, this is a circular design brimful of calculations proper and not a little practical honest worth:

Note here that this very different thinker is going for the power supply, not the shape. These kind of experimental designs resulted finally in the moderate success of the Hovercraft and the single brilliant success of the Harrier jet fighter. But this somewhat limited destiny did not please the circular-shape stalwarts.

George Adamski’s book Flying Saucers Have Landed (co-authored with Desmond Leslie) was published in late 1953. Almost immediately, Adamski became a world-famous and influential figure. Here from his book, is the world-renowned photograph taken in Palomar Gardens.

Leonard Cramp’s orthographic projection of the Adamski ship and the Coniston saucer

It was obvious that those believers in the Adamski-type ships that had inspired generations were not going take no for an answer. They were determined to try and design and make a circular flying machine in the face of all rational considerations. The compulsion was such that patents were taking out for flying saucer shapes not intended even as flying machines, but as buildings, no less.

Donald Ordway’s 1961
“circular aircraft”

John Sherwood’s
“Vertical Lift Flying Machine” of 1967

Here are three examples:

The machines illustrated on the left were almost certainly built under the influence of the Adamski photographs

There should be a new science of examining these beasts in the manner that crustaceans are examined for form, development, and function. Mendel used beans, and the Galapagos finches to demonstrate the laws of Natural Selection. Here is a kind of Natural Selection operating within related families of possible industrial landscapes.


In the late 1950s and early 1960s Thomas Townsend Brown teamed up with Agnew H. Bahnson and James F. King to develop anti-gravity discs at the Bahnson research laboratory in Winston-Salem N.C.

Through their combined ingenuity they developed Brown's ideas of electrokinetic levitation and progressively discovered, among other things: How to direct the craft's electric field so as to steer its movement. How to constrict, or confine, that electric field so as to amplify its thrust energy and make it more efficient. How improved ionization of, and its resonance within, the surrounding air-ambient increases thrust. And That voltage pressure was more important to the electrokinetic thrust effect than current flow (whereby, for instance, a 3-fold increase in voltage pressure gave a 17-fold increase in thrust).

But it seems also that they had taken note of the work of Leonard G. Cramp who published, in 1954, in his book Space, Gravity and the Flying Saucer several technical drawings of George Adamski's ufo.



April 23 or 24th of 1965 - George Adamski, Godfather Of Saucer Mania, Dies

George Adamski is a name synonymous with P.T. Barnum in the world of UFOlogy, though there still remain true-believers of his wild tales of Venusian scout ships and contacts with golden haired, human-looking, peaceful space brothers. Adamski authored several popular books on UFOs and his personal experiences, including Inside The Spaceships, Flying Saucers Have Landed and Flying Saucers Farewell. George was never lacking a following of UFOnatics who often followed him into the desert on trips to meet and greet the aliens and see the saucers first hand. Most of the outings were really just elaborate sales meetings for promoting Adamski's materials or hearing him speak. On several occasions, George took shockingly clear photographs of the Venusian 'scout ships,' as well as strange looking images of what he called a mother ship surrounded by illuminated discs. Toward the end of his life, he produced color film footage of the scout ships, which many regard as ridiculous looking, poorly done fakes.

The scout ship is very likely part of a chicken-brooder or perhaps even a little known patented anti-gravity device developed by Thomas Townsend Brown, Agnew H. Bahnson and James F. King, who teamed up to produce electrokinetic levitation. However, there is some evidence that the engineers had already seen Adamski's craft images in a book from 1954 by Leonard G. Cramp titled Space, Gravity and the Flying Saucer, which contained several technical drawings of Adamski's scout ship.

Glenn S. Steckling - Director G.A.F. International / George Adamski Foundation disapproved of the viewpoints expressed here regarding Mr. Adamski. No matter what side of the issue one falls on the question of Adamski being a genuine contactee or his photos being real, it should be realized that groups like the GAF don't want you to think for yourself. They don't want any opinion but theirs reflected. You're not allowed to scrutinize the "scout ship" for yourself. They deny the use of the image to those who do not agree with their position on Adamski. This is not credible or decent UFOlogy. When certain groups or people don't want you to be able to think for yourself, judge for yourself, something is seriously wrong. What is expressed here is an opinion. One can accept or reject it. But censorship is revolting and only serves to show that someone has something to hide. Skeptical inquiry is the key to decent, rational UFOlogical research and examination.

In this classy country of pure mind, a designer starts with a bubble-cockpit, not aerodynamic equations. This comes before any money-grubbing considerations of tunnel-vision artisans concerned with lower-class ideas of mechanical “success.” From this placenta (not called originally the “cockpit” without reason) came the space helmet: glistening, sexual, an almost exclusively American technological art form and a damn sight more interesting and significant than a row of “impressionistic” trees stuck on a wall and called art “proper.”

The Past

Long before the Wright Flyer took off in 1903, the 19th century produced many beautiful dream-shapes of impossible flying machines. In many cartoons and sketches, rabbit-ear wings were pedaled to move up and down, umbrellas were rotated for lift, and propellers were turned by hand-cranks. Bird-wing shapes were attached by harnesses to the arms of muscular men, which were the only miniature power plants available.

Just like a some designers one hundred years later, almost all shunned these theoretical marvels and the questions they could not answer, and solved the problem of motive power by ignoring it altogether.

This was a much more elegant solution. Prototypal wings and tails sprout from flying prams formed by sheer guesswork regarding what would be the best geometry for possible atmospheric travel. Crude ship-type screw propellers appear, but the skeletal fuselages are quite empty. Like the Age of Reason waiting for the discovery of electricity, it is as if the forlorn propeller-shafts are waiting for the invention of the petrol engine.

The Henson Aerial Steam Carriage 1842

By about 1870, power plants appear in conjectured aircraft, but they were course the only ones available –steam engines!

For generations after Henson, such dreaming forms as above continued to spout funnels, chimneys, boilers, and furnaces. Stout captains in uniform stand upright, guiding the smoking beasts through the sky, cheered on by waving crowds below.

But sometimes the dreaming gets things right.

Alphonse Penaud, 1876

Alphonse Penaud, 1876, side elevation

Alphonse Penaud, a French designer born in 1850 made what must be one of the most inspired series of informed guesses in all technological history. Working with the mechanic Paul Gauchot, he designed a streamlined bat-winged stealth shape with twin propellers, a glassed-in cockpit, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage!

Though this aircraft was not built, in one stroke, Penaud forecast electrical hydraulics, streamlining, control surfaces, and closed instrumented cockpits. The undercarriage was fitted with compressed air shock absorbers. There was to be a single compensated control for pitch and directional change, a relative wind indicator, and air pressure indicator; a turn and bank indicator (prototype of the artificial horizon), anemometer, and electric servo-control of the elevators. But still no power plant!

This was a great pity, if only because the first prototype lightweight internal combustion engines had appeared some time earlier. Otto’s successful four-stroke engine was in existence in 1886 working on the famous “Otto” cycle, which became a principle for almost all piston engines. Also in this same year the first successful two-stroke engine was built by Sir Dougald Clerk.

As in our own time, casualties amongst dreamers were high in the 19th century. Penaud was cold-shouldered by Giffard, who had made the first successful dirigible flight over Paris. Unable to take this, Penaud, after sending his designs in a small coffin to Giffard, killed himself at the age of 30 in 1880. Perhaps this contributed to the suicide of the manic-depressive Giffard, who killed himself in turn two years later.

Years later two young brothers in the USA were given a Penaud helicopter toy by their father, and they would study closely its characteristics.

The Wright Flyer takes off, 1903

Their names were Orville and Wilbur Wright.

From 1903 on, the shapes improved, but they became functions of the petrol-driven internal combustion engine. In modern aeronautical practice, shapes are built around power plants, and not vice versa. More powerful engines mean more aerodynamic problems and the shapes of aircraft are attempts to solve these problems integrated with what power is available and of what type.

But then round about 1950, a very strange thing happened. This, in certain areas, led us back to the pre-Wright situation. Inspired by Arnold (1947) and Adamski (1953), many would-be designers began to sketch out circular or semi-circular shapes. But in the 1950s there was no power supply that was at all suitable for these particular shapes. Therefore, jet engines being new and rather uncertain things, this new generation of circular-form designers crammed in crude duct-fan apparatus just as the visionaries in the nineteenth century put steam engines in linen-covered bamboo carts and expected them to fly through the sky with the greatest of ease.

But the history of the circular shape wrapped regardless around conventional power plants has not been good. As the US Navy and the Canadians (and indeed the British) found out, there is simply no point in attaching such a configuration to known power units.

Vought V-173 / XF5U-1
"Flying Flapjack" or "Flying Pancake"

One of the most unusual aircraft ever designed for the U.S. Navy was the Chance Vought V-173, also known as the Zimmerman "Flying Pancake". It was a prototype "proof of concept" aircraft that lacked wings, instead relying on its flat circular body to provide the lifting surface. This multi-million dollar project nearly became the first V/STOL (vertical takeoff and landing) fighter. The V-173 blueprints were shown to the Navy in 1939, with wind tunnel tests on full scale models being done in 1940-41. In January 1942 BuAer requested the proposal for two prototype airplanes of an experimental version of the V-173, known as the VS-135. This version had more powerful engines and was given the military designation XF5U-1. Flight testing of the V-173 went on through 1942 and 1943, resulting in reports of "flying saucers" from surprised Connecticut locals. Mock-ups of the XF5U-1 were done in the summer of 1943, but due to Vought's preoccupation with the Corsair and Kingfisher, the program proceeded slowly during the war. The arrival of the jet age saw the cancellation of the XF5U-1 contract by the Navy in March 1947, despite the fact that the aircraft was due to take its first test flight later that year. The XF5U-1 prototype was scrapped, though the V-173 prototype was saved and was given to the Smithsonian. To this day the V-173 / XF5U-1 project remains one of the more interesting anecdotes in aviation history.

The Rush To Develop A Craft With Saucer Performance

Site Meter

An argument could be made saying that the British SVTOL Harrier “jump jet” fighter was the final expression of these ideas. Certainly, with its balanced computer-managed thrusters, it did (and still does) certain of the things the circular disk designers wanted their craft to do. But it did them with a conventional fighter-type body, which it retains as a warplane today, still in service with the RAF and the US Marine Corps.

Having achieved this, can we say that the search for the circular form is over? Well, no, not by any means. Yes, a thin lightweight screen could be put around the Harrier and it would perform as a pretty noisy and mediocre “flying saucer,” but its stability and performance would suffer. In any case, this would not be the performance our circular purists are seeking at all, a performance that has nothing to do with Harriers, Avrocars or Discojets.

Leonore Zales 1955

Leonor Zalles 1956

Leonor Zalles 1956

Stefan Postelson 1962

The circular shapes in question relate to the scores of shapes that have been seen in the skies of the world practically every week for the past fifty years. As in the 19th century, our modern designers of circular craft either leave empty spaces that are waiting for another age, or use duct-fans that more often than not, are the aeronautical equivalent to a child’s windmill on a stick.

In a sense we are looking at the very last dreams of the 19th century. The dreams are struggling within an ever-widening penumbra of uncertainty that is finally going to destroy them. We can look upon these shapes as art form, pieces of concept-art that tell us as much as do conventional art-form as regards mood and character, individual destiny and national endeavor. Though these machines were never built, men dreamed of them as Quixote dreamed of the Enchanted Dulcinea. They were loved and caressed, men put their every hope in them as they sailed to their doom like paper boats in a in a rapid stream of time. In every sense here are cyber animals, pure species of information as a form of life.

Here then, still grazing in the dream fields of old technology: a kind of of the 1950s. Future generations will look upon the almost impossibilities as we now gaze upon a Mayan temple and looking at steps that lead nowhere, wonder why the temple was never finished.

Few have thought of forgotten technological guesses such as this as concept art. Far fewer even have thought of natural selection and indeed mutation within technological developments. Here are shapes that emerge from an anthropology of industrial ideology and material resources.

We dream in defiance of fact, and leave out some connections that are still forming under the hill of time. This simultaneous seeing and not-seeing provides the potential difference between the two vital faculties that drives the visions that come to pass. The psychology of discovery tells that without self-deception we are nothing. We create the future as a collage. It becomes a partner to act freely in forming and evolving consciousness.

In its attempt to describe the indescribable, indeed ufology can been seen as concept art. Conceived as art-form in the sense described here, it gave us insights into ourselves and places where equations cannot go.

Discojets, Avrocars and Skycars

The “levitating” Skycar is the brainchild of Chris Moller, who has spent $200 million trying to get his invention airborne. In 1974, Moller stated that the car needed only 35 feet to take off, but thanks to its 205hp engine it could climb at 2375 feet a minute and reach speeds of 200mph. By 2004 the improved performance figures were 365 mph at 15000 feet without oxygen or parachute.

We can state without irony, that there are few who could resist a thing as beautiful as this. As a piece of art, it certainly beats a dead fish on a brick on top of a sheet of corrugated iron. Moller himself is as optimistic as ever. Referring the above, he told BBC News Online:

The head of NASA says that in 10 years, 25% of the American population will have access to the Skycar. And he also says that in 25 years 90% of people will be using them.

Of course none of this could or will happen or was even supposed to happen in the first place. It is more than possible that Moller, like the makers of miracle engines, will not be heard of or seen again, bless him. This car is a mannequin: slim and perfect, provided she does not go outside and meet a light breeze. It is a mayfly, born without a mouth. The important feature of the vehicle is the same Doris Day honeymoon quilted bed of 1955. Like a retro toaster the thing is built not so much of matter but advertisements. It is a piece of kitsch, which is as valid an entrance into the consumer mysterium as any Gainsborough or a Reynolds.

This is the importance of people such as Chris Moller, and many like him. He is an artist, not an aerodynamicist. In this sense, his hopelessly impractical Skycar will be remembered long after more sober and sensible designs have left the air. When we enter the Skycar world at any point in its image time-line, we enter the world of Jane Mansfield and the chrome Cadillac bumper and its strip of psychedelic indicator lights. Asking this would be-aircraft to fly is like asking Warhol’s lithographs of Marilyn Monroe to speak, or his Soup Tin to contain soup.

In this sense, advertisements indeed are new forms of matter and consciousness. As concept artists, designers such as Moller get the advertisements right long before wretched product is launched. The resulting product, as in Moller’s case is often irrelevant and useless. It is merely a burnt-out catalyst whose function has been to induce a state of mind. Here is the engine room of the capitalist society, no less. Images like this hold it together In other words: we are watching TV whether or not we have a set. There is no OFF switch either for Jane Mansfield or indeed the shapes of Moller.

We leave Chris Moller, torn between Melville and Hemingway, a true American hero, with the spare bleached bones of his life in his hands. We leave him facing a mounting tide of litigation concerning the “reality” of his claims for flight. Like the space ships of George Adamski, Moller’s cars as information animals grazing on the cud of belief, having evolved into pure techno art form. In an age that consists almost entirely of corrupt and worthless things, such dream-machines, like Marilyn Monroe, will be perhaps all that will remain of any love and worth of our time. Strange that toys should have such an important destiny.

Other civilizations have given us the profound thought of men and saints, the intricate sand-grain counting of the scientists, and the tales of adventurers. But then the serious things didn’t work, and we found that even the beloved scientists were telling lies. Profundity was suspect. It led to the death camps, hysteria and (worse) religion. Few enjoyed profundity. You could not trifle with it, it meant a life of labour, and in any ase it all ended in tears.

Leonard Cramp 1954

But for a few seconds in hell, toys gave pleasure, and they didn’t tell lies. So the culture was built around them. That they did not work in the old sense was irrelevant. Toys are not supposed to do work. Perhaps when alien contact is made, we will be surprised at the extent to which toys and play make up an alien mind.

Aliens may look upon our own passing industrial “work=reality” phase as an age of mounds and barrows full of relics and skeletons, often built and conceived by men of genius..

In every sense, the prototypes are stars. They are expressions of personality and performance, being made of that pure advertisement-stuff that is virtually a new form of matter for our time. They belong hardly to an objective mechanical reality; they are, like George Adamski, pure star material to which the equations of a passing industrial world, with all its rigidities, facts, and concrete certainties hardly apply. These half-realized phantoms are in a transition stage from mechanism to media. The UFO itself is a similar larval form, a manifestation sculpted by the cultural tensions between fact and fiction, media and technology.

The (London) Independent, Aug 24, 2004

1 Curtiss Autoplane (1917)

The first "flying car", less than 15 years after the Wright Brothers' flight. The triplane three-seater featured a rear mounted propeller - but only managed a few short hops.

2 Arrowbile (1937)

Studebaker-based flying car with a pusher propeller powered by a front mounted car engine and detachable wings for storage. A lack of funding killed the project.

3 Airphibian (1946)

Robert Fulton's Airphibian was the first vehicle certified for air and road use. The wings, tail and propeller detached and a four-wheeled fuselage did up to 50 mph.

4 ConvAirCar (1947)

A two-door saloon with a detachable wing and propeller unit. Owners were supposed to hire these to fly between airports. A crash on its third flight ended the project.

5 Avrocar (1959)

An attempt by the US army to develop a flying jeep, the saucer- shaped Avrocar had a giant fan in its centre and two small cockpits. Very unstable in flight, axed in 1961.

6 Aerocar (1959)

The second FAA-certified flying car used a four-wheeled fibreglass body with detachable wings and tail that could be towed behind the car. Shelved in 1970s oil crisis.

7 Moller M400 (2006)

Paul Moller has dreamed of a flying car for 40 years and the wankel rotary powered, four-seat M400, which takes off and lands vertically, may one day make it into production.

8 AMC Matador (1974)

An unlikely choice of vehicle for 007's nemesis Scaramanga, this model came with the option of wings and a jet engine, allowing the three-nippled villain to escape Bond.

9 Chitty Bang Bang (1967)

Another Fleming creation, the film car was named after a 1920s Brooklands racer. Six cars were created and for the flying scenes, the car was hung from a helicopter.

10 Aerocar (2000)

Spiritual successor to the ConvAirCar, the Aerocar 2000 is based on a Lotus Elise with a flight section with wings, tail and a propeller powered by a twin-turbo Lotus V8.