#153 from R&D Innovator Volume 4, Number 4          April 1995

From Flying Saucer to Mass Transit Patent
by George Neumayr

Mr. Neumayr is a design engineer retired from Bell Aerospace Company , where he was employed for 20 years. 

Over the years of aerospace engineering, I've worked on a variety of experimental designs, including some that developed into modern vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.  Among the most challenging, were designs for space travel, including the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo lunar programs.  I also worked on the hovercrafts which were used in Operation Desert Storm. 

A major problem with every new aircraft model is the enormous cost of testing wings for such things as flexibility and metal fatigue, and much of my work was to modify designs to reflect test data on these crucial subjects.  For instance, to enhance the wing's operational lifespan, and to make flights vibration- and buffeting-free.

I didn't think I'd be designing more aircraft after I retired, but they’re apparently in my blood.  And retirement gave me the freedom to think about whatever design I want--I wasn't restricted by the hesitancy that, in industry, always accompanies a revolutionary idea. 

I enjoy science-fiction movies, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I even dream about UFO’s (unidentified flying objects).  Perhaps I got the idea while watching a flying saucer take off after its occupants did their "dirty work" (abducting schoolteachers, mucking up scientists' experiments, borrowing library books for a journey to a far planet) on earth. 

The lucky flying saucer engineers didn't need to worry about wing flexibility or metal fatigue in the wings--since there weren't any.  I began thinking a little more seriously about flying saucer design.  Did a disc shape have any validity? 

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, the U.S. Navy and Air Force tested some small discs, but after lots of problems they dropped the programs.  But a circular configuration makes some sense--at least in Frisbees, which have amazing aerodynamics.  However, I don’t imagine anyone would enjoy spending 5,000 miles inside a spinning disc; but what about a disc that didn't spin?

When I started fiddling around with sketches--mostly trial and effort work on paper--I didn't take my ideas seriously.  But as I added details, I began to take the concept of a flying disc more seriously.  It was exciting, and when I had a new idea—day or night, at dinner, or out on an errand—I immediately noted it.  The more I progressed, the more enthusiastic I became.  I felt that I had come up with a revolutionary concept; but the only person who was privy was my patent attorney.

My Flying Saucer

I wasn’t thinking small; I was thinking about a huge aircraft that would overcome many of today’s airplane problems such as wind shear, icing on wings, long runways, and air-pocket drop.

My flying disc, made of lightweight metal alloys, is 200 feet in diameter and 50 feet tall.  Solar energy panels are on the top half.  These deliver electrical power for such things as lights, appliances, air conditioning, and heating.  The bottom half has observation windows and comfortable seating for 800 passengers.  Luggage and fuel are below the passengers; above them is a helium-filled compartment, to supplement lift from the engines. 

At both the leading edge and trailing edge of the disc, are two turbofan engines.  Their main purpose is for forward motion during flight, but they also have special devices that assist during vertical take-off and landing. 

There are eight more turbofan engines arrayed in a circle around the disk.  Their major role is for vertical take-off.  After take-off, they can be cut back in power and assist during forward flight because of special adjustable fans and louvers.

 The disc remains airborne because its shape acts like an aircraft wing and splits the airflow to make lift.  The aircraft, itself, doesn't rotate. 

For navigation and stabilization, each engine has adjustable vanes or louvers to control pitch, roll, and yaw.  The computerized controls, with alternate manual override, work in three dimensions to respond to wind, air pockets, and changes in route.


The disc's speed and range would be comparable to a high-speed jet aircraft.  Noise and vibration levels are significantly reduced.  It would be unsinkable, and could even take off from water.  In fact, since runways are unnecessary, there would be no problems with snow removal and wind shear. 

And, to return to my starting point, since the disc has no wings, there would be no worries about wing flexibility.  Metal fatigue should be almost non-existent due to the aircraft's circular configuration, providing for a symmetrical structure to support the crossweight.

 I recently received key patents on the design, and my Vertical Takeoff and Landing Flying Disc has attracted lots of attention among airplane manufacturers.  I expect a prototype to be built over the next few years.  The New York Times (in an article about my aircraft) says that since Orville and Wilbur Wright received their patent in 1906, only one patent has been issued for a revolutionary flying craft.  Igor Sikorsky earned that in 1943 for the helicopter.  I hope my “flying saucer” will be the next in this short line. 

Next time you see a UFO, it’ll probably be mine. 

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