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The 1950s and 1960s were a time of great innovation in aircraft design. Speed records were set and shattered on a regular basis, and all kinds of innovative, or some may say, crazy designs were explored. One of the most curious of these was the Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar, which was literally a flying saucer. Developed by Avro Aircraft, Ltd. of Canada, it was initially supported by the US Air Force as an advanced fighter aircraft, and after it became clear it would never meet its performance goals, was funded by the US Army, which saw it as a kind of flying Jeep, replacing helicopters for operations in rough terrain.
The design was very odd. Lift for vertical takeoff and landing was provided by a central “turbo-rotor” with fan blades which created downward thrust. The rotor was powered by three jet engines mounted in the fuselage, but they were not mechanically coupled to the rotor like the engines in a helicopter. Instead, their jet blast was directed at turbine blades attached to the rotor, which caused it to spin. A portion of the rotor’s thrust was diverted to thrusters mounted around the periphery of the vehicle which the pilot could use to orient in pitch, roll, and yaw. Later special ports were added to the aft end of the craft to produce thrust intended to allow it to transition from hovering to forward flight.More