The National Archives have released recently declassified records from the USAF's Aeronautical Systems Division which feature a project aimed at creating a military-grade flying saucer:
The above illustration was discovered in the pages of a document titled “Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report” (d.1956) The caption reads “USAF Project 1794”. However, the Air Force had contracted the work out to a Canadian company, Avro Aircraft Limited in Ontario, to construct the disk-shaped craft. According to the same report, it was designed to be a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) plane designed to reach a top speed of Mach 4, with a ceiling of over 100,000 feet, and a range of over 1,000 nautical miles.
This project is not a new revelation to UFO researchers - Look Magazine had this scoop in 1955, before this report was even released:
Though I'm sure serious UFO researchers would be encouraged to further investigation by the National Archives' mention that "the images here are from selected reports in just two boxes of this collection. The entire series is available for historians to research".
The two main questions that arise out of Project 1794 though are (a) what was the specific inspiration for creating a flying saucer, and (b) what became of the project?
In the case of the latter question, opinions vary. On Wikipedia you'll find mention of a number of research accidents, suggesting that the prototype craft was so dangerous that staff "were afraid of the machine". On the flipside, in his book Mirage Men (Amazon UK and as a pre-order from Amazon US), Mark Pilkington wonders whether the project went 'dark':
So what happened to America's flying saucer? Aviation historians Bill Rose and Tony Butler see the confusing use of multiple project names for essentially the same aircraft as deliberate obfuscation, and suggest that MX-1794 went 'black' in its final stages. The authors claim to have seen US documents from 1959 discussing an ongoing flying saucer development programme, with Lockheed's famous Skunkworks, home of the U-2 and Stealth planes, as a likely location.
…in 1958, just as the MX-1794 vanished from sight, Avro announced a new project, the VZ-9AV, best known as the Avrocar, an eighteen-foot-wide, three-foot high, single-pilot flying saucer. Intended as a hovering jeep for the Army, the Avrocar turned out to be a juddery, unstable and ultimately useless dud whose only role seemed to be providing comic turns in newsreels - a deliberate distraction, some say, from the real and top-secret MX-1794.
And here, for your entertainment (dare I say distraction!), is some video of the Avrocar. Accompanied by some hypnotic psytrance, allowing me to say slowly in a mantra-like fashion: "repeat after me: the USAF has no flying saucer technology"...