Flying saucer

Flying saucer

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A flying saucer is a type of unidentified flying object
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

 (UFO) sometimes believed to be of alien origin with a disc or saucer
Saucer
A saucer is a small type of dishware, a plate that is specifically used with and for supporting a cup – a cylindrical cup intended for coffee or a half-sphere teacup for tea. Additionally, the saucer is a distant cousin to the plate. The saucer has a raised centre with a depression sized to fit a...

-shaped body, usually described as silver or metallic, occasionally reported as covered with running lights or surrounded with a glowing light, hovering or moving rapidly either alone or in tight formations with other similar craft, and exhibiting high maneuverability.

Disc-shaped flying objects have been interpreted as recorded occasionally since the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the first highly publicized sighting
Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting
The Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting was an incident on June 24, 1947, where private pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying past Mount Rainier at then unheard of supersonic speeds that Arnold clocked at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour...

 by Kenneth Arnold
Kenneth Arnold
Kenneth A. Arnold was an American aviator and businessman. He is best-known for making what is generally considered the first widely reported unidentified flying object sighting in the United States, after claiming to have seen nine unusual objects flying in a chain near Mount Rainier, Washington...

 on June 24, 1947, resulted in the creation of the term by U.S. newspapers. Although Arnold never specifically used the term "flying saucer", he was quoted at the time saying the shape of the objects he saw was like a "saucer", "disc", or "pie-plate", and several years later added he had also said "the objects moved like saucers skipping across the water." (The Arnold
Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting
The Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting was an incident on June 24, 1947, where private pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying past Mount Rainier at then unheard of supersonic speeds that Arnold clocked at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour...

 article has a selection of newspaper quotes.) Both the terms flying saucer and flying disc were used commonly and interchangeably in the media until the early 1950s.

Arnold's sighting was followed by thousands of similar sightings across the world. Such sightings were once very common, to such an extent that "flying saucer" was a synonym for UFO through the 1960s before it began to fall out of favor. The term is still often used generically for any UFO.

More recently, the flying saucer has been largely supplanted by other alleged UFO-related vehicles, such as the black triangle. The term UFO was, in fact, invented in 1952, to try to reflect the wider diversity of shapes being seen. However, unknown saucer-like objects are still reported, such as in the widely-publicized 2006 sighting over Chicago-O'Hare airport
2006 O'Hare International Airport UFO sighting
The Chicago O'Hare UFO sighting occurred on November 7, 2006, when people at Chicago O'Hare International Airport reported seeing a saucer or disc-shaped UFO.-The sighting:...

.

Many of the alleged flying saucer photographs of the era are now believed to be hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

es. The flying saucer is now considered largely an icon of the 1950s and of B-movies in particular, and is a popular subject in comic science fiction
Comic science fiction
Comic science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that exploits the genre's conventions for comic effect. Comic science fiction often mocks or satirizes standard SF conventions like alien invasion of Earth, interstellar travel, or futuristic technology....

.

Sightings


A manuscript illustration of the 10th-century Japanese narrative
Japanese literature
Early works of Japanese literature were heavily influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature, often written in Classical Chinese. Indian literature also had an influence through the diffusion of Buddhism in Japan...

, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
, also known as , is a 10th century Japanese folktale. It is considered the oldest extant Japanese narrative and an early example of proto-science fiction....

, depicts a round flying machine similar to a flying saucer.

Perhaps the oldest recording of a saucer-shaped object is from 1290, when a silver disc was reported flying over a village in Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

. Disc-like flying objects were occasionally reported throughout the millennium. For example, in a mass sighting over Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 in 1561, discs and spheres were reported emerging from large cylinders. (woodcut at left) They are also claimed by ufologists to frequently show up in religious artwork. Artwork of the Annunciation
Annunciation
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

 of Mary, for instance, frequently shows a narrow beam of light descending from a saucer-like object. (examples at right and lower left) However, it is usually even ambiguous as to whether the artists were trying to depict something that had been seen or whether there was religious symbolism involved, let alone ufos.

Possibly the first well-documented instance to specifically compare the objects to saucers, and the first to be widely reported, was the Kenneth Arnold
Kenneth Arnold
Kenneth A. Arnold was an American aviator and businessman. He is best-known for making what is generally considered the first widely reported unidentified flying object sighting in the United States, after claiming to have seen nine unusual objects flying in a chain near Mount Rainier, Washington...

 sighting on June 24, 1947, while Arnold was flying near Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier is a massive stratovolcano located southeast of Seattle in the state of Washington, United States. It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and the Cascade Volcanic Arc, with a summit elevation of . Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most...

. He reported seeing 9 brightly-reflecting vehicles, one shaped like a crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

 but the others more disc- or saucer-shaped, flying in an echelon formation
Echelon formation
An echelon formation is a military formation in which members are arranged diagonally. Each member is stationed behind and to the right , or behind and to the left , of the member ahead...

, weaving like the tail of a kite, flipping and flashing in the sun, and traveling with a speed of at least 1,200 miles per hour (1,900 km/h). In addition to the saucer or disc shape (Arnold also used the terms "pie plate" and half-moon shaped), he also later said he described the motion of the craft as "like a saucer if you skip
Stone skipping
Stone skipping is a pastime which involves throwing a stone with a flattened surface across a lake or other body of water in such a way that it bounces off the surface of the water. The object of the game is to see how many times a stone can be made to bounce before sinking.-Names:In North America...

 it across water", leading to the term "flying saucer" and also "flying disc" (which were synonymous for a number of years).


Immediately following the report, hundreds of sightings of usually saucer-like objects were reported across the United States and also in some other countries. The most widely publicized of these was the sighting by a United Airlines
United Airlines
United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees (which includes the entire holding company United Continental...

 crew on July 4 of nine more disc-like objects pacing their plane over Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, not far from Arnold's initial sighting. On July 8, the Army Air Force base at Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell is a city in and the county seat of Chaves County in the southeastern quarter of the state of New Mexico, United States. The population was 48,366 at the 2010 census. It is a center for irrigation farming, dairying, ranching, manufacturing, distribution, and petroleum production. It is also...

 issued a press release saying that they had recovered a "flying disc" from a nearby ranch (the so-called Roswell UFO incident
Roswell UFO incident
The Roswell UFO Incident was the recovery of an object that crashed in the general vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico, in June or July 1947, allegedly an extra-terrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants. Since the late 1970s the incident has been the subject of intense controversy and of...

, which was front-page news until the military issued a retraction saying that it was a weather balloon.

On July 9, the Army Air Force Directorate of Intelligence, assisted by the FBI, began a secret study of the best of the flying saucer reports, including Arnold's and the United Airlines' crew. Three weeks later they issued an intelligence estimate describing the typical characteristics reported (including that they were often reported as disc-like and metallic) and concluded that something was really flying around. A follow-up investigation by the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field
Wright Field
Wright Field was an airfield of the United States Army Air Corps and Air Forces near Riverside, Ohio. From 1927 to 1947 it was the research and development center for the Air Corps, and during World War II a flight test center....

, Ohio arrived at the same conclusion. A widespread official government study of the saucers was urged by General Nathan Twining. This led to the formation of Project Sign
Project Sign
Project Sign was an official U.S. government study of unidentified flying objects undertaken by the United States Air Force and active for most of 1948....

 (also known as Project Saucer) at the end of 1947, the first public Air Force UFO study. This evolved into Project Grudge
Project Grudge
Project Grudge was a short-lived project by the U.S. Air Force to investigate unidentified flying objects . Grudge succeeded Project Sign in February, 1949, and was then followed by Project Blue Book. The project formally ended in December 1949, but actually continued on in a very minimal capacity...

 (1949–1951) and then Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study...

 (1952–1970).

The term "flying saucer" quickly became deeply ingrained in the English vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

. A Gallup poll from August 1947 found that 90% had heard about the mysterious flying saucers or flying discs, and a 1950 Gallup poll found that 94% of those polled had heard the term, easily beating out all other mentioned commonly used terms in the news such as "Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

", "universal military training," and "bookie."

Air Force statistics indicated that the basic saucer-shape continued to be the most commonly reported one through the 1950s and 1960s until Project Blue Book ended in 1970. There have been some claims, still undocumented by scientific study, that reports of saucers began to decline in the 1970s, being supplanted by other craft such as black triangles, cylinders, and amorphous shapes. It has also been asserted that despite the increase in portable camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

s, photographs dwindled as Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 interest decreased and a number of notable images were exposed as fakes.

Explanations


In addition to the extraterrestrial hypothesis
Extraterrestrial hypothesis
The extraterrestrial hypothesis is the hypothesis that some unidentified flying objects are best explained as being extraterrestrial life or non-human aliens from other planets occupying physical spacecraft visiting Earth.-Etymology:...

, a variety of possible explanations for flying saucers have been put forward. One of the most common states that most photos of saucers were hoaxes; cylindrical metal objects such as pie tins, hubcap
Hubcap
A hubcap, wheel cover or wheel trim is a decorative disk on an automobile wheel that covers at least a central portion of the wheel. Cars with stamped steel wheels often use a full wheel cover that conceals the entire wheel. Cars with alloy wheels or styled steel wheels generally use smaller...

s and dustbin lids were easy to obtain, and the poor focus seen in UFO images makes the true scale of the object difficult to ascertain. However, some photos and movies were deemed authentic after intensive study. An example was the saucer-like object photographed by farmer Paul Trent near Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

 in 1950, which passed all tests when studied by the Condon Committee
Condon Committee
The Condon Committee was the informal name of the University of Colorado UFO Project, a group funded by the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1968 at the University of Colorado to study unidentified flying objects under the direction of physicist Edward Condon...

 in the 1960s.

Another theory states that most are natural phenomena such as lenticular cloud
Lenticular cloud
Lenticular clouds are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned perpendicular to the wind direction. Lenticular clouds can be separated into altocumulus standing lenticularis , stratocumulus standing lenticular , and cirrocumulus standing lenticular...

s and balloons, which appear disc-like in some lighting conditions.

A third theory puts all saucer sightings down to a form of mass hysteria. Arnold described the craft he saw as saucer-like but not perfectly round (he described them as thin, flat, rounded in front but chopped in back and coming to a point), but the image of the circular saucer was fixed in the public consciousness. The theory posits that as the use of the term flying saucer in popular culture decreased, so too did sightings.

However, one Air Force commissioned study contradicted some of these contentions. A scientific and statistical analysis of 3200 Air Force cases by the Battelle Memorial Institute
Battelle Memorial Institute
Battelle Memorial Institute is a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Battelle is a charitable trust organized as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the State of Ohio and is exempt from taxation under Section 501 of the...

 from 1952-1954 found that most were indeed due to natural phenomena. But only about 2% were due to hoaxes or psychological effects and only .4% were thought due to clouds. Other very minor contributors to the identifieds were birds, light phenomena such as mirage
Mirage
A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. The word comes to English via the French mirage, from the Latin mirare, meaning "to look at, to wonder at"...

s or searchlights, and various miscellany such as flares or kites. The vast majority of identified objects (about 84%) were explained as balloons, aircraft, or astronomical objects. However, about 22% of all sightings still defied any plausible explanation by the team of scientists. The percent of unidentifieds rose to 33% for the best witnesses and cases. Thus when carefully studied, a very substantial fraction of reports (given the available data) cannot be easily explained away as being caused by mundane phenomena. Other scientific studies have come to similar conclusions. (see Identified flying object
Identified flying object
Identifying Unidentified Flying Objects is a difficult task due to the normally poor quality of the evidence provided by those who report sighting the objects. Nevertheless, most officially investigated UFO sightings, such as from the U.S...

 for details)

Fata Morgana (mirages) and flying saucers


Fata Morgana
Mirage
A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. The word comes to English via the French mirage, from the Latin mirare, meaning "to look at, to wonder at"...

, a type of mirage
Mirage
A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. The word comes to English via the French mirage, from the Latin mirare, meaning "to look at, to wonder at"...

, might be responsible for some flying saucers sightings, by displaying objects located below the astronomical horizon
Horizon
The horizon is the apparent line that separates earth from sky, the line that divides all visible directions into two categories: those that intersect the Earth's surface, and those that do not. At many locations, the true horizon is obscured by trees, buildings, mountains, etc., and the resulting...

 hovering in the sky. It might also magnify these objects and make them look absolutely unrecognizable.

Similarly some unidentifieds seen on radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 might also be due to Fata Morgana-type atmospheric phenomena, though more technically known as "anomalous propagation
Anomalous propagation
Anomalous propagation includes different forms of electromagnetic wave propagation that are not encountered in a standard atmosphere. While technically the term includes propagation with larger losses than in standard atmosphere, in practical applications it is most often meant to refer to cases...

" and more commonly as "radar ghosts". Official UFO investigations in France indicates:
Fata Morgana was named as a hypothesis for the mysterious Australian phenomenon Min Min light
Min Min light
Min Min Light is the name given to an unusual light formation that has been reported numerous times in eastern Australia. The lights have been reported from as far south as Brewarrina in western New South Wales, to as far north as Boulia in northern Queensland...


Earth-based examples



The first documented patent for a lenticular flying machine was submitted by Romanian
Romanians
The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

 inventor Henri Coanda
Henri Coanda
Henri Marie Coandă was a Romanian inventor, aerodynamics pioneer and builder of an experimental aircraft, the Coandă-1910 described by Coandă in the mid-1950s as the world's first jet, a controversial claim disputed by some and supported by others...

. He made a functional small scale model which was flown in 1932 and a patent was granted in 1935
At a Symposionum organized by the Romanian Academy in 1967 Coanda said:

"These airplanes we have today are no more than a perfection of a toy made of paper children use to play with. My opinion is we should search for a completely different flying machine, based on other flying principles. I consider the aircraft of the future, that which will take off vertically, fly as usual and land vertically. This flying machine should have no parts in movement. The idea came from the huge power of the cyclons" [sic].

Other attempts have been made, with limited success, to produce manned vehicles based on the flying saucer design. While some, such as the Avrocar and M200G Volantor
M200G Volantor
The M200G Volantor, recently re-named M200 Neuera is a prototype of a flying saucer-style hovercraft, designed by aeronautics engineer Paul Moller. The vehicle is envisioned as a precursor to the Moller Skycar M400. The M200G Volantor uses a system of eight computer-controlled fans to hover up to ...

 have been produced in limited numbers, most fail to leave the drawing board. The Avrocar, with vertical takeoff and landing, was originally intended to replace both the Jeep
Jeep
Jeep is an automobile marque of Chrysler . The first Willys Jeeps were produced in 1941 with the first civilian models in 1945, making it the oldest off-road vehicle and sport utility vehicle brand. It inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover which is the second...

 and the helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 in combat situations, but proved to be inadequate for both. In spite of a powerful turbojet, it could not rise more than four or five feet off the ground, i.e., out of ground effect. Thus, the Avrocar could be seen as a prototype for the early generations of hovercraft
Hovercraft
A hovercraft is a craft capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft.Hovercraft are used throughout...

, lacking only a 'skirt' to make it a truly effective example of the type. Unmanned saucers have had more success; the Sikorsky Cypher
Sikorsky Cypher
|-References:This article contains material that originally came from the web article by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.-External links:*...

 is a saucer-like UAV
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 which uses the disc-shaped shroud to protect rotor blades.

Some more advanced flying saucers capable of spaceflight have been proposed, often as black project
Black project
In the United States and United Kingdom, a black project is in the vernacular a classified military/defense project, unacknowledged publicly by the government, military personnel, and defense contractors. Examples of U.S...

s by aeronautics companies. The Lenticular Reentry Vehicle
Lenticular Reentry Vehicle
The Lenticular Reentry Vehicle , according to a November 2000 Popular Mechanics cover story, was an experimental nuclear warhead delivery system under development during the Cold War by defense contractor North American Aviation, managed out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.The...

 was a secret project run by Convair
Convair
Convair was an American aircraft manufacturing company which later expanded into rockets and spacecraft. The company was formed in 1943 by the merger of Vultee Aircraft and Consolidated Aircraft, and went on to produce a number of pioneering aircraft, such as the Convair B-36 bomber, and the F-102...

 for a saucer device which could carry both astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

s and nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s into orbit; the nuclear powered system was planned in depth, but is not believed to have ever flown. More exotically, British Rail
British Rail
British Railways , which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages...

 worked on plans for the British Rail "Space Vehicle"
British Rail flying saucer
The British Rail flying saucer, officially known simply as space vehicle, was a proposed spacecraft designed by Charles Osmond Frederick.- Purpose :The flying saucer originally started as a proposal for a lifting platform...

 a proposed, saucer-shaped craft based on so far undiscovered technologies such as nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

 and superconductivity
Superconductivity
Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance occurring in certain materials below a characteristic temperature. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum...

, which was supposed to have been able to transport multiple passenger between planets, but never went beyond the patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 stage.

There is at least one design that received a US patent in 2005: It claims to be "propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state".

Additionally, a professor at the University of Florida
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

 has begun work on a Wingless Electromagnetic
Electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

 Air Vehicle (WEAV) for NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 which has received public interest because of its coincidental resemblance to a flying saucer.

Military uses


In the last decade, plasma induction technologies have led to the advance of propulsion and energy systems, operators such as the USAF and NASA have taken an interest in utilizing this tech for the purpose of building flying saucers.

In popular culture


Surprisingly, long before the Kenneth Arnold sighting of 1947 and the adoption of the term "flying saucer" by the press, spacecraft of human or alien origin were often illustrated as classic flying saucers in the popular press, dating back to at least 1911.

After 1947, the flying saucer quickly became a stereotypical symbol of both extraterrestrials and science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

, and features in many films of mid-20th century science fiction, including The Atomic Submarine
The Atomic Submarine
The Atomic Submarine is a 1959 science fiction film starring Arthur Franz, Dick Foran and Brett Halsey, with John Hillard as the voice of the alien. The film was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, the script was adapted by Orville H. Hampton from a short story by Jack Rabin and Irving Block...

, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space is a 1959 science fiction film written and directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. The film features Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson and Maila "Vampira" Nurmi...

, Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen is an American film producer and special effects creator...

's stop-motion epic, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is an American black and white science fiction film, directed by Fred F. Sears and released by Columbia Pictures. The film is also known as Invasion of the Flying Saucers. It was ostensibly suggested by the non-fiction work Flying Saucers from Outer Space by Donald...

, as well as the television series The Invaders
The Invaders
The Invaders, a Quinn Martin Production , is an ABC science fiction television program created by Larry Cohen that ran in the United States for two seasons, from January 10, 1967 to March 26, 1968...

. As the flying saucer was surpassed by other designs and concepts, it fell out of favor with straight science-fiction movie makers, but continued to be used ironically
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

 in comedy movies, especially in reference to the low-budget B movie
B movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

s which often featured saucer-shaped alien craft.

MGM, however, gave it's 1956 Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It stars Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. The characters and its setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot contains certain...

 A-film high production values in the United Planet's Cruiser C-57D, presenting a plausable human exploration, faster-than-light starship of the 23rd century.

The saucer design did, however, make a temporary comeback on the television series Babylon 5 as the standard ship design used by a race called the Vree, described on the series as one of Earth's long-standing allies who had in fact visited Earth in the past, and who bore a strong resemblance to the "Greys". Aliens in the film Independence Day
Independence Day (film)
Independence Day is a 1996 science fiction film about an alien invasion of Earth, focusing on a disparate group of individuals and families as they converge in the Nevada desert and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance counterattack on July 4 – the same...

 attacked humanity in giant city sized saucer shaped space ships.

The sleek, silver flying saucer in particular is seen as a symbol of 1950s culture; the motif is common in Googie architecture
Googie architecture
Googie architecture is a form of modern architecture, a subdivision of futurist architecture influenced by car culture and the Space and Atomic Ages....

 and in Atomic Age
Atomic Age
The Atomic Age, also known as the Atomic Era, is a phrase typically used to delineate the period of history following the detonation of the first nuclear bomb Trinity on July 16, 1945...

 décor. The image is often invoked retrofuturistically to produce a nostalgic feel in period works, especially in comic science fiction
Comic science fiction
Comic science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that exploits the genre's conventions for comic effect. Comic science fiction often mocks or satirizes standard SF conventions like alien invasion of Earth, interstellar travel, or futuristic technology....

; both Mars Attacks!
Mars Attacks!
Mars Attacks! is a 1996 American science fiction film directed by Tim Burton and based on the cult trading card series of the same name. The film uses elements of black comedy, surreal humour, and political satire, and claims to be also a parody of multiple science fiction B movies...

 and Destroy All Humans!
Destroy All Humans!
Destroy All Humans! is a video game developed by Pandemic Studios and published by THQ. It was released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 on June 21, 2005. The game is set in the late 1950s in the U.S. and parodies the lifestyles, pop culture, and politics of this time period...

 draw on the flying saucer as part of the larger satire of 1950s B movie tropes.

The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone is an American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. Each episode is a mixture of self-contained drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist...

 episode
Episode
An episode is a part of a dramatic work such as a serial television or radio program. An episode is a part of a sequence of a body of work, akin to a chapter of a book. The term sometimes applies to works based on other forms of mass media as well, as in Star Wars...

s The Monsters are due on Maple Street, Third from the Sun, Death Ship
Death Ship (The Twilight Zone)
"Death Ship" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.-Synopsis:The Space Cruiser E-89, crewed by Captain Paul Ross, Lt. Ted Mason and Lt. Mike Carter, is on a mission to analyze new worlds and discover if they are suitable for colonization by Earth...

, To Serve Man
To Serve Man (The Twilight Zone)
"To Serve Man" is an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone.The story is based on the short story "To Serve Man," written by Damon Knight...

, The Invaders
The Invaders (The Twilight Zone)
"The Invaders" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.-Synopsis:An old woman is apparently living alone in a very rustic cabin. She is dressed shabbily and there are no modern conveniences in evidence...

 and On Thursday We Leave for Home all use Forbidden Planets iconic saucer.
Raëlism
Raëlism
Raëlism is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël.The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim...

 is a UFO religion
UFO religion
UFO religion is an informal term used to describe a religion that equates UFO occupants with gods or other semi-divine beings. Typically, the UFO occupants are held to be extraterrestials and that humanity either currently is, or eventually will become, part of a preexisting extraterrestrial...

 founded by a purported contactee named Claude Vorilhon. They believe that Elohim
Elohim
Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or...

 (plural) are advanced extraterrestrials who created humanity and life on Earth whose previous and ancient contacts have provided the founding for many major religions in existence today.

In esoteric Nazism
Esoteric Nazism
The term Esoteric Nazism refers to semi-religious developments of Nazism in the post-World War II period. After 1945, esoteric elements of the Third Reich were developed into new völkisch religions of white identity. Examples of post-war Nazi mystical philosophies include Esoteric Hitlerism and...

, it is believed that there were Nazi UFOs
Nazi UFOs
In science fiction, conspiracy theory, and underground comic books, stories or claims circulate linking UFOs to Nazi Germany. These German UFO theories describe supposedly successful attempts to develop advanced aircraft or spacecraft prior to and during World War II, and further claim the...

 with underground bases in New Swabia
New Swabia
New Swabia is a cartographic name sometimes given to an area of Antarctica between 20°E and 10°W in Queen Maud Land, which within Norway is administered as a Norwegian dependent territory under the Antarctic Treaty System...

 Antarctica South America, and/or America and that these survived after World War Two.

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