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Inventor is Building his Own Flying Saucer in the Hunter Valley
Duan Phillips, 86, with the flying saucer he has been building at Rutherford Aerodrome in Maitland in the Hunter Valley. Pictures: Liam Driver Source: News Corp Australia
Published: 2:53 PM 5/23/2014

WE'VE got the flying saucer... now if we could just find a little (green) man brave enough to jump into the cockpit.

Like a scene straight from a 1950s sci-fi movie, a far-flung hangar in the NSW Hunter Valley is home to a bizarre aircraft its designer says could revolutionise air travel worldwide.

Inventor Duan Phillips calls his 5.5m-diameter creation the "lift activator disc", and reckons it could be both faster and safer than a helicopter and easier to land than a plane.

Duan Phillips, 86, with the flying saucer he has been building at Rutherford Aerodrome in Maitland in the Hunter Valley. Pictures: Liam Driver Source: News Corp Australia

The built-from-scratch prototype has been more than 15 years in the making a frisbee-like assemblage of fibreglass and Kevlar, wires and buttons, and a fat Volkswagen engine bolted onto the back.

Not quite the cosmic UFO propulsion imagined by sci-fi fans perhaps, but almost enough to get this flying saucer spinning. Mr Phillips, an 86-year-old retired engineer, admitted yesterday the engine needed "a bit" of an upgrade to get his aircraft off the ground, but he said that a scale model (which sadly crashed into the hangar soon after its maiden takeoff) proved the concept could work.

The LAD would fly via horizontal blades spinning rapidly within a central chamber, forcing air downwards and over the disc's "wing." The flow of air would also spin the wing's outer section to create gyroscopic stability, while a jet or propeller and rudder at the back of the aircraft provide forward thrust and steering.

Crew and passengers would ride on a separate, non-spinning section at the top of the saucer.

The flying saucer is propped up by four 44-gallon drums.

Mr Phillips said he had taken out patents in Australia, the UK and USA on the design, with the hope of one day getting it into production. "Most people say it's a good idea when they hear about it," he said, standing back from his creation with pride. "Other people just look at you funny."

Mr Phillips said that if all goes to plan, his flying saucer could be airborne later this year.

There's just one hitch it will require the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's blessing before it takes off.

A CASA spokesman said prototype aircraft fitted into an "experimental" category and had to be exhaustively assessed by independent engineers before getting the green light to fly.

"It is unusual for someone to do it all from scratch and design and build it themselves," he said.

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