Published: 4:14 PM 1/9/2015
... the saucer was a resounding failure due to its weight to power ratio.
By Gerard Creces, Strathroy Age Dispatch
The love of art and aviation have created some historic opportunities for new Strathroy resident, Phillip Miller, even though some of his biggest projects never did see the light of day.
Miller was a technical artist and animator for Canadian aerospace manufacturer Avro in the late 1950s and early 1960. It was a cutting-edge time for Avro, as they were working on two of their most well-known but unrealized projects: the Avro Arrow and the flying saucer.
As an animator on the flying saucer project, Miller's job was to show through animation how air flowed through the craft to make it rise. The saucer had two separate cockpits – one on either side, and at the time of testing the craft it had not received a certificate of airworthiness. Pilots were flying at their own risk. Unfortunately, the technical expectations failed to match up with the reality and the saucer was a resounding failure due to its weight to power ratio.
“There was a lot of air-brushing of air traveling through this thing,” Miller said of his work on the project. The animation was done for the United States army, and upon completion, Miller never saw it again.
Miller can recall quite clearly the day in 1958 when the Arrow was cancelled. He had just finished up the animation project and that morning had married it up with the announcer's audio. The studio engineers needed two minutes to do some final adjustments on the film and by the time Miller exited the room the announcement came and went.
“Everyone was loading up their gear,” he recalled. “They were all laid off.”
Prior to the announcement Miller had spent some time in the Arrow prototype, making technical drawings of the cockpit inside the wooden mock-up. Following the cancellation, he spent two more years at Avro before continuing on a long career in commercial art.
Aviation is in Miller's blood. Miller's father and uncle were both in the air force in the First World War.
His son is the commanding officer at Camp Borden. His father was grounded due to an eye condition, as was Miller's brother. When it came time for him to heed the air force call, he said he knew he was indisposed to life on the ground.
“I didn't even try,” he said of flying. Rather, he began a different career in the aircraft industry – one that lasted 30 years.
Though the technical animations may be long gone, Miller still has many mementos of his time spent at Avro, from his identification badge, to sketches to his signed Oath of Secrecy. Now retired, he is working on illustrations of Ontario lighthouses and in April, will be featured at the Strathroy Museum.
Though Miller has left his mark many times over in the world of commercial art, perhaps the most famous of all his projects remains unseen, documenting a project that never came to pass.
Still, this is one local man who has seen first-hand one of the greatest successes and failures of Canada's aerospace history.
Also see the UFO Casebook file, Canadian/USA Flying Saucers.