Page 14 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - April 2024
P. 14

14                        Silicon Valley’s Flying Saucer Man

          The Forgotten Legend of

            Silicon Valley’s Flying

                     Saucer Man

                 Continued from Page 13

        For a time, his work paid off. Shortly
        after he moved to Berkeley, Calif., in
        1936, his pieces began to appear in the
        Oakland Museum of California and the
        Smithsonian American Art Museum. But
        when  World  War II began, the market
        dried up and Weygers began to struggle
        again. At 40, and by then a U.S. citizen,
        he joined the U.S. Army and served two

        years in an intelligence unit, translating
        messages written in Malay, Dutch,
        Italian, and German. By the time he
        received a discharge at the end of 1943,         recycle. He began building a structure saying the vehicle appeared sound but too
        he was refocused on his old Discopter            that looked like the cap of a mushroom— advanced for the time. (It would need
        design, thinking it could replace the            a hobbit’s lair in the Carmel Valley. It was lighter-weight materials and more
        helicopter, which he considered “an              circular, with curved sides.  Weygers efficient propulsion systems.) Most of the
        unfinished piece of engineering.”                described it as a “geodesic dome gone letters were disappointing. “Our technical
                                                         wild.” Every hinge, handle, nut, and bolt people have reviewed this design and
        Weygers saw the Discopter as a way to            he needed was forged by hand. He stated they have no interest,” one U.S. Air
        help U.S. soldiers as well as his family in      decided to leave the knotty wood exterior Force              colonel       wrote.       “Your

        the Dutch Indies, many of whom had               unfinished to match the landscape.  A thoughtfulness in bringing this to the
        been put in concentration camps by               thick, flat roof covered the structure, and attention of the Air Force is appreciated.”
        Japanese troops. He imagined Discopters          lichen took root along its edges. The end
        flying quietly behind enemy lines to             product blended into its surroundings, In 1947 a flurry of stories appeared in the
        perform rescue missions.  After a short,         looking almost as if the forest itself had popular press, discussing UFO sightings
        unhappy stint at Northrop Aviation in Los        produced it.                                     and carrying the flying saucer into
        Angeles, where he worried that his                                                                mainstream consciousness. The Chicago
        colleagues might steal the idea, Weygers         Near the house, Weygers also built an art Sun ran one in June of that year with the
        moved to Carmel Valley with his second           studio and a blacksmith shop.  Then he headline “Supersonic Flying Saucers

        wife, Marian Gunnison. An Army buddy             created a darkroom underground for Sighted By Idaho Pilot”; Newsweek and
        had bequeathed him several acres in his          developing photos. The yard around these Life published pieces along these lines
        will, so, with gasoline rations still in         structures     soon     overflowed       with within a week of each other that July.
        effect, the couple motored 350 miles             scavenged objects. “It looked like a There seemed to be a flying saucer
        north in a 1928 Ford Model A retooled by         junkyard,” says Rob  Talbott, who grew outbreak across the U.S.
        Weygers to run on steam from burning             up nearby. “He had old vehicles, steel,
        wood and kerosene.  They didn’t see              wood, and wheels. He’d save anything, Tales of mysterious flying objects date
        another driver the whole way.                    because he’d reuse it.”  To that point, to medieval times, and other inventors
                                                         Weygers was known to turn auto springs and artists had produced images of disk-
        The legend of Alexander Weygers began            into chisels, axles into hammers; a shaped crafts. Henri Coanda, a Romanian
        to take shape on this hilly, wooded 3-acre       dentist’s chair became a contraption that inventor, even built a flying saucer in the

        plot. For months, he and Marian slept in         let him raise and lower hunks of marble 1930s that looked similar to what we now
        a tent he’d built and stayed alive on            with the tap of his toe.                         think of as the classic craft from outer
        dandelion soup and gopher stew.  They                                                             space. Historians suspect that the designs
        managed to coax some bees into hives             After settling in, Weygers turned back to of Coanda and Weygers, floating around
        built with scrap lumber and traded the           the Discopter.  The feds granted him in the public sphere, combined with the
        honey in town for other goods. “We were          Patent No. 2,377,835A in June 1945. He postwar interest in sci-fi technology to
        like  Adam and Eve,” Marian later                hoped to gift the patent to the U.S. create an atmosphere that gave rise to a
        recalled. “We had no neighbors. It was so        military and then try to commercialize sudden influx of UFO sightings. Then, in
        dark at night, and we’d just lie there and       the technology. He assembled large the 1950s, NASA and other companies

        watch shooting star after shooting star.”        binders of information about the and organizations actually attempted to
                                                         Discopter and mailed them off to build vertical takeoff and landing

        Eventually,  Weygers set to work on a            branches of the military, airplane makers, (VTOL) vehicles with saucerlike designs.
        house that would become iconic. He               helicopter makers, and even carmakers to
        foraged in dumps for logs, metal,                gauge interest. He received a handful of                            (Continued on Page 15)
        bathtubs, sinks, and window frames to            encouraging notes back, with engineers
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