Is anybody out there? This question is not answered by the Pentagon yet, but their newly released preliminary assessment on the UFOs (unidentified flying objects) does report the display of unusual flight characteristics and advanced technology in some limited encounters. The highly anticipated report on the investigation by the US government task force (UAPTF), focuses mainly on the encounters between 2004 and 2021.
The mystery around the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAPs) or UFOs has deepened as the Pentagon declared that the technologically advanced UFOs are not any American technology. The assessment report on UFOs aims to destigmatize the reporting process with a developed mechanism. However, the report deepens the mystery behind, with the UAPs identified to have displayed abrupt maneuvers and speeds without any perceptible propulsion! Now that the report is here, we bring you a tool that gives you the control to design some UFOs.
The calculator puts you in the creator’s shoes and helps you through the initial phase of the aircraft designing process, showing you how to learn and build these fast-moving flying objects and explore their performance. The calculator makes reasonable assumptions to focus on critical areas such as the shapes and propulsion systems. You can either build one UFO or compare the performance between any two designs by the means of speed, traveling time, and notes on the enthralling experience. Read on to understand how you can explore these flying objects.
The story of UFOs
From the Foo fighters during the World War II, to the Roswell crash in the late 40s, history is full of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) encounters across the globe. Most encounters were investigated and turned out to be weather balloons, astronomical objects, and other natural phenomena. At the height of the Cold War, special teams of the United States Air Force (USAF), such as Project Blue Book, investigated UFO sighting reports.
Several of those incidents were classified, and most cases were closed as misreported and caused by mass hysteria. Besides, the shrouded secrecy related to the secret airbase in Nevada near Groom Lake named "Area 51" has further contributed to the mystery and conspiracy theories.
Components of an aircraft design process
An aircraft design process spans several stages, but it begins with a preliminary design. This phase involves the planning of basic design and features based on their purpose. There are five main aspects in the early phase of the aircraft design process.
Mass — The mass of the aircraft is a critical factor in design as it controls subsequent factors such as — power required, shape, and speed. The role of your aircraft decides the mass category. For instance, the cargo aircraft and passenger jets are heavy, but the military fighters are lightweight and fast.
Aerodynamics — The study of how an object behaves in the presence of air, i.e., moving around it. The airflow creates pressure and exerts a load on the structure, resisting its movement via lift and drag forces.
Propulsion or Engine — Just like an engine in a race car or a truck, here too, it dictates how fast it can go or how much load it can carry. But here, it has a much critical role to play, i.e., to have a minimum amount of power to make it fly.
Controls — The in-flight control systems and mechanisms decide how well you can maneuver the aircraft. For instance, you might remember the crazy moves of the famous Tic Tac UFO.
Structure — This ensures the safety, durability, and load-bearing aspect of the design. However, too much structural reinforcement causes an increase in mass.
With this tool, we give you control over three of the five above aspects, i.e., mass, aerodynamics, and propulsion. Then, drawing inspiration from the famous UFO/UAP encounters and reports, different design shapes are picked along with several new propulsion systems for you to design your own fast-moving UFO. We will then tell you how well your design performs.
How to design your UFO?
Considering the above three aspects of design, you start by selecting the overall shape of your design. Based on a hundred thousand reports on the National UFO Reporting Center database, we have picked five shapes to choose from (Rectangular, Triangular, Circular disk, Spherical, and Tic Tac).
Step 1: Mass — Each shape has a different mass and size, based on reported dimensions. Based on mass, the different types of shapes are — heavyweight (triangle, rectangle, and circular disk), medium weight (tic tac), and lightweight (sphere).
Step 2: Aerodynamics — The overall shape of the craft also influences its aerodynamics performance. Here, the drag coefficient is considered based on the shape assumption to simplify the process.
Step 3: Propulsion — Up next is the propulsion system. Here, we have handpicked six of the modern engines for you to add to your craft. The engines are of different types: Turbofan, Turbojet, Rocket and spacecraft engines, and a mysterious UFO/UAPs based engine. Each engine has different power and is suitable for different roles; they also add to the weight on the downside. You can add a certain number of engines, which would affect its performance parameters like speed and acceleration.
Step 4: No. of passengers — Here, you can decide how many friends you want to bring along. However, each friend will contribute to total mass and make your design heavier.
Step 5: g force — The calculator will estimate (during a level flight) and compare the g force experienced in your designed UFO to a set of options. Pick one to compare your UFO data with commonly available results.
Now that you have entered all the design parameters, the calculator awaits your response to traveling locations to give you the time it will take to travel between two locations. This could be either two cities or two planets based on the choices available or your own distance input.
Designing your UFO
Now that you are up to speed with the process, let's design an example model. First, let's pick the famous Tic Tac UFO, which is about the size of an F/A-18 F.
- Step 1: Pick Tic Tac from the shape option.
- Step 2: Select the engines to power your design. Let's choose the GE F414-400 (Fun fact: The current version of F/A-18F uses these engines).
- Step 3: Choose the number of engines. Let's set it to two.
- Step 4: Select the number of passengers. Say you are bringing a friend along, so, two.
- Step 5: Kudos! You have entered all the necessary design inputs. The calculator will return the speed of this aircraft, i.e., 1473 km/h in this case. Now, look further to see how it will perform!
- Step 6: Select a commonly available g force result from the list to compare it with your UFO. Say, a typical fighter jet. The calculator will now compare the g force experienced during that event to the g force from your UFO design, i.e. you feel about 1/10th of the g force than a fighter jet in your UFO.
- Step 7: Pick a route (source and destination) for your journey. Say, London to New York. The calculator will tell you the time to travel this vast distance, i.e., 3 hours 23 minutes. A passenger flight takes about 7-8 hours to travel the same distance.
You can also compare the performance of two UFO designs in our comparison mode of the calculator.
Note: The calculator simplifies the process by assuming unknown parameters like drag coefficient and the speed has been calculated primarily on the basis of thrust to weight ratio, and wing loading. However, the actual aircraft design process involves several complex factors during the design phase.
Note: This calculation works with an assumption of a large power source used to run these engines, like in the advanced UAPs/UFOs. Here, to make things simple, we have assumed constant speed and neglected fuel availability or refueling. Therefore, the traveling time only depends on the maximum speed achievable by your design.
A special note to the geeks: The technical data like mass, thrust, acceleration, and wing loading is available for reading within the advanced mode of our calculator.
Snowball effect and Tips for extracting maximum velocity
With modern technology being pushed to its limits, designers and customers expect the most out of the designs. Now, since you are in the shoes of a designer, let's go over a conundrum — the snowball effect. It is a vicious or virtuous circle (depends on where you stand).
For instance, to make a faster design, you can increase wing loading. Wing loading is the ratio of weight to the surface area of an aircraft's wing. An easy way to push it is to increase the weight. An increase in weight, however, would mean you need bigger engines to produce enough thrust. So, once you upgrade the engine, you find that the overall weight of the design has increased.
Similarly, if you attempt for a lighter aircraft, you can do so with lesser weight, but with that, the aircraft can fly with smaller wings, which would mean lesser thrust, which would mean a smaller engine. All this would mean a more significant weight saving than initially expected. Therefore, a designer should think very carefully about the changes he makes.
We all have the need for speed! So we would try to make the fastest possible craft. And so, here are some tips to make it fast enough:
Why haven't we built these yet?
The most common question among all of us is why aren't we traveling at these high speeds. Traveling at speeds greater than the speed of sound depends on several factors, such as:
- Safety — Lack of structural integrity and development of the crashworthy design for mass implementation.
- Health — Traveling at high speeds can expose us to high g-forces, which can have adverse health effects such as loss of consciousness, vision and an effect on cardiac performance.
- Powerful and efficient engines — The engines, even though available, cannot sustain thrust for a continuously large amount of time. Further, the power source/fuel remains a depleting resource in flight.
- Economic viability — The economic benefits of implementing the infrastructure to develop and use such high-speed travel modes remains to be seen. The pandemic has shown, remote work and Zoom meetings are great eco-friendly alternatives for in-person meetings for businesses.
- While traveling at fast speeds might still be a dream, land-based high-speed travel will take a considerable leap with the emerging Hyperloop promising speeds of up to 1200 km/h.
- A recent study in the field of detonation based hypersonics based propulsion could unlock traveling at speeds up to 13,000 miles per hour or Mach 17.
UFO/UAPs — Hoax or truth? What happens next?
While we don't know if those are aliens, we know that the phenomenon is extraordinary and needs to be investigated. The Pentagon report is a welcome start. There are several instances when modern aircraft or weather balloons, or astronomical phenomena are mistaken for UAPs. Based on the sighting reports and videos, the technology (high-speed maneuvers, hovering, lack of control surfaces, and any visible propulsion) from description seems beyond human at this point. The UAPTF is looking to collect more data to investigate the encounters, which is a welcome move.