Free Range Technology

Funny that doesn’t look like swamp gas

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Not pictured is the Space Family Robinson waiting to board

That is not a movie prop it’s a real thing. The Jeep of tomorrow was to look very different then the Jeep of the second World War.

To the sky aye!

As an American I tend to focus on American equipment as would be expected. As a member of Atomic Toasters I need to acknowledge something very different,  that a large amount of our articles comes from writers up north. Although the Canadian content on this site is higher then required by the CBC; sometimes as a writer I need to address our friends in the land of the maple leaf.

This is to remind me that although we in the States would like to believe that the entire continent belongs to us, we really don’t feel like taking care of the North Pole and welcome your claim to it. It is with this mind that we need to discuss a Canadian/American cold war project known as the Avrocar.

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This is what the USAF saw in their heads when they heard the term Air Jeep

After the war we believed that being stuck to the ground was a thing of the past. Why bounce over the terrain when you could float serenely over it? We would just beat the ground into submission and move our guns from point to point on a cushion of air.  The answer to this riddle surprisingly came not from within the US but from Canadian company Avro.


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Have you ever felt like you left something behind?

The size of the disk was 18 feet across leading to a nice tight little aircraft. Designed to originally go 100 miles with a 1000 pound load the trials never approached a point to test it’s weight lifting capabilities.  Throughout it’s development the speeds of the aircraft moved from 50kmh to over 100kmh by the end. 

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Avrocar at the Paul Garber Restoration facility in the states

Development of the Avrocar was troubled from the start due to funding issues more from the Canadians then the Americans. The biggest threat to the program came from the Canadians cancelling the Avro Arrow.

The Avro engineers did their best with the design and were able to solve almost every issue thrown at them. In front of them they had a brand new platform powered by a untested redesign of the jet engine. On paper and in scale models everything looked possible. It was only after the full scale version was created that the realities of size finally hit the project team.

When you consider that the Avro car was merely a 3/5th model of the designers future plans we can only imagine what issues they would have hit later. Still as a what if exercise it leads to some very interesting questions about what the future could have been had we pursued this further. 


Although the Avrocar was a failure it was only due to it’s lacking one small feature, a skirt. Had the Avrocar been converted into a hovercraft it may have succeeded. As we have seen the hovercraft is a very effective way to carry large loads over all terrains. So close but so far for this unusual Canadian creation.


[image credit – Wikpedia]


  • Just as started watching the movie, the song "Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley came on the radio…

    • fodder650

      Kind of connected to that comment. Do you know how many better videos I couldn't use for this because someone decided that they needed to add music to some old stock footage?

  • skitter

    With no tail rotor, I imagine the armed ones spinning like frisbees every time they fire.

    • fodder650

      They went to some pretty big lengths to give it stability although the Wiki talks about how it was a touchy aircraft to fly. Oddly this was something the old Discovery Wings episode never mentioned.

    • Number_Six

      Maybe that's why they're sporting recoiless rifles in the illustrations…

      • fodder650

        Good point

  • VeeArrrSix

    I swear they were just trying to build a freakin' flying saucer.

    Now where's my damn hoverboard already!

    • fodder650

      We don't have the hoverboard because the Canadians haven't invented it yet

  • texlenin

    It wasn't originally intended to be a ground-effect
    jeep. The original intent was to produce a VTOL
    multi-mach aerodyne (saucer-shaped) fighter.
    see Avro "Project 606A. Project Ladybird,
    Project PV.704 & Project Y "Spade"
    Just didn't quite work out, as a lot of
    this stuff doesn't.

    • highmileage_v1

      A low speed brother to this project is the CL-84. It did well in the initial trials but there was no market for it at the time. From what I heard the control mixing box, an entirely mechanical device full of cams and levers, was a scary looking thing. It worked well but I don't think they ever totally trusted it, possibly due to experience from the B-58's control mixing box.

  • highmileage_v1

    You realize of course that the CIA was doing covert LSD experiments in Canada at that time? This is what happens when a bunch of aeronautical engineers get inadvertently stoned.