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Born in 1901 on the Indonesian island of Java, Alexander Weygers grew up on sugar plantation owned by his Dutch parents. After his home-schooling, he traveled to Europe to study engineering and naval architecture as a teenager. His life took a different turn when he moved to the United States, and his wife Jacoba Hutter and child died in stillbirth. Heartbroken, he decided to throw himself into sculpture.
After some success as a sculptor in Berkeley, California, he was forced to change gears again when World War II began and the money stopped flowing. By now a U.S. citizen, he joined the Army, serving for two years in an intelligence unit.
After his service, the man with diverse talents made his home in Carmel, California, with his second wife, living in a house that looked like a mushroom he created himself from recycled materials and scrap metal he fashioned as a blacksmith. He called it a “geodesic dome gone wild” that blended perfectly with the surrounding forest. Alexander Weygers and his wife Marian drove around in a steam-powered car he had created himself.
Weygers unusual home, along with his sculpting abilities, drew attention, as students traveled from across the world to take his sculpting and toolmaking classes. He was no ordinary sculptor, but an accomplished genius artist. His figural work created after World War II is immediately recognizable as masterful. He also worked as an experimental photographer and woodcarver and engraver, making his own tools in the process.
Bloomberg interviewed art collector and dealer, Randy Hunter, who immediately fell in love with Weygers’ work and believed he would one day be famous as “the valley’s hidden da Vinci.” He bought up his work, 30 sculptures at a time, sure that it would secure his financial future and the fame of Weygers. However, in 2017, Hunter began battling cancer and wasn’t sure he would see Weygers’ work achieve the fame it deserved.
While looking through Weygers’ extensive portfolio, Hunter discovered something extraordinary: blueprint plans for a flying saucer called a Discopter drafted in the late 1920s.
The Discopter could fly vertically and float on a cushion of air. As it turned out, Weygers had obtained a patent for the flying machine in 1944: Patent No. 2,377,835A, granted in June 1945.
After his stint in the military, the artist believed the Discopter would replace the helicopter and help carry out rescue missions behind enemy lines. Alexancer Weygers also thought his flying saucer would be the transportation of choice for future cities in America. He began to promote the idea to multiple companies and branches of the military in an attempt to sell the concept.
Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance recalled watching as Hunter revealed the flying saucer plans on a poster:
“He reached into one bag and pulled out a poster that he unrolled on my desk. It was an elaborate drawing of a vehicle that looked like a more circular version of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. The idea was for the disk-shaped craft to take off vertically on jets of air. In flight, the air could be directed forward or backward by a series of louvers in slanted positions, with all the steering done from a central cockpit.
There were more drawings of the Discopter—lots more. The idea first came to Weygers in 1927; from the start, he’d envisioned the machine transforming cities. Hunter’s next exhibit, a drawing that depicted how San Francisco might look in the faraway future of 1985, showed massive, transoceanic Discopters with rooms for hundreds of passengers moored at docks along the bay.
Smaller commuter models, docked by the hundreds at office buildings, could detach carlike vehicles for getting around town. The drawings of the crafts’ interiors were remarkably ornate, showing everything from tennis courts and bunks down to a slice of cheese on a tiny sandwich.”
Weygers generously revealed his flying saucer plans to the military, airplane makers, carmakers, and helicopter makers. He hoped to commercialize the Discopter in the near future. It never came to pass, as he received disappointing letters instead. Later, he came to believe that the United States military stole the idea from him, though they denied it. Disgusted, Weygers became disillusioned with the government.
Weygers’ watched in dismay as two years later in 1947, images of flying saucers began permeating the culture, appearing everywhere. Flying saucer designs appeared in popular culture, from cartoons to toys, even to architectural plans and automobile ads. By the 1950s, NASA and other organizations attempted to build “vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles with saucerlike designs.”
Over two decades later, stories were still appearing in news reports about Weygers, the man who invented the flying disk. By that time, UFOs and little green men were part of the mainstream culture. Weygers and Hunter believed that he never got the credit that he deserved.
Weygers died in 1989, at the age of 87, and Hunter and his partner, Cathy, later purchased the land where the artist had once lived, to the tune of 1.6 million dollars. Although the Weygers’ home hadn’t survived the years fully-intact, Hunter created a sort of shrine to the artist and flying saucer inventor. He carefully preserved the artists’ tools, his body of work, and restored his artist studio and blacksmith shop. The Weygers’ museum, complete with a 20-foot-wide “UFO fire pit,” was founded.
Describing the UFO fire pit, Hunter said:
“It’ll be shaped like a Discopter, and when you’re actually burning a fire, it would be obvious from a hundred feet in the air that there’s a flying saucer on this property,” said Hunter.
Hunter passed away from cancer, believing that Weygers gave his blessing to share the story of his life and his work. The collector called the story of the artist, “the greatest nonfiction story never written.”
Today, vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) vehicles are finally becoming a reality, as Silicon Valley has finally shown an interest in developing flying cars. Weygers was clearly a genius ahead of his time. It seems we owe part of our fascination in UFOs to this late artist engineer and his innovative mind.
“The world had caught up to Weygers’s genius,”wrote Ashlee Vance.
See the documentary from Bloomberg and the Weygers Foundation
Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube