Discopter Coupe: Weygers started drafting the designs for the Discopter based on his vision of improving helicopters, seeing them as unfinished technology, with vulnerable, exposed propellers. Believing that aircraft would be safer if the rotors and all other critical machinery were internalized, he placed them within the discus-shaped shell of his machine. In his design for the Discopter Coupe, Weygers placed the pilot seat above the internal mechanisms, with a bubble-shaped viewing window at the top. Alexander Weygers’ patent was granted in 1944, and only a few years later, the UFO craze arrived. Weygers’ design, with its bubble top and disc shape became archetypical UFO image, and three years later, the Roswell, New Mexico UFO crash pushed the flying saucer into the center of public attention, where to this day it inspires and intrigues millions.
Discopter in Flight: This print is an articulated view of a Discopter in flight, floating through the night sky above the San Francisco Bay, with a crescent moon overhead. The Discopter is dissected in a cross-section to show the activities of the passengers and crew of the ship, which include drinking cocktails at the bar, playing shuffleboard, and smoking a pipe by the window. It is a leisurely scene, and everyone is engaged in relaxed activities, but humorously, the old-fashioned ship’s wheel in the dome-shaped cockpit is abandoned — everyone is busy, but no one is piloting the craft. This image imparts a palpable feeling of adventure and excitement, of a fantastic journey that is at its beginning, and, like the Discopter, is full of unrealized potential.
Promenade Deck: Alexander G. Weygers created the concept art for the Discopter with the intent of showing what his design was capable of, but in the process, he also created a vision for what the world could become. Inspired by early designs for the helicopter, the Discopter was designed to revolutionize transportation in a way that had never been seen before, with vertical takeoff and landing, the ability to land on both ground and water, and a futuristic circular shape. Weygers envisioned large passenger ships with windows all the way around the edge of the disc, so that people could look out over the landscape as they traveled. The open design and glass walls in this print create a feeling of openness, almost as though the passengers are soaring though the sky without restraint. This utopian vision for what public transportation could be is a fascinating idea for a tomorrow that never came.
Central Terminal: One of Weygers’ visions for the potential impact of the Discopter was the redesigning of the landscape of large cities. Weygers envisioned private and passenger Discopters soaring over cities, with special terminals for takeoff and landing. This image, a reimagining of Chicago, depicts the landing of a large passenger Discopter, with an anchor extending into the water to overcome the craft’s lifting forces and pull it to the water so that it can dock at its slip. The impressive scale of the passenger Discopters is shown here, with people waiting to board appearing as small as ants next to the ship. This fascinating view of what Chicago could have been evokes a feeling of nostalgia for the innovation of past inventors.
Discopter Patent: Alexander G. Weygers was fascinated with the concept of flight from an early age. He created the Discopter with the dream of revolutionizing aviation in a way that had never before been seen. Watching dolphins skimming the waves at the bow of ships, he wondered how they could swim so fast, for such a long time. When he realized they were actually surfing the cushion of water pushed in front of the ship, he was inspired to apply this principle to the designs for his flying machine. Weygers designed the Discopter to float on a stream of air from internal rotors, housed within the body of the machine. Alexander Weygers patent was granted in 1944, and only a few years later, the UFO craze arrived. Though his Discopter was never built, Weygers is credited as the father of the UFO design, and his work is revered to this day.
San Francisco’s Future: When Alexander Weygers created the Discopter, he dreamed not only of revolutionizing aviation, but also the structure of cities. Known today for his frugal, sustainable lifestyle, and his love of natural beauty, Weygers envisioned a world of cities where nature could thrive with minimal impact from cars and roads. Envisioning machine traffic soaring overhead, he redesigned San Francisco’s Embarcadero station as a dock for Discopters, with smaller, private models, and larger passenger models for covering longer distances. His passenger models all featured large viewing windows around the edges of the disc, so that the beauty of the city skyline and the natural landscape could be enjoyed. Weygers vision was for a society integrated with the natural world, and though his Discopter was never built, the thought-provoking dream of this legendary innovator continues to inspire hope for what could be.