This is the story about a forgotten genius, a gifted sculptor, artist, and modern-day Leonardo da Vinci, whose UFO-like invention was the realm of pure science fiction. But it’s also a story about this man, his fixation with the past, and living on borrowed time. A couple of years ago I got this email from a guy named Randy Hunter, who was promising me the greatest nonfiction story never told. It was about this inventor, who lived here, in the outskirts of Silicon Valley. He had done all sorts of amazing things, but he’d been forgotten by history, and for one reason or another, I bit on this email, and for the last two years, I’ve been coming to this guy, Randy Hunter’s, place, where he has built a temple to his obsession, which is this inventor.
What are you doing in here, man? I got another big batch of photos. You got a few minutes to look at this? Yeah. Meet Randy, a successful art dealer and fine art collector. And this is the guy he wants everyone to know about, Alexander Weygers. Weygers was born in 1901, in the Dutch East Indies. As a teen, he moved to Europe to study engineering, and then moved to the US to study sculpting. Near the end of World War II, Weygers settled in Carmel, California, and it’s here he carved out a most unusual life.
He built a house made entirely from recycled materials, and objects crafted by hand in his blacksmith studio. Weygers’ ability to live off objects that other people threw away turned him into a cult figure. Youngsters traveled from around the world to take his tool making and sculpting classes. They also came to marvel at his art. This is probably the most photographed Weygers, so far. Randy discovered Weygers in 2008, when for the first time, his sculptures were put on sale. Randy snapped up the lot. As an art dealer, he had dreamed of hitting it big by finding an unknown artist and making him famous, and figured that Weygers was his man. This sculpture’s my favorite one. But what started as a business deal turned into a life-altering passion. Over the next 10 years, Randy spent countless hours, and millions of dollars, tracking down Weygers’ sketches, personal belongings, and all the finished artwork he could lay his hands on. He produced a movie about Weygers, wrote a book about him, and became convinced he discovered a hidden genius. What draws you, what makes you fascinated about this man? I immediately fell in love with him, because he was just like my style.
I could see the depth in his work immediately, and he needed to be shared with the public. The version of Randy you’re seeing is more sedate than the affable, chatty salesman I first met. In late 2017, he started to lose a multi-year battle with cancer, and painkillers made it tough to get around, and think straight. You want a hand? Sure. A few months ago, his cancer came back, and as you’ll see, he’s not at his best, he’s not the same guy that he used to be, and it’s a difficult part of the story. His whole mission has been to make this Weygers man as famous as he can be, and Randy might not get to see the end of that story. This is his drawings, blueprints. Okay, how do you find all this? Look at this, man. This is, all these letters. Digging, man. During his hunt into Weygers’ life, Randy discovered something extraordinary, hand-drawn designs for an exotic aircraft, dating back to the 1920s. Alex appeared to have invented the very first flying saucer.
That was an amazing find, in itself. When I saw the blueprints, it was undeniable that he was the creator. Weygers called his futuristic flying machine the Discopter, designed to take off vertically, and float on a cushion of air. It was a unique concept, and one he thought cities of the future would make full use of. Weygers patented the Discopter in 1944, and then tried to sell it. He started sending all of these letters to all kinds of companies, telling them about his invention.
As word of the Discopter began to spread, Alex felt the US military stole the idea. It was an accusation they denied, but for Weygers, evidence of the theft was there for all to see, as images of his flying saucer seeped into popular culture, influencing everything from architecture, to cars, and movies. A two-seater, ready soon, may be the car, or chopper, of the future. There’s this whole flurry of stories. Weygers First With “Saucer”, a Dutchman says he designed flying saucer 23 years ago. The Man Who Invented the Flying Disk. He didn’t really seem to be after compensation as much as recognition that he’d done something important, and wanted a bit of credit for it. Spoiler alert, the Discopter never became a reality. But the flying saucers it inspired live on in Randy’s collection of UFO memorabilia. This is the room that I think of as the ultimate Randy room.
This is the tribute to the Discopter. You’ve got books, you’ve got toys, everything you could ever imagine about UFOs. To me, this room has always represented the heart of who Randy is. He’s this guy with a passion that I think we would all envy, and hope to have, for something, but also that bit of his character, where he can go too far, and gets obsessed, to the point where some people, I think, would think he’s a little nuts.
How has your family and friends reacted to this, over the years, as you’ve gotten deeper into it. Do they think you’re a crazed man, or? How crazy you are, I think, depends on how much money you spend on your project. A couple of years ago, Randy, and his partner, Cathy, forked out $million, for the land where Weygers used to live. While the original house is gone, Randy’s been busy, turning his new home into a temple to all things Weygers. This is Randy’s workshop, and this is the room that I think ties him and Alex together. There’s a mix of Randy and Alex’s tools, and the molds of Weygers’ sculptures, all lying across the room. Outside, work has started on rebuilding Weygers’ artist studio and blacksmith shop, and there are plans for a brand-new Weygers museum, and a UFO fire pit is also in the works.
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. You might think Randy has more money than sense, and let’s face it, he hasn’t managed to make Alexander Weygers and the Discopter household names. At least not yet. But in Weygers, Randy discovered a kindred spirit, a man who chose to live by his own rules, and who created a legacy, using his own two hands.
What would you say to Alex if you saw him now? I wondered if you had dreamed about that moment, or anything. I did dream about meeting him. Yeah? Figured it was the spirit of Weygers, basically telling me I’m doing the right thing, and I should continue with my mission. .