83 miles north-northwest of Las Vagas out in the Mojave Desert in what was once known as the Nellis Air Force Range there is an Air Force base that the goverment for a long time said did not exist. This base does not appear on any public U.S. goverment maps. Any air craft that enters the air space over this base can be shot down with out any warning of any kind. There sign posted that read no trespassing use of deadly force is authorized .It is known by many names Paradise Ranch, Groom Lake, Dreamland, Watertown, and Detachment 3 but it is more commenly known as Area 51.
There are several theories about how Area 51 got its name. The most popular is that the facility borders the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The AEC used the NTS as testing grounds for nuclear bombs. The NTS is mapped as a grid of squares that are numbered from one to 30 (with a few omissions). Area 51, while not part of this grid, borders Area 15. Many say the site got the name Area 51 by transposing the 1 and 5 of its neighbor. Another popular theory is that the number 51 was chosen because it was not likely to be used as part of the NTS system in the future (in case the NTS expanded later on).
The name alone inspires thoughts of government conspiracies, secret "black" aircraft and alien technologies. Facts, myths and legends weave together in such a way that it can become difficult to separate reality from fiction. What exactly goes on in this installation? Why did the government alternatively acknowledge and deny its existence until the 1990s? Why is the airspace over it so restricted that even military aircraft are forbidden from flying through it?
Area 51 owes its very existence to secret aircraft projects. The original purpose for Area 51 was a testing facility for Lockheed’s U-2 spy plane. Lockheed put Kelly Johnson in charge of establishing a base of operations for testing and training facilities. Here are some of the known and suspected projects at Area 51.The U-2 Spy Plane is a confirmed Area 51 project. Lockheed worked with the CIA to develop a plane that could fly at a high altitude and spy on other nations. The U-2 could fly at altitudes of 70,000 feet and was effective in reconnaissance missions for several years. During the development of the U-2, the CIA and Lockheed realized they would soon need more advanced aircraft because the Soviet Union’s missile technology was rapidly catching up. In 1960, the USSR shot down a U-2, confirming this concern.
Engineers designed a plane–called the Suntan–to be a successor to the U-2. It could fly at speeds up to mach 2.5 (almost 2,000 miles per hour). The Suntan used liquid hydrogen for fuel, which was its ultimate downfall. Engineers decided that it would be too expensive to create a fuel infrastructure to support the Suntan’s flights, and the government canceled the project.
The A-12 , which was later known as the SR-71 "Blackbird,"became the actual successor to the U-2. The A-12 was a prototype model that gradually evolved into the SR-71. These planes could fly up to mach 3 (2,300 miles per hour) and could fly at altitudes of 90,000 feet.Tacit Blue and Have Blue were the first successful attempts at creating stealth aircraft. Tacit Blue had an odd, whale-like shape, inspiring onlookers to call it "Shamu." It was designed to fly low over battle operations as a reconnaissance vehicle. Have Blue was a prototype for the F117-A Stealth Fighter. Have Blue first arrived at Area 51 in 1977. The Stealth Fighter remained a secret until the Air Force officially unveiled it to the public in 1990.
The Bird of Prey takes its name from a class of ships in Star Trek. The plane is a bomber with stealth technology. The design looks very strange, and some say that it is very unstable at low speeds due to the odd wing design.
One rumored project at Area 51, the TR3A Black Manta, could be a potential successor to the Stealth Fighter, or it may be one of many kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Currently, there is a lot of interest in UAVs because they provide the military with methods of gathering information without endangering the lives of pilots or soldiers.
Soviet aircraft also played a large role at Area 51. These planes came from the Soviet Union and were either captured or otherwise acquired. The Air Force and CIA used these aircraft in training exercises and war games. The use of Soviet aircraft in Area 51′s airspace inspired its nickname of the Red Square.
What new projects could be underway at Area 51 today? Apart from the continued focus on UAV technology, secret project theorists suggest a few possibilities. One is a transport aircraft with stealth technology designed to move troops in and out of conflict areas without being detected. Many see a need for a vehicle with effective and stealthy vertical take off and lift (VTOL) capabilities. (The V-22 Osprey has this capability, but critics say the vehicle is not effective at meeting military objectives.) Another likely research project is a stealth helicopter. Though some people say stealth helicopters already exist and are in use, they haven’t been revealed to the public. Some theorists see a need for a stealth plane that is designed specifically to neutralize ground targets. To date, most stealth aircraft are either surveillance vehicles or designed for air-to-air combat. There is also a need for aircraft that can rapidly deploy to any location worldwide in as short a time as possible. Projects like the rumored Aurora plane and other hypersonic vehicles fall into this category. Other rumored research projects range from cloaking technology to proton beams to anti-gravity devices.
Of course, these projects are only the tip of the rumored iceberg. Area 51 is arguably better known for its connection with aliens and UFOs than with any of these aircraft. In the next section, we’ll take a look at the rumors and theories linking Area 51 with visitors from outer space.
Some believe that an alien spacecraft crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, and that the government shipped the wreckage and a body to Area 51 for examination and study. A few go even further, claiming the facility has underground levels and tunnels connecting it to other secret sites, and that it contains warehouses full of alien technology and even living alien specimens. Some theorize that the aliens are actually the ones running the show and that their goal is to create a human-alien hybrid (the aliens seem to have lost the ability to reproduce on their own). Stories cast the aliens in roles from benevolent visitors to evil overlords who subsist on a paste made from ground-up human bits. Air Force representatives have publicly denied that aliens have anything at all to do with Area 51, but that seems to have only strengthened conspiracy theorists’ wilder suggestions.
June 24, 1947, was the day the term flying saucer entered the American vocabulary. That was the day Kenneth Arnold reported sighting a UFO while piloting his private plane over Washington state. He said the object flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water, and the flying saucer was born. On July 8, 1947, Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release written by General William "Butch" Blanchard, stating they had recovered the remains of an unidentified flying object. The Army quickly retracted the statement, but not before it ran in several papers. According to the Army, it was not a flying disc at all, but a weather balloon. Years later, declassified documents said that the object recovered at Roswell was actually a balloon created for a surveillance program called Project Mogul. The weather balloon story was a cover for this secret project. Of course, UFO believers say that the spy balloon story is also a cover, and that the Army really did recover an alien craft.Reverse Engineering at Area 51
In 1987, a man named Robert Lazar shocked the world when he went on television claiming to have been part of an operation that worked on alien technology. Robert Lazar said that the government has possession of at least nine alien spacecraft at a base called S-4, which is not far from Groom Lake. The facility even had posters showing a UFO levitating several feet above the ground with the caption "They’re Here!" EG&G hired him to help reverse engineer the technology in the alien craft for use in U.S. military vehicles and power production. He discovered a rusty, heavy substance he called "Element 115″ that powered the alien spacecraft. Skeptics have thoroughly investigated as many of Lazar’s statements as they can, and many of them appear to be false. For example, Lazar says he holds Masters degrees from CalTech and MIT, but there’s no evidence he ever attended either university. Lazar says this is because the government is actively trying to erase his existence to discredit him. Skeptics believe Lazar is merely fabricating the entire story, and point out that it’s a monumental task to erase someone’s identity — they would have to remove Lazar’s name in everything from official documents to school yearbooks. Even so, Lazar’s statements inspired an explosion of interest in UFOs and Area 51.
One popular claim among Lazar’s believers is that much of our current technology is the result of using reverse engineering on alien spacecraft. Everything from radios to superconductors falls into this category. They argue that people on their own couldn’t possibly have developed these technologies so rapidly without an alien model. Some claim that pilots at Area 51 are using alien technology against aliens themselves, shooting them down so that other military crews can scavenge the parts.
In the next section, we’ll look at even more stories of aliens, government cover-ups and elaborate conspiracies involving Area 51.The Plot Thickens at Area 51
One claim common to Lazar’s statements and other UFO enthusiasts’ theories is a secret organization known as MJ-12, sometimes called Majestic or Majic 12. This group originally included a dozen extremely powerful individuals like President Harry S. Truman, the heads of organizations like the CIA and powerful businessmen. Many documents reported to be from this group have surfaced, mostly as discoveries of UFOlogist William L. Moore, including papers bearing Presidential signatures. Skeptics scrutinized these documents and uncovered many signs that they are fakes, including proof that signatures were copied from other official documents and pasted onto the MJ-12 papers. Conspiracy theorists denounce the skeptics as either being fooled or actually employed by the government. Other theorists say the MJ-12 documents are fakes, but were official fakes made by the government to throw people off track. Most believers fall into one of several groups, and often each group will accuse the others of actively promoting disinformation to hide the truth.The most extreme theories about aliens at Area 51 state that not only are aliens here on Earth, they’re running the show. Stories circulate about extraterrestrial biological entities (EBEs) forcing the government into agreements that always turn out bad for the rest of us. According to them, the government has agreed to allow aliens to abduct people at will, experiment on helpless citizens and even grind people up into a paste that is later smeared onto EBEs as a source of nutrition. Other theorists say that the aliens are here to use humans to create a hybrid creature, and that the aliens themselves are no longer able to reproduce on their own. Some offer hope with reports of shootouts between government forces and aliens, resulting in the return of our government to power. Of course, almost all of these theorists suggest the government is acting in wicked and irresponsible ways with the citizens of the United States emerging as the ultimate victims.
In UFO enthusiast lore, Hangar 18 is the name of the building that houses a captured alien spacecraft and even an extraterrestrial being. The location of Hangar 18 is up for debate among believers. Some have claimed the hangar at Area 51 is Hangar 18. A film titled "Area 51: The Alien Interview" shows an alleged alien in captivity, though skeptics raised doubts of its authenticity. Rick Baker, a special effects expert with many years of experience, stated categorically that he believed the alien to be nothing more than a puppet.
Because the airspace around and above Area 51 is used for test flights and training missions, it is quite possible (and even probable) that you’ll see aircraft flying overhead. Sometimes that aircraft might be exotic, perhaps even unidentifiable to the untrained eye. Even familiar aircraft might fool you into thinking you’ve seen something not of this Earth. Skeptics point out that many reported UFO sightings coincide conveniently with the scheduled daily arrival of the Janet flights to the base. Many of the formerly classified projects at Area 51 really do look to be otherworldly. UAVs in particular seem strange, as they don’t require a cockpit or doors. In addition, many training exercises use bright flares to draw off missile fire or even just to distract onlookers while secret aircraft go through maneuvers.A popular spot to watch for UFOs is the Black Mailbox on Nevada Highway 375. The mailbox belongs to a local rancher and became famous when Lazar said it was the location he’d bring people to in order to watch scheduled test flights of alien spacecraft. Today, the mailbox has been repainted white and the rancher has said many times that he doesn’t believe any of the craft flying overhead are alien in origin.
Workers at Area 51 have had to endure difficult conditions since the earliest days of the facility. In the 1950s, when the focus of the base was testing the U-2 spy plane, the CIA had to cease operations and evacuate the facility due to nearby nuclear testing on the neighboring Nevada test site. Sometimes the AEC would announce tests ahead of schedule to allow nearby residents time to evacuate if they felt it was necessary, but other times the tests would remain unannounced. The results from these tests could be seen from towns 100 miles away. People in Las Vegas would often organize trips to nearby peaks and picnic in view of mushroom clouds.
In 1957, one such test called HOOD was part of an overall program called Operation Plumbob, which was designed to see if damaged nuclear bombs emitted harmful levels of radioactivity. The AEC detonated a 74-kiloton nuclear device 1,500 feet over Area 9 of the NTS. This was the most powerful airburst ever detonated over the continental United States. The AEC did not announce the test ahead of time, though they did tell Area 51 to evacuate beforehand. The resulting blast caused some minor damage at Area 51 – mostly some broken windows and doors. Radiation was a much bigger concern, and, in fact, the soil in Area 51 has absorbed a lot of radiation over years of nuclear tests.
In 1980, the government authorized a program to remove irradiated soil from around Groom Lake. Satellite photos confirm that crews removed massive amounts of dirt from the area. Surrounding cities reported increases in cancer rates and many have sued the government (with varying degrees of success), claiming the tests caused them to get sick.
Another hazard at Area 51 involved the disposal of classified technology and vehicles. In the 1980s, crews at Area 51 dug large, open pits and dumped toxic materials into them. They burned the materials using jet fuel and suffered exposure to chemicals and fumes. According to a lawsuit filed against several government officials, the workers requested safety equipment such as breathing masks, but were denied due to budgetary concerns. When they asked if they might bring their own equipment, their superiors told them that for security reasons they could not bring outside equipment into the base. Several civilian employees became sick from the exposure — two eventually died. Helen Frost, the widow of Area 51 employee Robert Frost, and several Groom Lake employees worked with attorney Jonathan Turley to file the lawsuit.
One interesting item from the lawsuit that has since caused a big stir in Area 51 circles is the submission of an unclassified security manual into evidence. Turley argued that the manual not only proved the base existed, it also proved the government was aware of the dangers of handling hazardous waste and acted with negligence toward the employees at Area 51. The government retroactively classified the security manual, and Judge Philip Pro didn’t allow it as evidence. You can still find the manual on the Internet. Some claim the manual to be a fake, though if this is the case it raises a question — why would the government declare a fake document to be classified information?
President Clinton signed an Executive Order exempting Area 51 from environmental regulation in September, 1995. This order is the most formal acknowledgement of the existence of Area 51 by the government. The order referred to Area 51 as "the Air Force’s operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada." Judge Pro eventually dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that investigation into the claims constituted a breach of national security. Turley argued that this set a dangerous precedent in that the government could now hide crimes through the excuse of national security. The policy relieves the government of accountability to the people it represents. Further litigation may follow, particularly now that a similar unclassified safety manual has been pulled from a Web site for Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. The document clearly indicates the dangers of inhaling hazardous fumes, instructing emergency responders to use extreme caution and use proper safety equipment. The Web site has since removed the document with the explanation that the person who posted it did so in error. Some worry that emergency responders will now lack vital information when they go into dangerous situations.
Today, Area 51 allows the EPA to inspect the facility to ensure it meets environmental requirements. However, all reports are classified and can’t be published. Many argue that without publication of the results, the facility remains unaccountable. Clinton’s Executive Order permits the reports to remain sealed, despite the fact that the law requires all such reports be made available to the public. The President must renew the order each year, and so far that has been the case.
Face it, Bob Lazar is the main reason the public is aware of Goom Lake (and to a lesser extent, Papoose Lake) today. Whether his tale is true or not, when he went public in 1989, he ignited a firestorm of interest in Area 51 which burns to this day. As most of you already know, Lazar described how he was flown from Las Vegas to Groom Lake, then taken on a bus with blacked out side windows to a facility he determined was known as S-4.
Now when Lazar arrived at S-4, he wasn't warmly greeted with a "Howdy Bob, this here underground facility is under the Papoose Mountains and that there dry lake over there is Papoose Lake." He was simply driven in the bus for about 30 minutes and there he was. At some later date, he, Gene Huff, and John Lear got together and worked out where it must have been, based upon various clues Lazar noted during the trip. From what they deduced, S-4 would have to be on the east side of Papoose Lake, where the Papoose Mountains slope down to meet it. Since the short flight test of the one disc he witnessed took place on the dry lake bed, the edge of the dry lake must have been very close to the installation.
Lazar described the facility to Timothy Good as being built into the base of the Papoose Range, with 9 hangar doors sloped at about a 60 degree angle. He said the doors had a sand-like texture coating to them, and Gene Huff later said the doors were rollup type doors. There were 9 of the hangar bays in all.
Per Lazar, the disc he described as the "Sport Model" had an approximate diameter of 52'. Allowing for adequate work clearance, it's reasonable to assume a hangar bay would be at least 70' wide. So for 9 bays, the overall length of the facility would have to be at least 630', maybe more.
On the "Billy Goodman Happening" radio show, Lazar described the dirt road the bus took to S-4 as a "good dirt road." When a caller asked him if the facility was underground, he replied, "No, it's not underground; it's just butt up against the side of a little mountain, a little hill kind of, but it's kind of inside the mountain."
A while back, Gene Huff and I had a Usenet exchange of questions and answers on the subject of S-4. I was digging around for details that might have been overlooked in the past. A few interesting items (at least to me) did turn up out of the exchange. The following are excerpts of three exchanges that have been combined in to one Q&A session. I deleted information not pertaining to the S-4 topic. As you read it, remember that what you are reading are Gene Huff's replies to the questions, as he remembers what Lazar told him. In that sense, it is second hand and errors or other distortions may be introduced:
Did the bus drop off Lazar in front of the hangars, do a U turn and return to Groom, or did the bus remain on site?
-No, there was an area enclosed with a chain link fence on the non-hangar side of the installation and they entered through that side. Apparently the installation is/was on a corner of one of the jags in the mountain. The only night he entered through the hangar side was the first night they showed him the sport model which is the night he walked right by it and rubbed his hand on it. He and Mariani went inside after they were dropped off so he never knew the time schedule or whereabouts of the bus after that.-
Do I understand you correctly that the facility passed completely through a ridge, with the hangars on one side and the "entrance" on the other?
-"Through a ridge" might be somewhat misleading. I don't think Bob was enough places in the facility to state that it passed through an entire ridge. However, yes, it did pass through the corner of a jag/ridge in the mountain. The hangars were on one side of the corner and the pedestrian entrances were around the corner from that.
What was the size of the chain linked area and could it have been visible from certain directions?
-I don't know and I've never heard Bob guestimate that. In fact, you're the first one who's ever been that interested. This chain link fence was big enough to have gates on it and the gates were opened to allow the bus in.-
Since you said one night he entered through the hangar side after Lazar was dropped off, I assumed the bus pulled up in front of the hangars instead of he and Mariani walking around the hill.
-I should have clarified that, as that must also be the reason you thought Bob should have been more aware of a synthetic tarmac if there was one. That night the bus dropped them off at the regular spot and, when Bob started walking toward the door, Mariani said, "We need to go this way tonight, Bob". Then they walked around the corner, more or less hugging the building and entered through the hangar side. If I remember correctly, there was also another gate they had to go through to get to the hangars. I think this gate was simply the side of the chain link enclosed area which the bus entered.-
So in summary, what have we been told by Lazar and company? That S-4 is on the east side of a dry lake (most probably Papoose Lake), about a 30 minute bus ride from Groom via a good dirt road. The facility seems to be either built into a ridge spine, or disguised as a ridge spine, with portions of the facility being on either side. The hangar side must be at least 600' long, perhaps longer. There is a chain link fence with a gate surrounding the personnel entrance, but it's possible to walk around to the other side of the ridge to access the hangar area directly.
Alfred is the pseudonym of a gentleman I interviewed in April of 1994 at the suggestion of Glenn Campbell. Parts of his story have been reported by Campbell in his Desert Rat, issue 23. What follows is a very brief summary of what he had to say.
Alfred was a civilian photographer who worked at the Test Site from around 1960 to 1964, under the supervision of one Otto Krause, who in turn worked for Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. His photo group was allowed liberal access to various areas of the Test Site, as well as use of a generally restricted item, binoculars. He told me that on several occasions he was up on Rainier Mesa, with a clear view toward the Groom area. During some of these times he said he sighted several glowing discs, usually emanating from an area south of Groom, Papoose Lake. He said he saw them both during the day but mostly at night when he had to work late. During the day they appeared as grayish aluminum, and at night as glowing discs. They apparently had tremendous manuevering capabilities as he stated, "They could be out of sight going straight up in about 3 or 4 seconds. I mean totally out of sight, where with binoculars you couldn't see them."
Alfred had an interest in UFOs since his childhood, when he spotted some (along with the rest of his Farmington, New Mexico town) during a major UFO flap in 1949. During a card game with his photo group one night, he asked Otto about what he had seen. Otto then related how the US had recovered a vehicle from the Roswell crash (remember this was in the very early 1960's before anyone had heard of Roswell), and also one from Aztec, New Mexico. Otto said the materials were eventually taken to "the Test Site", (implying Area 51) and the US was working to unlock the secrets of how they worked. Otto said they functioned on some sort of magnetic principle.
Otto said that a 3 man version had been constructed and had been taken to the west Texas area for testing. Apparently things did not work out well with it and due to its magnetic effects, power was knocked out in several west Texas towns (It sounds like the Loveland, Texas incident).
Taken by itself, it could just be another tall tale of the Test Site. However Stanton Friedman got interested in the story and did a little research. He found that Otto had died in 1990, but was able to get in touch with Otto's son. His son recalled his dad telling similar stories to him, but had simply dismissed them as tall tales. Friedman also found a few of Alfred's co-workers. They recalled the night of the card session and generally corroborated Alfred's account of what Otto had to say.
In 1995, German filmaker Michael Hesemann produced a videotape called "Secrets of the Black World'. It is a look at Area 51, as well as other conspiracy topics (underground bases, etc.) in the southwest. It contains interviews with a large number of people, including Bob Lazar, George Knapp, John Lear, Norio Haiakawa, Gary Schultz, Sean Morton, and others. One of the interviews is with someone Hesemann identifies as Derek Hennesy, who claims to be a former guard at S-4.
The interview takes place somewhere in the desert because, as Hennesy says, " ..he's on the run...kinda scared". Hennesy goes on to describe a large underground facility consisting of 4 levels, of which the hangars are on level 2. He didn't know what was on level 3 or 4 as his responsibility was only on level 2. He said he did see alien bodies in vertical containers at one location on his level. For the benefit of the camera, he sketches a crude map of level 2. Supposedly he and his story were "checked out" by Wendell Stevens".
The A-12 Mechanic
This story is from a worker who was a repair mechanic for SR-71 or A-12 aircraft. Around 1969, he found himself doing duty at Groom Lake. He considered it pretty undesirable, as he found there was nothing to do and they were stuck out in nowhere. As he put it, "There was nothing to do but drink." He said there were a few places that the staff at Groom weren't allowed to go, one of which was "over the hill", meaning Papoose. He had heard rumors, and he and his buddies made some attempts to push the limits of where they were allowed to roam, but they never saw anything out of the ordinary. The point of this story is that even as far back as 1969, the Papoose Lake area was strictly off limits to even the highly cleared Groom personnel.
A Former Groom Worker
This is related by a person I have met and have a feel for his credibility. To me he seems quite believable, and I can think of no reason to question his story.
He worked at Groom for a limited time in the early 1980's. While socializing with the other workers (i.e., drinking at the bar), he heard stories of a big project going on at Papoose Lake, at a facility called, as he was told, "S-4". A great number of people were involved, but he did not know on what. Beyond that, he never saw or heard anything else unusual during his stay at Groom.
There are quite a number of odd and strange reports of happenings in the Groom/Papoose area. Rather than go through the rather large a list, I'd simply suggest any of George Knapp's videos, or perhaps Timothy Good's "Alien Contact" book. The latter part of the book contains quite a few sightings, of varying quality.
Sightings in the Area
While sightings accounts are not quite as substantial as eyewitness, on-site descriptions of what might be going on at Papoose, they should be considered. Probably the vast majority of sightings made near Area 51 may be dismissed as the misinterpretation of aircraft testing and wargames. Then there are the just plain stupid ones, like the mis-dentification of the landing lights of the incoming Janet flights to Groom as "Old Faithful". Still, after all the even remotely questionable sightings are discarded, there remain a few by credible observers.
As an example, one of the sightings I have some knowledge of was made by Mark Farmer. I know Mark and have a lot of respect for his knowledge of aircraft and various forms of cutting edge technology. On a visit to the area, in January of 1994, on a Wednesday night, he was in the desert off Hwy. 375, west of Hancock Summit. At 10:14 PM, he observed a glowing light rise in the southwest from behind the mountains. The bearing of the light was not that of the Groom base, but rather more to the south. Although he had no solid idea of the distance, the bearing would put it in line with the Papoose area.
As he watched it for the next hour and 45 minutes, it made sharp, instantaneous horizontal movements, near-instantaneous turns, then it would slowly wobble for minutes at a time, then become rock solid. Although his photographs show little more then an interesting light streak, he reports that through his Celestron telescope the object appeared as an oblate spheroid (a squashed ball). The upper most portion appeared crimson, and the bottom most portion was green. The area in between was a golden color. He said it appeared the colors were the result of some sort of discharge, and than the colors obscured whatever might be below.
Despite Mark's considerable aerospace knowledge, he freely admits he has no idea what the hell it was he saw. It certainly behaved like no conventional aircraft he had ever come across.
One Last Bit of Possibly Related Weirdness:
This report is also from the illustrious Mark Farmer. It is one of those "friend of a friend" reports, so its reliability is difficult to assess, but it is an intriguing bit of weirdness.
The story comes from an Air Force communications specialist stationed in Alaska, whose job it was to monitor radio traffic, both ours and the Soviets, back when there was a Soviet Union. This individual had standing orders to relay any intercepted radio traffic dealing with UFOs (either Soviet or ours) to a certain department in the National Security Agency. This person never had occasion to implement those orders ,as no UFO radio traffic was ever picked up, but those were the orders.
Some people think that it is just a piece of land owned by NTS, while some think that it is the "real" Area 51. These are just the two extremes; most people have their opinion somewhere between these two. The only thing that we know for a fact is that Area 19 is really just a piece of land in the middle of nowhere. What makes it noticeable is that there's a 34.5 kilovolt power line which just stops in the middle of nowhere. I think that this is a little bit unusual, don't you?
Area 19, along with Area 20 to its west, were added to the Nevada Test Site (NTS) because of the 1962 Test Ban Treaty, which ended atmospheric testing. Yucca Flat was a little too close to Las Vegas for the shockwaves created by the bombs. It was an ideal place to do underground testing.
What made Area 19 partially famous in the first place is that here is a huge 34.5 kilovolt powerline, which terminates right in the middle of Area 19, in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing that is "supposed" to be there in any NTS documents
The location is farther from any curious people than anyplace in the whole complex, even farther than Area 51. However, there is an airspace, so planes can fly right over Area 19. Anyway, more suspiciously, Area 19 is for nuke testing, but there have been very few nuke blasts, but a whole lot of drilling. Also the NTS doesn't get any information about classified programs on their territory.
This story was told by a commercial pilot, who flies in a nearby airline. Some of his friends, who fly from Las Vegas to the Groom Lake and the Tonopah Test Range facilities, sometimes fly to Area 19.
When the pilot prepared to land, first he had to get clearance that there weren't any spy satellites over Area 19. Then the runway, which was disguised to look like the ground, was watered by sprinklers. This made the runway stand out. The pilots got off and had to quickly get back on. The complex that the pilot entered was built to look like a series of hills.
The problem with this story? Well, enemy satellites can see in multiple wavelengths. This usually sees through most camouflage. Maybe the government has some sort of high-tech camouflage that makes the facility camouflaged in every single wavelength, but I doubt it. Plus, with the airspace right over it, the facility would have to be noticed by someone.
The source, as mentioned, is a commercial pilot with a strong interest in Area 51. While socializing with his fellow pilots the topic of Area 51 came up, and he discovered that several of his friends and acquaintances had previously worked for EG&G and Key Air. They had flown the "commuter runs" between Las Vegas and the Groom Lake and the Tonopah Test Range facilities.
That in itself was of some interest, but occasionally they flew to somewhere else in the Nellis Complex. This "somewhere else" is what made the story of such interest to pilots as it was far from routine flying.
Before these flights left Las Vegas, the pilots had to get clearance from NORAD to ensure there weren’t any foreign spy satellites overhead. As they approached their destination, they contacted the ground and set up their landing pattern. What made this difficult from a pilot’s viewpoint was that there wasn’t a runway in sight, only miles of sagebrush covered desert. Then, as they continued their approach a runway suddenly appeared in the midst of this sea of nothingness.
How was this accomplished? According to the pilots, the runway was painted (and perhaps textured) to match the surrounding desert. As the plane approached, sprinklers within the runway were turned on to wet the surface, thus making it stand out from the adjacent terrain. After landing, the passengers quickly got off, as the planes were not allowed to linger. The pilots related that the substantial complex the passengers then entered was camouflaged to look like a series of hills, or may have actually been built partially into the hills.
There is no information as to just what this facility’s function is. When asked if he was told the location of the airstrip, the source took out a Las Vegas aircraft sectional chart and indicated a location at the very northern portion of the Test Site: Dead Horse Flat within Area 19. The source wasn’t 100% certain of his recollection on this point, and said it could also be in the Gold Flat area, just north of Area 19. This is in the no-man’s-land between NTS and the Tonopah Test Range. In either case, the approximate location would be the very far northern reaches of the NTS.
It was the source’s recollection that the aircraft involved were primarily 737s. When asked how long a runway would be required, the source (who was somewhat familiar with 737 operations) said that based upon density altitudes for the area, typical loadings and normal safety factors, 8,000′ would be a reasonable minimum.
Recently, I had the opportunity to relate the story to another pilot who flies 737s on a regular basis. This pilot thought the distance necessary to land and take off a 737 could be considerably less than the 8,000′ mentioned by the first pilot. My second pilot contact said that by limiting fuel and passenger loads, and the use of performance landings and take offs, the distance needed could be as little as 5,000′
So, is there a mystery facility at the far northern end of the Test Site? Perhaps, but there are some difficulties with this story. While an airstrip as described could be hidden quite well visibly, it would be much harder to hide it from satellites carrying multi-spectral scanners. Scanners such as these, with the ability to "look" at things in a number of different wavelengths, can usually see though most camouflage. The good ol’ USGS sells just such a thing with their very nice Landsat Thematic Mapper images of the Pahute Mesa and Cactus Flat 1:100,000 maps. No such facility is present on either image, although the old airstrip on Buckboard Mesa shows clearly. There is always the possibility the images have been manipulated in the interest of national security, but we have no such control over the Russians, and there are several Soviet satellite photos now floating around.
Furthermore, the presence of such a facility in the Gold Flat area is not too likely. The airspace over Gold Flat is part of the airspace that has been opened to civilian use on weekends. Such an action doesn’t make a lot of sense if you have something secret you want to hide under that airspace. Accordingly, on my own overflight I eyeballed the area pretty well and saw nothing but bomb craters. So, if the place exists, it would more probably be in the Dead Horse Flat vicinity of Area 19.
The story itself awaits some type of confirmation, but it might be one to keep an eye on.
The press wanted to get a tour of Area 19. They can parade around everywhere in the whole complex, with cameras, and they can do anything they want: as long as they have a guide. Well, they couldn't go to Area 19. The first time they were told that it was too far, and the second time they were told that the roads weren't maintained(even though one is a paved road).