Area 51. It's the most famous military institution in the world that doesn't officially exist. If it did, it would be found about 100 miles outside Las Vegas in Nevada's high desert, tucked between an Air Force base and an abandoned nuclear testing ground. Then again, maybe not— the U.S. government refuses to say. You can't drive anywhere close to it, and until recently, the airspace overhead was restricted—all the way to outer space. Any mention of Area 51 gets redacted from official documents, even those that have been declassified for decades.
It has become the holy grail for conspiracy theorists, with UFOlogists positing that the Pentagon reverse engineers flying saucers and keeps extraterrestrial beings stored in freezers. Urban legend has it that Area 51 is connected by underground tunnels and trains to other secret facilities around the country. In 2001, Katie Couric told Today Show audiences that 7 percent of Americans doubt the moon landing happened—that it was staged in the Nevada desert. Millions of X-Files fans believe the truth may be "out there," but more likely it's concealed inside Area 51's Strangelove-esque hangars—buildings that, though confirmed by Google Earth, the government refuses to acknowledge.
The problem is the myths of Area 51 are hard to dispute if no one can speak on the record about what actually happened there. Well, now, for the first time, someone is ready to talk—in fact, five men are, and their stories rival the most outrageous of rumors. Colonel Hugh "Slip" Slater, 87, was commander of the Area 51 base in the 1960s. Edward Lovick, 90, featured in "What Plane?" in LA's March issue, spent three decades radar testing some of the world's most famous aircraft (including the U-2, the A-12 OXCART and the F-117). Kenneth Collins, 80, a CIA experimental test pilot, was given the silver star. Thornton "T.D." Barnes, 72, was an Area 51 special-projects engineer. And Harry Martin, 77, was one of the men in charge of the base's half-million-gallon monthly supply of spy-plane fuels. Here are a few of their best stories—for the record ...
... Because OXCART had to refuel frequently, the CIA kept supplies at secret facilities around the globe. Martin often traveled to these bases for quality-control checks. He tells of preparing for a top-secret mission from Area 51 to Thule, Greenland.
image: Patches made for OXCART crew members. CYGNUS was the name given the A-12 in testing. The 1129th SAS was the unit designation of the A-12 team assigned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.
... As for the underground-tunnel talk, that, too, was born of truth. Barnes worked on a nuclear-rocket program called Project NERVA, inside underground chambers at Jackass Flats, in Area 51's backyard. "Three test-cell facilities were connected by railroad, but everything else was underground," he says.
And the quintessential Area 51 conspiracy—that the Pentagon keeps captured alien spacecraft there, which they fly around in restricted airspace? Turns out that one's pretty easy to debunk. The shape of OXCART was unprecedented, with its wide, disk-like fuselage designed to carry vast quantities of fuel. Commercial pilots cruising over Nevada at dusk would look up and see the bottom of OXCART whiz by at 2,000-plus mph. The aircraft's titanium body, moving as fast as a bullet, would reflect the sun's rays in a way that could make anyone think, UFO.
In all, 2,850 OXCART test flights were flown out of Area 51 while Slater was in charge. "That's a lot of UFO sightings!" Slater adds. Commercial pilots would report them to the FAA, and "when they'd land in California, they'd be met by FBI agents who'd make them sign nondisclosure forms." But not everyone kept quiet, hence the birth of Area 51's UFO lore. The sightings incited uproar in Nevada and the surrounding areas and forced the Air Force to open Project BLUE BOOK to log each claim.
Since only a few Air Force officials were cleared for OXCART (even though it was a joint CIA/USAF project), many UFO sightings raised internal military alarms. Some generals believed the Russians might be sending stealth craft over American skies to incite paranoia and create widespread panic of alien invasion. Today, BLUE BOOK findings are housed in 37 cubic feet of case files at the National Archives—74,000 pages of reports. A keyword search brings up no mention of the top-secret OXCART or Area 51.
Project BLUE BOOK was shut down in 1969—more than a year after OXCART was retired. But what continues at America's most clandestine military facility could take another 40 years to disclose.
via Los Angeles Times.
From another site: http://roadrunnersinternationale.com/
The content herein relating to Project Oxcart and Operation BLACK SHIELD was formerly classified TOP SECRET-OXCART, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., 15 January 1968. Depicted on this web site are activities of Project OXCART and Operation BLACK SHIELD declassified starting 14 December 1998 through September 2007. Regarding the U-2 spy plane, this web site as factually as possible covers the declassified activities of the CIA phase of the U-2 era.
That jet seems to be a space ship ... according to the photo. I'm rethinking many things tonight. Is this the real Aurora spy plane?
On 26 January 1960, the CIA ordered twelve A-12 aircraft. After SR-71 was chosen to replace the A-12, May 8th, 1968 saw the last operational mission of an A-12, which was over North Korea. After this, all A-12s were sent back to Palmdale to be put into storage for several decades before going to museums around the United States. This particular specimen in LA is the only A-12 trainer ever built. It was put on display in 2003.
The plaque at the exhibit said the following: Spy in the sky The A-12 Blackbird flew high and light A-12 Trainer Specs Material: Titanium Length: 31.2 meters (102 feet, 3 inches) Wingspan: 16.9 meters (55 feet, 7 inches) Height: 5.6 meters (18 feet, 6 inches) Takeoff weight: 53,000 kg 117,000 pounds) Landing weight: 23,600 kg (52,000 pounds) Speed: Mach 2.0, twice the speed of sound Altitude: 18,000 meters (60,000 feet) Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney I-75 engines, each rated at 17,000 pounds of thrust First flight: January 1963 Number of flights: 614 Hours of flight: 1,076 hours flying time
Well, space is 60 miles up, which is 316,800 feet so if the specs here are correct, this didn't get anywhere close to space. Still, that is an intriguing photo. Would you see space in the background at 60,000 feet? It seems so. For a price, you can see this view too.
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