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09.01.2016
When the time came to build the Bird of Prey, the team used then-novel rapid-prototyping to build components, single-piece composite structures, and disposable tooling. When it took to the sky on September 11, 1996 for its maiden voyage, the Bird of Prey had a paltry cruising speed of 300 mph and a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet.
After a total of 38 test flights over Area 51, the Bird of Prey was stashed away in April 1999, and declassified over three years later. What good is a secret airbase if you can't speculate on the secret aircraft research that obviously goes on there? Forty-five years ago yesterday, the Sea of Tranquility saw a brief flurry of activity when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin dared to disturb the ancient lunar dust. The Apollo 14 landing site at Fra Mauro, imaged by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2011. The Apollo 15 landing site at Hadley plains, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from an altitude of 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) in 2012.
The Apollo 16 landing site in the Descartes Highlands, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2010. The Apollo 17 landing site at Taurus-Littrow taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2011.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Area 51 is a remote tract of land in the southwestern portion of Lincoln County in southern Nevada in the western United States.
Other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Home Base, Watertown Strip, Groom Lake and most recently Homey Airport. The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the US Government barely acknowledges, has led it to become the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and UFO folklore. Area 51 shares a border with the Yucca Flats region of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the location of many of the US Department of Energy's nuclear weapons tests.
The area is connected to the internal NTS road network, with paved roads leading south to Mercury and west to Yucca Flats. Groom Lake is not a conventional airbase, as frontline units are not normally deployed there. Soviet spy satellites obtained photographs of the Groom Lake area during the height of the Cold War, and later civilian satellites produced detailed images of the base and its surroundings. Groom Lake was used for bombing and artillery practice during World War II, but was then abandoned until 1955, when it was selected by Lockheed's Skunk Works team as the ideal location to test the forthcoming U-2 spy plane. Lockheed constructed a makeshift base at Groom, consisting of little more than a few shelters, workshops and trailer homes in which to house its small team. During this period, the NTS continued to perform a series of atmospheric nuclear explosions. As the U-2's primary mission was to fly over the Soviet Union, it operated largely from airbases near the Soviet border, including Incirlik in Turkey, Peshawar in Pakistan, and Bodø, Norway. Even before U-2 development was complete, Lockheed began work on its successor, the CIA's OXCART project, a Mach-3 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, a later variant of which became the famed USAF SR-71 Blackbird.
The first Have Blue prototype stealth fighter (a smaller cousin of the F-117 Nighthawk) first flew at Groom in December 1977. Aircraft that have been tested at Groom include the Northrop Tacit Blue stealth demonstrator, various classified UAVs, and a stealthy cruise missile (most likely the AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile). Defense contractor EG&G maintains a private terminal at McCarran International Airport in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Commuter service is provided along Groom Lake Road by a bus, catering to a small number of employees living in several small communities beyond the NTS boundary (although it is not clear whether these workers are employed at Groom or at other facilities in the NTS). Unlike much of the Nellis range, the area surrounding the lake is permanently off-limits both to civilian and normal military air traffic. Perimeter security is provided by uniformed private security guards working for EG&G's security subcontractor Wackenhut, who patrol in desert camouflage Jeep Cherokees and HMMWV vehicles, and more recently, champagne-colored Ford F-150 pickups and gray Chevy 2500 4X4 pickups.
Although federal property within the base is exempt from state and local taxes, facilities owned by private contractors are not. Its secretive nature and undoubted connection to classified aircraft research, together with reports of unusual phenomena, have led Area 51 to become a focus of modern UFO and conspiracy theories. The storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology.
The development of exotic energy weapons (for SDI applications or otherwise) or means of weather control. Activities related to a supposed shadowy one world government and or the Majestic Twelve organization. Others, however, claim that during the mid 1990s, the most secret work previously done at Groom was quietly moved to other facilities, including Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and that the continued secrecy around Groom is largely a successful attempt at misdirection.
The 1998-2001 television series Seven Days took place largely inside the Area 51 complex itself, with the base depicted as being run by a covert National Security Agency operation which used time-travel made possible by alien technology recovered from the 1947 Roswell UFO incident.
Also, in the game RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, one of the parks is called 'Broom Lake' and is run by a group of CIA operatives, and in the MMORPG World of Warcraft, a town in the zone Netherstorm is called 'Area 52'. In the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Area 51 (Parodied as Area 69 in the game) is placed in a large open tract of land, designated as a No-Fly Zone in the Map included in the game case and simply unnamed on the in-game map.
After intense scrutiny, the community determined that this wasn’t a crime scene at all, but a perfectly innocent outing. Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz technology to cooking, fashion, pop culture, newsmakers and the arts.
Air Force, funded by Boeing, and borrowing the name from the Klingon starship in 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.


In final spec, it measured 47 feet long, with a wingspan of 23 feet, and a curb weight of about 7,400 pounds.
At least, not according to Boeing, which remains incredibly tight-lipped about the more mysterious aspects of the Bird of Prey. Visible is the LM (lunar module), Lunar Laser Ranging RetroReflector (LRRR), its discarded cover and the Passive Seismic Experiment Package (PSEP). Visible is the descent stage of Intrepid (the lunar module) and the robotic craft Surveyor 3, which the astronauts took a sample from while they were on the surface.
Visible is the descent stage of Falcon (the lunar module), the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP).
Visible is the descent stage of the lunar module Challenger, the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) and its tracks, the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) and Geophone Rock. A block of land 6 miles north-to-south by 10 miles east-to-west, it is bordered by Nellis Air Force Base on the northwest, north, east, and south, and by the Nevada Test Site on the southwest. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of a dry lakebed (salt lake), is a large military airfield, one of the most secretive places in the world.
The area is part of the Nellis Military Operations Area, and military pilots refer to the forbidden airspace around it (R-4808N) as The Box.
The Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility is approximately 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Groom Lake.
Leading northeast from the lake, the wide and well-maintained Groom Lake Road runs through a pass in the Jumbled Hills. It instead appears to be used during the development, testing, and training phases for new aircraft.
These images support only modest conclusions about the base; they depict a nondescript base, long airstrip, hangars and the lake, but nothing that supports some of the claims about underground facilities.
The lakebed made an ideal strip from which they could operate the troublesome test aircraft, and the Emigrant Valley's mountain ranges and the NTS perimeter protected the test site from prying eyes and outside interference.
The first U-2 flew at Groom in August 1955, and U-2s under the control of the CIA began overflights of Soviet territory by mid-1956.
U-2 operations throughout 1957 were frequently disrupted by the Plumbbob series of atomic tests, which detonated over two dozen devices at the NTS. The Blackbird's flight characteristics and maintenance requirements forced a massive expansion of facilities and runways at Groom Lake.
Testing of a series of ultra-secret prototypes continued there until mid-1981, when testing transitioned to the initial production of F-117 stealth fighters.
A number of unmarked aircraft operate daily shuttle services from McCarran to sites operated by EG&G in the extensive federally controlled lands in southern Nevada.
The bus travels Groom Lake Road and stops at Crystal Springs, Ash Springs, and Alamo, and parks at the Alamo court house overnight. The base is conspicuously absent from Federal publications and inquiries to the government regarding the facility are rejected for reasons of national security.
Although the guards are armed with M16s, no violent encounters with Area 51 observers have been reported; instead, the guards generally follow visitors near the perimeter and radio for the Lincoln County Sheriff.
Area 51 researcher Glenn Campbell claimed in 1994 that the base only declares a taxable value of $2 million to the Lincoln County tax assessor, who is unable to enter the area to perform an assessment. In 1989, Bob Lazar claimed that he had worked at a facility at Papoose Lake (which he called S-4) on such a U.S. In 2000-2001, Fox Television broadcast a show about Apollo moon landing hoax accusations, in which it was suggested that the entire moon landing in 1969 was a hoax and was filmed in parts of Area 51. He claimed that he had made a copy of the tape during a scheduled transfer of analogue videotape files on the base into digital form, and had then smuggled the copy out of Area 51. The numerous conspiracy theories surrounding Area 51 have granted it a fairly high profile in popular culture, specifically in the area of science fiction.
A few missions include this zone, with most, if not all, involving secret military projects and relations to extra-terrestrial contact.
The image (above), posted on April 12, depicts what looks like a couple of people dragging a body along a blood-soaked pier.
Who doesn’t love mystery and intrigue, particularly if the criminal act went awry, thanks to technology?
That will show you a box with a long URL to the map you are looking at and another box with some HTML code to embed. It pioneered dozens of new technologies that we use in airplanes today, but the Bird of Prey was never meant for production. Its vice president is Alan Wiechman, an engineer whose CV includes the Lockheed Have Blue, F-117 Nighthawk, and the Sea Shadow ship. It was about testing technologies, including rumors of active camouflage that would change color and reflection based on its surroundings. So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. At far left, beside the cart tracks and marked by an arrow, is the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. But did we have to haul all that equipment all the way to the moon and set-up fake landing sites? Although the government will not discuss its existence, many highly classified national defense projects have been conducted at AREA 51 since the 1950s and the airspace around the base is off-limits even to most military pilots. The base's primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.


The road formerly led to mines in the Groom basin, but has been improved since their closure. Once these aircraft have been approved by the United States Air Force or other agencies such as the CIA, operation of that aircraft is generally conducted from a normal air force base.
The Plumbbob-Hood explosion on July 5 scattered fallout across Groom and forced a temporary evacuation.
By the time the first A-12 Blackbird prototype flew at Groom in 1962, the main runway had been lengthened to 8500 ft (2600 m), and the base boasted a complement of over 1000 personnel. In addition to flight testing, Groom performed radar profiling, F-117 weapons testing, and was the location for training of the first group of frontline USAF F-117 pilots. Deadly force is authorized if violators who attempt to breach the secured area fail to heed warnings to halt.
Similarly the National Atlas page showing federal lands in Nevada does not distinguish between the Groom block and other parts of the Nellis range.
The video appears to show the head of an alien creature in a dark interrogation room, allegedly using telepathy to communicate with military personnel and scientists.
There have been literally dozens of movies or television shows which deal with fictionalized events or happenings at the site. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Conde Nast.
Its winding course runs past a security checkpoint, but the restricted area around the base extends further east.
Groom is reported, however, to be the permanent home for a small number of Soviet-designed aircraft (obtained by various means), which are analyzed and used for training purposes. Subsequently, the still highly classified active-service F-117 operations moved to the nearby Tonopah Test Range, and finally to Holloman Air Force Base.Since the F-117 became operational in 1983, operations at Groom Lake have continued unabated. EG&G advertises in the Las Vegas press for experienced military pilots, requiring applicants to be eligible for government security clearance, and that successful applicants can expect to always stay overnight at Las Vegas.
Fines of around $600 seem to be the normal course of action, although some visitors and journalists report receiving follow-up visits from FBI agents.
The footage was eventually included in a video documentary entitled Area 51: The Alien Interview. Perhaps the most well-known example is the 1996 action film Independence Day, in which the complex is shown to have been studying the crashed scout ship from the Roswell UFO incident of 1947. She is dragged to a High Security Compound, of which is in involvement is some sort of trading with Area 51. This denotes a direct reference to the high level of security and secrecy surrounding Area 51. Well, sorry to burst that bubble, but this one has thoroughly been debunked by none other than the site that spurred it on to begin with: Reddit. AREA 51 is also the approximate location where scientist Robert Lazar claims to have worked for the U.S. The base and its associated runway system have been expanded, and the daily flights bringing civilian commuters from Las Vegas continue.
Some observers have been detained on public land for pointing camera equipment at the base. Corona spy satellite in the 1960s has been altered prior to declassification; in answer to freedom of information queries, the government responds that these exposures (which map to Groom and the entire NAFR) appear to have been destroyed.
The heroes of the film later make their final attack from the airstrips at the base, and in a nod to established fact, Randy Quaid's character Russell Casse at one point refers to the base not being shown on a state map of Nevada. Groom saw the first flight of all major Blackbird variants: A-12, SR-71, its abortive YF-12 interceptor variant, and the D-21 Blackbird-based drone project. Some commentators, after examining recent satellite photos of the base, estimate it to have a live-in complement of over 1000 people, with a similar number commuting from Las Vegas.
Surveillance is supplemented using buried motion sensors and by HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters. In the past, there were actually two viewpoints from which the public could legally view this secret facility -- from White Sides and Freedom Ridge -- but the Air Force closed down both locations in 1995. In 1995, the federal government expanded the exclusionary area around the base to include nearby mountains that had hither to afforded the only decent overlook of the base.
Some people say that the Blackbird was scrapped for a new plane called the Aurora, even though the government claims that the latter is just a myth. Subsequently, limited views of the area are available only from the summits of several distant mountains east.
They are reported to shuttle to Groom, Tonopah Test Range, to other locations in the NAFR and NTS, and reportedly to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
Higher resolution (and more recent) images from other satellite imagery providers (including Russian providers and the IKONOS) are commercially available.
Observers tracking the number of departures and cars in the private EG&G parking lot at McCarran estimate several thousand JANET commuters each day. These show, in considerable detail, the runway marking, base facilities, aircraft, and vehicles.
These shuttle flights were previously operated by Key Air, which had flown 22,000 passenger trips on 300 flights from Nellis Air Force Base to Tonopah Test Range per month from 1982 until early 1991.



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