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Area 51: Black Jets

Area 51: Black Jets

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A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, America's Secret Aviation Base

BILL YENNE


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Book Details
 Price
 3.00
 Pages
 364 p
 File Size 
 39,048 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 ISBN
 -
 Copyright©   
 -

About the Author
Bill Yenne is the author of more than three
dozen nonfiction books, especially on aviation
and military history. These have included
profiles of the B-52 Stratofortress, unmanned
combat air vehicles, and secret weapons of the
Cold War, as well as histories of the Strategic
Air Command, the US Air Force, and his
recently updated The Story of the Boeing
Company. He has contributed to
encyclopedias of both World War I and World
War II and has appeared in television
documentaries on the History Channel, the
National Geographic Channel, and ARD
German Television. He visited the U-2 and
SR-71 in their heyday at their rookery at Beale
AFB, and he has traveled the lonely desert
perimeter of Area 51.
Mr. Yenne is also a member of the
American Aviation Historical Society. He
lives in San Francisco and on the worldwide web at www.BillYenne.com.
....

EPILOGUE
STILL OUT THERE
AREA 51 IS LIKE a multifaceted gem. It is equal parts truth and illusion. It is equal
parts hard, cold engineering reality and imaginative guesswork. It is equal parts
playful obfuscation and “use-of-deadly-force” national security concealment and denial.

Area 51 is a black world of black airplanes that officially does not exist, and
it is also a fantasy world of extraterrestrial visitation that almost certainly does
not exist. It is the home of secret projects that did not exist—until we were told
that they did exist. It is probably the home of secret projects that did exist, but
about which we will never know.

It is a world of things that are perceived only by the shadows that they cast.
As Bill Sweetman wrote in Popular Science magazine, the “vague, untraceable
allocations in congressional budgets that often signal classified programs are on
the rise, and modern technological innovations are now enabling aircraft designs
that might have floundered in the black world for years. Further, there are
significant gaps in the military’s known aviation arsenal—gaps that the Pentagon
can reasonably be assumed to be actively, if quietly, trying to fill.”
Following the money into apparently benign voids is like trying to follow a
magician’s sleight of hand or a Las Vegas blackjack dealer’s practiced hand.
Is it any wonder that the gateway to the mystery world of Area 51 should be
an airport in the capital of fantasy? Can the boundary between fact and illusion
be fuzzier anywhere on earth than it is in Las Vegas—except perhaps, at Area 51?

People who fly in and out of Las Vegas hardly notice a nondescript terminal
off at the northwest corner of the 2,800-acre sprawl of McCarran International
Airport. Nor does the majority notice the white Boeing 737s that are parked at
this nondescript terminal.
With the lights of the celebrated “Strip” barely a half mile away, why should
they? These visitors have come fixated not on unmarked airport buildings but on
the well-delineated pleasures of this unique and sparkling, larger-than-life theme
park. As they deplane, anxious for a weekend or more of bachelor parties, of
nightclubs, of luxuriating their senses, or of gaming, they hardly notice as one of
those plain white 737s taxis out, takes to the air and heads due north into the
darkening sky and into an unknown world that is perpetually “dark” in the
metaphorical way.

“Janet” is the call sign used by this fleet of airplanes operating from Las
Vegas to Groom Lake and Tonopah. The Janet fleet, fewer than a dozen in
number, include Boeing 737s and Beechcraft executive propliners. They are said
to be owned by the US Air Force, but they carry civilian registration. They are
to be owned by the US Air Force, but they carry civilian registration. They are
painted white and carry no markings other than a tail number and a red line on
each side of the fuselage.

Janet is the tangible, yet mysterious, link to that other world. She is the means
by which civilian and military personnel working in that world pass through the
looking glass, and they are our tangible indication that the looking glass has another side.
In the early days of Groom Lake operations, when most of the civilians
traveling in and out were Lockheed employees working on the Aquatone and
Oxcart programs, the US Air Force operated routine flights between Burbank
and Area 51. According to Gregory Pedlow and Donald Welzenbach, “The
project staff decided that the simplest approach would be to fly the essential
personnel to the site on Monday morning and return them to Burbank on Friday
evening. Frequent flights were also necessary to bring in supplies and visitors
from contractors and headquarters.”
In those days, transportation was provided by a regularly scheduled Military
Air Transport Service flight using a C-54 that was known as “Bissell’s Narrow-
Gauge Airline” after CIA overhead reconnaissance programs chief Richard Bissell.

By the 1970s, much of the site management at Groom Lake, like that at the
neighboring NTTR, was outsourced to civilian contractors. One of these was the
engineering firm of Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier (EG&G), which first
entered the world of nuclear testing and black airplanes to develop systems to
monitor and evaluate experimental technologies. Gradually, EG&G took on a
wider facilities management role at secure government locations, and they have
played a key role at Groom Lake and Tonopah.
EG&G has also been a prominent part of the Area 51 conspiracy theory lore
for decades. A mere mention of their name will elicit a knowing nod from any
black airplane enthusiast. They are believed to be the operators of the Janet
airline and to have the contract for guarding the perimeter of the Groom Lake complex.

Since 2002, EG&G has been fully absorbed into another engineering and
management firm, URS Corporation (formerly United Research Services).
Among its white world activities, the EG&G Division of URS entered into an
“institutional services contract” to help manage NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Traveling to Groom Lake from Las Vegas via Janet takes less than an hour. For
the majority of us who cannot book a flight on this successor to Bissell’s airline,
the majority of us who cannot book a flight on this successor to Bissell’s airline,
the drive takes hours—from the wall-to-wall-crowd density of Las Vegas
through some of the emptiest country in the contiguous United States. To
actually see what it is all about amid the mysterious mountains of the Nellis
Range, this long drive is compulsory.

The exit off Interstate 15 for Nellis AFB is only eighteen miles from
McCarran, and just a dozen miles later, as you turn north onto US Highway 93,
there is nothing ahead or in the rear-view mirror but desert. The ninety-three
miles of two-lane Highway 93 that run north to the junction of Nevada Highway
375, the Extraterrestrial Highway, are long and straight. It is the kind of road
where 80 mph feels like 50 mph. It is populated by long haul truckers, the
occasional motor home, a few ranchers in their pickups, and the handful of
people who are drawn to this quarter by the mystery stories told on Internet sites
or whispered in faraway coffee shops.

Halfway to Ash Springs, a sign warning of low flying aircraft marks the point
at which Highway 93 passes beneath the edge of the air space controlled by
Nellis AFB as part of the Desert Military Operating Area (MOA). For the
remainder of the drive, nothing in the sky above is there without permission of
the Nellis Tower. During Red Flag, the skies here are filled with F-15s, B-2s,
and all manner of hardware, but the mysterious airspace of Area 51 is still far ahead.

There is a welcome gas station in Ash Springs, but little else can be seen
along Highway 93 other than the primordial desert landscape and the intriguing
contrails high above. Turning off at the junction just north of Ash Springs, one
finds that the emptiness of the Extraterrestrial Highway makes Highway 93 seem
like the Las Vegas Strip. It is one of those highways where three or four songs
can go by on your music player before you pass another car. Mostly, it is local
traffic, but you can tell by the bumper stickers on some of the vehicles that
people are still coming out here to squint at those contrails and to look longingly
for lights in the night sky.

There are no gas stations on the Extraterrestrial Highway or fences to keep
wandering cattle off the road. The landscape is unchanged since the nineteenth
century settlers passed this way and decided not to stay.
Passing over the Pahranagat Range at Hancock Summit the traveler is greeted
with a view of a distant desert landscape scarred by the longest, straightest
gravel road imaginable. Some have compared it to the Nazca Lines in Peru,
which Erich von Däniken famously postulated to have been made by
extraterrestrials. This one was not made by extraterrestrials, but many people
believe that it leads to them.

This line is the road into Groom Lake, to Area 51. It was built before von
Däniken’s best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? was first published in 1968
and two decades before Bob Lazar drove this road on his way to work. Beyond
the point where the road disappears into the horizon, one can see the ridge that
obscures the view of Groom Lake. From near Hancock Summit, those with fourwheel-
drive vehicles—or a blatant disregard for rental cars—can drive most of
the way to a place on Tikaboo Peak where the actual facilities at Groom Lake
can be viewed at a distance of about forty miles.

The turn-off to the Groom Lake Road at Lincoln County Milepost 34.6 is
obvious but unmarked. Nearby, at Milepost 29.6, is one of the principal icons of
Area 51 folklore. Though it has been painted white since around 1996, it is still
known as the Black Mailbox.
The mailbox actually belongs to Steve Medlin, whose ranch is nearby, but
some conspiracy theorists believe this to be a mere cover story. Despite the fact
that it bears Medlin’s name and contains his mail, rumors still persist that this is
the place where top secret mail is delivered to anyone and everyone from the
Men in Black of 1950s flying saucer mythology to the extraterrestrials
themselves. Today, it also serves as a message board for the enthusiasts who
cannot resist the urge for graffiti.
The road that leads from the Black Mailbox past Medlin’s ranch intersects the
Groom Lake Road. This modern Nazca Line is one of the best-maintained gravel
roads anywhere. As you drive, it is easy to find your mind wandering back to
February 26, 1962, when Article 121, the first Oxcart A-12, was trucked to
Groom Lake over this same road. If the nearby Joshua trees could talk, what
stories they could tell of the exotic hardware whose conveyances have kicked up dust here.

The trees, except in the most outlandish fantasies, do not have voices, but it is
widely believed by those who spend their days in Area 51 speculation, that the
road has “ears”—sensors buried along the way to alert the guards of incoming
visitors. As anyone can see, the hills do have eyes. No attempt is made to
disguise the camera stands on nearby Bald Mountain.
After nearly fourteen miles on the straight section, Groom Lake Road rounds
a corner and reaches the border of the restricted zone. There is no gate and no
fence, but the unambiguous warning signs leave no doubt that this is the point
beyond which outsiders dare not go.

During the Cold War, AFB perimeters were marked with signs that carried
the warning “Use of Deadly Force Authorized,” meaning that the guards were
permitted to kill trespassers. These are gone now, but the threat of detainment
and arrest lives on. Not so high up on the hills nearby, watching anyone who
stops to view the signs and make the obligatory U-turn, are guards in pickups
and Jeep Cherokees watching with binoculars.

As their vehicles are not in military colors, it is assumed that these people are
employees of a contractor firm such as EG&G or URS. Area 51 enthusiasts call
them the “Cammo Dudes,” because they do wear camouflaged uniforms. This is
counterintuitive, because their primary function, short of making arrests, is to be seen.

Located about twenty miles northwest of the Black Mailbox, Rachel, Nevada,
is the only town on the Extraterrestrial Highway. An icon of the Area 51
subculture in its own right, Rachel experienced its heyday in the 1990s during
the decade after the official revelation of the F-117A and the unofficial
revelations of Bob Lazar.
....


Table of Contents
PROLOGUE WHAT IS AREA 51?
CHAPTER 1 HOW NOWHERE BECAME SOMEWHERE
CHAPTER 2 THE SKUNK WORKS GOES TO PARADISE
CHAPTER 3 ANGELS IN THE BLUE BOOK
CHAPTER 4 ANGELS IN RED SKIES
CHAPTER 5 ANGELS AT THE TURNING POINT
CHAPTER 6 IMAGINING THE ARCHANGELS
CHAPTER 7 ARCHANGELS OVER AREA 51
CHAPTER 8 THE TAGBOARD FROM THE SORCERER’S DUNGEON
CHAPTER 9 THE BLACKBIRD
CHAPTER 10 MiGS OVER TONOPAH
CHAPTER 11 FROM HOPELESS DIAMOND TO BLACK JET
CHAPTER 12 AURORA, BLACK MANTA, AND THINGS THAT WENT
PULSE IN THE NIGHT
CHAPTER 13 WHALES, BIRDS OF PREY, AND THE TRUE DEEP
BLACK
CHAPTER 14 SEND IN THE DRONES, WATCH FOR THE BEASTS
EPILOGUE STILL OUT THERE
ACRONYMS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX


Screenbook
Area 51 - Black Jets- A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, America's Secret Aviation Base
....
And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be—
This Area 51?”
“Over the mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied—
“If you seek for Area 51!”
(With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Eldorado,” also about a place
which officially did not exist.)

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