For a closer look at the exotic aircraft the Air Force might be cooking up at Area 51, launch the photo gallery.
On a trip to las vegas in 2004, observing from my east-facing hotel room in the pyramidal Luxor Hotel at daybreak, I watched a fleet of six unmarked 737s make commuter flights to nowhere. These aircraft depart every weekday morning from a tidy, anonymous terminal on the western side of McCarran International Airport. A long line of cars pours into a 1,600-spot parking lot as the jets pull away from the terminal, taxi to the runways, and head out into the desert sky. At the end of the day, the shuttle flights return and the lot empties. The passengers go home and tell their families nothing about what happened at work that day.
Cut to April 4 this year. San Diego is hit by a rumbling shock that isn't an earthquake. It is ruled out by the media as a sonic boom after military operators claim it is not one of their aircraft. San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Alex Roth does some digging and comes up with six puzzlingly similar incidents around the country since 2003.
Fast-forward to July, at the Farnborough International Airshow in southeastern England. Frank Cappuccio, the avuncular vice president of Lockheed Martin's secretive Skunk Works division, opens a press conference by introducing what he calls a promotional video, "something to show the kids and families about what we do." Two minutes into the show, a gray, cockpit-less airplane that nobody has seen before-it looks like a B-2 bomber's chick-soars over a backdrop of stony, barren hills and mountains.
All these events are linked. They are the visible signs of an invisible, parallel world within the universe of aerospace and defense: the classified, or "black," world of secret military programs. Those unmarked 737s were ferrying employees to the flight-test center near Groom Lake, Nevada, known to the public as Area 51. The gray airplane is Polecat, a next-generation stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-Cappuccio's video was his sly way of unveiling the program. Those earthquakes? Quite possibly sonic booms from a long-suspected hypersonic attack vehicle, a sleek aircraft that has consumed the imaginations of black-project enthusiasts and military analysts, including me, for two decades. Though seemingly dormant in recent years, the program appears to be on the move again, and with a renewed vigor that has me feeling, somewhat unsettlingly, a bit like the aerospace industry's own Ahab.
Is speculating on top-secret military technology a national security risk? Tell us what you think on the PopSci Blog.
well, it's NOT what YOU think, after all, is it? It's what THEY think, isn't it?
if they think it is a security risk, then it is....unless you somehow manage to go before a JUDGE...then it is his/her call....assuming that he/she isn't in THEIR pocket....and remember, when you ASSUME...you make an ASS of U and ME.
Hardly. The aircraft they let us see are not the dangerous ones anyway. One would imagine that the real military intelligence types around the world do not rely on Popular Science for their information.
That being said, I enjoy your magazine, and have for years.
The entire country should know everything that's going on at Area 51 and in the intelligence community too.
How can you have a democracy if you don't know what's going on?
Democracy--that's what we're about. Let's make it transparent.
You don't have a clue what you're talking about. Sure, democracy is generally about openness for the sake of the public good. But even in everyday life we don't tell all our secrets to each other. Why would you expect the government to tell all its secrets?
You assume that literally everything there is to know OUGHT to be known by everyone. That's a false assumption. Do you think the public should have access to your bank records, social security info, etc.? Of course not. Why not? For the sake of your own security and legal identity.
Now translate that to whole nations: why would governments want to keep some things secret? For the sake of SECURITY. And this is perfectly rational. Therefore your assumption is NOT rational.
Come on get a life. Project Blue Book, Area 51 wanna be Trekkies. There are some things that the general public just doesn't have a need to know. If you did & had the clearance maybe we could share something. Live Long & Prosper -- just leave the spooks alone.
Yes, I think that the government should keep things secret, but should'nt they be more careful about thir sonic booms? If they realy wanted to keep things secret then would'nt fly them high enough so that when the sonic boom gets heard its barely audible.
I think the government just wants to spark controversy and get puplicity.
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i agree with that
we need to spend our resources on space travel, not fighting each other
at this rate i dont think earth will last more that couple more decades
and for sure some 1 is gonna drop a n-bomb any day now
Space Travel would be a wonderful thing. Imagine what we could find! I for one, think intelligent life exists out there. Im Christian, and it just makes sense that if God is infinite, then he can have infinite children, made in his image (or basic appearance and trait-set, in layman's terms). Unfortunatly, for the Earth to be able to seek out new things in planets beyond, it requires us to be unified in that effort. Takes a planet to explore a planet, takes a galaxy to explore a galaxy, etc. basic takes a "___" to *____* a "_____" formula.
Here’s the thing if you see a short skinny guy with no muscle or a huge man 6’6 300lbs of solid muscle who would you rather fight? Now same situation only the short skinny guy had an automatic assault rifle but now you see he has it, now who would you choose to fight. Now with that in mind why should we keep our military weapons a secret, (well except for the illegal ones) as long as we don’t share the technology of how to build them letting others know our true power or technological advantage would discourage others from attacking us or waging war. Correct?
For years the CIA was lying to so many people. Those people were naive and really loved the idea of extra terrestials. Perhaps it helps us take our minds off an already crazy world. But all in all it shows that our goverenment does its job to protect our future weapons.
The new facilities that whoever are using now are thought to be heading into the space realm. Its great to see that we our now venturing further into a very real possibility of exploring the cosmos. With plasma propulsion already in the works to replace Ion Propulsion we are already seeing more and more advancements that will help lead to future space vehicles that could change everything! God Bless all those working diligently to protect our nation, and thank you.
Did you just call USA a "short skinny guy"?
I'd love to know who the huge 6'6" 300lb man is....
I think keeping them under wraps is a good idea. Does anyone remember that mig-29 that was fitted with directional thrusters? I am sure the f-22 was in research at the time, and maybe we were developing similar technology, but im sure after videos of that plane flying showed up we knew it was something our new jet HAD to have. Of course now most people have only ever heard of the f-22 having directional thrust capabilities and assume we came up with it. Keeping as far ahead of the cure as possible is always a good idea.
the aurora idea has been around for a long time and they still haven't unveiled it. I distinctly remember looking at a photo of a triangular plane refuling in mid air flanked by two f-111s. Another coincidence that i have seen relatign to aurora, is that i was on vacation in san diago when one of those sonic booms occured. I looked into the sky and nothing was there.The sky was CLOUDLESS. I firmly believe in the aurora and its mach 6 capabilities and i think that is the government wants to keep it a secret even though most of America knows, fine with me because if we don't know, our enemies don't either.
honestly i think we should know about all the stuff going on in and on the premisis of area-51 becouse it is obveouly importnat to the nation and our security and seems how it is protecting the lives of us americans and the nations that we deffend. And really if you get a new security system and it is really cool would you not want every one to know about it? Also we should atleast be allowed he knowlage of knowing what is being usedd to deffend our country, but if not that then atleast they should tell us that they are working on stuff in Area-51 (seems that is extramly obveouse that they have stuff going on)? But yet i could see how telling us americans could ,and probely will, lead to other counterys haveng the knowlage that we have extramlly advanced military wepons. But yet still once we unlesh what we have and they gain knowlage of it they will try to build something simular to what we have, like they have done preveously, and then eventualy the will have wepons of equeal or even greater power then ours. So really all we are doing is post poning them and us gaining knowlage of what we are doing and alowing them more time to come up with simular stuff adn insted of somthing we are ,realy, leting them build up and gain the same amount of power that we have and then by the time we use our weopns they will alredy have something to deffend themselves and attack us while we have stuff already that could save the lives of many and yet we are not using it we are letting more and more soilders die every day becouse we dont feel like leting them use the new and improved wepones that could be saving there lives right know. So why dont we just give up all this secret shit and let our troops use the new wepons and let the other countrys find out, becouse in the long run they will find out and they will use them agenst us, so why dont we use our wepons to just stop it, becouse we all know we can(not sarcastic),and save teh live of thousands of american troops.
area 51 do exist, all employee that work there does not have record of them working there. wierd? ..us government denied its exist because area 51 is a top secret where technology is beig develop..a technology thats out of this world and yes i mean ALien crafts and others materail. it is say from one of top engineer that he was working on a top secret source that was recover from alien crafts. the materials in the craft was name ELEMENT 115 is something with infinite proton that runs alien crafts making it move speed of light and swift turns. thats is all i know about the source, and i assure its a fact. Also why do u think area 51 is keep secrets? why is there gaurds before u get near entrance of area 51? theres even 1000 miles radius metal detector surrounder area 51 base..so before u even get close they already know u are there. the base operate on its own sources..us government and president dont have the power to say are do anything about the base, its classified project thats being testing new crafts, even USO which is underwater sub object..i believe one days the truth will be told about area 51. for now let them do there things because it is benefiting us, and lets think for a second..EArth a planet in milky way galaxy which contains life..do u think out of the endless of number of galaxy out theere we are the only one? sounds crazy but i doubt we are alone...as of now..we are developing crafts thats not of this world..thats a fact.
Bob. Sometimes,its best not to know.
I've only seen experimental planes twice. There are about 10 witnesses to this but we are slowly dying.
I'm not sure what it does but it don't look like any of the other planes in flight. The only thing I can tell you is that it takes a high amount of electricity.
Possibly nuclear powered.
Satellites and meteors usually are traced when they fall to the ground, but the cover-up in the newspapers suggests that this is an experimental flight by Army. Nobody tracks this one and it shouldn’t be found anywhere near airports.
Just so you know where some fuel sources go, so you don’t get stuck looking in South Africa for something that has gone missing.
The rest is “Top Secret” so I won’t tell you about it because Dickey Monster might have to hunt you down.
It looks similar to what the Foo Fighters would have been fighting in World War 2 and it might have been built to fight UFO's.
Possibly with the power to crash planes, ect...
But no reports in the papers, imagine that. But the images will never be erased from my memory.
Sorry Toy Soldier...We can't give away things we spend Billons on to develop,..Development cost are the bulk of the overall oost...Even your every day companys keep there company secrets (secret) ...After a period of time the cost of VCR, TV's, Radio's, everything you use in life comes down after they recoup there start up cost..When VCR's first came out they were 1,200 to 1,400 bucks...Wow...
You will find everything out in 40-50 yrs when particuler things get declassified.
Iran would love to go on line and look at everything we have in the works so they could go straight to the building and not spend years on design...
i agree with that.
Why is everybody so obsessed in the kinds of weapons or equipment that the military is making, they are using it to protect there country from terrorists or other threats isn't that good enough for you people!!!
Yes i know that the secrets of our nation is to protect us from terrorisom but Terrorists like Alkida and the Talaban but they are not a COUNTRY there are a group of individuals who grabs anything that they see laying on the ground. So as long as we dont give away our blueprints or guides to how to build our best weapons then we can keep it at least some parts public. like we can know that the nation really does have Aurora jets and we dont have reveal how much armor it has or how they built it. like the Abrams tank we dont know what is the armor is made out of but we know it excits. Are other countrys or the Alkida or Talaban have an Abrams or an exact copy of it??? No they do not so it safe to say that unless the so called top seret officals are planning to over throw the goverment then they dont have to be secret.
really good, thanks for this comment.
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To a degree I agree with the comment from ad101867, we can’t expect to give all Intel to anyone out there for obvious reasons which I won’t go into, but before you start rambling about how our government should do things have your basic facts straight. We are not a democracy we are in fact a republic. Democracy is the transition from republic to oligarchy. With that said, some things are best not known. That’s why we the people elect reps. to act on our wishes on what we want the government to do for us. (After all, some of us would hope that we the people still have some control over government) If that’s not good for you, than get a really good education and either go into politics or engineering and go do something about it, other wise quit complaining.
good heated debate always good to see
It's good that the line of defense is strong. These warplanes come in handy in case of a alien attack :) http://www.hotel-bucuresti.com/hoteluri/hotel_nelisse-117.html
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Area 51 shares a border with the Yucca Flat region of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the location of 739 of the 928 nuclear tests conducted by the United States Department of Energy at NTS. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository is 44 miles (71 km) southwest of Groom Lake.
The same "Area xx" naming scheme is used for other parts of the Nevada Test Site.
The original 6-by-10 mile (10 by 16 km) rectangular base is now part of the so-called "Groom box", a 23-by-25.3 mile (37 by 40.7 km) rectangular area of restricted airspace. The area is connected to the internal NTS road network, with paved roads leading south to Mercury and west to Yucca Flat. Leading northeast from the lake, the wide and well-maintained Groom Lake Road runs through a pass in the Jumbled Hills. The road formerly led to mines in the Groom basin, but has been improved since their closure. Its winding course runs past a security checkpoint, but the restricted area around the base extends further east.