posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 10:53 PM
I have a few comments regarding the Area 51 research project. Anyone with an interest in the subject might want to pay attention. I have been
researching the history of the Groom Lake facility (Watertown, Area 51, Det. 3 AFFTC) for more than two decades using thousands of pages of primary
source documents (unclassified to formerly Top Secret) and personal interviews (engineers, test pilots, squadron and base commanders, air traffic
controllers, security personnel, project managers, etc.)
First of all, regarding SUNTAN:
Although Lockheed received a contract to build four prototypes, they were never actually constructed. The project was cancelled with only a forward
fuselage mock-up and a few subscale test articles (wing, fuel tank, etc.) to show for it.
SR-71 - "Deactivated in 1990, the program has recently been revived, some believe because of problems with the Aurora."
The SR-71 was briefly reactivated, then cancelled by line-item veto of the President. The final SR-71 flight was a NASA aircraft and crew at the
October 1999 air show at Edwards Air Force Base.
The word "Aurora" has noithing to do with Groom lake or any hypersonic successor to the SR-71. We shouldn't use it a a generic term for such a
speculative aircraft. I have no evidence to indicate that any successor nto the SR-71 has ever been built or deployed. There is some extremely
cryptic testimony from a former crew chief at Groom suggesting that there was some type of high-speed (possibly hypersonic) one-of-a-kind demonstrator
tested in the late 1980s. I have been unable to corroborate this.
B-2 Stealth Bomber:
The B-2 made its first test flight from Palmdale to Edwards in 1988. There were no B-2 airframes at Groom prior to that time. The B-2 was based at
Edwards for testing, but every B-2 airframe has flown through the Dynamic Coherent Measurement System (DYCOMS) radar cross-section range at Groom.
B-2 technology was developed with the TACIT BLUE aircraft at Groom between 1982 and 1985.
HAVE DOUGHNUT was a test program involving a MiG-21. HAVE DRILL was a MiG-17. Other MiG 17, MiG-21, MiG-23, Su-7, Su-22, etc. were tested under other
TR-3A Black Manta:
We probably shouldn't use this designator. It is speculative and does not conform to known designation systems (please spare me comments about the
TR-1). I do not know whether an aircraft of this configuration has been tested, but there have been at least 7 to 11 classified manned aircraft flown
at Groom since the mid 1980s that have yet to be unveiled.
In 1985, Frank Birk made the first flight of a "classified technology demonstrator." He won the Bobby Bond Memorial Aviator Award for his work on
Since 1982, Dan Vanderhorst has flown at least seven classified aircraft, described as mostly "one of a kind demonstrators." One was TACIT BLUE.
Another had internal weapons bays, suggesting stealth characteritsics (Vanderhorst "holds the altitude record in this aircraft" according to an
During the last part of a 20-year Air Force career, Doug Benjamin flew four classified aircraft. One of these was Bird of Prey (declassified a few
In the early to mid 1990s, Dennis Sager commanded the classified flight test squadron at Groom and became the first Air Force pilot to fly the
YF-113G, a "classified protoype" that he helped shpard from development to first flight.
During the late 1990s, Joe Lanni flew first flights of two classified prototypes, including the YF-24. (That is not a typo)
Major Player at Groom Lake:
The Groom Lake facility (Detachmnent 3, AFFTC) is operated by the Air Force Flight Test Center as a remote operating location (OL). There are various
other government agency (OGA), Department of Defense (DoD) and contractor tenants.
The base commander is a USAF officer (Colonel).
The earliest NASA connection to Groom was the designation of the lakebed as a contingency landing site for the X-15 during the 1960s. It was
available during launches from Delamar lake, but never needed as an emergency landing site. The AeroViroment HALSOL UAV (sponsored by the CIA) was
tested at Groom in 1983 and transferred to NASA at Edwards nine years later. I have not yet found a direct connection of a NASA project to Groom.
The existence of the Groom Lake facility was never classified:
Initial construction of watertown Airstrip and subsequent improvements were announced to the news media by the Atomic Energy Commission during the
1950s. This included a brief description of the facilities and the fact that the U-2 was operating there. U-2 activities were explained by a cover
story about "NACA weather research." The base was mentioned in NACA research reports about the U-2 weather data (which was actually collected on
NACA instruments during training flights)
During the 1960s, Area 51 telephone numbers and team sports scores were published in unclassified newsletters by contractors such as Reynolds
Electrical and Engineering Company (REECo). Area 51 also appeared on numerous unclassified maps for distribution to the press and public.