a hybrid pulse-detonation air-breather/rocket in conjunction with US company Adroit Systems, which has tested an experimental propulsion tube. Bushnell says that such compressorless engines produce toroidal vortices, but will not comment on strange contrails associated with the "Aurora" - the much-rumoured US military replacement aircraft for the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
"Observers...tell of a swift, high-altitude light that accompanies the pulsing noise....the light moved from horizon to horizon -- well over 100 miles -- in under a minute."
"People living nearby reported strange ear-splitting noises and mysterious smoke-rings in the sky early this year."
"... strange, loud pulsating roar... unique... a deep pulsating rumble that vibrated the house and made the windows shake... similar to rocket engine noise, but deeper, with evenly timed pulses."
"Donuts-on-a-rope contrails produced by an unknown high-speed, high-altitude aircraft have been reported throughout the U.S. and Europe, suggesting that the classified "pulser" is no longer confined to a test range... In late January, a similar contrail -- described as a "coiled spring" -- was seen over Scotland behind a very fast aircraft flying east to west. The distinctive contrails have been spotted during daylight hours over Portland, Ore.; Washington Dulles International Airport, Va.; Denver, Colo.; and Edwards AFB, Calif."
Two years later, the Blackbird was retired. In June 1991, the first in a series of unexplained shock waves rolled across the Los Angeles basin, rattling doors and windows and making people think of earthquakes. But they were not earthquakes, and the military adamantly denied that any of its vehicles caused the booms. In May of this year, I consulted with Dom Maglieri, an ex-NASA sonic-boom expert who has played a key role in the development of low-sonic-boom aircraft. We studied 15-year-old seismograph data from the California Institute of Technology, whose uniquely sensitive sensors could actually track the booms. â€The data showed something at 90,000 feet, Mach 4 to Mach 5,â€ Maglieri says now. The booms did not look like refracted, â€over the topâ€ booms, as other reports had indicated-booms from aircraft miles away that had traveled up through the atmosphere and bent down toward Los Angeles. The booms looked like direct overflights by a supersonic
The existence of high-supersonic aircraft projects has been inferred from sighting reports, the repeated, unexplained sonic booms over the US and elsewhere, the abrupt retirement of the SR-71 and from the focus of white-world programs, such as NASP and follow-on research efforts such as the USAF's HyTech program. The latter have consistently been aimed at gathering data on speeds in the true hypersonic realm - well above M6, where subsonic-combustion ramjets give way to supersonic-combustion ramjets (scramjets) - implying that speeds from M3 to M6 present no major unsolved challenges.
A senior officer on the Joint Staff remarked that "we still treat certain capabilities as pearls too precious to wear - we acknowledge their value, but because of their value, we lock them up and don't use them for fear of losing them".
Originally posted by Shadowhawk
The aircraft in which the pilot "holds the altitude record" is equipped with internal weapons bays (like the F-117A and B-2). He did weapon separation tests and tests with modified landing gear. There is absolutely no indication whatsoever that it was a high-speed aircraft. We have no data about the speed capabilities, powerplant, airframe manufacturer, or anything else beyond the sparse details given. From these, we can deduce that it was capable of attaining reasonably high altitudes and was most likely designed for stealth. BTW, I know the pilot personally. Of the seven classified aircraft he flew, only one has yet been declassified.
[edit on 5-6-2008 by Shadowhawk]
Reports of plans for a high-performance piloted replacement for the SR-71 date back more than a decade. In 1979 it was reported that a:
"... Mach 4, 200,000-ft.-altitude aircraft that could be a follow-on to the Lockheed SR-71 strategic reconnaissance vehicle in the 1990s has been defined by the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Division and Lockheed."
As previously noted, reports of the existence of a successor to the SR-71 surfaced repeatedly during the debate over termination of the SR-71. Subsequent observations of mysterious aerial phenomena have been connected with the 1988 reports that Aurora was a Mach 6 stealthy reconnaissance aircraft that was being developed to replace the SR-71.
According to another report, by mid-1992:
"... Aurora was being flown from a base in the Nevada desert to an atoll in the Pacific, then on to Scotland to refuel before returning to the US at night. Specially modified tanker aircraft are being used to top up Aurora's tanks with liquid methane fuel in mid-air... The US Air Force is using the remote RAF airbase at Machrihanish, Strathclyde, as a staging point... The mystery aircraft has been dropping in at night before streaking back to America across the North Pole at more than six times the speed of sound... An F-111 fighter bomber is scrambling as the black-painted aircraft lands, flying in close formation to confuse prying civilian radars."
>Aurora Advanced Aircraft Characteristics
Source Lockheed Sweetman Lockheed Boeing Boeing
Date 1985 1990 1990 1990 1990
Figure 1 2 3 4 5
Length - meters ? 35 30.6 26.0 42.7
Span - meters ? 20 13.6 / 25 14.7 13.5
wing area - m2 - 300 - - 95
Empty ? 32.5 - 19.3 -
Fuel ? 44.0 - 19.5 12.6
Payload ? 2.0 - 1.5 -
Max T/O ? 78.5 - 40.3 34.5
Thrust - kN ? ? ? 267 ?
Fuel Methane MCH MCH LH2
Cruise - Mach 5 5-6 5 5.5 6
Ceiling - km 30 40 27 32 33
Range - km ? 17,000 1,900 5,000 27,750
MCH = methylcyclohexane
LH2 = liquid hydrogen
Classified Aircraft Budget
1985 -- 928
1986 80 84
1987 (2,272) 851 ( 139 )
1988 -- 121
Millions of Dollars
Numbers in parentheses are FY86 projections
All others are actual appropriations
Probably the most compelling evidence for such flight tests are the series of unusual sonic booms chronicled above Southern California, beginning in mid to late 1991. On at least five occasions, these sonic booms were recorded by at least 25 of the 220 US Geological Survey sensors across Southern California used to pinpoint earthquake epicenters. The incidents were recorded in June, October, November, and late January 1991. Seismologists estimate that the aircraft were flying at speeds between Mach 3 and 4 and at altitudes of 8 to 10 kilometers. The aircraft's flight path was in a North North-East direction, consistent with flight paths to secret test ranges in Nevada. Seismologists say that the sonic booms were characteristic of a smaller vehicle than the 37 meter long shuttle orbiter. Furthermore, neither the shuttle nor NASA's single SR-71B were operating on the days the booms were registered.
One of the seismologists, Jim Mori, noted:
"We can't tell anything about the vehicle. They seem stronger than other sonic booms that we record once in a while. They've all come on Thursday mornings about the same time, between 6 and 7 in the morning."
These "skyquake" are a continuing phenomenon, with the most recent report over Orange County, CA coming on 20 July 1996. It is reported that the "quake" occurred around 3pm PST, fitting the "skyquake" pattern in the following respects:
It occurred in a coastal area.
Described as similar to an earthquake in some respects (rattling of loose objects, etc) but also like a boom (but no distinct double bang as far as is known).
Severe enough to light up government and media switchboards, but no known damage.
Not an earthquake (CalTech sensors saw nothing)
Local military bases deny any knowledge.
No known other source (eg explosion)
Intercepted radio transmissions are equally intriguing:
"On Apr. 5 (a Sunday) and Apr. 22, radio hobbyists in Southern California monitored transmissions between Edwards AFB's radar control facility (Joshua Control) and a high-altitude aircraft using the call sign "Gaspipe." The series of radio calls occurred at approximately 6 a.m. local time on both dates.
"Controllers were directing the unknown Gaspipe aircraft to a runway at Edwards, using advisories similar to those given space shuttle crews during a landing approach. The monitors recorded two advisories, both transmitted by Joshua Control to Gaspipe: "You're at 67,000, 81 mi. out," and "Seventy mi. out, 36,000. Above glide slope."
Reported sightings of unusual high performance aircraft are not confined to the Southwestern United States. More recently, such observations have also been reported in other parts of the United States, as well as in Europe. These reports are particularly intriguing because they are difficult to reconcile with an experimental test program, since there would be no reason for test flights to be conducted in Europe. Rather, these reports would have to be understood in the context of the deployment of an operational aircraft.
One unexplained set of observations was reported at Beale Air Force Base, the California facility that was long home to the SR-71. On two consecutive nights in late February 1992, observers reported sighting a triangular aircraft displaying a distinctive diamond-shaped lighting pattern, comprised of a red light near the nose -- similar to the F-117 configuration -- two 'whitish' lights near what would be conventional wingtips and an amber light near the tail. While the wing lights are reportedly much brighter than normal navigation lamps, they do not illuminate the aircraft's planform. Observers claim the vehicle's wing lights are approximately twice as far apart as those on the F-117, and nose-to-tail light spacing is about 50 percent longer than that on the stealth fighter.