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Commercial Aircraft Views of Area 51 (Photos and Video included)

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posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:24 AM
I didn't realize before Monday that you could actually see Area 51 from some commercial flights. I'm at NAS Fallon this week and the last leg on the trip out here was Phoenix to Reno on US Airways flight 524 on June 14 (flight path here). I was sitting in the terminal at Phoenix and wondered how close to Area 51 a flight between those cities might come. I checked past flight paths for that flight and saw that it wasn't anywhere near it and then just said "oh well".

I had a window seat on the right side of the A320 for that flight and was taking video of some of the desert scenery at the request of my significant other. I started recording as we passed McCarren Intl, and then 8 minutes later, I saw a dry lake come out from under the wing and did a bit of a double take.

I don't know what it says about me that I recognized Groom Lake from that angle without even looking for it, but I did. I zoomed in on it and I could see hangars and runways, but not much else. It wasn't a bad day, but it wasn't exceptionally clear either. There was quite a bit of haze, as might be expected. I started taking pictures while I was recording, which kinda screws with the video, but I wanted some 10-megapixel photos to supplement the 480p video. I stayed on it for about 6 1/2 minutes, during which we flew about 72 miles NW. We came as close as 57 miles to Area 51. I took 40 pictures of the base and of Groom Lake during that time, at which point it began to slide out of the window's view.

The point of this thread is to ask if anyone else has commercial flight flyby pictures of the base if they'd share them here, and to throw out the suggestion that anyone who flies along flight paths that take you near the restricted zone try to get a seat that might get you a good view of the base. On a clearer day through a cleaner window with a better camera at a higher zoom, you could probably get some half-decent photos of the base from a variety of directions. I was shooting at 20x optical zoom and got photos from various points in a 65-degree arc (of sorts) around the base. I tried to find other videos of area 51 from commercial flights, but all I could find were FSX and GE videos. I'm sure I'm not the first person to do this. Anyone?

Well, I suppose I should stop rambling for now and share my pics and video so here:
Video (trimmed to the relevant part of the video and level-adjusted in VirtualDub to remove heavy atmospheric haze):

Photos (level-adjusted in GIMP to remove heavy atmospheric haze):
Out of space in this post...Well, just browse the Scrapbook if you want to see the rest: HERE

[edit on 16-6-2010 by shmuu]

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:46 AM
That's pretty cool, I would like to fly over at night. Wonder if you would get buzzed by some top secret aircraft

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 09:03 AM
Damn.... one of those times you wish you had an SLR with a bigass telephoto lens....

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 10:10 AM
Very cool man!
That woulda been great!

in regards to the type of person you are for noticing what it was...
.. yeah that does say something about you..
but a good something.. lol

good stuff!

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 11:02 PM
reply to post by Wide-Eyes

I thought about that. From what I've heard, they only turn on the runway lights when they're about to takeoff or land an aircraft, so I imagine plenty of passengers over the years have been flying that flight path and seen the lights suddenly turn on or off at Groom Lake, though most of them probably had no idea what it was. I think it would be cool to get video from the air (like this) of an experimental aircraft taking off from there at night. I mean, you wouldn't see anything except a light or maybe two, so you wouldn't be able to tell anything about the aircraft except possibly its speed and handling. It would just make a really cool video, seeing the lights come on and the mystery light taking off.

reply to post by FosterVS

Don't tempt me
. I've been wanting to upgrade from this camera for a while now, but I've had it for less than 2 years, and I really don't know anything about how to know how "good" a camera's pictures are going to be (or what that even means

reply to post by Ahmose

Haha, well I had been thinking about it before the flight, and even though I'd decided the flight path was way too far from Area 51 to see it, it had recently been on my mind so that probably helped. I'm still surprised you can see that far. I'm not sure what the highest cruising altitude for a commercial aircraft is, but I'd love to see what the view is like from a higher altitude. During my fly-by at 32,000 ft, 57-68 miles away, I (and by I, I mean Google Earth
) calculate that the base was between 5 and 6 degrees down from the aircraft. I would have loved to have an 8 or 9 degree down angle at it. There should be noticeably less haze, the mountains should obscure much less of the base when coming alongside it, there should be less distortion from heat, you should have less cases of structures occluding other structures, etc. Higher should be better for a lot of reasons. Closer and clearer wouldn't hurt either.

I tried to recreate one of the photos in Google Earth and had pretty good results. Here's a 2-frame GIF animation that flips back and forth between Google Earth and one of my photos. To view it out of the forum frame, so you can see it all at once, click here.

I now have an increased respect for Google Earth, haha.
The biggest difference I notice is the buildings flipping between flat and 3-dimensional (for obvious reasons), though I do see some other changes between Google Earth's imagery from November 2006 and my photo from Monday.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 11:07 PM
Just don't get too close to the restricted zone or it's bye bye birdie!!

We should have a 10 Million or 50 Million man march to the installation!

That would get the people some answers!!!!

posted on Jun, 17 2010 @ 03:07 AM
I was looking through some more of the video I recorded, and the pictures I took during it, and I confirmed my earlier suspicions that I had spotted Tonopah Test Range. I thought it was TTR, but then someone who used to spend a lot of time there told me it couldn't be, because it would be too far from our flight path. Well, I looked at them again and I can't think of anywhere else with hangars like that so I checked and it *is* Tonopah. The plane came much closer to TTR than to Area 51. We came within 36.9 miles of it. Here's a little video:

And here's a little animation of the three high(er)-resolution photos I took during the video. It's pretty wide, so I'll just put the link here instead of embedding it: Flyby Animation

Here's part of one of the TTR photos at a decent resolution with a little bit of quality restoring measures taken to it (not much, just a little):
Tonopah Test Range Flyby Photo 2

I'm not going to bother with the other two. If anyone wants to see them, let me know. I figure Tonopah's not nearly as interesting to most people as Area 51, and there are certainly much better pictures of Tonopah available. These don't really offer anything other than recentness.

[edit on 17-6-2010 by shmuu]

posted on Jun, 17 2010 @ 07:15 AM
I flew close to Groom Lake before. Not much activity in the day though. It wasn't too exciting, but I recognized it right away. Didn't get and pictures or videos though.

posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 03:16 AM
Just an FYI, if you book your flight with orbitz, you can pick your seat so being on the right side of the plane doesn't have to be left up to chance. Also, if you check with seatguru, you can insure you aren't over a wing. Obviously to use seat guru, you need to know what kind of plane you will be flying in, but orbitz provides this data.

Here is the link for seat guru:
Seat Guru

I rather not provide a link for orbitz since it is a commercial service. Also, it may be possible that other internet booking services provide a choice of seats.

posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 03:27 AM
great post great pictures! thanks alot for taking the time to share.


posted on Jun, 25 2010 @ 09:33 PM
I accidentally left out part of the Area 51 video footage from the flyby on June 14, 2010. Here's the missing footage (plus everything between that and spotting Tonopah Test Range). It starts about 50 seconds after the end of the first Area 51 Flyby video, right before I zoom back in on Groom Lake and the base. I didn't want to leave it out, particularly since it shows a side of the base that people have been telling me they've never seen before, though admittedly, you're not going to see too much from this distance.

Don't forget to switch it to 480p for maximum quality

When you see the other passenger jet, that's the end of the Area 51 coverage. Tonopah Test Range is in the last minute of the video (this time with no Deshaker). Between is a bunch of dry lakes and whatnot.

[edit on 25-6-2010 by shmuu]

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