posted on Jan, 30 2012 @ 09:17 PM
Images of Aviation - Area 51 is book that lives up to it's name. It is over 100 pages of photographs from Area 51. However, each chapter has a page
or two of explanation regarding the era that will be covered. Also each photograph has a detailed explanation of what is occurring. For photographs of
personnel, I'd be lost without the caption since only a few of the people such as Kelly Johnson are well known. Detail sometimes goes as far as the
make, model and year of the vehicles.
One of the most interesting bits of prose is on page 51. The CIA inspect general notes that Groom Lake is "extremely vulnerable" "against
unauthorized observation." This was back in 1961. Decades passed before the next land grab.
Many of the photographs show the base's "need to know" mantra. Page 111 shows camo netting over a hangar door so that a passerby couldn't see the
YF-117A. On page 67, there is a fence set up to block the view of the first A-12.
Page 60 has an interesting tidbit. The dishes for the RCS at Groom Lake were relocated from Indian Springs. Indian Springs, being next to route 95, is
totally unsuitable for any classified program.
Page 81 has a photograph of the Oxcart (A-12) pilots. Walt Ray, the pilot that died in the crash of article 928, is in it. The conclusion of the crash
report was that the ejector seat wasn't exactly optimal for his build. You can see he is the shortest of the pilots, though not significantly.
Pages 95 through 98 show construction of the Papoose Mountain and Bald Mountain facilities. Papoose can be reached by road, but perhaps not that the
time it was built. Bald Mountain on the other hand is only accessible via helicopter. Both sites were built using various choppers. Bald Mountain
required 30k lbs of "cement" (probably concrete) hauled by chopper a 1k lbs at a time.
Of all the photographs in the book, the few unofficial (as in non-government) images were of Janet transports and the Ghost Squadron chopper. In over
five decades, no outsider has published a photograph of a test article. The base even taunted the "watchers" when they leaked the "Bird of Prey"
patch, as if they were saying "We are flying something, bet you can't catch it.] Nothing was ever photographed that the base really cared about.
Thus Area 51 is the ideal classified flight test center.
Perhaps the author can published an index to the book online. That would be really handy to discuss the book.