reply to post by nostromo85
Close, but no cigar. Area 51 is Detachment 3 of the Air Force Flight Test Center (perhaps AFFTC might get a name change). They test black projects
there. Experimental aircraft can be tested in the open if you don't care about keeping knowledge of the plane a secret. In fact, much of what goes on
at the Mojave Spaceport is related to civilian experimental aircraft.
There is nothing at S-4 but dirt and scrub brush.
Thus the operation at Groom Lake is just an airbase for planes to be tested in secret. They fly on moonless nights. I have watched the base from
Tikaboo. Nothing secret flies during the day from my observation. What you see are Janet aircraft and to the best of my knowledge proficiency training
on production aircraft. That is, even if you fly a test aircraft, the pilots want to stay qualified on some production aircraft (F-16 for instance).
You can hear "high key" and "low key" remarks when the standard aircraft are flown at Groom, which to me sounds like proficiency training.
Google Earth shows the production aircraft at Groom Lake. F-16 for instance. They have or had at least one F-117A, which I photographed from TIkaboo.
Groom Lake also tests foreign aircraft. I photographed a SU-27 from Groom. Now why exactly they need to hide this from the public is beyond me. I
presume the test facilities at Groom are unique enough that it makes sense to fly some easily purchased "commie" plane at Groom rather than
duplicate whatever gear they have at Groom that is special at some other base. When it was a secret that the US had MIGs, they were tested at
I have seen the B-2 fly around the range, but I can't say it came from Groom. The thing to keep in mind with Groom Lake is that it is located in the
Nellis range where there are plenty of airplanes flying around due to Nellis Weapons school and military exercises. So maybe that F-22 you see is
getting some exercise, or maybe it has some sexy experimental avionics on it. You generally can't tell by looking if the plane is specially
I noticed at the last Red Flag the B-1 was equipped with the sniper pod. But where did I see this first? Well at the Edwards airshow. The B-1 on
display and the sniper pod hacked onto it and metallic tape to hold the wires in place. Thus sometimes they just don't care about secrecy. For one
thing, doing a project in secrecy makes it more expensive.
They also test experimental gear over the Nellis range, not just the restricted Groom lake airspace. The WB-57 flew with callsign Sunshine 1 over the
Nellis range a few years ago, entering the airspace using Bird Dog (DOE) rather than Blackjack (Nellis) or Groom approach. . It was full of sensors.
They flew the same plane over Afghanistan allegedly to do a mineral survey, which they did publish. But the mineral locations in Afghanistan were well
documented by the Soviets, so it was presumed the WB-57 was looking for something else.
N8300G flew today to the range. Unfortunately there is nobody with an "ear" to the ground (on scene with a scanner) to see how it enters the range.
It files to go to NV65 (the DOE Desert Rock Airstrip), but unless you hear the air traffic, i.e. hear the plane talk to Bird Dog (DOE controller), you
don't know if it landed there. Often test aircraft file false flight reports to the range, which is perfectly kosher since Nellis handles the ATC.