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uring the Plowshare Program, I was project scientistfor the 1969 Sturtevant Event (never executed),which was scheduled to be shot in the southwest partof Area 51, an area very close to the Nevada TestSite. One day a group of us drove out to Area 51 toscout the site, traveling in two vehicles. While wewere on a road in Area 51, my truck broke down,and the other driver, ahead of us, didn’t notice and kept going. Wewaited for a little while (I remember munching on an ice cream barthat I had picked up at Area 12camp). Then we heard jet planesapproaching. We realized that the pilots used Area 51 for strafingpractice and that some of their standard targets were abandonedvehicles. We also remembered that not too long before, a jetfighterhad strafed another test site on Pahute Mesa while some securityguards were stationed there. Fortunately, the other vehicle turned around and picked us upbefore the planes arrived. But it was a tense 5 minutes.
Originally posted by Shadowhawk
Joe Hearst, in the quoted article, may well have been buzzed by military jets at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), but he clearly misremembers some details from the 1969 incident.
First of all, the STURTEVANT event was to be performed on the northern part of Yucca Flat, not in Area 51. There were no nuclear tests in Area 51. The STURTEVANT drill hole was probably in the southwest corner of Area 15, not far from Area 12 Camp.
Secondly, Area 51 was never used for gunnery practice. It (and the rest of the NTS) was off limits to the training exercises that took place on the Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Range. There would have been no real danger of being strafed while on Yucca Flat, but I'm sure the low-flying jets were quite intimidating. Based on the timing of the incident, it may have involved the MiG-17s or any of the numerous USAF and Navy planes that flew against them during the tactical evaluations of Project HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY.
A few semi-off-topic trivia notes about Area 12:
During the 1960s, the Area 51 "8-Ballers" used to play softball against the Area 12 "Mets."
In 1990, I had my first view of Area 51 from Rainier Mesa in Area 12.