ome of the
greatest and most secretive airplanes in history have been
developed in the Nevada desert, most of them at the now-infamous
base known as Area 51. It turns out Area 51 has a sister
facility -- Area 52 -- and it's a place with secrets of its own.
Area 52 isn't
quite as secretive as Area 51. For one thing, you can at least
find it on some maps. But it's off limits to most of us because
of the classified work that goes on out there. The base has been
bombed, blasted, poisoned, and nuked in the pursuit of cutting
edge technology that probably can't be tested anywhere else.
At Cisco's in
Tonopah, you can get a grilled cheese or crispy fries, but you
won't get much information, not about the classified military
base that sits in the desert east of this hardscrabble mining
Ramirez: "They sure got a lot of stuff out there."
Knapp: "What is it?"
Ramirez: "You know more than I do."
It's a Tonopah
tradition to keep a tight lip about a place they call "The
Base." Back in the mid-80s, when the rest of the world was still
in the dark about stealth technology, Tonopah residents saw
bat-like 117's flying overhead almost nightly, but didn't tell
anyone. Ramirez' son and daughter-in-law work at the base.
Ramirez: "I don't ask the kids. I don't want to put
them in that position."
The base, all
525-square miles of it, is best known as the Tonopah Test Range,
or TTR. In government documents, however, it's called Area 52,
sort of a nod to a better known and far more secretive sister
facility on the other side of the Nellis Range, Area 51. The
connection between the two is more than sequential.
webmaster, said, "Yes, TTR is really referred to in official
documents as Area 52. On several occasions, black projects moved
from Area 51 to TTR, Area 51 being, of course, a super-secret
facility, TTR being slightly less secret. It's still a secret
facility but not a supersecret facility."
Joerg Arnu is at
the center of a loose, worldwide network of aviation watchers
who share information online about the so-called black world,
including Areas 51 and 52. Employees at both bases travel to
work onboard unmarked planes that depart a private terminal in
Arnu and other
listen to the air traffic chatter for clues about what's going
on. The most obvious indication that 52 is less secretive than
51 is a rocket-shaped sign 20 miles east of Tonopah. Unlike 51, TTR
is listed on most maps, although the paved road leading to the
base isn't. At the main gate, armed security forces stop any
unauthorized visitors, and with good reason.
researcher John Lear said, "There's always something going on
there, some secret project going on there."
Before he became
interested in UFOs at Area 51, famed pilot John Lear was staking
out the boundaries of Area 52 in search of secret planes, planes
that some think were never built.
when the F-117 came out, that was a cover airplane for another
airplane, the F-19. The F-19 was made for the Navy. They made 62
of them. You go anywhere on the net and they say that's total
bull, there was no F-19. But there was," Lear said
deserts of Nevada hold many secrets, including military
secrets. Our state is home to some of the most highly
classified military installations in the world.
Area 52 is
managed by the private Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of
Lockheed Martin. The base serves both the Department of Energy
and Department of Defense. Because the area is so isolated, it's
the perfect spot to cut loose. It's there that new missiles are
tested, bombs are dropped, cannons are fired, bunker busters are
tried, and all sorts of things that go boom.
As Joerg Arnu
says, "Where they can blow stuff up and nobody cares."
It took decades
for images from 52 to be declassified. It will be decades more
before we see what's underway now. One effort believed underway
at TTR is the weaponization of UAVs. This is where the military
figured out how to strap missiles onto predators, for example,
and it's believed the work on drones is a major effort at TTR.
If you think
secrets can't be kept, you've never met Colonel Gail Peck, who
headed a classified program dubbed "Constant Peg." From 1978
through 1988, Peck commanded a team of pilots who flew Russian
MiGs in simulated combat against American warplanes. It's long
been known that Area 51 had MiGs for radar testing. Peck put
those planes into combat action from Area 52.
Col. (Ret.) Gail
Peck, U.S. Air Force,
said, "It was compartmentalized into what we call must-know.
Meaning, that if you were going to participate, you were brought
into the program, briefed, participated in the program, then
were debriefed; you had the door shut behind you."
They built the
long runway at TTR, not for the Stealth as everyone has long
believed, but for a fleet of MiGs. Through ten years and 15,000
sorties, the public never knew about it until 11 months ago,
some 19 years after the program ended.
Col. (Ret.) Peck
said, "The fact that security was maintained is a reflection of
the respect that all the pilots who participated had for the
value of it. It just was not a leaker."
As far as anyone
knows, TTR did not receive any of those strange disc-shaped
craft that people claim to have seen at Area 51 over the years,
but, there are more exotic secrets about programs at the base --
things supposedly deep in the ground.
The deserts of
Nevada hold many secrets, including military secrets. Our state
is home to some of the most highly classified military
installations in the world. We've all heard of Area 51, but
there's also an Area 52, and it has inspired plenty of wild
stories of its own over the years, including what's going on
UFO Conference 2007 in Las Vegas
Washington Post ran a cartoon in 1997 joking that Area 52 is
where the government hides its elves and gnomes, it didn't
realize there really is an Area 52, also known as the Tonopah
Test Range. It might not house any elves, but it's where the
military grapples with gremlins. For example, how to better
exploit pilotless drones, or how to use parachutes to deliver
nuclear bombs. The Sandia Corporation, which manages Area 52, is
working on a fusion reactor, which it pointedly announced is,
quote, "not from Area 51," a more secretive sister facility.
land, it's easy to see Area 52's large infrastructure with
accommodations for thousands. The long runway was built for a
fleet of pilfered Russian MiGs, which flew 15,000 missions
without the public ever knowing. The first stealth wing followed
the MiGs, also in total secrecy. In nearby Tonopah, residents
like Jose Gonzalez say they see dozens of contrails from the
base every day, most likely the transport planes carrying
employees from a private terminal in Las Vegas. To work on what,
told the I-Team, "When I first got here, they were
talking about a plane that would go into space and land, for
NASA. I don't know."
Area 52: The Secret Sister
- Part 1
secret space planes have been openly discussed in aviation
journals, and most look a lot like something from another
planet, the kind of craft long associated with that other base,
John Lear said,
"Most people think I'm absolutely nuts. And that's okay with
Famed pilot John
Lear, whose father developed the Learjet, helped to popularize
stories about saucers at Area 51, but has also spent years poking
around the perimeter of Area 52.
John Lear, whose father developed the Learjet, helped to
popularize stories about saucers at Area 51, but has also
spent years poking around the perimeter of Area 52. Lear
says there are other unknown facilities hidden on the test
ranges. Satellite imagery tends to back him up. They're all
over the place. He says the biggest secrets, though, are
The John Lear Disclosure
Briefing, Nov. 2003.
"There is so much stuff underground that it's essentially all
the secret stuff underground now."
alleges that a clean nuclear device was used to create a giant
chamber under Pauite Mesa in Area 52, and that a facility
capable of housing 25,000 people or troops is active out there.
He says he heard part of this from a cement truck driver who
worked out there.
"He said it
would take four hours to get to the bottom, dump the cement,
then wind his way back up. For some reason, he disappeared off
the face of the earth after he told us that story," Lear
alleges there's a high speed underground train that runs from
Area 52 to Las Vegas, a concept that Nevada Test Site tunnel
workers say is highly unlikely. And he says pilots told him
there are secret runways out there that open and close like
down and it will be forest or desert or natural landscape, and
all of a sudden it will unzip like this and they will see a
runway and then the landscape zips back up and it looks like
normal," he explained.
There is some
evidence for one of Lear's suspicions, one that harkens back to
the claims of former government scientist Bob Lazar, who said he
worked on flying saucers at a place called S-4, or Site 4.
Nellis confirmed to the I-Team that there is more than
one S-4 on the Test Range, and one of them is at TTR. Workers
have claimed the S-4 inside Area 52 requires special entry. It's
believed that highly advanced radar research is one project.
Military watchdogs say they don't believe there's a big
webmaster, said, "There are underground facilities in the Nevada
Test Site, but as far as I know there is no underground
facilities at Tonopah Test Range."
The man who
commanded the secret MiG project for ten years without any leaks
says he knows of no big secret projects now but admits that such
secrets can be kept at Area 52.
U.S.A.F. Colonel (Ret.) Gail Peck
said, "It's the only place in the world where we can operate
discreetly. Where we can do things without people watching."
requested a tour of Area 52 but was turned down. You can get a
look inside the base by checking out some declassified films
produced by Sandia Labs about what goes on out there.