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The first attempt was made on 28 September , and ended in complete failure. As the B was flying toward the launch point, the DB fell off the pylon.

The BH gave a sharp lurch as the drone fell free. The booster fired and was "quite a sight from the ground". The failure was traced to a stripped nut on the forward right attachment point on the pylon.

Several more tests were made, none of which met with success. However, the fact is that the resumptions of D tests took place against a changing reconnaissance background.

The A had finally been allowed to deploy, and the SR was soon to replace it. At the same time, new developments in reconnaissance satellite technology were nearing operation.

Up to this point, the limited number of satellites available restricted coverage to the Soviet Union. A new generation of reconnaissance satellites could soon cover targets anywhere in the world.

The satellites' resolution would be comparable to that of aircraft, but without the slightest political risk.

Time was running out for the Tagboard. Several more test flights, including two over China , were made from Beale AFB , California, in and , to varying degrees of success.

The remaining drones were transferred by a C-5A and placed in dead storage. The tooling used to build the DBs was ordered destroyed.

A second group arrived in Davis-Monthan is an open base, with public tours of the storage area at the time, so the odd-looking drones were soon spotted and photos began appearing in magazines.

Speculation about the DBs circulated within aviation circles for years, and it was not until that details of the Tagboard program were released.

That same year, the surviving DBs were released to museums. During the Cold War , one of the missions carried out by the United States was the test and evaluation of captured Soviet fighter aircraft.

Beginning in the late s, and for several decades, Area 51 played host to an assortment of Soviet-built aircraft.

ATIC personnel were sent anywhere where foreign aircraft could be found. The focus of Air Force Systems Command limited the use of the fighter as a tool with which to train the front line tactical fighter pilots.

Tactical Air Command selected its pilots primarily from the ranks of the Weapons School graduates. His aircraft was transferred to Groom Lake within a month to study.

A joint Air Force-Navy team was assembled for a series of dogfight tests. Comparisons between the F-4 and the MiG indicated that, on the surface, they were evenly matched.

But air combat was not just about technology. In the final analysis, it was the skill of the man in the cockpit.

There were no clear advantages. The problem was not with the planes, but with the pilots flying them. The pilots would not fly either plane to its limits.

One of the Navy pilots was Marland W. He was an engineer and a Korean War veteran and had flown almost every navy aircraft.

When he flew against the MiG, he would outmaneuver it every time. The Air Force pilots would not go vertical in the MiG He had been watching as Townsend "waxed" the air force MiG pilots.

Cassidy climbed into the MiG and went up against Townsend's F This time the result was far different. Cassidy was willing to fight in the vertical, flying the plane to the point where it was buffeting, just above the stall.

Cassidy was able to get on the F-4's tail. After the flight, they realized the MiG turned better than the F-4 at lower speeds.

The key was for the F-4 to keep its speed up. What had happened in the sky above Groom Lake was remarkable. An F-4 had defeated the MiG; the weakness of the Soviet plane had been found.

Further test flights confirmed what was learned. It was also clear that the MiG was a formidable enemy. United States pilots would have to fly much better than they had been to beat it.

This would require a special school to teach advanced air combat techniques. They lost their way and, believing they were over Lebanon, landed at the Betzet Landing Field in northern Israel.

One version has it that they were led astray by an Arabic-speaking Israeli. As in the earlier program, a small group of Air Force and Navy pilots conducted mock dogfights with the MiGs.

Very soon, the MiG's shortcomings became clear. It had an extremely simple, even crude, control system which lacked the power-boosted controls of American aircraft.

The F-4's twin engines were so powerful it could accelerate out of range of the MiG's guns in thirty seconds. It was important for the F-4 to keep its distance from the MiG As long as the F-4 was one and a half miles from the MiG, it was outside the reach of the Soviet fighter's guns, but the MiG was within reach of the F-4's missiles.

To prevent any sightings, the airspace above the Groom Lake range was closed. On aeronautical maps, the exercise area was marked in red ink.

The forbidden zone became known as "Red Square". During the remainder of the Vietnam War, the Navy kill ratio climbed to 8.

In contrast, the Air Force rate improved only slightly to 2. The reason for this difference was Top Gun. The Navy had revitalized its air combat training, while the Air Force had stayed stagnant.

At Tonopah testing of foreign technology aircraft continued and expanded throughout the s and s. This involved testing Soviet tracking and missile control radar systems.

A complex of actual and replica Soviet-type threat systems began to grow around "Slater Lake", a mile northwest of the main base, along with an acquired Soviet "Barlock" search radar placed at Tonopah Air Force Station.

They were arranged to simulate a Soviet-style air defense complex. The Lockheed Have Blue prototype stealth fighter a smaller proof-of-concept model of the F Nighthawk first flew at Groom in December Lockheed test pilots put the YF through its early paces.

Although ideal for testing, Area 51 was not a suitable location for an operational group, so a new covert base had to be established for F operations.

Taxiways, a concrete apron, a large maintenance hangar, and a propane storage tank were added. After finding a large scorpion in their offices, the testing team Designated "R Unit" adopted it as their mascot and dubbed themselves the "Baja Scorpions".

Testing of a series of ultra-secret prototypes continued at Area 51 until mid, when testing transitioned to the initial production of F stealth fighters.

The Fs were moved to and from Area 51 by C-5 during darkness to maintain security. The aircraft were defueled, disassembled, cradled, and then loaded aboard the C-5 at night, flown to Lockheed, and unloaded at night before reassembly and flight testing.

Groom performed radar profiling, F weapons testing, and training of the first group of frontline USAF F pilots. While the "Baja Scorpions" were working on the F, there was also another group at work in secrecy, known as "the Whalers" working on Tacit Blue.

A fly-by-wire technology demonstration aircraft with curved surfaces and composite material, to evade radar, it was a prototype, and never went into production.

Nevertheless, this strange-looking aircraft was responsible for many of the stealth technology advances that were used on several other aircraft designs, and had a direct influence on the B-2; with first flight of Tacit Blue being performed on 5 February , by Northrop Grumman test pilot, Richard G.

As the Baja Scorpions tested the aircraft with functional check flights and L. On 17 May , the move of the th TG from Groom Lake to Tonopah was initiated, with the final components of the move completed in early The R-Unit was inactivated on 30 May In the last FA was delivered from Lockheed.

After completion of acceptance flights at Area 51 of this last new FA aircraft, the flight test squadron continued flight test duties of refurbished aircraft after modifications by Lockheed.

Some testing, especially RCS verification and other classified activity was still conducted at Area 51 throughout the operational lifetime of the F The recently inactivated th Flight Test Squadron traces its roots, if not its formal lineage to the th TG R-unit.

Since the F became operational in , operations at Groom Lake have continued. The base and its associated runway system were expanded, including expansion of housing and support facilities.

According to the judge, the land that overlooked the base was taken to address security and safety concerns connected with their training and testing.

The amount of information the United States government has been willing to provide regarding Area 51 has generally been minimal.

The area surrounding the lake is permanently off-limits to both civilian and normal military air traffic. Security clearances are checked regularly; cameras and weaponry are not allowed.

Although most mentions of OXCART's home base are redacted in this document, as is a map showing the aircraft's route from there to Okinawa, the redactor appears to have missed one mention: Their suit, in which they were represented by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley , alleged they had been present when large quantities of unknown chemicals had been burned in open pits and trenches at Groom.

Biopsies taken from the complainants were analyzed by Rutgers University biochemists , who found high levels of dioxin , dibenzofuran , and trichloroethylene in their body fat.

The complainants alleged they had sustained skin, liver, and respiratory injuries due to their work at Groom, and that this had contributed to the deaths of Frost and Kasza.

The suit sought compensation for the injuries they had sustained, claiming the USAF had illegally handled toxic materials, and that the EPA had failed in its duty to enforce the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which governs handling of dangerous materials.

They also sought detailed information about the chemicals to which they were allegedly exposed, hoping this would facilitate the medical treatment of survivors.

Hamilton , former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl , "The Air Force is classifying all information about Area 51 in order to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

Citing the State Secrets Privilege , the government petitioned trial judge U. District Judge Philip Pro of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas to disallow disclosure of classified documents or examination of secret witnesses, alleging this would expose classified information and threaten national security.

Consequently, Pro dismissed the suit due to lack of evidence. Turley appealed to the U. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit , on the grounds that the government was abusing its power to classify material.

Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall filed a brief that stated that disclosures of the materials present in the air and water near Groom "can reveal military operational capabilities or the nature and scope of classified operations.

Supreme Court refused to hear it, putting an end to the complainants' case. The President continues to annually issue a determination continuing the Groom exception.

Government has ever given that Groom Lake is more than simply another part of the Nellis complex. An unclassified memo on the safe handling of F Nighthawk material was posted on an Air Force web site in This discussed the same materials for which the complainants had requested information information the government had claimed was classified.

The memo was removed shortly after journalists became aware of it. The perimeter of the base is marked out by orange posts and patrolled by guards in white pickup trucks and camouflage fatigues.

The guards will not answer questions about their employers, however according to the New York Daily News , there are indications they are employed through a contractor such as AECOM.

Technology is also heavily used to maintain the border of the base; this includes CCTV cameras and motion detectors. Some of these motion detectors are placed some distance away from the base on public land to notify guards of people approaching.

In January , space historian Dwayne A. Day published an article in online aerospace magazine The Space Review titled "Astronauts and Area The memo reported that astronauts on board Skylab 4 had, as part of a larger program, inadvertently photographed a location of which the memo said:.

There were specific instructions not to do this. Although the name of the location was obscured, the context led Day to believe that the subject was Groom Lake.

The memo details debate between federal agencies regarding whether the images should be classified, with Department of Defense agencies arguing that it should, and NASA and the State Department arguing against classification.

The memo itself questions the legality of unclassified images to be retroactively classified. But he inclined leave decision to me DCI —I confessed some question over need to protect since:.

The declassified documents do not disclose the outcome of discussions regarding the Skylab imagery. The behind-the-scenes debate proved moot as the photograph appeared in the Federal Government's Archive of Satellite Imagery along with the remaining Skylab 4 photographs, with no record of anyone noticing until Day identified it in Other satellite imagery is also available, including images that show what appears to be F Fighting Falcon aircraft stationed on the base.

Its secretive nature and undoubted connection to classified aircraft research, together with reports of unusual phenomena, have led Area 51 to become a focus of modern UFO and other conspiracy theories.

Some of the activities mentioned in such theories at Area 51 include: Many of the hypotheses concern underground facilities at Groom or at Papoose Lake also known as "S-4 location" , 8.

Publicly available satellite imagery, however, reveals clearly visible landing strips at Groom Dry Lake, but not at Papoose Lake.

In the mids, civilian aircraft flew under 20, feet while military aircraft flew under 40, feet. Once the U-2 began flying at above 60, feet, an unexpected side effect was an increasing number of UFO sighting reports.

Sightings occurred most often during early evenings hours, when airline pilots flying west saw the U-2's silver wings reflect the setting sun, giving the aircraft a "fiery" appearance.

Many sighting reports came to the Air Force's Project Blue Book , which investigated UFO sightings, through air-traffic controllers and letters to the government.

The project checked U-2 and later OXCART flight records to eliminate the majority of UFO reports it received during the late s and s, although it could not reveal to the letter writers the truth behind what they saw.

The aircraft's titanium body, moving as fast as a bullet, would reflect the sun's rays in a way that could make anyone think, UFO.

They believe that the rumors helped maintain secrecy over Area 51's actual operations. Several people have claimed knowledge of events supporting Area 51 conspiracy theories.

Lazar has stated he was contracted to work with alien spacecraft that the U. Similarly, the documentary Dreamland directed by Bruce Burgess included an interview with a year-old mechanical engineer who claimed to be a former employee at Area 51 during the s.

His claims included that he had worked on a "flying disc simulator" which had been based on a disc originating from a crashed extraterrestrial craft and was used to train US pilots.

He also claimed to have worked with an extraterrestrial being named "J-Rod" and described as a "telepathic translator". In , Dan Burisch pseudonym of Dan Crain claimed to have worked on cloning alien viruses at Area 51, also alongside the alien named "J-Rod".

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One version has it that they were led astray by an Arabic-speaking Israeli. As in the earlier program, a small group of Air Force and Navy pilots conducted mock dogfights with the MiGs.

Very soon, the MiG's shortcomings became clear. It had an extremely simple, even crude, control system which lacked the power-boosted controls of American aircraft.

The F-4's twin engines were so powerful it could accelerate out of range of the MiG's guns in thirty seconds.

It was important for the F-4 to keep its distance from the MiG As long as the F-4 was one and a half miles from the MiG, it was outside the reach of the Soviet fighter's guns, but the MiG was within reach of the F-4's missiles.

To prevent any sightings, the airspace above the Groom Lake range was closed. On aeronautical maps, the exercise area was marked in red ink.

The forbidden zone became known as "Red Square". During the remainder of the Vietnam War, the Navy kill ratio climbed to 8.

In contrast, the Air Force rate improved only slightly to 2. The reason for this difference was Top Gun.

The Navy had revitalized its air combat training, while the Air Force had stayed stagnant. At Tonopah testing of foreign technology aircraft continued and expanded throughout the s and s.

This involved testing Soviet tracking and missile control radar systems. A complex of actual and replica Soviet-type threat systems began to grow around "Slater Lake", a mile northwest of the main base, along with an acquired Soviet "Barlock" search radar placed at Tonopah Air Force Station.

They were arranged to simulate a Soviet-style air defense complex. The Lockheed Have Blue prototype stealth fighter a smaller proof-of-concept model of the F Nighthawk first flew at Groom in December Lockheed test pilots put the YF through its early paces.

Although ideal for testing, Area 51 was not a suitable location for an operational group, so a new covert base had to be established for F operations.

Taxiways, a concrete apron, a large maintenance hangar, and a propane storage tank were added. After finding a large scorpion in their offices, the testing team Designated "R Unit" adopted it as their mascot and dubbed themselves the "Baja Scorpions".

Testing of a series of ultra-secret prototypes continued at Area 51 until mid, when testing transitioned to the initial production of F stealth fighters.

The Fs were moved to and from Area 51 by C-5 during darkness to maintain security. The aircraft were defueled, disassembled, cradled, and then loaded aboard the C-5 at night, flown to Lockheed, and unloaded at night before reassembly and flight testing.

Groom performed radar profiling, F weapons testing, and training of the first group of frontline USAF F pilots. While the "Baja Scorpions" were working on the F, there was also another group at work in secrecy, known as "the Whalers" working on Tacit Blue.

A fly-by-wire technology demonstration aircraft with curved surfaces and composite material, to evade radar, it was a prototype, and never went into production.

Nevertheless, this strange-looking aircraft was responsible for many of the stealth technology advances that were used on several other aircraft designs, and had a direct influence on the B-2; with first flight of Tacit Blue being performed on 5 February , by Northrop Grumman test pilot, Richard G.

As the Baja Scorpions tested the aircraft with functional check flights and L. On 17 May , the move of the th TG from Groom Lake to Tonopah was initiated, with the final components of the move completed in early The R-Unit was inactivated on 30 May In the last FA was delivered from Lockheed.

After completion of acceptance flights at Area 51 of this last new FA aircraft, the flight test squadron continued flight test duties of refurbished aircraft after modifications by Lockheed.

Some testing, especially RCS verification and other classified activity was still conducted at Area 51 throughout the operational lifetime of the F The recently inactivated th Flight Test Squadron traces its roots, if not its formal lineage to the th TG R-unit.

Since the F became operational in , operations at Groom Lake have continued. The base and its associated runway system were expanded, including expansion of housing and support facilities.

According to the judge, the land that overlooked the base was taken to address security and safety concerns connected with their training and testing.

The amount of information the United States government has been willing to provide regarding Area 51 has generally been minimal.

The area surrounding the lake is permanently off-limits to both civilian and normal military air traffic. Security clearances are checked regularly; cameras and weaponry are not allowed.

Although most mentions of OXCART's home base are redacted in this document, as is a map showing the aircraft's route from there to Okinawa, the redactor appears to have missed one mention: Their suit, in which they were represented by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley , alleged they had been present when large quantities of unknown chemicals had been burned in open pits and trenches at Groom.

Biopsies taken from the complainants were analyzed by Rutgers University biochemists , who found high levels of dioxin , dibenzofuran , and trichloroethylene in their body fat.

The complainants alleged they had sustained skin, liver, and respiratory injuries due to their work at Groom, and that this had contributed to the deaths of Frost and Kasza.

The suit sought compensation for the injuries they had sustained, claiming the USAF had illegally handled toxic materials, and that the EPA had failed in its duty to enforce the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which governs handling of dangerous materials.

They also sought detailed information about the chemicals to which they were allegedly exposed, hoping this would facilitate the medical treatment of survivors.

Hamilton , former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl , "The Air Force is classifying all information about Area 51 in order to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

Citing the State Secrets Privilege , the government petitioned trial judge U. District Judge Philip Pro of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas to disallow disclosure of classified documents or examination of secret witnesses, alleging this would expose classified information and threaten national security.

Consequently, Pro dismissed the suit due to lack of evidence. Turley appealed to the U. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit , on the grounds that the government was abusing its power to classify material.

Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall filed a brief that stated that disclosures of the materials present in the air and water near Groom "can reveal military operational capabilities or the nature and scope of classified operations.

Supreme Court refused to hear it, putting an end to the complainants' case. The President continues to annually issue a determination continuing the Groom exception.

Government has ever given that Groom Lake is more than simply another part of the Nellis complex. An unclassified memo on the safe handling of F Nighthawk material was posted on an Air Force web site in This discussed the same materials for which the complainants had requested information information the government had claimed was classified.

The memo was removed shortly after journalists became aware of it. The perimeter of the base is marked out by orange posts and patrolled by guards in white pickup trucks and camouflage fatigues.

The guards will not answer questions about their employers, however according to the New York Daily News , there are indications they are employed through a contractor such as AECOM.

Technology is also heavily used to maintain the border of the base; this includes CCTV cameras and motion detectors. Some of these motion detectors are placed some distance away from the base on public land to notify guards of people approaching.

In January , space historian Dwayne A. Day published an article in online aerospace magazine The Space Review titled "Astronauts and Area The memo reported that astronauts on board Skylab 4 had, as part of a larger program, inadvertently photographed a location of which the memo said:.

There were specific instructions not to do this. Although the name of the location was obscured, the context led Day to believe that the subject was Groom Lake.

The memo details debate between federal agencies regarding whether the images should be classified, with Department of Defense agencies arguing that it should, and NASA and the State Department arguing against classification.

The memo itself questions the legality of unclassified images to be retroactively classified. But he inclined leave decision to me DCI —I confessed some question over need to protect since:.

The declassified documents do not disclose the outcome of discussions regarding the Skylab imagery.

The behind-the-scenes debate proved moot as the photograph appeared in the Federal Government's Archive of Satellite Imagery along with the remaining Skylab 4 photographs, with no record of anyone noticing until Day identified it in Other satellite imagery is also available, including images that show what appears to be F Fighting Falcon aircraft stationed on the base.

Its secretive nature and undoubted connection to classified aircraft research, together with reports of unusual phenomena, have led Area 51 to become a focus of modern UFO and other conspiracy theories.

Some of the activities mentioned in such theories at Area 51 include: Many of the hypotheses concern underground facilities at Groom or at Papoose Lake also known as "S-4 location" , 8.

Publicly available satellite imagery, however, reveals clearly visible landing strips at Groom Dry Lake, but not at Papoose Lake. In the mids, civilian aircraft flew under 20, feet while military aircraft flew under 40, feet.

Once the U-2 began flying at above 60, feet, an unexpected side effect was an increasing number of UFO sighting reports.

Sightings occurred most often during early evenings hours, when airline pilots flying west saw the U-2's silver wings reflect the setting sun, giving the aircraft a "fiery" appearance.

Many sighting reports came to the Air Force's Project Blue Book , which investigated UFO sightings, through air-traffic controllers and letters to the government.

The project checked U-2 and later OXCART flight records to eliminate the majority of UFO reports it received during the late s and s, although it could not reveal to the letter writers the truth behind what they saw.

The aircraft's titanium body, moving as fast as a bullet, would reflect the sun's rays in a way that could make anyone think, UFO.

They believe that the rumors helped maintain secrecy over Area 51's actual operations. Several people have claimed knowledge of events supporting Area 51 conspiracy theories.

Lazar has stated he was contracted to work with alien spacecraft that the U. Similarly, the documentary Dreamland directed by Bruce Burgess included an interview with a year-old mechanical engineer who claimed to be a former employee at Area 51 during the s.

His claims included that he had worked on a "flying disc simulator" which had been based on a disc originating from a crashed extraterrestrial craft and was used to train US pilots.

He also claimed to have worked with an extraterrestrial being named "J-Rod" and described as a "telepathic translator". In , Dan Burisch pseudonym of Dan Crain claimed to have worked on cloning alien viruses at Area 51, also alongside the alien named "J-Rod".

Novels, films, television programs, and other fictional portrayals of Area 51 describe it—or a fictional counterpart—as a haven for extraterrestrials , time travel , and sinister conspiracies , often linking it with the Roswell UFO incident.