Arkansas Mensa Bulletin Board
Home page of the main part of the Arkansas Mensa website. - Participation Policy
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 23, 2018, 12:50:29 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search: Advanced search
The Forums have been rearranged. Voice your opinion on it in the Changes forum.
1384 Posts in 576 Topics by 58 Members
Latest Member: mpanikkar
* Home Help Calendar Login Register
Want to keep track of forums or topics by being emailed about changes?
Click the "Notify" button on the top of the forum or topic, then choose how you want to be told.
+ Arkansas Mensa Bulletin Board
|-+ Group Activities
| |-+ Loc/Sec Forums
| | |-+ Bruce's Comments: See 'Cogito, Ergo Zoom!' (Moderator: eurekabruce)
| | | |-+ NOVEMBER DISCUSSION:
Pages: 1   Go Down
Print
Author Topic: NOVEMBER DISCUSSION:  (Read 12522 times)
eurekabruce
Administrator
*****
Posts: 183


Ehhh . . . What's up, Doc?


« on: November 14, 2006, 10:17:33 PM »

I thought I'd get off the Quantum Mechanics train this time.   I'm wondering how many of you are interested in reports of underground tunnels, bases, and extremely ancient human remains.  These reports exist all over the world, particularly in the U.S. and South America.  Of course, it's always good to maintain a healthy scepticism.  Having said that, I've personally observed huge (19") Hominid Primate footfprints in the Cretaceous Limestone in Texas.

This post is about the so-called tunnel beneath the Andes Mountains.  This area lies in Colombia.
I do know for a fact that a volcano erupted earlier this year very close to this site.  No one seems to know if the opening was covered over or not.
-----------------------------------------------------

The Quest For The Metal Library

by Philip Coppens © 2006
PO Box 13722
North Berwick EH39 4WB
United Kingdom


A system of tunnels and caves beneath Ecuador and Peru is reputed to hold an ancient treasure-house of artefacts including two libraries, one containing inscribed metal books and the other storing tablets of crystal.


It's not what you know, but who you know. In 1973, Erich von Däniken, at the height of his fame following the success of Chariots of the Gods?, claimed that he had entered into a gigantic subterranean tunnel system in Ecuador, which he was told spanned the length of the continent—surely evidence that our ancestors were highly advanced, if not extraterrestrial? The structure was believed to house a library in which books were made out of metal—this in an area where today there is nothing but "primitive" Indian tribes with no written language. Evidence of a lost civilisation? It was a major claim, and it did not go unchallenged.


The story centred around Janos "Juan" Moricz, an aristocratic Argentinian-Hungarian entrepreneur who claimed that he had discovered a series of tunnels in Ecuador that contained a "Metal Library". In a signed affidavit dated 8 July 1969, he spoke about his meeting with the Ecuadorian president, where he received a concession that allowed him total control over this discovery—provided he could produce photographic evidence and an independent witness that corroborated the discovery of the underground network. Newspapers reported on the expedition that Moricz had organised.
In 1972, Moricz met with von Däniken and took him to a secret side-entrance through which they could enter into a large hall within the labyrinth. Apparently von Däniken never got to see the library itself, just the tunnel system. Von Däniken included the event in his book The Gold of the Gods:
"The passages all form perfect right angles. Sometimes they are narrow, sometimes wide. The walls are smooth and often seem to be polished. The ceilings are flat and at times look as if they were covered with a kind of glaze… My doubts about the existence of the underground tunnels vanished as if by magic and I felt tremendously happy. Moricz said that passages like those through which we were going extended for hundreds of miles under the soil of Ecuador and Peru."

In Der Spiegel, 19 March 1973, we can read:
Der Spiegel: "How did you discover the [metal] library?"
Moricz: "Somebody took me there."
Der Spiegel: "Who was this guide?"
Moricz: "I can't tell you."
Moricz further stated that the library was guarded by a tribe.


Moricz's 1969 expedition had ventured into the Cueva de los Tayos, which Moricz identified as the cave that led into the Metal Library. But in 1969, no Metal Library had been uncovered. So Hall decided to organise an Ecuadorian–British expedition that would explore the Cueva de los Tayos; it would be a purely scientific expedition.

If there was indeed a Metal Library of a lost civilisation, the first step would be to map the site. That was the main and only goal of the expedition; there was no treasure-seeking. Hall used his professional expertise to create a three-week exploration of this famous cave: a joint venture of the British and Ecuadorian armies, supported by a team of geologists, botanists and other specialists.

How did Neil Armstrong get involved?
"The expedition needed an honorary figurehead," Stan Hall said. "The name of Prince Charles, who had recently received a degree in archaeology, was proposed, but I knew Neil Armstrong had Scottish connections. My mother was an Armstrong and via another Armstrong in Langholm, where Neil Armstrong had been made an honorary citizen, I made contact. Months later, I got a reply that Neil Armstrong was more than willing to join us on this mission. It's when the expedition suddenly became a life's challenge."
On 3 August 1976, when the expedition was winding down, Armstrong entered the tunnel system. Even though they were not looking for it, the team members did not stumble upon a Metal Library. Had they done so, the discovery would have altered mankind's perspective on our history and origins. For Amstrong, it could have been his second great contribution to mankind's exploration. However, the team did catalogue 400 new plant species as well as a burial chamber inside the cave, in which a seated body was found. The chamber was later dated to 1500 BC, and it was believed that at the time of the summer solstice the sun illuminated this tomb.
The story had gone from ancient astronauts to astronaut par excellence, but what would be the next step?

Everyone and everything had revolved around Juan Moricz, but in retrospect he was the wrong centre of the universe. From 1969 until 1991, the year he died, the Metal Library eluded him. So what next?

Moricz confirmed that an unnamed person had shown him the cave. But who was this person?


After Moricz died, Hall decided to track down this "third man", who had disappeared into the shadows. Hall had a name—Petronio Jaramillo—but nothing more.
"Moricz died in February 1991," said Hall. "I had a name and a telephone directory. But there were an awful lot of Jaramillos in Quito. Finally, I found him—or, rather, his mother. It was September 1991 when she gave me the phone number of her son. I phoned him. He told me that it had taken 16 years before our paths crossed. He was willing to meet me, and stated that he needed three days to fill me in."

Jaramillo confirmed that when Moricz arrived in Guayaquil in 1964, he teamed up with lawyer Dr Gerardo Peña Matheus. Moricz told Matheus of his theory about how Hungarian people have been at the root of practically every civilisation. Through acquaintances, Andres Fernandez-Salvador Zaldumbide and Alfredo Moebius, Moricz met Jaramillo in Moebius's house, and from there Moricz ran with Jaramillo's story. Hall was annoyed with himself, for various people had tried to direct him towards Jaramillo as early as 1975, but it took until 1991 before the two met.

Jaramillo and Hall realised that had it not been for Moricz, who focused attention on the Cueva de los Tayos (which was not the actual location of the library), the 1976 expedition could have resulted in the discovery of the century—and what a track record for Armstrong it would have been! But it's a two-edge sword because, had it not been for Moricz, the story would never have come about like this. And today, Hall's biggest desire—if he were able to turn back time—is to sit down at one table with both Moricz and Jaramillo. At the same time, he realises that Moricz had been intent from the beginning that the Metal Library would be his legacy. When Hall showed Moricz a manuscript about the 1976 expedition, Moricz point-blank refused to return it. It ended their friendship, but Hall never understood why until 1991, when he realised that the manuscript mentioned Jaramillo. It was a name Moricz did not want to see published—as he had confirmed in the 1973 German newspaper interview. Moricz was incredibly stubborn and, equally, incredibly loyal, but obviously was the wrong man and was sadly mistaken if he thought he could ever pull off the discovery of the century.



Jaramillo and Hall became friends, though both agreed Jaramillo would not prematurely reveal the location of the site. Still, he was willing to talk in detail about its contents and any other aspect Hall wanted to discuss.
From Jaramillo, Hall was able to learn the true story of the Tayos library—which was not in the Cueva de los Tayos at all! Jaramillo stated that he had entered the library in 1946, when he was 17 years old. He was shown it by an uncle, whose name has gone unrecorded but who was known as "Blanquito Pelado" (a loving description of the man's appearance). He was apparently on friendly terms with the local Shuar population, who invited him to see a secret in gratitude for the kindness and goodness he had shown towards the tribe.
Jaramillo entered the system at least once after that. On that occasion, he saw a library consisting of thousands of large, metal books stacked on shelves, each with an average weight of about 20 kilograms, each page impressed from one side with ideographs, geometric designs and written inscriptions. There was a second library, consisting of small, hard, smooth, translucent—what seemed to be crystal—tablets, grooved with parallel encrusted channels, stacked on sloping shelves of trestled units covered in gold leaf. There were zoomorphic and human statues (some on heavy column plinths), metal bars of different shapes, as well as sealed "doors"—possibly tombs—covered in mixtures of coloured, semi-precious stones. There was a large sarcophagus, sculpted from hard, translucent material, containing the gold-leafed skeleton of a large human being. In short, an incredible treasure, stored away as if hidden in preparation for some upcoming disaster. On one occasion, Jaramillo took down seven books from the shelves to study them, but their weight prevented him from replacing them. It also meant that they were too heavy to remove from the library and reveal to the world. Jaramillo never produced any physical evidence for his claims, which may explain why he wanted to live in the shadows of this story. Hall did ask him why he never took photographs. "He said that it would not prove anything." Other discoveries, such as the infamous Burrows Cave in the United States, prove that seeing actually isn't believing. Still, Jaramillo stated that he had left his initials in these seven books so that, if the library were ever discovered, it could be proved that it was he who had entered it.

Jaramillo and Hall wanted to combine forces to see whether the Metal Library could be opened; one knew the location, the other had a proven track record in organising proper expeditions. It would be the "expedition of occupation".
First, contact with various ambassadors and politicians was established; then the scientific community was brought in. The plan was for Jaramillo to lead the team to the site, where they would remain for a period of three to four months (during the dry season), cataloguing the contents of the site and guaranteeing that nothing went missing. Everything would remain in situ. A report with recommendations would be the only outcome of this expedition, which would involve UNESCO. But in 1995, Peruvian jets bombed an Ecuadorian military base and the project had its first setback.
In 1997, Hall used a major anthropology conference to promote the idea. Six anthropologists came to meet him, interested in what he was trying to accomplish. But that same year, Ecuador's political regime changed (in Hall's opinion, for the worse); Hall felt that his family could not live in the new political reality, so he moved back to Scotland with them. (Shortly afterwards, our paths would cross anonymously). This was nevertheless not a setback; planning for the expedition continued.
However, it was in 1998 that the expedition had a major setback. Hall received by telephone the sad news from the mother of Petronio Jaramillo that he had been assassinated. Was he murdered because of the plans that were afoot? Life in South America is cheap, as anyone who has visited or lived there knows. That day, Jaramillo was carrying a large amount of money on him. It was a street robbery, close to his home. Random violence stopped one of the world's biggest discoveries dead in its tracks.
It seems that fate only allowed for Jaramillo and Hall to meet, but never to work together—as if their combined efforts would break the spell of the cave and turn a dream into a reality.

Moricz and Jaramillo had both died. Hall was in his sixties. Would he go it alone and claim the Metal Library for himself? Hall isn't a treasure-seeker. He emphasises that the region is a—if not the—veritable El Dorado. There is gold everywhere; the roads are quite literally paved with it. Even if the library books are made out of gold—though Jaramillo never spoke of gold but of "metal" (in fact, it seems copper was an ingredient, as Jaramillo had seen a green colour on the books)—there is more gold outside the library than inside. The presence of Moricz in the region was because he held extensive gold concessions; his interest in the library was not for its monetary value but for its historic importance.
Still, various treasure-hunters in the past had tried to open the cave. Count Pino Turolla made contact with Jaramillo in the 1960s through the same channels that later brought Moricz to him. Turolla was obsessed with Cayce's Hall of Records, and the Metal Library would be absolute proof of Cayce's prophecies. But Turolla's attitude and sense of organisation meant that the two never got along. Turolla pressed Jaramillo for details that the latter was unwilling to offer. So Turolla opted to search around the Cueva de los Tayos and came up empty-handed.
The most active Indiana Jones today is Stan Grist, who also knew Juan Moricz as well as his confidante, Zoltan Czellar, also a good friend of Hall. In 2005, Grist wrote: "As I write these words, I am in negotiations with the native Shuars who live near the Cueva de los Tayos, whose permission is necessary to enter and explore the area of the caves. I plan to mount an expedition in the coming months to search for the secret entrance to the cave from which the alleged metallic library can be accessed. Many people have entered the cave by the well-known, vertical entrance near the top of the mountain. However, I calculate that it is nearly impossible or is impossible to reach the metallic library through this well-known entrance. The secret entrance is only accessed from underwater!"
I confronted Hall with Grist's opinion. "Jaramillo always said that the entrance was under the river," he said. But that river is not near the Tayos Cave. That river is the Pastaza River.

Though Hall never learned the location from Petronio Jaramillo himself, after Jaramillo's death in May 1998 Hall organised a trip with Mario Petronio, Jaramillo's son, in which both combined their knowledge about the site. The trip had to be abandoned before "point zero" could be reached.
In May 2000, Hall returned.
"When we were preparing the expedition in the 1990s, whenever diving equipment was discussed as a necessity Petronio would say that even though it [the entrance to the cave] was under the river, it did not mean we would get wet."
Hall showed me aerial maps, pointing out a bend in the river that meets a fault line, which is known to open up into a cave system that runs for several miles. His suggestion is that the fault line—evidence of an ancient earthquake—opened up the underground network, which someone at some stage in the distant past then discovered and used as a place to install the metallic library. Hall had visited this location and deduced that it fits Jaramillo's description perfectly.

So, what happened next? Hall was 64 years old when he last travelled to the region; now he is seventy. When he was 68, he decided that more than likely he would not see this story come to its conclusion. However, he does not consider it to be his story, and he does not want to make the same mistake that Moricz did.
So, on 17 January 2005, Hall informed the Ecuadorian government of the location of the cave that fits Jaramillo's description, and which he hopes will become the focus of an expedition.
For anyone who is interested, the location is at 77º 47' 34" west and 1º 56' 00" south. GoogleEarth brings you very close and can satisfy any initial curiosity. But knowing the location doesn't mean it will be easy finding it.
Hall thinks it will take decades or a paradigm shift before people can work together in a manner that will result in a successful "occupation". He argues that the 1976 expedition only succeeded because a military regime was in power; "a democratic bureaucracy will swamp the expedition before it crosses any swampy river".
What is required is a sense of cooperation and openness. Too many people have tried to use the library as evidence for their own theory, whether involving aliens, globe-conquering Hungarians or Edgar Cayce and his Hall of Records. Perhaps that is why the missions were doomed. Perhaps we should just let the library speak for itself. The answers to questions as to who built it, where they came from, what they accomplished, etc. may all be found inside the structure itself. After all, it is a library.

« Last Edit: November 15, 2006, 05:32:45 PM by eurekabruce » Logged
eurekabruce
Administrator
*****
Posts: 183


Ehhh . . . What's up, Doc?


« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2006, 07:46:48 PM »

THIS IS AN OLDER ARTICLE FROM ALMOST 100 YEARS AGO.  KIND OF INTERESTING, THOUGH.

Egyptian Artifacts in the Grand Canyon
The Phoenix Gazette - April 5, 1909

Remarkable Finds Indicate Ancient People Migrated From Orient:
According to the story related to the Gazette by Mr. Kincaid, the archaeologists of the Smithsonian Institute, which is financing the expeditions, have made discoveries which almost conclusively prove that the race which inhabited this mysterious cavern, hewn in solid rock by human hands, was of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt, tracing back to Ramses. If their theories are borne out by the translation of the tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, the mystery of the prehistoric peoples of North America, their ancient arts, who they were and whence they came will be solved.
Egypt and the Nile, and Arizona and the Colorado will be linked by a historical chain running back to ages, which staggers the wildest fancy of the fictionist. Under the direction of Professor S.A. Jordan, the Smithsonian Institute is now prosecuting the most thorough explorations, which will be continued until the last link in the chain is forged.
Nearly a mile underground, about 1480 feet below the surface, the long main passage has been delved into, to find another mammoth chamber from which radiates scores of passageways, like the spokes of a wheel. Several hundred rooms have been discovered, reached by passageways running from the main passage, one of them having been explored are 854 feet and another 634 feet. The recent finds include articles, which have never been known as native to this country and doubtless they had their origin in the orient.
War weapons, copper instruments, sharp - edged and hard as steel, indicate the high state of civilization reached by these strange people. So interested have the scientists become that preparations are being made to equip the camp for extensive studies, and the force will be increased to thirty or forty persons.
"Before going further into the cavern, better facilities for lighting will have to be installed, for the darkness is dense and quite impenetrable for the average flashlight. In order to avoid being lost, wires are being strung from the entrance to all passageways leading directly to large chambers. How far this cavern extends no one can guess, but it is now the belief of many that what has already been explored is merely the "barracks", to use an American term, for the soldiers, and that far into the underworld will be found the main communal dwellings of the families. The perfect ventilation of the cavern, the steady draught that blows through, indicates that it has another outlet to the surface."
"First, I would impress that the cavern is nearly inaccessible. The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall. It is located on government land and no visitor will be allowed there under penalty of trespass."
"The story of how I found the cavern has been related, but in a paragraph: I was journeying down the Colorado River in a boat, alone, looking for minerals. Some forty two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation about 2,000 feet above the river bed. There was no trail to this point, but I finally reached it with great difficulty. Above a shelf, which hid it from view from the river, was the mouth of the cave."
"There are steps leading from this entrance some thirty yards to what was, at the time the cavern was inhabited, the level of the river. When I saw the chisel marks on the wall inside the entrance, I became interested, securing my gun and went in."
"During that trip, I went back several hundred feet along the main passage till I came to the crypt in which I discovered the mummies. One of these I stood up and photographed by flashlight. I gathered a number of relics, which I carried down the Colorado to Yuma, from whence I shipped them to Washington with details of the discovery. Following this, the explorations were undertaken."
"The main passageway is about 12 feet wide, narrowing to nine feet toward the farther end. About 57 feet from the entrance, the first side-passages branch off to the right and left, along which, on both sides, are a number of rooms about the size of ordinary living rooms of today, though some are 30 by 40 feet square. These are entered by oval-shaped doors and are ventilated by round air spaces through the walls into the passages. The walls are about three feet six inches in thickness. The passages are chiseled or hewn as straight as could be laid out by an engineer. The ceilings of many of the rooms converge to a center."
"The side-passages near the entrance run at a sharp angle from the main hall, but toward the rear, they gradually reach a right angle in direction."
THE SHRINE
"Over a hundred feet from the entrance is the cross-hall, several hundred feet long in which is found the idol, or image, of the people's god, sitting cross-legged, with lotus flower or lily in each hand. The cast of the face is oriental, the carving shows a skillful hand, and the entire object is remarkably well preserved, as is everything in this cavern."
"The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet."
"Surrounding this idol are smaller images, some very beautiful in form; others crooked-necked and distorted shapes, symbolical probably, of good and evil. There are two large cactus with protruding arms, one on each side of the dais on which the God squats. All this is carved out of hard rock resembling marble. In the opposite corner of this cross-hall were found tools of all descriptions, made of copper."
"These people undoubtedly knew the lost art of hardening this metal, which has been sought by chemists for centuries without result. On a bench running around the workroom was some charcoal and other material probably used in the process. There is also slag and stuff similar to matte, showing that these ancients smelted ores, but so far, no trace of where or how this was done has been discovered, nor the origin of the ore."
"Among the other finds are vases or urns and cups of copper and gold, made very artistic in design. The pottery work includes enameled ware and glazed vessels. Another passageway leads to granaries such as are found in the oriental temples. They contain seeds of various kinds. One very large storehouse has not yet been entered, as it is twelve feet high and can be reached only from above. Two copper hooks extend on the edge, which indicates that some sort of ladder was attached. These grannies are rounded, as the materials of which they are constructed, I think is a very hard cement. A Gray metal is also found in this cavern, which puzzles the scientists, for its identity has not been established. It resembles platinum."
"Strewn promiscuously over the floor everywhere are what people call 'cats eyes,' a yellow stone of no great value. Each one is engraved with the head of the Malay type."
THE HIEROGLYPHICS
"On all the urns, or walls over doorways, and tablets of stone which were found by the image are the mysterious hieroglyphics, the key to which the Smithsonian Institute hopes yet to discover. The engraving on the tablets probably has something to do with the religion of the people. Similar hieroglyphics have been found in southern Arizona. Among the pictorial writings, only two animals are found. One is of prehistoric type."
THE CRYPT
"The tomb or crypt in which the mummies were found is one of the largest of the chambers, the walls slanting back at an angle of about 35 degrees. On these are tiers of mummies, each one occupying a separate hewn shelf. At the bead of each is a small bench, on which is found copper cups and pieces of broken swords. Some of the mummies are covered with clay, and all are wrapped in a bark fabric. The urns or cups on the lower tiers are crude, while as the higher shelves are reached, the urns are finer in design, showing a later stage of civilization."
"It is worthy of note that all the mummies examined so far have proved to be male, no children or females being buried here. This leads to the belief that this exterior section was the warriors' barracks. Among the discoveries, no bones of animals have been found, no skins, no clothing, no bedding. Many of the rooms are bare but for water vessels. One room, about 40 by 700 feet, was probably the main dining hall, for cooking utensils are found here."
"What these people lived on is a problem, though it is presumed that they came south in the winter and farmed in the valleys, going back north in the summer. Upwards of 50,000 people could have lived in the caverns comfortably. One theory is that the present Indian tribes found in Arizona are descendants of the serfs or slaves of the people, which inhabited the cave. Undoubtedly a good many thousand of years before the Christian era a people lived here which reached a high stage of civilization. The chronology of human history is full of gaps."
"One thing I have not spoken of, may be of interest. There is one chamber, the passageway to which is not ventilated, and when we approached it a deadly, snaky smell struck us. Our light would not penetrate the gloom, and until stronger ones are available, we will not know what the chamber contains. Some say snakes, but other boo-hoo'd this idea and think it may contain a deadly gas or chemicals used by the ancients. No sounds are heard, but it smells snaky just the same."
"The whole underground installation gives one of shaky nerves the creeps. The gloom is like a weight on one's shoulders, and our flashlights and candles only make the darkness blacker. Imagination can revel in conjectures and ungodly daydreams back through the ages that have elapsed till the mind reels dizzily in space."
AN INDIAN LEGEND
Machetto, who was their chief, counseled them to leave the under world, but there was no way out. The chief then caused a tree to grow up and pierce the roof of the underworld, and then the people of one heart climbed out. They tarried by Paisisvai (Red River), which is the Colorado, and grew grain and corn. They sent out a message to the Temple of the Sun, asking the blessing of peace, good will and rain for people of one heart. That messenger never returned, but today at the Hopi villages at sundown can be seen the old men of the tribe out on the housetops gazing toward the sun, looking for the messenger. When he returns, their lands and ancient dwelling place will be restored to them. That is the tradition.
Among the engravings of animals in the cave is seen the image of a heart over the spot where it is located. The legend was learned by W.E. Rollins the artist, during a year spent with the Hopi Indians. There are two theories of the origin of the Egyptians. One is that they came from Asia; another that the racial cradle was in the upper Nile region. Heeren, an Egyptologist, believed in the Indian origin of the Egyptians. The discoveries in the Grand Canyon may throw further light on human evolution and prehistoric ages.
Up until now there has been quite a debate as to whether G. E. Kincaid actually existed. There have been no records of his work, nor any proof from the Smithsonian he was actually involved with them. Here, shown below for the first time in almost 100 years is the "first article" from 1909, a full month before the legendary 1909 Arizona Republic article was published. As you can see, G.C.Kincaid's expedition occurred as reported! We have also found other articles offering further evidence the story is real.
Furthermore, an ancient manuscript (translated) has been located. Parts of the content describes a voyage made thousands of years ago by a group from Asia traveling to a city located at a place they called "The Canyon of Light". Their journey made with the intention of visiting a holy man, or a shrine. Incredibly, the location and descriptions given seem to point towards the area we are currently exploring at the Grand Canyon!
Logged
eurekabruce
Administrator
*****
Posts: 183


Ehhh . . . What's up, Doc?


« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2006, 06:22:52 PM »

WHAT?  THEY'VE MOVED OUR FAVORITE UNDERGROUND SITE?
-----------------------------------------------------

The New "Area 51"
BY JIM WILSON, POPULAR MECHANICS ?
The Air Force has abandoned top-secret testing at its once most secret test site. We know why and we know where they moved it to.
A cloud of brown dust snakes behind me as I speed down the desolate desert road. A dozen miles ago, I passed the solitary steel mailbox that marks the turnoff for Area 51. For a place that isn't supposed to exist, it's odd that the "secret" air base occupies whole chapters of aviation history.
It was here, in 1955, that the U-2 spyplane first took wing. In the years that followed, its successors, the A-12 and SR-71 and later the stealthy F-117A fighter and B-2 bomber, danced across the same blue-steel Nevada sky. Rumors persist of even more amazing aircraft. Secret hangars supposedly conceal the mythical Aurora, a methane-burning replacement for the high-flying SR-71 spyplane. And–if you believe that X-files and J. Edgar Hoover's dress collection exist–there are even crashed UFOs that engineers patched up and somehow learned how to fly. I'm not searching for hypersonic aircraft or E.T.'s flying machine. My mission is less lofty. I'm trying to avoid getting arrested.
On my flight to Las Vegas, which is about 100 miles to the south, I read up on Area 51 lore. That may have been a mistake. Imagining what might be "out there" paints ordinary desert scenes in a sinister hue. Instead of dismissing a buzzard-pecked carcass as road kill, I find myself wondering why aliens would travel hundreds of light-years to practice laser surgery on a cow. Driving along in this Area 51 state of mind, I'm prepared for almost anything–except for what I see next. The road has just vanished, as completely as if it never existed. I brake the car, step out, check my map and compass, and then (sorry, Avis) climb on the trunk for a better view. A 360? scan quickly solves the mystery. There has been a washout. The missing road reappears about 100 yards ahead. Tracing its line toward the horizon, I see what I've come to find–the back door to Area 51. There is no guard post. A cattle gate, the sort you can buy at Kmart, seals the road, but the two heavily tarnished brass locks that secure the gate's chain are no blue-light special. They are strictly military-issue. Rusting strands of waist-high barb wire hang just beyond the gateposts. I had expected something taller, electrified. The warning signs flanking the gate aren't very threatening either. One warns "no trespassing." Its weather-beaten companion cautions me that the Air Force drops real bombs on the other side of the fence. My attention returns to the locks. The tarnish extends inward toward the tumblers, suggesting they haven't seen a key in a while. Perhaps no one comes out here anymore? To test the theory, I flash the car's headlights and lean on its horn. After 15 minutes of wearing down the battery, I quit. Disappointed, I balance my camera on the roof of the car, set the shutter-release timer and blast off a few crooked snapshots to show the boss.
When Popular Mechanics correspondent Abe Dane traveled these roads to research our January 1995 cover story, "Flying Saucers Are Real," camouflaged guards driving white Jeep Cherokees dogged his every turn. Tourists who accidentally strayed down the road I am now driving on were arrested by these "cammo dudes" and heavily fined. To cover the cost of a similar encounter, I've packed an envelope with $2000 in $50 bills in the trunk, along with my sleeping bag and extra bottled water.
My visit seems to confirm what circumstantial evidence first suggested more than a year ago. Area 51 has shut down. Not that anyone should be surprised. After all, the base became America's worst-kept secret the moment talk-show host Larry King announced its presence to his national audience during a special on UFOs. Of course, UFO and aviation buffs knew this all along. The name "Area 51" and a description of its mission as the proving ground for Lockheed's U-2 reconnaissance aircraft appeared for a fleeting moment on a blackboard used as a prop in an aircraft promotional film. The equally fleeting moment of fame that King's television exposure created for the nearby town of Rachel has also faded. Today, the locals who lunch at the Little A'le' Inn after collecting their mail from the line of postboxes that mark the center of this town of double-wide trailers don't see too many strangers. The unusual aerial phenomena that once lured tourists have become so rare that the Nevada state legislature has tried to help boost business by naming the adjacent stretch of Route 375 "The Extraterrestrial Highway."
As I finish my Alien Burger with Extrusions (melted cheese) and Appendages (french fries), Chuck Clark, author of the Area 51 & S4 Handbook, tells me he thinks the airfield's last secret plane, the Aurora, left a year ago. Bob Lazar–whose picture hangs behind me on a paneled wall filled with autographed photos of other UFO notables and several movie stars–claims the government moved the crashed flying saucer he worked on at the S4 site to a more secret location. Even Glenn Campbell–founder of the Area 51 Research Center and guide to PM correspondent Dane during his trip–has left for Las Vegas. Though it may seem cynical to some folks, we think the most convincing evidence that top-secret testing has stopped at Area 51 comes from the Air Force itself.
After years of denying the existence of an airfield at the northern end of its Nellis Range, a base spokesman in Nevada and a Department of Defense (DOD) official in Washington, D.C., both tell PM that "training and testing activities take place at the Groom Dry Lake Bed." DOD even agreed to consider–but at press time had still not acted upon–our request to visit the site. What's happening–or more accurately, not happening–at Area 51? Lest we mislead anyone into thinking a talk-show host forced the government to abandon a perfectly good secret test site, we should point out that even before King's production crew arrived in Rachel, the Air Force had several good reasons to leave. High on this list is the Open Skies Treaty. The pact was first proposed by President Dwight Eisenhower during a meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Geneva, and it was finally signed into law in 1992. It allows the 27 signatory nations–including former Soviet bloc countries–to fly their most sophisticated spyplanes over one another's most sensitive military bases.
The reason the Air Force couldn't simply burrow into the surrounding mountains to hide their most secret aircraft is an equally compelling reason for it to leave. Three years ago, a group of former workers who had become seriously ill after working at Area 51 asked the government to conduct an investigation to see if they had been exposed to toxic substances. DOD lawyers convinced a judge the information had to remain secret. But Area 51's next-door neighbor, the Department of Energy (DOE), felt differently about such secrets. It had begun to make public previously classified data documenting the effects of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) nuclear-bomb testing at the Yucca Flats test site. This data showed that long-lived radioactive residues from nearby nuclear bomb tests regularly rained down on Area 51.
About the time the tourist trade slumped in Rachel, Nevada, residents in the Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico started seeing strange lights in the sky. What interested PM about these sightings was their proximity to Falcon Air Force Base. The small base in southern Colorado is the headquarters for the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) and its Space Warfare Center (SWC). More importantly, the base had just become the home for the SWC's 576th Flight Test Squadron, the unit most likely to test the prototypes for the next generation of breakthrough aircraft. I booked a flight, rented a Jeep and spent two days cruising the mountains between Salinda and Colorado Springs. I didn't see strange lights or find a secret air base, but I did find the path that would eventually lead to the new Area 51.
The first break came when I learned the types of missions the Air Force expected its next-generation aircraft to fly. As the result of a series of once classified projects named Science Dawn, Science Realm and Have Region, engineers at the Air Force's Phillips Laboratory at Kirtland AFB, in New Mexico, concluded it would be possible to build a plane that could fly to a trouble spot anywhere on the globe within 40 minutes, for a bargain price of between $1 million to $2 million a mission.
Discovering how these planes would achieve this level of performance would tell us the type of facility that would be needed for their initial testing. An important clue came in a remark Gen. Joseph W. Ashy, the recently retired commander of AFSPC, had made while being interviewed by Aviation Week & Space Technology, which has such an uncanny reputation for predicting future aircraft developments that it is often called Aviation Leak. Ashy said: "We will have a very short runway out there and we will have a reusable space plane." By itself, the comment might not have seemed helpful. But we already knew another important fact about the future aircraft's performance from the Have Region technical studies, which had by now been declassified. Engineers had calculated that engines capable of producing the thrust needed to reach the speeds and altitudes for fast-response global missions would be so powerful they could lift a plane off the ground vertically.

Considered together, these two pieces of information spelled bad news for our search. A plane that could land on a short runway after taking off vertically could be hidden just about anywhere. If the Air Force hadn't needed money to build this extraordinary aircraft, we might have never found the new Area 51. The winged wonders tested at the Groom Dry Lake Bed, the original Area 51, were bought with money funneled through secret "black budget" accounts created by the nation's intelligence agencies. But since the 1970s, these organizations had better tools in the form of spy satellites. In the 1980s, the capabilities of these orbiting eyes improved even more. The Air Force officers assigned to NASA space shuttle missions had completely mastered the art of on-orbit satellite refueling. This meant the National Reconnaissance Office could steer a spy satellite just about anywhere it was interested in looking. The Air Force's next-generation plane might gather the information a bit faster, but for the type of strategic surveillance information the intelligence community needed, its existing, well-proven assets worked just fine. And with hundreds of billions of dollars of new F-22s and Joint Strike Fighter aircraft already on its must-have list, the Air Force would likely find it impossible to get Congress to publicly finance yet another high-performance aircraft. To get its new plane, the Air Force would have to get creative. On February 28, 1997, a pen stroke solved the Air Force's money problem. It also pointed us in the direction of the new Area 51. The event was unremarkable. Gen. Howell M. Estes 3rd, commander-in-chief of AFSPC, and NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin signed an agreement to share "redundant assets."
The most important of these redundant assets was now under construction at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the Palmdale, California, incubator that previously hatched the mysterious birds that disturbed the quiet of the desert near Rachel. The Air Force's breakthrough aircraft would be one the public already knew as NASA's X-33. Skunk Works engineers had designed it as a half-scale flying testbed for the space plane that would become the 21st century's space shuttle. (See Tech Update, page 24, Sept. '96.) Measuring 68 ft. long, the lifting-body-shaped craft was a direct descendant of the ultrahigh-performance Have Region aircraft. It could take off vertically, fly faster than Mach 15, soar to 50-mile altitudes and then land on an ordinary runway.
By the time it was announced, this assets-sharing agreement between the Air Force and NASA was already old news to aerospace industry insiders. Three days earlier, Maj. Ken Verderame, a deputy manager at Phillips, had explained precisely how the X-33 could be turned into a weapon. Speaking at a NASA-sponsored technical conference in Huntsville, Alabama, he pointed out that Skunk Works designers nestled a 5 x 10-ft. payload bay between the X-33's liquid-oxygen and fuel tanks. It wouldn't be used on the NASA missions, but engineers at Phillips were already hard at work on a modular "pop-up" satellite and weapons launcher that could fit inside it. Verderame went on to explain future plans for modular "pop-in" cockpits.
Knowing that the Air Force had long planned to use the X-33 as an operational aircraft made a curious piece of information we had received months earlier fit into place. In the fall of 1996, NASA had announced the selection of the Michael Army Airfield as a backup runway for several X-33 missions. Given the field's location in a desolate stretch of desert about 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, the choice seemed puzzling. But now that the Air Force had acknowledged its plans to use the X-33 as a weapons platform, it made perfect sense. Studying a map of Utah shows that Michael AAF has the exact same security feature that drew U-2 developers to Area 51. It sits next to a ferocious junkyard dog. Where the Groom Dry Lake Bed had a nuclear test site to discourage the uninvited, Michael AAF has an equally, perhaps more, compelling deterrent. It is in the midst of Dugway Proving Ground, the place where the Army stores and tests nerve gas. PM learned exactly how secure this site is when we dispatched a plane equipped with an aerial camera to get a closer look. The pilot was warned that if he tried to overfly the site he would be shot down.

Circled areas show existing launch locations that are suitable for the takeoff of the type of aircraft that will be tested from the new Area 51. The map shows the relationship between the three critical sites, the launch complex at White Sands, the landing site at Michael AAF and the Space Warfare Center.
With Michael AAF in Utah selected as the landing site for military X-33 missions, we believed we were fast closing in on the location of the new Area 51. The next step would be to find the launch site. The flight profiles we had been shown made it unlikely that–at least during prototype testing – the same base could be used for both launches and landings.
We found the critical clue hidden in plain view. An Air Force organization chart used in a congressional briefing identified a launch site called WSMR, the White Sands Missile Range. During the Huntsville technical conference, Verderame would explain its selection. Given its elevation of about 4000 ft., anything launched from WSMR would push through nearly a mile less atmosphere than if launched from the Air Force's facility at Cape Canaveral. So, while a vehicle launched from sea level could lift a 6000-pound payload, one launched from 4000 ft. could lift 10,000 pounds. The signs pointing to WSMR in New Mexico as the new Area 51 seemed almost too clear.
This caused us to take a closer look at the technical information presented at the congressional briefing and Huntsville technical conference. We saw a problem, and it appeared to be a showstopper. Some of the numbers didn't quite add up. The distance between this launch site in New Mexico and Michael AAF in Utah–in the vicinity of 700 miles–was too far a distance for the X-33 to cover during pop-up flights required for 40-minutes-to-anywhere missions.
There was, however, a second Whites Sands launch site–one that wasn't mentioned in either the congressional briefing or the Huntsville technical conference. It was located about 200 miles from Michael AAF, which fit within pop-up mission flight profiles. What's more, portions of it were at an even higher elevation, closer to 4500 ft., which meant an even greater payload capacity than possible from the New Mexico site. It is the White Sands Missile Range Utah Launch Complex.
The Utah Launch Complex–which we believe will be the new Area 51–is an even more desolate and forbidding stretch of real estate than Groom Dry Lake Bed. Located south of Utah Route 70 and east of the Green River, it is like the Groom Dry Lake Bed–beneath unlimited-ceiling restricted airspace designated as R-6413. A satellite reconnaissance expert who examined images of the site told PM, "If you wanted to hide something [from satellite imagery], this would be the perfect place to do it." To get a closer look at the terrain, we contacted Aerial Images, the American firm that sells satellite photos taken by former Soviet spy satellites. The company was at first willing to sell us higher-resolution images. But after analysts in Moscow reviewed the close-ups we had requested, we received a call from the company saying that the images would be unavailable for "security reasons." We didn't need satellite images to see that the Utah site made the perfect location for the new Area 51. The basic infrastructure for launching the Air Force's next-generation aircraft is already in place, as a result of the complex having been built for the rocket testing in the early days of the military space program.
With our sights focused on Utah, we also found recent evidence of the Pentagon's interest in the site. Two years ago, just as activity at the original Area 51 began to wind down, the Pentagon began testing the local waters to gauge the public reaction to the complex's reactivation. It floated a trial-balloon story that it planned to reactivate the base for missile flights southward to WSMR in New Mexico. The opposition was swift and intense, mostly from environmentalists and other outdoors lovers who worried about the possibility of missiles falling on recreational areas in the vicinity of Moab, to the south. Citing this opposition, the Pentagon announced it would drop the project. PM has, however, obtained copies of other government documents, including budgets, that show $8.2 million has been allocated to refurbish the missile assembly building and improve the surrounding site at the Utah Launch Complex. Curiously, these funds will be paid by DOE, the successor to the old AEC, whose nuclear testing blanketed the old Area 51 with radioactive fallout. Part of the public's fascination with the original Area 51 is its rich collection of stories about crashed flying saucers, alien bodies and unexplained lights in the sky. The relocation of Area 51 does not necessarily mean those tales will be left behind when operations begin here in Utah, perhaps as early as 1999.
The Air Force Times reports that the distinctively painted CT-43 transports, which previously flew workers between Area 51 to a depot at the edge of McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, have begun making flights to Utah. And not far away from the new Area 51, millionaire Robert M. Bigelow, the prominent financier of paranormal and UFO research, has just purchased the 480-acre Sherman ranch for the site of the National Institute for Discovery Science. Its mission: to conduct scientific studies of the crop circles, cattle mutilations and other bump-in-the-night phenomena that the folks in these parts have been reporting for decades. So there should be no shortage of fascinating speculation for years to come.

« Last Edit: November 16, 2006, 06:26:14 PM by eurekabruce » Logged
Pages: 1   Go Up
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!