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Project OXCART Declassified From Area 51

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the tommy-lee-jones-comes-forward dept.

The Military 208

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the LA Times: "... the myths of Area 51 are hard to dispute if no one can speak on the record about what actually happened there. Well, now, for the first time, someone is ready to talk ... Colonel Hugh 'Slip' Slater, 87, was commander of the Area 51 base in the 1960s. Edward Lovick, 90, featured in 'What Plane?' in LA's March issue, spent three decades radar testing some of the world's most famous aircraft (including the U-2, the A-12 OXCART and the F-117). Kenneth Collins, 80, a CIA experimental test pilot, was given the silver star. Thornton 'T.D.' Barnes, 72, was an Area 51 special-projects engineer. And Harry Martin, 77, was one of the men in charge of the base's half-million-gallon monthly supply of spy-plane fuels."

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I WANT TO BELIEVE (4, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564585)

I WANT TO BELIEVE

Unfortunately there's nothing about aliens in there. So it looks like a good old fashion book burning is in order! Unfortunately, it's a website.

Sincerely,

A cautionary allegory.

How they could have kept this secret (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564607)

Write a book on gayness in area 51 and sell it on amazon.

Re:How they could have kept this secret (5, Informative)

Nasajin (967925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564687)

Pffffff... The gay bomb was declassified years ago [wikipedia.org] .

Re:How they could have kept this secret (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565327)

Oh, gawds! I was hoping that article would be a stub with no references or citations, but alas, it's true!. Sadly, my government was really that stupid!

ugh.

I'm leaving now.

Re:How they could have kept this secret (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565785)

I was hoping that article would be a stub with no references or citations, but alas, it's true!

Reminds me of the The Nude Bomb [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564613)

They've been cleared to not talk about the aliens.

Re:I know too much (3, Funny)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564703)

Notice how there were no pictures in the article? They have been possesed by aliens and now they are going to spread the alien around the world! I'm off to Alaska, cause aliens are cold blooded

Re:I know too much (2, Funny)

vishbar (862440) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566261)

Joke's on you. They made an alien governor up there.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (5, Funny)

Trailwalker (648636) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564631)

The answer is in Area 42, but you must bring your own towel.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564853)

Also area 63, but you have to rememeber DONT PANIC

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565001)

But, beware of the Aliens in AREA 69; they taste funny.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (5, Funny)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565043)

Is that the Area 42 over in Base 13?

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565525)

What about area 34? That's where the government keeps its huge stash of porn mags...

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565863)

Is that the Area 42 over in Base 13?

I think it's in base 10 (decimal), actually.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566059)

Either you get a whoosh, or I do.

It's all bollocks! (4, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564643)

Any aliens sufficiently advanced to be able to travel to Earth from another planet, would be able to hide themselves......

Nuff said

Re:It's all bollocks! (4, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565141)

This is true - they are adept at disguising their ships as hub caps, lamp shades and dustbin lids. Advanced technology in their ships also causes all photographs to come out blurry.

Re:It's all bollocks! (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565465)

You'd think so, but the Ferengi [memory-alpha.org] aren't too bright.

Re:It's all bollocks! (4, Funny)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565597)

Apparently, you don't know much about the ship full of salesman, accountants, military, and public phone cleaners.

Re:It's all bollocks! (1)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566069)

It could be that they have no desire to contact us, but also no desire to hide themselves. We may be simply too primitive to have what they consider a productive conversation, but they have no desire to hide themselves because they know that we don't have the technology or social structure to do anything about their occasional presence.

Of course, I say all of this as an extreme skeptic of UFO stories. I'm just pointing out that there is another possible explanation besides "No Aliens" and "Aliens that can't sufficiently hide themselves".

Area 51 or area 51A? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564721)

Yes but that's area 51. Area 51A might have aliens. Unfortunately, the location of area 51A is also classified.

Re:Area 51 or area 51A? (1)

mikerubin (449692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565553)

Area 51A is in eastern Canada

Re:Area 51 or area 51A? (2, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566297)

    I have been cleared to state, there may or may not be an Area 51A. I cannot confirm nor deny the designation, purpose, or location, should such a location exist.

    I hope that clarifies things for you.

    Our next statement on the issue will come in 50 years.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564745)

> I WANT TO BELIEVE

You do realize Mulder's original poster look suspiciously based off a photo...
http://www.famouspictures.org/mag/index.php?title=Image:Figu_picture.jpg [famouspictures.org]

--
"To say that people's consciousness can be represented as alien, and that people are afraid to face that facet of themselves, isn't too far off the mark."

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (2, Insightful)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564753)

The real conspiracy theory is that that is where the USA tests it's illegal weapons. After all, the U-2 was developed there to be used for illegal overflights, and it's existence was only discovered because the Soviets shot one down (and only then after denials coming right from the top). Seen that way, it starts to look reasonably likely that much worse things have been developed there.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565203)

This is exactly the attitude the evil social engineering masterminds behind these stories are shooting for.

The truth is out there, except you blind fools cannot see it, because of the wool the mass media and the government pull over your eyes.

Ah well ... it is hopeless.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565887)

The truth is out there

I'd find it but I trust no one.

Re:I WANT TO BELIEVE (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566149)

That's the spirit! You made only one mistake ... posting here. Now they are after you.

The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (4, Interesting)

Inominate (412637) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564621)

For those unfamiliar, the A-12 is more commonly known as the SR-71. It's not exactly the same aircraft, the SR-71 being the later development, but anyone looking at an A-12 would immediately recognize it as an SR-71.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564651)

The A-12 was a successor to the U-2 and precursor to the SR-71. The A-12 project ended in '68. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_A-12

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (5, Informative)

jhesse (138516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564657)

A-12: CIA-flown single-seater
SR-71: Air Force-flown two-seater

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (3, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564825)

What? Every source out there lists the SR-71 as a single-seater plane, with a few two-seater planes existing for training purposes. The A-12 was the designation for the CIA version, while SR-71 was the official designation of the final plane. Not to mention that I highly doubt that the CIA actually flew those planes. The SR-71 might have been flying recon for the CIA, but I just don't know many test pilots in the CIA.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (2, Informative)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564895)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/barrier/machines.html [pbs.org]

Relevant text:

The two-seat SR-71 was developed in the early 1960s by the U.S. Air Force as a strategic reconnaissance aircraft.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (2, Informative)

jhesse (138516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564953)

I refer you to:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SR-71#Specifications_.28SR-71A.29 [wikipedia.org]
Where it says:
        Crew:2

(not going to bother to look up the primary sources)

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566337)

It's easier to count the windows [photosynth.net] .

I personally shot these photos. But hey, it could be disinformation. They wouldn't let me take it out for a test flight. We did notice that the engines were still in it, so it hasn't been completely sanitized as a museum piece, just put in air conditioned storage.

    I was considering how to taxi it out. They left too much stuff in the way, and I was short just about one ground crew to get it moving properly.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564967)

Nevermind - looks like I didn't read the sources close enough. I'm still wondering though how the CIA got its hands on pilots for those things. Yes, you can just hire Air Force pilots, but then - why not just let the Air Force do what it's supposed to do... fly planes?

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (5, Interesting)

jhesse (138516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565011)

The book "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich discussed a lot of this.
Basically, they hired AF pilots (on loan or retired). This stuff was all very top-secret and the CIA didn't want it to be widespread knowledge in the Air Force.

They did this for the U-2 program too, which was a CIA initiated aircraft.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (2, Informative)

jshackney (99735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566281)

Sled Driver [amazon.com] is pilot-centric.

Because if two people know, it's not a secret (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565497)

Basically what it gets down to is the more people who are in on something, the more likely information leaks out. Now as with any large government bureaucracy, when you involve another arm of the government, you get even more people than just those you needed. I mean if you go to the Air Force and secretly hire away some pilots, well then very few people even know that anything has happened, and all they know is that the CIA wants some flyboys. If you have the AF run it, well now you have all kinds of additional people who know about it.

A big part of keeping secrets is compartmentalizing information, and restricting access to the minimum amount of people.

Re:Because if two people know, it's not a secret (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566113)

...all they know is that the CIA wants some flyboys.

I would be surprised if they have never hired pilots or other specialists that people will notice being gone for a few days, and didn't use them; just for the misdirection.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (4, Interesting)

cvos (716982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565935)

This video about the secret history of silicon valley explains some of the technology behind electronic warfare, radar imaging, and secret air force planes. The content relevant to this article appears around the 30min mark.

E.T. believers will find nothing interesting, however military computer geeks will find it orgasmic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTC_RxWN_xo [youtube.com]

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (1)

Inominate (412637) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565197)

Exactly why I qualified it as being "not exactly the same aircraft". The SR-71 is essentially a stretched variant.

Re:The A-12 is better known as the SR-71 (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565523)

A-12: CIA-flown single-seater

Actually, at least one variant of the A-12 had two seats... although I think it is the one they blew up testing the drone.

Spy Plane Fuel. . . the horrible truth (4, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564647)

" . . . half-million-gallon monthly supply of spy-plane fuels."

That's no mean trick. They condensed the stuff from the souls of mutilated cattle. The bovine victims stark terror at being lifted up into a saucer (in reality an airship coated with radium paint and filled with below-zero-ground state Helium) crewed by airmen dressed as alien "Greys" increased the fuel's specific impulse by nearly 30%.

OXCART (4, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564675)

I always found the name "OXCART" creepy, because of the famous von Neumann quote "I am not sure that the miserable thing can work, nor that it can be gotten to the target except by oxcart", referring to the weight of the atom bomb.

Re:OXCART (4, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564691)

Oppenheimer quote, rather. Got confused as it was reprinted in a book about von Neumann.

Re:OXCART (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565061)

That may not be entirely coincidental. I once read (in a book, hence no hyperlink) that an A-12 variant was designed, and 3 test aircraft modified, for use as a high-altitude interceptor. This was later scrapped in favour of increasingly effective SAMs, but if the program was continued an FB could potentially have followed the F.

I believe it (5, Interesting)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564741)

If you were a government agency in charge of secret weapons testing, what better cover could you possibly come up with than implausibility? It may not have fooled the Soviets, but it sure fooled the American public. Nowadays Area 51 is usually mentioned in the same breath as JFK and Elvis' retirement community.

It would be interesting to check the Soviet archives and see what they thought was going on in Area 51.

I'm quite sure they knew the gist of it (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565365)

Really, it wasn't any secret among the American public (the non consparicy nuts that is) for some time that it is a flight test facility. The Soviets likely had an easy time telling that from satellite shots. So they likely had no trouble figuring out this was a testbed for US planes. By the secrecy surrounding it, they probably had no trouble figuring out it was for secret planes.

As for the specifics, I imagine not unless they got a spy in there. All the projects that have so far been declassified in terms of secret craft, like the U2, were quite effective at being secret from the public during their development.

I imagine if one were allowed complete access to the classified American records of the facility you'd discover that yes, it is just an aircraft testing facility that has worked with lots of neat planes.

Harry Martin Typo (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564765)

I think there was a typo in the article, it reads:

"And Harry Martin, 77, was one of the men in charge of the base's half-million-gallon monthly supply of spy-plane fuels."

I think it is suppose to read:

And harry MARTIAN #77 was one of the little green men in charge of the base's half-million-gallon monthly supply of flying saucer fuel."

Oh bloody hell (4, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564777)

Who cares about Area 51? Everyone knows the Stargates are in Cheyenne Mountain and antarctica.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564909)

There was one in Russia, but they blew theirs up.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

Insanity Defense (1232008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565077)

There was one in Russia, but they blew theirs up.

The Russian gate was the one originally used by the SGC then beamed up to the Asgard ship infested with replicators. The gate survived dropping into the ocean and was fished out by the Russians for their project.

The Antarctic gate was used by the SGC to replace the one "lost" on the Asgard ship. It was the one that was taken out into space and to explode. The SGC then rented their original gate back.

What happened to the Gate (or Gates) on the two ships that Apophis brought to Earth and subsequently destroyed by SG-1 and Master Bratac was never explained.

Re:Oh bloody hell (4, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565577)

Thank you Sheldon. Now stop hogging the wi-fi.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566169)

The SGC then rented their original gate back.

They later bought it from Russia with a 304 [wikia.com] . Very lucrative fishing expedition for the Russians, if you ask me.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565149)

There was one in Russia, but they blew theirs up.

actually, we has ours blown up by Anubis and had to buy the Russian one. The DHD that they had was blown up.

Re:Oh bloody hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565535)

pff... we didnt buy the Russian one... it was leased!

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564969)

no, they are in Cheyenne Mountain, a cloaked city sized space ship located just outside the San Francisco Bay, and who knows where else. (maybe on the moon or Mars)

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566063)

no, they are in Cheyenne Mountain, a cloaked city sized space ship located just outside the San Francisco Bay, and who knows where else. (maybe on the moon or Mars)

Hangar 18, Wright AFB.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566217)

I only have up to Season 7. Did they ever find multiple working gates in a single star system (home star straddles address boundary)?

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566249)

none that they showed us. There probably are seeing as how there are 7,958,661,109,946,400,884,391,936 (6^32) possible addresses per galaxy and over half are invalid (probably only .000000001% or less are valid)

Re:Oh bloody hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565005)

Who cares about Area 51? Everyone knows the Stargates are in Cheyenne Mountain and antarctica.

such a noob, everyone knows one of the stargates was destoryed.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565631)

such a noob, everyone knows one of the stargates was destoryed.

Yeah, as if Stargate Command was dumb enough to give back all the Stargates that Ba'al was collecting and not keep a few spares!

p.s. Was that a type-o or actually meant to be de-story-ed.

Re:Oh bloody hell (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566203)

The NID is at Area 51. All the cool toys SG1 brings back go there.

Regardless (3, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564781)

Regardless of what comes out it won't really change anything. The Area 51 mythos is to ingrained for conspiracy buffs to give it up. After all if Area 51 was just a secret government facility for planes, then what about everything else that was a cover up/conspiracy.

Re:Regardless (1)

christurkel (520220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565809)

I am willing to believe there was more going on there than just planes, but I don't think it was aliens or alien spacecraft. Probably some weapons testing, stealth blimps, etc.

Good thing they kept it so secret (-1, Troll)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564815)

Lying to the american public, drugging the pilot, forcing the civilians to sign a non-disclosure agreement... it's a good thing they kept this spy plane so secret. If the Kremlin had learned what our prototypes looked like at that point, the russian economy probably would have been much stronger, they never would have embarked on those economic reforms that backfired, and they eventually would have won the cold war.

Well, at least we're done with the ridiculous and pointless paranoia of the cold war. It would be terrible if our government were to get us into another "war" with a mostly imagined enemy in order to justify absurd spending on ridiculously overpowered and overpriced weapons, a bigger military, and a quieter citizenry, while stepping all over our god-given rights in the meantime and spying on us. Really dodged a bullet there.

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (4, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564843)

If the Kremlin had learned what our prototypes looked like at that point, the russian economy probably would have been much stronger, they never would have embarked on those economic reforms that backfired, and they eventually would have won the cold war.

I'll say. We were fucking working on OX CARTS.

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564865)

Oh yeah, and also it was very important that they keep the events there secret up until now. Some might ask why the hell you would need to keep it secret almost 50 years later, about a decade after the plane itself (not the prototype, the actual plane) was mothballed. But those people who would ask that are unamerican commie bastards.

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (4, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565065)

...or (more likely) it was just stamped with a standard 50-year classification, and nobody wanted to be bothered to declassify it earlier. See, they don't know how long in advance things will have to remain classified, so they pick an arbitrary number far enough ahead that it won't release while it could still put our people and operations in jeopardy.

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565093)

Geez, you just felt like ranting, right?

Do you seriously question the need to conceal the nation's highest technology from other governments?

Lying to the public is obvious. You need to lie to the public because the public aren't the only people listening. The intelligence agencies know that anything said to the public in general is also being said to foreign agencies. It doesn't work to print a story in the local paper describing what's going on with a byline to make sure no one tells the Russians.

Drugging the pilot also serves an end: they gave him sodium pentathol to ensure that he was telling them all he knew, and didn't leave anything out, consciously or otherwise. This has as much of a use to reveal something the person didn't even realize they were concealing (mental block) than it does at trying to catch someone in a conscious lie.

Forcing civilians to sign a NDA: that should be self-evident. We're dealing with the most secret technology at the time, obviously the government is going to use legal tools to help ensure that it stays secret as long as possible.

The SR-71 was still in official operation late into the 1990s, the official service record is from 1964 to 1998. This year, about 10 years after it was retired, is about the right time I would expect the government to start talking about that plane. A government will only discuss its technology in public when that technology is no longer the best or would not be a threat if another government had it. I think it's fair to assume at this point that if another air force came at us with an SR-71, that we would be able to shoot it down.

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565237)

obvious troll is obvious

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565425)

Our rights were given to us by ourselves, not by God. We, not God, died to ensure those rights, here in the world. God died so that we would be allowed entrance to the magical cloud city in the sky. Even if we weren't from Texas. Hope that clears things up.

Re:Good thing they kept it so secret (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566159)

Lying to the american public, drugging the pilot, forcing the civilians to sign a non-disclosure agreement... it's a good thing they kept this spy plane so secret. If the Kremlin had learned what our prototypes looked like at that point, the russian economy probably would have been much stronger, they never would have embarked on those economic reforms that backfired, and they eventually would have won the cold war.

Well, at least we're done with the ridiculous and pointless paranoia of the cold war. It would be terrible if our government were to get us into another "war" with a mostly imagined enemy in order to justify absurd spending on ridiculously overpowered and overpriced weapons, a bigger military, and a quieter citizenry, while stepping all over our god-given rights in the meantime and spying on us. Really dodged a bullet there.

Yeah, because the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, War on Pirates don't give the gov't any excuses to trample on our rights as citizens in the name of national "security theatre".

I want to believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564877)

but I don't. The moon rules #1!

Truly,

Stanton Friedman

Spy Planes from Outer Space (-1, Flamebait)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564923)

That was their 9th plan after they got tired of anal probing potential communists.

What area number ended being Guantanamo in last administration?

Interesting. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564949)

Part of the problem is that only this one program is being declassified. There's no indication that this is the only project that would meet the 50-year rule. That is going to provide added fuel to the conspiracy nuts, because there is now confirmation about the infrastructure. It's not enough to say "project X took place" when it is near-certain there'd be dozens of projects being worked on in tandem.

Of course, TFA makes it clear that the problems are largely of the Government's own making. Denying a site exists when it's obvious it does simply draws attention to it - they very thing they SHOULD have been avoiding. Describing it in horribly boring terms would have been much more effective.

If you want to hide something that is in plain sight, the LAST thing you want to do is be seen trying to keep it out of sight. Call it a launch-pad for target balloons for night-fighter practice, if you like.

Of course, it's good that things are starting to be declassified. An incomplete history is a boring history and a deceptive history. However, like I said, there will have been parallel projects to this, some of which may have been canceled/completed many years earlier than OXCART. (OXCART started 8 years in. Don't tell me there wasn't a single failed and abandoned project in those first eight years.)

These other projects should be being released alongside this, especially if abandoned in the first eight years. They're no longer of significance to anyone but a historian, and if you think OXCART has few survivors, anything that never progressed as far will have had far fewer members to begin with and may well have no survivors left at all.

Re:Interesting. (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565095)

Of course, TFA makes it clear that the problems are largely of the Government's own making. Denying a site exists when it's obvious it does simply draws attention to it - they very thing they SHOULD have been avoiding. Describing it in horribly boring terms would have been much more effective.

If you want to hide something that is in plain sight, the LAST thing you want to do is be seen trying to keep it out of sight. Call it a launch-pad for target balloons for night-fighter practice, if you like.

[puts on tinfoil hat]

Seems to me that making a big show of trying to hide something in plain sight would also do a very good job of drawing attention away from the things that you really want to hide.

It's a distraction, in other words...

Re:Interesting. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565113)

If you want to hide something that is in plain sight, the LAST thing you want to do is be seen trying to keep it out of sight. Call it a launch-pad for target balloons for night-fighter practice, if you like.

If you want to hide something in plain sight, the first thing you want is an interesting distraction. Area 51 would have served nicely for that, since everyone was convinced the government was covering something up there....

OLD news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564961)

This is OLD news. Search for the "OXCART story" and you'll find a pretty comprehensive history from an internal CIA historical publication. The author's pen name was "Thomas McInninch" or something very similar. This info has been on the web since at least 1996.

Significance (1)

dangle (1381879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565081)

TFA describes the attempts to create an oral history of the project from the surviving participants, since many are getting old.

The BEST stuff happened later (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565047)

The best stuff happened at the ranch a little bit later than those guys are talking about. And they were never privy to the real black ops there. It's a need to know, you know.

51 is silly (1, Insightful)

justgosh (957799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565153)

Area 51 is a pile of hangers and a run way that house next gen planes... the reason it's secret is because even the shape and size of an aircraft can give away it's purpose.. in the mean time other governments can build counter measures against it even before the plane goes into production... Do you know what's next to Area 51? Area 52... it's a square on a map, nothing more.

business as usual for conspiracy theorists (2, Insightful)

garutnivore (970623) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565287)

So we have guys who were actually working at Area 51 and say there were no ETs or ET technology there.

Will this debunk any conspiracy theory?

No.

The axioms upon which the conspiracy theories are established will be protected. The theorists will interpret reality so as to protect their cherished axioms. The theorists will just say that these men are part of the cover up and that their declaration is in fact proof of ETs at Area 51.

Re:business as usual for conspiracy theorists (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565647)

It's not meant to debunk any crazy theories. Despite the self-importance that conspiracy theorists like to ascribe to themselves, the government really doesn't give a damn what they think.

The reason this information is being released is because it's classified status has finally expired, and a few of the people who worked on these projects are happy to finally be able to tell others about them. That's it, that's all. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were part of the development team for the SR-71, you'd feel some justifiable pride in being part of the project, and would want to share the information with others. It's human nature, not some complex CIA plot to get rid of conspiracy theorists.

Re:business as usual for conspiracy theorists (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565901)

You are absolutely right. Elvis told me a year ago that this story would be released to debunk the conspiracy theories.

I remember the conversation clearly. We were flying in a black helicopter on our way to the grassy knoll in Dallas (he likes to walk around there every November). He said the aliens really liked the idea of tying the UFO sightings to a spy plane being tested.

After all, we all know that the complete lack of evidence of a conspiracy is the best evidence that the conspiracy is still working.

Cheers,
Dave

Anyone else dissapointed? (1)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565311)

Is anyone else dissapointed? Not that there were no aliens, or super-secret spyplanes, but that the mystery is lost? Area 51 was the fuel for imagination, the "what if" moments that it gave rise to. I, for one, shall miss the curiosity and sence of wonder when looking at the photographs and just imagining....

Re:Anyone else dissapointed? (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565669)

Area 51 was the fuel for imagination, the "what if" moments that it gave rise to

It stopped being fuel for my imagination right about the time I turned 14, and realized that most of the theories were complete garbage.

If you want to fuel your imagination, buy yourself a telescope and gaze into the heavens. The universe can inspire more awe and wonder than any crazy theory made up about a nondescript patch of desert in the middle of the US.

I just find it amazing (1)

wh1pp3t (1286918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565355)

The SR-71/A-12 project is simply amazing. This was the time of true innovation; these guys worked with titanium for the first time ever, designed a plane that goes over MACH-3 (much faster I believe) with tools like slide rule and a drafting board.

On the matter of speed:
If the top-speed of the F-15 of about 2.5 MACH. MACH 3 aint that much faster (relitively speaking) and you don't hear about special fuels and pilots waiting for the jet to cool off after a flight so they can get out. MACH 5 sounds about right...

Satellites in a predictable orbit are much easier to shoot down than the Blackbird (it was done last by an F-15 in 1985). For that reason alone, I am sure the SR-71's that are 'mothballed' are far from retired.

Re:I just find it amazing (4, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565987)

Satellites in a predictable orbit are much easier to shoot down than the Blackbird (it was done last by an F-15 in 1985). For that reason alone, I am sure the SR-71's that are 'mothballed' are far from retired.

The real problem with satellites is that the predictable orbit allows the enemy to hide his shit when they're overhead.

And I think it more likely that the SR-71 is retired, and that there is "something else" available. The fact that all the airframes are accounted for and only the few NASA airframes are airworthy pretty much makes it unlikely they're still being used. If you look at the history of the multiple retirements of the SR-71 at the AIr Force's request, it becomes fairly obvious that there is something else. All the noise about how "we have no replacement" seems to come from congressmen, who despite their hamfisted attempt to insert themselves into the "classified" military budget process, are really a bunch of dumbass rubes who would spill the beans, so it's unsurprising the DoD has done what they could to keep them out of the loop.

Conspiracy Theorists' Wet Dream..... (2, Informative)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565449)

Why is it that conspiracy theorists love to believe that:

1. All unidentifiable flying objects are of extraterrestrial origin?

2. Highly-Secure (as opposed to 'secret') military installations have alien bodies and extraterrestrial spacecraft?

3. Mysterious animals in the Pacific Northwest are all Sasquatches.

4. Unexplained technologies are of extraterrestrial origin.

It's amazing how people sometimes refuse to acknowledge that there is an EXTREMELY SLIM CHANCE that any of these have actually occurred, yet continue to claim that they happen all the time.

Just because something cannot be explained in now way validates the fantasies of conspiracy theorists.

Declassified years ago? (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565505)

Ben Rich's book, Skunk Works, his memoir of working at Lockheed and eventually directing the Skunk Works, mentions OXCART as the A-12's code name. It also discusses the test area (not using name "Area 51," but by the well-known alias "Paradise Ranch"), and a variety of other interesting projects from both the Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich eras at SW. The U-2, A-12 and SR-71 Blackbirds, and the F-117 are discussed in surprising detail.

Fun fact: the A-12 (CIA Blackbird) was retired and the SR-71 two-seater version was built for the USAF because the blue-suiters didn't like the idea of the CIA having its own private air force...

Nothng new here (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565517)

Most of this info is in Ben Rich's book, "Skunk Works". The story doesn't have much if any new information. The SR-71 story is well known, and there's one at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. (They have the engineering documents for it, too, which can be seen on request.) Most of the stealth aircraft were tested at Area 51.

There are other sites "near" Area 51. Jackass Flats was a well known nuclear test area in the 1950s. (You can't really hide atmospheric nuclear testing.) The Sedan crater [google.com] , from a nuclear test, is in that area. It's interesting to look at the area in Google Maps. There are all sorts of little abandoned installations in the Nellis Bombing Range area.

Back in the 1980s, the Lockheed Skunk Works ran a small ad in Aviation Week. It said only "If you missed out on this one (picture of U-2) and on this one (picture of SR-71) how'd you like to get in on the next one? Lockheed Skunk Works, Burbank, CA." That's how you got into stealth aircraft.

There's still a big USAF black budget, and it doubled during the Bush years. The question is whether much useful is coming out.

See, there WERE UFOs at Area 51 (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565657)

Anyone who saw a U2 or SR71 or F117 or other "black" aircraft flying around in the airspace near Area 51 would not have recognized what it was unless they has a security clearance. Ergo, to the general public, all of these "black" aircraft would (at the time they were being tested at Area 51 and before the public knew about it) have been Unidentified Flying Objects.
Whether there has ever been aliens at Area 51 is another matter altogether.

Hidden revelations from the article.. (5, Funny)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565779)

The truth comes out, but was hard to find in the article...

Colonel Hugh 'Slip' Slater, 87, was commander of the Area 51 base in the 1960s. Thornton 'T.D.' Barnes, 72, was an Area 51 special-projects engineer. Xorbz Blazzeet, 179, from the Orion system was dissected and stored in an Area 51 freezer for 16 years. And Harry Martin, 77, was one of the men in charge of the base's half-million-gallon monthly supply of spy-plane fuels.

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27565899)

At this point, I wonder if the government continues to deny its existence just to continue the myth. If they acknowledged it now, and told everybody all about what they've been doing out there, it would kill a chunk of modern folklore.

Hm. Not terribly classified already.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27566081)

This snippet from the National Museum of the US Air Force mentions the A-12 and has a link to the YF-12A, which was developed from the A-12, and has been on display in Dayton, OH for over a decade now.

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2699

So, what are we to believe (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27566179)

Since the government has been lying about this one for the past 50 years, and making up all sorts of inane shite to cover, if they don't outright deny it, am I supposed to believe this? Thus they have done their job of cloaking it in secrecy for the ages.

Of course, this explanation is entirely plausable, and I've suspected that it was pretty much what was going on. Of course, I can never know for sure, because this could just be yet more misinformation.

how do we know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27566405)

How do we know that this story isn't really just a cover up for the UFO's at the site? You know, Occam's law.

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