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Area 51 No Longer (Officially) a Secret

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the truth-is-out-there dept.

Government 115

schnell writes "The first-ever declassified story of Area 51's origin is now available, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filed years ago by George Washington University's National Security Archive. The (only lightly redacted) document is actually primarily a history of the U-2 and A-12 ("Oxcart") spy plane programs from the Cold War, but is remarkable for being the first-ever official unclassified acknowledgment of Area 51's purpose and its role in the program. Interesting tidbits include that the U-2 program was kicked off with a CIA check mailed personally to Lockheed Skunk Works chief Kelly Johnson for $1.25M; a U-2 was launched off an aircraft carrier to spy on French nuclear tests; and the U-2 delivery program itself was actually done under budget, a rarity for secret government programs then or now."

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False documents (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#44582549)

The entire thing must be completely fake.

I refuse to acknowledge as possible the finalization of a secret government program under budget.

Re:False documents (5, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44582641)

kelly johnson was an engineering god and he didn't run the projects to just pump money out of government. of course back then the guys were probably actually motivated, that they felt a real need to build u2, a12 etc.. and their plan to pump more money out of government was to keep churning out cool stuff instead of extending one project to last their entire professional career.

"Um.. it'll work if we build it out of titanium! what do you mean we'll have to invent the machinery to make it happen? do it already!"
14 rules for saving cash:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_Johnson_(engineer)#Kelly_Johnson.27s_14_Rules_of_Management [wikipedia.org]

"Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised."

Re:False documents (4, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44582869)

Of course, that was all part of the plan. The alien rumours were a start, but by creating a project that genuinely came in under budget - completely impossible, but irrefutable because it was true - they ensured that nobody would ever believe anything that was said about Area 51.

Re:False documents (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year ago | (#44585227)

It's not surprising. It did happen under Eisenhower's stewardship and he saw a significant reduction in deficits. Given certain other views he expressed...

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582985)

kelly johnson was an engineering god

Scotty type budgeting huh? Overstate the time and effort involved then just get it done?

Re:False documents (-1, Troll)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44583187)

kelly johnson ... didn't run the projects to just pump money out of government.

And that is supposed to make us trust him?

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586097)

Moderation
40% Troll
30% Insightful
30% Overrated

People don't get irony.

Re:False documents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583451)

Rule 15 is interesting as well

Note that Kelly had a 15th rule that he passed on by word of mouth. According to the book "Skunk Works" the 15th rule is: "Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don't know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy."

I know that feeling.

Re:False documents (2)

Epicaxia (2773451) | about a year ago | (#44583661)

Johnson's biography [amazon.com] is quite a good read--not going to win a Nobel prize in literature any time soon, but the content is a delight for aerospace engineers like me. Johnson WAS Skunk Works, for many many years.

Funny note about Rule 4: He's advocating version control for engineering projects. If he was alive today, I suspect Mercurial would give him a hard-on.

Rule 4: A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.

Last point: It's funny how many of the 14 Rules are anathema to modern management practice, particularly as implemented by the dominant aerospace firms. I'm not saying you can solve all of the industry's problems by requiring 14 Rule adherence, but you'd come close, The parent post already mentioned Rule 14, and implied it's laughable contradiction with current pay-scales in the engineering industry; Rule 5 directly contradicts the micro-managed, hyper-documented approach for modern systems engineering standards [incose.org] . Rule 12 has been repeatedly blown away by deeply-ingrained contractor dishonesty w.r.t. pricing and scheduling estimates, and by contractees' fanatical devotion to requirements creep and abrupt project changes (although in fairness, the budgeting environment doesn't help things), and as a result it's hard to imagine that this kind of trust will ever again exist between the government and the large aerospace contractors. Rule 10 is also a victim of this phenomenon.

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44584351)

Rule #15: Never work for the goddamned Navy!

Former Skunk, X-35 and X-47B engineer...

Re:False documents (4, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | about a year ago | (#44584373)

> "Um.. it'll work if we build it out of titanium! what do you mean we'll have to invent the machinery to make it happen? do it already!"

Completely false. They tried less exotic, more conventional materials before turning to titanium. They also wrestled with how to deal with thermal expansion - and the state of metallurgy at the time was such that the best way they could come up with to deal with it was to have gaps in the fuselage (including the fuel tanks!) at normal temperatures, which caused the tanks to leak until the fuselage came up to operating temperature. This is why after a Blackbird/Oxcart/etc. takes off they would immediately go supersonic to heat up the airframe so the designed-in leaks would seal up, then they would meet up with a tanker to refuel. The A-12/YF-12A/SR-71 was absolutely b;eeding edge at the time, and remained so in many ways even to this day. The only manned air-breathing aircraft which could match the "official" top speed of the Blackbird was the MiG-25, and such a sprint in that bird requires an immediate overhaul or replacement of the engines. The SR-71 could CRUISE up to and well past the published speed because it was constructed largely of titanium throughout.

Re:False documents (1)

Tweezak (871255) | about a year ago | (#44587399)

I was always amazed that the evasive maneuver employed by the SR-71 in the event of a ground-air missile launch was to simply accelerate away. That is seriously badass. Granted, if you are at 80k feet you will have some time before said missile even gets close.

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586255)

You forgot rule #15 (unwritten) on Kelly Johnson's list: Never deal with the Navy
And to be fair, the U2 was a bitch to fly:
information: Aircraft stall speed: Speed of the air flowing over the wings which provides the minimal amount of lift to keep the aircraft in the air.
                                          VNE: (Velocity Never Exceed) Speed of the air flowing over the wings beyond which the wings get ripped off the aircraft.

Why the U2 was a bitch to fly: The difference between the stall speed and VNE on a U2 was 29 miles per hour. On most aircraft it's usually at least 100 miles per hour (a 747 has a stall speed of about 120 miles per hour, and a max speed (VNE) over 600 miles per hour, so the difference is more than 455 miles per hour). In a U2, there is little room to "accelerate to get away from the missile" --if you are doing 1 mile per hour faster than the stall speed, you can safely go 28 miles per hour faster.

Re:False documents (3, Informative)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#44586541)

Why the U2 was a bitch to fly: The difference between the stall speed and VNE on a U2 was 29 miles per hour. On most aircraft it's usually at least 100 miles per hour (a 747 has a stall speed of about 120 miles per hour, and a max speed (VNE) over 600 miles per hour, so the difference is more than 455 miles per hour). In a U2, there is little room to "accelerate to get away from the missile" --if you are doing 1 mile per hour faster than the stall speed, you can safely go 28 miles per hour faster.

The 747 has the same characteristics if you go high enough. See "Coffin Corner". As altitude increases in any aircraft, the stall speed approaches the maximum maneuvering speed.

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44587859)

Except that the U2 is unique in that it is technically possible to turn tight enough to where the inside wing looses lift (and stalls) and the outside wing goes past safe operating speed (over speed warning) .... at the same time ..

Re:False documents (1)

Pherdnut (969927) | about a year ago | (#44582643)

Let's not forget that they crashed one in Russia.

Re:False documents (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44582799)

Let's not forget that they crashed one in Russia.

It was shot down, and the Russian's had proof .. they paraded the pilot out after all the denials and he said "In Soviet Russia denials shout U2!"

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44585927)

After he didn't bite down on the cyanide pill. The loser.

Re:False documents (4, Funny)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44582777)

Art Bell says it's fake. Why would I not believe him.

(this post itself is fake)

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583063)

Art Bell is an alien himself.

You heard it here first.

Re:False documents (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44583847)

Art Bell is an alien himself.

You heard it here first.

So is Rush Limbaugh, that's not lard, it is actually him hiding his tentacles in his costume.

Kang or Kodos - You decide.

Re:False documents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44584137)

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

Re:False documents (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586045)

Another SlashCock piece of shit, go figure. You bigot, I bet you lover Chris Mathews...Gotta love vile liberals. This kind of crap is whats killing this site, every damn thing is political and liberal, give it a rest and go see if mom is done with dinner. Little boy.

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582913)

The entire thing must be completely fake.

I refuse to acknowledge as possible the finalization of a secret government program under budget.

Thanks, Obama!

Re:False documents (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44582927)

Amateur! Every one knows you can trust documents wrapped in tin foil.

Re:False documents (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44583371)

Nah the key words were "only lightly redacted"

so This project was Under [strike]the the oversight of our alien overloads, who financed it by extracting gold from asteroids, in exchange for our compliance which helped hide our[/strike] Budget

Re: False documents (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year ago | (#44583779)

since it is secret there wolud possibly be fewer congresscritters tacking on pork for their district.

Re:False documents (1)

laejoh (648921) | about a year ago | (#44584551)

Yeah, definitely photoshopped!

Re:False documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586765)

No it really was under budget. That why it had to be top top secret!

Re:False documents (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44587091)

Actually, of all of the facts in the summary, that one I knew. Lockheed used to mention that a lot back in the 1960's (the skunkworks wasn't a secret, just most of what they did).

You don't say! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44582565)

> "The (only lightly redacted)documentis actually primarily a history of
> the U-2 and A-12 ("Oxcart") spy plane programs from the Cold War,"

Of course it's only lightly redacted -- they made the whole thing up. Light redaction is how we know they're lying. Give it up feds! >:-(

Give us the LGM BEM SAUCERS NAO!

Re:You don't say! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44585379)

Maybe that means they used a transparent sharpie. This is the gov, after all.

Sounds like some of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582577)

And what has it been doing for the last 20 years? then again i didnt RTFA

Re:Sounds like some of the story (5, Informative)

f3rret (1776822) | about a year ago | (#44582773)

And what has it been doing for the last 20 years? then again i didnt RTFA

F-117, B-2, remote sensing gear for arms control/inspection, The Predator and global hawk drones, NERVA Rockets and probably those fancy stealth modified Black Hawks from Neptune Spear and comms and radar gear.

Just your average run-of-the-mill secret aerospace stuff.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#44582955)

Exactly. I bet there are current yet unheard of planes there still.

A UFO is an unidentified flying object. The average person is an idiot and can't tell the difference between a fly and a bird under certain conditions.

For me a couple of weeks ago I got caught in the middle of a coast guard search and rescue. They were dropping parachute flares for hours bright enough to light up miles and miles if open water. It took us 20 minutes to figure out they were parachute flares and not boats. You couldn't hear the planes unless they were close. It was surreal for a little while as they didn't fall very fast. And sometimes took sharp changes in course.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | about a year ago | (#44583715)

There are actually a lot of reports of the B-2 Spirt [wikipedia.org] being reported as Black Triangle UFOs [wikipedia.org] and there is some plausible evidence out there that there might be another experimental airframe out there that is triangular in shape.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586177)

I think the point is that Flying Saucer/Alien nutters have never figured out that "UFO" is standard flight terminology for something in the sky which you don't know what it is. If you know it's an Alien Spaceship then it's not a UFO any more, and the secret documents wouldn't be using that term. They'd either flat out state it was Alien, or use some type of code word... but not "UFO".
The Air Force figured out pretty quick that any time someone caught wind of one of their secret test flights they could smile and say "It wasn't a UFO". Which technically it wasn't, because they knew what it was- one of their test flights. Then they sit back and watch the Nutters go wild, using their denial as "proof" it really was an Alien Craft.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about a year ago | (#44583845)

I live near a military base and near the flight path of a municipal airport. I've seen plenty of aircraft that I can or can't recognize over my place {no aliens}. A couple months ago something came awfully close to the house in the late evening while I was kicked back on the deck couldn't say what it was {other than probably military} but it was dead silent until it passed by and startled me good. What ever it was it was moving fast and rattled the house.

I think the only other time I've been startled like that is when the roof top AC for my office building got struck by lightening.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (1)

f3rret (1776822) | about a year ago | (#44586481)

In some cases if a plane is high enough and fast enough, the sound from it wont have time to travel that far ahead of it and thus it and the sound of it arrive pretty close together.

I've seen it with fighter jets, it's completely silent, then just as the thing passes over or near you you get that awesome engine sound. Not a sonic boom, mind you, but still loud as fuck if they're low enough.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about a year ago | (#44587489)

I usually don't pay to much attention and to them cause they are usually a lot higher and a lot less noisy, but this one caught me by surprise.

Re: Sounds like some of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44585223)

The average person is an idiot and can't tell the difference between a fly and a bird under certain conditions.

Pure anecdote, but here it goes. I worked with a guy who was by all observations above average intelligence; but a space-alien UFO believer. One day on a break we're looking up at the edge of the building, blocking out the Sun in the clear blue sky so you can see the pale blue right next to it. Any dust or insects in the air will also be back-lit by the Sun and may shine nicely.

He goes, "see that? Those are high altitude UFOs flying in the upper atmosphere". I was flabbergasted. "Dude, they're insects and dust particles 30 feet (10 m) up. You can't establish perspective in this situation". IIRC, he realized the error of his ways and it was somewhat of a revelation to him. At least he was smart enough to be disabused of his foolish notions. Some people aren't.

Re:Sounds like some of the story (2)

JTsyo (1338447) | about a year ago | (#44585683)

Re:Sounds like some of the story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44587885)

No more like ... Bird of Prey ..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Bird_of_Prey

Kelly Johson was a genius (5, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44582669)

If you look at the aircraft that came out of the skunk works you'll know what I mean. He and his organization came up with the P-38, the U-2, the C-130, and the SR-71; to name only a few achievements. It makes most people in tech look like little kiddies playing in a sandbox.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582939)

Just proves they were reverse engineering alien technology!

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44582967)

The F-117A Stealth Fighter came after Johnson retired but he was still acting as a consultant to the company. I'm not sure how much he contributed to that design but that was another achievement for the Skunk Works team.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (2)

stjobe (78285) | about a year ago | (#44583145)

Indeed.

I don't fancy the U-2 or C-130 much, but the P-38 and SR-71 are two of the most aesthetically pleasing aircraft ever to have graced the skies. In fact, the SR-71 is probably the most beautiful plane ever to have flown. That it's also still the current speed record holder (air-breathing manned aircraft, record set in 1976) despite being retired since 1998 is just icing on the cake.

I'm quite grateful that I managed to squeeze in a trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles last time I was in DC so I could get to see one in real life.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (1)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#44583555)

What I want to know is when the US government is going to declassify the REAL top speed of the SR-71. (that is, the fastest speed it was ever recorded as being flown at rather than the fastest speed it was rated to fly at, the fastest speed it was designed by Lockheed to fly at or the fastest speed the air force allowed its pilots to fly it at or the fastest speed the air force is willing to admit it flies at)

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (5, Interesting)

stjobe (78285) | about a year ago | (#44584647)

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird holds the official Air Speed Record for a manned airbreathing jet aircraft with a speed of 3,530 km/h (2,193 mph). It was capable of taking off and landing unassisted on conventional runways. The record was set on 28 July 1976 by Eldon W. Joersz and George T. Morgan Jr. near Beale Air Force Base, California, US

There's non-official (e.g. Brian Shul's book Sled Driver) reports of speeds up to Mach 3.5 (4,200 kph or 2,600 mph), but those aren't official. Different official and unofficial analyses of the materials and production techniques of the SR-71 strongly suggest that it was incapable of reaching much more than Mach 3.5 (among other things the pressure wave from the nose would enter the engine intake and unstart the engine; also the metal divider on the windshield got so hot at those speeds it threatened the integrity of the windshield).

So yeah, official word would be great, but there is little doubt the SR-71 was capable of Mach 3.5 but not much more than that.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44584775)

this can actually be calculated with the unclassified information about the SR-71. the extensible inlet cones on the engines only move forward so far.

if you calculate the distance from the cone tip to the inlet wall, you can find the maximum mach angle before the shockwave enters the inlet. if a shockwave enters the inlet, the engine unstarts and stops producing thrust.

the maximum Mach value before unstart is around 3.8 to 4.0, IIRC. assuming the skin of the aircraft can handle the heat (which it was designed to), then your max "speed" is determined by the speed of sound, directly proportional to the square root of the absolute temperature.

at altitude, where the air is thin enough to reach those speeds, we're talking about ~2500mph. the engines had more than enough thrust to get there.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about a year ago | (#44584555)

It is all, of course, just personal taste...but I think the U-2 is one of the prettiest planes ever made. The C-130 is just a truck...and trucks just look like trucks.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (1)

CTachyon (412849) | about a year ago | (#44584791)

Back when I was living in Wichita, Kansas, one of the few nice things about the area was the Cosmosphere [cosmo.org] , a shockingly out of place top-notch aerospace museum in nearby retirement town Hutchinson. It has a decommissioned SR-71 [sr-71.org] hanging from the ceiling in the lobby. I'm not by any means an aircraft geek, but even I have to stop and mumble "that is a gorgeous plane".

Prettiest planes (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44585309)

the SR-71 is probably the most beautiful plane ever to have flown.

The SR-71 is undeniably a gorgeous plane and I agree that the P-38 is striking as well. But for my money I love the look of the YF-23 if we are talking about jets and the P-51 Mustang if we are talking about prop planes. Just my own preferences of course. I like the U2 just because it is SO simple in design. Basically a powered glider. Simple, elegant and still functional to this day.

Re:Kelly Johson was a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586415)

Why would you leave out the F104? Same cockpit as the SR-71 (look at pictures, double dog dare ya), and faster than anything flying today that isn't ramjet, scramjet or rocket powered.

national geographic channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582683)

so the national geographic channel documentary from a few years ago with interviews of several guys that worked there, and plenty of original fotage was just something I dreamt?

Re:national geographic channel (4, Informative)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44583107)

It's been a widely open secret for a long time. Everyone who wasn't a UFO kook has known that the place was used for testing experimental aircraft for decades now. A bunch of workers from there even sued the government a while back for medical conditions related to exposure to toxic chemicals (they were ordered to burn all kinds of experimental jet fuels and other nasty stuff while they worked there).

Information already out in the open (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | about a year ago | (#44583189)

Also, Ben Rich (Kelly Johnson's successor) wrote this up in his book Skunk Works. He didn't mention "Area 51" by name, but some of its other nicknames such as "Dreamland" or "Paradise Ranch" were mentioned.

I think the most impressive thing about the Blackbirds were that they were designed in an era when computers were quite primitive and engineers usually used slide rules.

Re:Information already out in the open (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583581)

and how they needed a large amount of titanium to build a blackbird and at the time the only place to get large amount of titanium was russia, there must be a spy movie hidden in how they pulled that off

Re:Information already out in the open (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586367)

how they needed a large amount of titanium to build a blackbird

Uh... no. You need a large amount to build a nuclear sub or a surface vessel. Blackbirds are tiny in comparison.

and at the time the only place to get large amount of titanium was russia

No, not really. They just had a lot more on the market so it was cheaper. We produce plenty here in the US, Canada produces quite a bit, and there are other sources as well. Hell, all you'd have to do is scrap some naval vessels or recycle various parts of rocket stages from the space program and you'd have enough to build an entire fleet.
There's so many things that routinely take a LOT more titanium than you need for a blackbird that it'd be easy to siphon a little bit here and there without anybody noticing.

Re:national geographic channel (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44583231)

In fact, the Government's motion to dismiss that lawsuit was (I believe) the first public acknowledgement that the base existed.

Re:national geographic channel (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44583861)

It's been a widely open secret for a long time. Everyone who wasn't a UFO kook has known that the place was used for testing experimental aircraft for decades now.

The UFO kooks say the same, only that the experimental aircraft are based on alien technology from Roswell and/or other contact/cooperation with aliens. Nobody except the US government denies that part.

Space Aliens (3, Interesting)

Are You Kidding (1734126) | about a year ago | (#44582725)

So where is the part about the captured Space Aliens and their ship?

Re:Space Aliens (5, Funny)

Urkki (668283) | about a year ago | (#44582819)

So where is the part about the captured Space Aliens and their ship?

Lightly redacted.

Re:Space Aliens (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#44583243)

Those went to Wright Patterson.

Re:Space Aliens (1)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#44583499)

Didn't you watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? The captured aliens and their ship returned to the 24th century thanks to the energy of a US atomic bomb test... (The episode in question was broadcast on TV here last night :)

Purpose != Existence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582755)

Ok, this makes more sense. On the radio this morning, they were going on like this was the first official acknowledgement of its existence, which I could have sworn has been acknowledged for many years now. But if this is the first official acknowledgement of its purpose, then yeah, that is new.

Re:Purpose != Existence (1)

Sabathius (566108) | about a year ago | (#44583977)

Yes, I think over a decade ago the government acknowledged that Area 51 = Groom Lake Air Force Base.

Not exactly news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582805)

None of those "revelations" are news.

The check being mailed to Kelly Johnson he mentioned in his biography.

The U-2 launch off an aircraft carrier was public info too, as the pilot got a medal for that.

The U-2 coming in under budget, likewise, not news.

forgetting something (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#44582807)

i believe they are forgetting to mention all the aliens theyve been testing on and keeping secret from us

Re:forgetting something (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44582865)

Oh, the aliens aren't *that* secret: They have a large office building and a place where they meet in Washington DC with a really nice rotunda. There are tours and everything!

Re:forgetting something (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#44583689)

but every time someone sees one, they use a neuralizer

Re:forgetting something (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44585207)

No they don't, that's ridiculous. You see them on TV all the time, and sometimes even in person if you go looking for them.

In case you misunderstood, here's a photo of their meeting building [wikimedia.org] .

Re:forgetting something (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#44587393)

oh, i misunderstood, i thought you were talking about MIB.

Re:forgetting something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583995)

Under American law I'm considered an alien with no protection guaranteed to a "person" under the law.

p.s. In case you are wondering I come from planet Canada.

K-PAXians think the story is funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582811)

Prot from K-PAX contacted me trying to understand why our goverment makes up stories about Area-51. I explained best I could how when people report UFO's they are usually not taken serious. Prot informed me that K-PAXians think our goverments story about Area-51 is so funny that it became the top billing on their comedy shows.

Wait, what? (3, Funny)

chinton (151403) | about a year ago | (#44582989)

You mean that Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction was fiction? Shocking. Does that mean we really did land on the Moon?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44583393)

Of course it was fiction. They were necropsies. Autopsy is when you do a post mortem on a human.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588027)

Does that mean we really did land on the Moon?

No, it doesn't.

However, that is only because the two are highly uncorrelated.

Skunkworks (4, Interesting)

caseih (160668) | about a year ago | (#44583285)

I highly recommend the memoir, "Skunkworks" by Ben Rich, who was Kelly Johnson's successor. He tells a great story of the building of the U-2 program, and also later projects including the SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117 stealth fighter. Amazing stories.

According to Ben Rich, it was Dick Chaney who ultimately got the SR-71 canceled, and instructed them to destroy all the plans, tooling, and parts for building the aircraft. Ostensibly this was to prevent any other nation from ever learning its secrets. And all this was because Chaney's cronies owned companies who made spy satellites. Even though a lot of analysts argued we still needed aircraft for some surveillance, they decided to go with satellites. Which of course other nations know where they are and when they go overhead. And since then the U-2 has still flown because there are missions that only an aircraft can perform.

Even as recent as the gulf war (yes I'm old enough to consider 1991 as recent) these aging spy planes were pressed into action because they were all we had, and they performed their task very well. Have to admire how well the military does being yanked around so much by politics (and of course they dish the politics right back... sequester and all that). But with all the abuses revealed of late by Private Manning, perhaps it's only fitting that the military is in decline, along with the nation, and has had its toys taken away.

Re:Skunkworks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583873)

I believe it was the burning of the oil wells that brought back the use of the spy splanes as the satellites were unable to visually penetrate the smoke screen. But, the spy planes were able to fly under and capture imagery.

Re:Skunkworks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44585047)

F-14's with TARPS pods did most of this, I think a few RF-4's were still in service then as well.

Re:Skunkworks (2)

filthpickle (1199927) | about a year ago | (#44584665)

I remember a press conference with Colin Powell where he was asked what he thought of the SR-71 being cancelled. He said with an obvious 'I am answering your question even though I am not answering it ' smile that "that is a political question".

The "U-2 via Aircraft Carrier" isn't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583291)

The "U-2 launched from aircraft carrier" factoid isn't a new one; that's one's been declassified for years (with pictures).

As for programs coming in under-budget... I attribute that more to Kelly Johnson's personal integrity than anything else.

As for what's happened since... Just remember Eisenhower's Farewall Address warnings about the MIC - perpetual projects to fight ethereal enemies ("Terror" is not a nation-state, organized malitia, and/or other "special-interest group") was/ continues to be inevitable. Too many jobs, fortunes, and re-election capsigns - not necessarily in that order - depend upon such.

pointless ubiquitous revelation (4, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#44583333)

is it me or is FOIA kinda toothless these days? the oxcart and have blue shit has been a discovery channel/history channel show fodder for almost a decade. most everything in the release is common knowledge to anyone with access to wikipedia. FOIA was designed to start answering questions like who visited the whitehouse while George Bush was president, how does the domestic spy program work, and did we seriously commit war crimes in iraq.

instead its been so neutered, ignored and redacted at every level of government its basically a rubber stamp for any agency seeking to claim legitimacy in their clandestine day to day operations. the NYPD ignored for 2 years their FOIA for stop and frisk, and administrations routinely claim state secrets or executive privilege when they hear a question they dont like.

People like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Asssange are today the only means by which we request the freedom of information from our government, elected by and for the people. sideshows like this are to ensuring accountability in the government as the scopes monkey trial was to ensuring credibility to evolution.

Re:pointless ubiquitous revelation (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44584073)

I don't think any state or nation has ever had an FOIA which trumped things like Secret classification or commercial priviledge. Where on Earth did you get the impression that it was supposed to provide access to things like NSA files?

Re:pointless ubiquitous revelation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586925)

People like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Asssange

Snowden leaked evidence of wrongdoing. Manning leaked everything he could get his hands on, whether it showed wrongdoing or not. Assange is a middleman, he's an information broker whose only motivation is to make the US look bad (his words, not mine). The three are nothing alike and should not be referred to as if they are.

If Snowden was alive back then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44583435)

He would have told the French we were spying on their nuclear tests.

Re:If Snowden was alive back then (4, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#44583741)

He would have told the French we were spying on their nuclear tests.

To which they would probably have replied, 'Yeah, we guessed they would be'.

of course there are no aliens (4, Funny)

k6mfw (1182893) | about a year ago | (#44583835)

you have to be a US citizen work at Groom Lake. duh!

Wow (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year ago | (#44583913)

While everyone else is making jokes about aliens and the budget, I'm still trying to wrap my head around what it would take to launch a U2 (103-ft wingspan) [wikipedia.org] from a carrier. Besides the width, I didn't think it was optimized for short takesoffs, and it looks like the wings would snap off if you launched it with a catapult. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wow (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about a year ago | (#44584827)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8HMPMYL19E [youtube.com]

Looks like landing is all about catching the tailhook, and planes are very strong for certain stress. The takeoffs look like maybe they put just enough power into the catapult to get it in the air? I can't tell if there is a catapult there...but I would assume there has to be.

Re:Wow (2)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about a year ago | (#44585017)

While everyone else is making jokes about aliens and the budget, I'm still trying to wrap my head around what it would take to launch a U2 (103-ft wingspan) [wikipedia.org] from a carrier. Besides the width, I didn't think it was optimized for short takesoffs, and it looks like the wings would snap off if you launched it with a catapult. [wikipedia.org]

Considering that downward visibility is so piss-poor that landing it on a regular runway involves another pilot in a car driving along the runway talking the aircraft down, landing on an aircraft carrier must have been an... exhilarating experience.

Re:Wow (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44585131)

the width part not a problem (assuming pilot with brass cajones), the U2's had widths from 80' 2" to 104' 9".....C130 with 133' wingspans can land and take off from carriers.

Re:Wow (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year ago | (#44585825)

Well, bigger wings make the takeoffs shorter. I always tought the U2 was so big because it needed a huge operational range, but takeoff distance is at least a nice siede effect (if not the actual reason for them).

How would anyone know? (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year ago | (#44584025)

and the U-2 delivery program itself was actually done under budget, a rarity for secret government programs then or now."

All of this stuff is obfuscated.

Baloney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44584123)

It's still a coverup. The are hiding alien weather balloons.

In other (more secret) news (1)

poity (465672) | about a year ago | (#44584435)

The DoD just finished moving the UFOs to another location.

Aliens must be dead? (1)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | about a year ago | (#44585485)

All the aliens must have died. No need to keep it secret anymore...
I don't know about you, but I miss them already... :(

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