Steve Douglass, a
"military radio" hobbyist in Amarillo, Texas, monitored a
curious exchange on the morning of Jan. 7. An unidentified
aircraft calling itself "Lockheed Test 2334" told FAA
controllers in Albuquerque, N.M., that it was "going
supersonic somewhere above Flight Level 60 [60,000 feet]"
According to Douglass, the FAA controllers questioned
the aircraft. "Say what aircraft type," requested the
"We are a classified type and can't reveal our true
altitude," responded the pilot.
A few minutes later the same pilot requested permission
to descend to 30,000 feet and a flight path to "Las Vegas
with final destination somewhere in the Nellis Range."
"Trip home a bit slower, eh?" asked the FAA controller.
To which the mystery aircraft did not respond.
The exchange monitored by Douglass is similar to
earlier military radio transmissions monitored in the late
1990s. An unidentified aircraft code-named "Stove Pipe"
once requested permission to cross the California coast en
route to Nellis.
The aircraft refused to give its true altitude and
speed. Californians, however, were quickly made aware of
Stove Pipe because it generated an intense sonic boom as
it passed over the coastline.
The aircraft set off several earthquake monitors as it
passed overhead at several times the speed of sound. The
space shuttle is known to trigger earthquake detectors
when it passes over California for landing at Edwards Air
The U.S. Air Force's famed Area 51, or Groom Lake
Facility, is located northwest of the Nellis, Nevada, test
range. Area 51 has long been the source of much
speculation about UFOs and advanced aircraft.
While many in the UFO enthusiast community suggest that
these advanced vehicles are a result of extraterrestrial
technology, the fact is that these new systems are of very
It is true that UFOs are the subject of a government
conspiracy and cover-up. During the early 1960s the CIA
launched a secret project called "Ox Cart," not to hide
alien life forms but to hide a multimillion-dollar spy
Ironically, for a project named after one of the
slowest vehicles on Earth, Ox Cart involved one of the
fastest creations in flight history, pioneered by aviation
legend Kelly Johnson. The Ox Cart vehicle was to replace
the high-flying U-2, also built by Lockheed and Kelly
Johnson. The CIA sought a replacement for the U-2 after
the Soviet Union shot down Francis Gary Powers over its
In response to the CIA requirement, Kelly Johnson and
his team at Lockheed's famed Skunk Works developed the
SR-71 Blackbird. The SR-71 could fly higher than the U-2,
over 100,000 feet, and traveled at over three times the
speed of sound.
As part of Ox Cart, the CIA also launched an effort to
cover up the testing of its new high-flying reconnaissance
plane. That effort included circulating stories of space
aliens and flying saucers flying over the Western skies.
The CIA cover story for the SR-71 worked well enough
for it to remain a secret until President Lyndon Johnson
released details of the aircraft during a speech.
For nearly 30 years the SR-71 remained the fastest
aircraft in active service, flying over global hot spots
in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
No Blackbird aircraft was ever lost to enemy action,
but one was destroyed when it was launching an even faster
vehicle. During the 1980s, several SR-71s were modified to
carry a ramjet-powered unmanned vehicle designed to
over-fly the most dangerous targets.
The single-engine ramjet pilotless craft were carried
aloft on the back of the Blackbird and launched at over
100,000 feet and at speeds in excess of 2,000 miles an
hour. One of these unmanned aircraft failed immediately
after launch, colliding with the SR-71, instantly
destroying both aircraft.
The SR-71 was eventually retired and may have been
replaced by the mysterious Stove Pipe craft that set off
the earthquake detectors in California. Because of its
nature and recorded high flight speed, most sources
indicate that Stove Pipe was actually a manned version of
the Aurora space plane.
Although never officially confirmed, Aurora was also
developed by the Lockheed Skunk Works during the 1980s.
The space plane was designed to operate either in a manned
or unmanned mode. Its Cold War mission was to penetrate
the anti-missile defenses surrounding Moscow at Mach 8+
speeds and deliver nuclear bombs onto multiple targets.
Aurora was described as a very large diamond-shaped
vehicle and most likely powered by a hybrid jet-rocket
engine technology. The craft could attain speeds in excess
of 8,000 miles an hour and fly at altitudes of over 50
miles. Aurora was armed with over a dozen nuclear
The reason it was developed to be both manned and
unmanned was because of its dual missions - peacetime
reconnaissance and wartime nuclear strike vehicle. During
times of peace, the Aurora carried manned crews to
During wartime, the very powerful Aurora accelerated
and changed directions at speeds that would crush a human
under the high G forces. Aurora's nuclear strike mission
was intended to be without a pilot because a human simply
would not survive the ride.
However, Aurora had two great drawbacks: its price tag
and its mission. Aurora reportedly was retired from
service in the late 1990s due to budget constraints. Each
vehicle reportedly cost over $2 billion. The price of
Aurora operations could not be justified when the Cold War
What is the Skunk Works testing today? The unofficial
reports indicate that the super-secret aircraft builders
are hard at work on an invisible airplane.
Stealth was the watchword for the Lockheed F-117
Nighthawk. However, the stealthy strike fighter was
visible to the naked eye, limiting its attack missions to
the deep dark of night.
Today, advances in light panel technology are pushing
the limits of invisible airplanes. The fact is that
aircraft stand out against the bright sky as darker
objects, but by using bright panels of light the aircraft
virtually disappears against the blue sky.
Ironically, the concept is not new. In the 1940s, the
U.S. Navy developed operation "Yahootie," the first
practical attempt to create an invisible aircraft.
U.S. Navy bombers were considered too slow to visually
spot a German U-boat cruising on the surface and attack in
daylight. U-boat commanders often spotted the lumbering
bombers and dived safely away before the planes could
In response, a string of bright lights were arrayed on
the wings and propeller hubs of the sub-hunter planes. The
bomber crews adjusted the lights to match the natural
background light behind the aircraft, masking their planes
against the sky.
The principle is called isoluminosity, the perception
that different objects displaying the same brightness seem
indistinguishable from each other.
The principle worked very well until 1942, when the
Navy introduced airborne radar, allowing bombers to spot
and kill submarines beyond visual ranges. The Navy
abandoned Yahootie in favor of radar.
An advanced version of Yahootie, a manned surveillance
aircraft, reportedly uses a combination of lights,
low-noise engines and radar-absorbing skin to render
itself practically invisible in daylight. The aircraft not
only is invisible to radar but also its skin is layered
with an array of high-intensity light panels that
broadcast the same output as the sky around it.
What was Lockheed Test 2334? While the technology may
seem out of this world, it is certain that Test 2334 is no
UFO. Clearly, Test 2334 was flown by a USAF pilot and not