UFOs, Area 51 and Common Sense

Unidentified Flying Object over the Groom Lake area, October 2, 2007. The object, which appeared as a white disc-like shape, its lower portion apparently in shadow, hovered persistently over the vicinity, making no noise, exhibiting no discernable motion.

As noted earlier, the historic 2009 Roadrunners Reunion took place in Las Vegas this week, and it's good to see the local media covering the event. Still hilarious, though, that there are people who want to ask about flying saucers and little green men when they have the opportunity to talk to people who did something much more amazing.

What's their problem? Isn't it astonishing enough that a sleek black aircraft, made out of metal covertly acquired from the then most impenetrably occult society on earth, was built, launched from a remote desert location, and flew at the edge of space, at three times the speed of sound - in Nineteen Sixty Two? This aircraft, or its slower, two-seat, non-secret cousin, still hold records for altitude and speed in horizontal flight - when Tony Stark takes his Iron Man suit up to the edge of the atmosphere in the movie, it's the Blackbird's mark he's trying (and failing) to beat. What the Roadrunners, the CIA and Lockheed did at Area 51 during the Cold War is a tale more strange than any in science fiction, and far more fascinating than anything you'll find in the increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories about aliens and cover-ups.

Myths and legends make us who we are, define our sensibilities and cultures, help us to dream. I realise that. But sometimes, history is just as beguiling and seductive, and far more refreshing and inspiring. Those who want to believe that the Stealth "fighter" was built after reverse-engineering UFOs can go right ahead, I suppose: but for me it's by far the better story to know that the dark angels of Groom Lake were, verifiably and absolutely, products of the human mind


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