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Air Force Wants To Seize Mountain To Protect Secret Base

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                                 December 3, 1993

              This file shared with KeelyNet courtesy of Rick Lawler.
       Supersecret Groom Base  can  be  viewed  from  Nevada's  White Sides
       Mountain -- a mountain the U.S.  Air  Force  is  attempting  to take



       RACHEL, Nev. --  Hikers who make it to the top of  6,089-foot  White
       Sides Mountain get  a  clear  view  of dry Groom Lake.  Trekkers can
       spot long runways,  barnlike hangars  and  crops  of  communications
       equipment in the distance.  Some people even pull out binoculars and
       telescopes trying to get a peek at the latest U.S.  Air  Force  jets
       that routinely take off and land at the facility.

       The Pentagon wants  it stopped. It plans to seize 4,000 acres around
       White Sides Mountain and end public  observation  of  an air base so
       secret officials refuse  to  say it exists.  On Saturday,  about  20
       protesters crossed sagebrush   and   walked   to  the  edge  of  the
       restricted military zone at Groom  Lake. They set up camp at a place
       they call "Freedom Ridge" -- about two miles from the  foot of White
       Sides Mountain.  From  the ridge, protesters could look down and see
       the air base,  located some 125 miles  west  of  St.  George.   With
       protesters gathered around, Glenn Campbell said in a mocked bravado:
       "Just let them try and seize Freedom Ridge. We will  defend  that to
       the death."

       But Nevada Rep. James Bilbray says the mountain should be restricted
       for national-security reasons.  "Every time someone goes up on White
       Sides it costs  taxpayers  a lot of money," said Bilbray, a Democrat
       serving on the House Armed Services  Committee.  "They have to cover
       up what they're doing - at the base} with camouflage netting or roll
       it into hangars.  They  have to wait until the people  get  off  the
       mountain before they  can go on with what they were doing and that's
       not fair."

       The base has been used by the Air  Force  and the CIA to test secret
       aircraft, such as  the  U-2  spy plane and more recently  the  F-117
       stealth fighter.  Bilbray  says  military  security  knows  that spy
       satellites routinely observe the facility, but the base knows their

                                      Page 1

       orbit schedules --  and plans accordingly.  However, he says, hikers
       with cameras are unpredictable.

       Campbell sees no reason for the government's  secrecy.  The 33-year-
       old leader of  the White Sides protesters says times  have  changed.
       Campbell describes himself  as  a  UFO  investigator.  He moved from
       Boston to Rachel  in January after  reading  about  alien-spacecraft
       sightings at the  Groom  facility.  So  far, he says,  he  has  seen
       nothing but military planes cross the sky.

       When Campbell moved  to the town of about 100 people, he set up shop
       at the A-Le-Inn. The bar's owner,  Joe Travis, had painted a picture
       of a bug-eyed  alien  on  his  sign  to  attract  the  numerous  UFO
       enthusiasts who make the pilgrimage to Groom.  At first Campbell was
welcome. But his activism about White Sides brought the Lincoln
County sheriff out to Rachel one too many times. In August, he was
ejected from the A-Le-Inn after a sheriff's deputy came to
confiscate pictures Campbell had taken near the Groom facility.

Photography is prohibited near the base. Jim Goodall, an aviation
historian who lives in Tacoma, Wash., plans a more direct approach.
He says he will sneak up to the border at night, armed with his
cameras until he gets a clear photo of a new, secret aircraft
rumored to be at the base. "I'm a real pain in the a-- to my
government because I'm not someone you can brush off. I keep hanging
on," the 48-year-old said. Goodall is a sergeant with the Minnesota
Air National Guard and is the group's wing historian. He also has
free-lanced for several aviation publications and sold photos of the
stealth fighter before the Air Force publicly revealed the aircraft.

On Oct. 6, the Air Force filed a petition with the Bureau of Land
Management office in Reno, asking that 3,972 acres of land on White
Sides be withdrawn from public access. The purpose of the
withdrawal, they wrote, would be to "ensure the public safety and
the safe and secure operation of activities in the Nellis Range

The Nellis Range is a 3 million acre military reserve used for
combat training, weapons testing and -- at the secret air base -- a
lengthy airstrip for worldwide reconnaissance flights. When the
base expanded in 1984, the Air Force took 89,000 acres of public
land. They set up guard posts and turned hunters, miners, ranchers
and reporters away at gunpoint. Nevada politicians raised a stink,
saying the land grab was illegal.

Although after-the-fact, Congress approved the land withdrawal in
October of that year. This time around, the land-withdrawal process
will be more different, according to Curtis Tucker, the BLM area
manager who oversees much of central Nevada, including White Sides
Mountain. "A decision could take six months to a year," Tucker
said. "Of course, I don't know how much political pressure will come
to make it happen sooner."

Tucker said a representative of the secret facility approached him
in the spring to explain why the Air Force wanted White Sides shut
off to outsiders. "He was nonspecific. We talked in generalities,"
Tucker said. "It basically gets down to there are some assets they
don't want people to see."

Page 2

What they don't want people to see, according to published reports
in aviation trade journals, is a secret high-flying spy plane code-
named "Aurora."

The super-secret jet is said to attain speeds of 4,000 mph (Mach 6)
and seismologists in Southern California now call the plane's earth-
shaking sonic boons "air-quakes." Air Force information officers
offer some surprising answers when asked about the plane or the
secret test facility. "You're not going to get anyone in the Air
Force to talk about it," said Maj. Monica Aloisiom, a public-affairs
officer stationed at the Pentagon. "- Groom Lake is probably a
secret test facility and I don't have a need to know that, so I
don't know about that." The Air Force has a history of running
people out of the Groom area.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s the Sheahan family, led by Dan
Sheahan, mined at Groom. But atomic blasts damaged the mine and
above-ground buildings at Groom, according to Department of Energy
records. The Sheahans' horses were killed after they developed
huge, open sores. The Sheahans blamed radioactive fallout. Then, in
the summer of 1954, Air Force pilots flying from the Las Vegas
Gunnery Range attacked the Sheahan mining operation.

"Buildings have been struck by bullets, several people have narrowly
escaped being killed and some pilots have even gone so far as to
dive down and strafe our workings," Dan Sheahan wrote in a July 7,
1954, letter to then-Nev. Gov. Charles Russell. In 1958, the Air
Force bought out the Sheahans. That is when the military began the
U-2 spy-plane mission, according to a book written by Francis Gary
Powers. He was the U-2 pilot captured by Soviet forces in 1960 when
his spy plane went down over Russia.

In his book Operation Overflight, Powers referred to the secret air
base in the Nevada desert where he trained "as one of those you-
can't-get-there-from-here places." It was run by the CIA, he wrote,
and called "Watertown Strip" or simply "the ranch." Powers spent
nearly two years in a Soviet prison after his capture. In 1977, he
crashed a Los Angeles television station's helicopter and died.
During the Reagan administration, the Groom facility got a big boost
as part of the president's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) plan.
That is when the Air Force seized 89,000 acres adjacent to the base
in 1984, presumably to protect the stealth fighter and other black-
budget aircraft.

In 1989, UFO enthusiasts began traveling to the base after stories
spread that live aliens were being kept at so-called "Area 51." They
have climbed White Sides and the ridges overlooking the air base
looking for outer-space critters.

If the Air Force succeeds and takes White Sides, the people who trek
into the desert to look at lights in the night sky have a backup
plan. "I've already found a new spot," says aviator Goodall. "You
can't see the facility, but you can see anything that takes off from
the facility."
If we can be of service, you may contact
Jerry at (214) 324-8741 or Ron at (214) 242-9346

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