By Lisa A. Shiel
|In the last 20 years, one theory about UFOs seems to have gained momentum and become the favorite among ufologists. Of which theory do I speak? The one which states that many (even most) UFOs represent secret government projects.|
I have one comment on this theory—gimme a break!
My father served in the Air Force for 20 years. Then he worked in the defense industry for about the same length of time. I spent many years on Air Force bases, and living in the vicinity of secret government projects. My father, Walt Shiel, worked on the B-2 stealth bomber during its black-project days. While he remains a skeptic about UFOs, he has told me several times that the secret project theory is ludicrous. No government entity would test super-secret aircraft over populated areas! Northrop, which built the B-2, maintained a complex at Palmdale, on the edge of the Mojave Desert near Edwards Air Force Base, a major test facility. Let me tell you, Edwards sits way out there in the desert. Few people live anywhere near it.
When my dad worked for Northrop, we lived about 12 miles from the main gate at Edwards. We could see nothing of the base. Despite the flat landscape and lack of trees or other obstructions, the base itself remained out of sight for us. The main gate lay miles from the heart of the base.
Edwards is a remote installation. That's where secret planes get tested—not over interstate highways or the city of Phoenix, Arizona.
The Truth About UFOs and Restricted Airspace
The military has no need to test its secret aircraft over populated areas. They have vast sections of airspace which they can essentially cordon off to nonmilitary air traffic in order to perform their tests. A continuous band of restricted airspace extends from Point Mugu (just outside Oxnard, CA) northeast across the state, through the Mojave Desert past Edwards AFB and the China Lake Naval Weapons Center.
|Then, the restricted zone crosses into Nevada where it encompasses Nellis AFB and Tonopah (north of Las Vegas) before cutting across the border into Utah to cover the airspace over Wendover, home to several military testing grounds. The restricted corridor covers a vast amount of territory.|
So why would the military test secret aircraft over populated areas? They wouldn't. They'd use the restricted airspace they've got. The F-117 was tested near Tonopah. The project was not acknowledged until an F-117 crashed in the mountains west of Edwards AFB. Classified projects fly out of the north base at Edwards, far from populated areas. In the entire time I lived near Edwards, I never heard of rashes of UFO sightings. Yet, if most UFOs represent secret aircraft, then I should've heard about lots of sightings during the B-2 years. I did not.
The military prints maps which show all the restricted airspace across the country, as well as the normal hours during which the military uses that airspace. Anyone can get one of these maps. If you really want to prove UFOs are secret government projects, then you ought to get a copy of that map and correlate UFO sightings to the restricted airspace. I've looked and looked but can find no evidence that anyone has made these correlations. Perhaps I'll take up the challenge—to see if a correlation in fact exists. I would expect at least a few sightings to line up with the restricted airspace. But I'll stick my neck out here and predict that few of the thousands of sightings gathered thus far will correlate with the locations and hours of use for the restricted areas.
The military can and does use the restricted airspace at times not listed on the maps. However, you can call the FAA to find out if the restricted airspace was active during the period when a UFO sighting occurred. A little legwork can help demystify the secret project theory.
The military uses the restricted airspace available to it. They only go outside that airspace when absolutely necessary; even then, however, they fly their secret aircraft at high altitude to prevent civilians from spotting them. The SR-71, when it needed to fly over populated areas, flew at 100,000 feet where no one could see it. The sound of its sonic booms didn't make it to the ground.
That's how you operate secret aircraft...in secret!
Why Researchers Blame the Government
Why do ufologists like the secret government project theory? Perhaps part of the reason stems from a little-known fact about UFO researchers: most of them have never seen a UFO. I have seen several in my life, including a huge object with six lights suspended from it. I saw that UFO in North Texas, not far from Fort Worth. At the time, I lived right under the flight path of the international airport and the joint reserve base in Fort Worth. But the object I saw came from neither of those places.
If you've never seen a UFO, especially a large one, you may find it easy to dismiss it as a government project. That theory can certainly set your mind at ease. Which would you rather believe—that unknown entities are invading our airspace on a regular basis, or that our government is testing secret spy planes?
Another issue may play into the reason as well. Most UFO researchers today have never served in the military or worked in the defense industry. I probably spent more time on military bases than the majority of UFO researchers. No one who hasn't lived around military people and installations may fail to realize how the military—especially the Air Force—operates. If they want to keep something secret, they do. For nearly four years I had no idea what my dad did at Northrop. Only when the B-2 project was made public did I find out he had worked on the newest, most high-tech bomber in the military's arsenal.
For the spy plane theory to work, we must regard our best and brightest engineers and military personnel as total nincompoops. They test their "super-secret" aircraft over big cities, busy freeways, and other populous areas. I am no fan of the government, but come on! We UFO researchers need to get a little perspective. Nobody tests secret government projects in full view of the public.
That wouldn't be very secret, now would it?
©2007 Lisa A. Shiel
Lisa A. Shiel is the author of Backyard Bigfoot: The True Story of Stick Signs, UFOs, & the Sasquatch, a ForeWord Magazine 2006 Book of the Year finalist. Critics have praised Backyard Bigfoot, saying “[it] is as informative as it is entertaining” (Midwest Book Review), “[it is] one of the best types of investigative reporting I've seen” (Reader Views), and “you may agree or not with her conclusions but you will be entertained by the discussions” (The Mining Journal, Marquette).
As a recognized Bigfoot expert, Lisa has been interviewed by big-city newspapers, drive-time talk radio hosts, local and national magazines, and TV reporters. In 2005, she founded the Michigan Upper Peninsula Bigfoot Organization (MUPBO) to explore all aspects of the Bigfoot phenomenon, from sightings to evolution to UFOs. Lisa has a master's degree in Library Science. She currently pens a blog, Bigfoot Quest, as a companion to the MUPBO site.