Whenever something strange appears in the airspace over and around Area 51, it’s a cause for questioning, possible concern, potential alarm and occasional panic. What does one make of the appearance of two long-retired F-117 Nighthawk stealth jets, with their distinctive triangular shapes, making both day and night flights, including refueling, over the Nevada desert? Is the military merely exercising them as part of a regular maintenance schedule it claims it puts all old aircraft stored on the base through? Why is it keeping old planes in mission-ready condition? Air shows? Gulf War re-enactments? Tom Cruise movies? Something else?
On July 26, 2018, Youtube user “pdgls” uploaded a video of two F-117 flying from Tonopah Test Range, the first testing grounds for the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawks in 1981 and the major operations center for the top secret aircrafts until it became the major “retirement” storage center for them starting in 2008. The video shows the jets – call signs Night (or Knight) 17 and 19. After what seem to be normal maneuvers. David Cenciotti at the Aviationist blog notes that Night 17 returns to the base while Night 19 changes its callsign to Dagger 17, making some long, low approaches before finally landing.
The Aviationist and other aviation and military blogs reporting on the sighting of the F-117s all seem to agree that the purpose of their flights is a mystery. A previous sighting in 2017 showed a suspicious hump behind the cockpit which some suspected was equipment to convert the jet to an autonomous pilot-less drone. Another theory is they’re testing new stealth gear or stealth sensors for current aircraft. That seems strange – why not test it on the aircraft it’s designed for? A more sinister theory is that the F-117s are pretending to be enemy aircraft to test simulators or perhaps even real response systems, although no other planes were seen in this particular operation.
In our continuing quests to find alien ships or super-secret futuristic military aircraft at Area 51, are we ignoring what’s actually happening there? Is it a good sign or a bad sign that 40-year-old jets are still being maintained and tested there? Are these operations merely a smokescreen? If so, what are they hiding – new technology or the fact that we have no new technology?
Is this the real reason why we’re getting a Space Force?