On October 17, a passenger plane entered the prohibited airspace of the Nevada Test and Training Range. The plane in question flew just 15 kilometers from the very secret Area 51. This base was used, and still is used, to develop cutting-edge devices for the needs of the American Armed Forces and agencies.
A forbidden area
With nearly 41,158.8 km², the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) represents the largest training area (for air and land units) in the world. You have to imagine that, within a few square kilometers, the American Armed Forces have a training ground covering the size of Switzerland (41,285 km²). Many exercises take place, including the huge Red Flag air exercise.
This space also includes the very secret Area 51. This air base was notably used for the development of cutting-edge devices that were technologically well ahead of their time:
- U-2 Dragon Lady
- A-10 Oxcart and SR-71 Blackbird
- Tacit Blue, Have Blue prototypes and F-117 Nighthawk stealth bombers
The base is still used today for this purpose but the technologies currently developed there are obviously top secret (probably stealth drones, NGAD prototypes, etc.). In fact, Area 51 and its nearby airspace are strictly prohibited from overflight, except by authorized aircraft.
A major would like to speak to you
However, on October 17, a Mooney M20 aircraft took off from St. George Regional Airport (Utah, United States) around 4:49 p.m. local time. The small plane then took a heading east and, against all expectations, entered the restricted airspace of the NTTR, going so far as to approach within 15 kilometers of Area 51. After having flown over around forty kilometers within the prohibited airspace, the plane then abruptly changed course and headed due north before leaving the NTTR. A radio exchange between the control tower at Buchanan Airport (the pilot’s final destination) and the pilot in question confirms that the US Air Force would like to speak to the pilot for his “in-flight deviation”: “(…) A major (name of soldier) would like to talk to you.”
The American press (Daily Caller) was able to identify the pilot. The latter, aged over 70, claims to have voluntarily entered the prohibited zone in order to “test the alert frequencies”. He also announces that his plane was surprisingly not intercepted by US Air Force fighter planes.