Aircraft confirmed to have been tested in Nevada also include
the F-117 Stealth Fighter, Northrop's B-2 Stealth Bomber , SR-71 Recon spy plane and the SR-71
The Blackbird's existence was denied for many years but it is
still being used today and is the highest and fastest aircraft the USAF possess.
The dry lake bed area was chosen as a testing sight by a
consortium comprising test pilot Tony Levier, Dorsey Kammerer, engineer and foreman of Skunkworks
(Lockheed's advanced technology division), and aircraft designer Kelly Johnson.
Johnson and Levier needed
the best possible place to test the U-2 and after visiting sites in several
dessert states, the Groom Lake area was recommended to the CIA by the group
In the late 1970's testing of several exotic aircraft
in the restricted area led to the
adoption of the name 'Dreamland'.
These projects included the Have Blue and
Tacit Blue stealth technology demonstrations to
research lowest possible levels of radar return.
The secrecy of these tests brought
extreme security measures.
In the 1980's the Groom Lake base was considerably expanded.
The main runway
was extended to the south and then a huge northerly extension was built out onto
Below: Aircraft leaving McRann AFB
shuttle workers to Groom Lake
Today the runway has a length of 27,000 feet with a similar parallel
runway established in the 1990's.
Area 51 is said to have the world's longest
The air force took delivery of its first F-117
stealth fighters in 1982.
It proved to be a star performer with advanced radar
camouflage. This is mainly attributed to both the metals and the paint used to
minimise radar return.
The aircrafts design is based on stringent diamond shapes
which also make the plane radar invisible. While the stealth followed programmed
commands to fly at optimum radar avoidance altitude, the pilot could concentrate
wholly on accurate bombing.