Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton
This the Air Force’s premier research and development center; many of the super-secret aircraft and systems tested at places like Nevada’s Area 51 and California’s Edwards Air Force base are engineered here. Foreign military aircraft and weapons systems are also studied and evaluated here. The Air Force Institute of Technology is perhaps the foremost aeronautical engineering institution in the world, offering advanced degrees to career Air Force and Department of Defense personnel. From 1947 to 1969, this was home to Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official investigation into UFO sightings. And, if certain rumors are correct, this is also where the Air Force stores the bodies of dead UFO aliens in a building known as “Hangar 18. ”
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) is located on the site where the Wright Brothers conducted some of their pioneering aviation work. It was named for Wilbur Wright and for Lt. Frank Patterson, one of the first military test pilots who died during a test flight. The first military operations began here in 1917 when the Army Air Corps began training pilots for service in World War I.
From its inception, WPAFB’s prime mission has been aviation research and development. World War II greatly expanded WPAFB’s operations and added foreign aviation technology research as a major activity. Following World War II and creation of the Air Force as a separate service, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Foreign Technology Division were established at WPAFB. The latter often obtained actual items of foreign hardware (such as Soviet MiGs), took them apart, analyzed them, and even flew them to understand the capabilities and weaknesses of foreign aerial weapons. Sometimes the hardware was captured on the battlefield, but more often was acquired by bribing corrupt officials and military officers in Soviet client states. Such activities became among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War and secrecy greatly increased at WPAFB as a result. The Foreign Technology Division is still highly active today, analyzing Russian and Chinese aircraft, airborne weapons systems, radar systems, and electronic systems.
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When UFOs (then known as “flying saucers” because of the most commonly reported shape) were first observed after World War II, a common theory was that they could be secret Soviet weapons, perhaps based on captured Nazi technology. Because of its mission to investigate foreign technology, WPAFB was the natural place for the official Air Force investigation into UFOs, which eventually became known as Project Blue Book. Established in 1947, this effort continued into 1969 when a Colorado University report, commissioned by the Air Force, concluded that almost all UFOs were the result of misinterpretation of ordinary aircraft, atmospheric phenomena, or astronomical objects and did not represent a national security threat to the United States. The report also concluded that Project Blue Book should be shut down; the Air Force complied soon after the report’s release. However, rumors persist that UFO reports are still studied at WPAFB and secret investigative teams are dispatched from WPAFB to the sites of major UFO events such as reported landings and abductions.
The current employment at WPAFB is approximately 22,000, with about 10,000 being civilians. Over 6,000 Air Force personnel and their families live on the base.
What’s There: For all of the Top Secret Stuff going on at WPAFB, it looks very ordinary. It consists of numerous aircraft hangars and large buildings (some dating from before World War II), smaller maintenance and administrative buildings, runways, and housing and other support buildings for personnel and their dependents. The most readily identifiable building complex is the Museum of the United States Air Force, three converted hangars that comprise the largest aviation museum in the world.
(Possibly) Secret Stuff: One of the persistent stories about WPAFB is that there is a building, known as “Hangar 18,” containing wreckage from crashed UFOs, including the preserved bodies of space aliens in what is called the “Blue Room.”
The UFO alien body story may have had its origins in WPAFB’s connection to the Roswell, New Mexico “UFO crash” of 1947. It is known that debris and other material from the crash site was transported to WPAFB for analysis. While most investigators today even those who were once convinced the Roswell crash involved an extraterrestrial spacecraft now accept that the Roswell was a then-secret “Project Mogul” balloon, there are still those who believe the material sent to WPAFB in 1947 was a real UFO and its dead pilots, and that material is still held in storage there. As farfetched as that sounds, there were apparently some UFO-related activities at WPAFB that were being kept secret into the 1980s (see “Unusual Fact” below).
An alternative explanation for that secrecy is the theory that the Air Force indeed, the entire U.S. government has used the UFO mystery as a cover for other activities it doesn’t want the public to know about or take seriously. This theory has some merit; most of the best UFO reports from experienced pilots, police officers, etc., turned out to have involved inadvertent sightings of then-secret government aircraft and projects (such as the U2 and SR-71 spy planes or the first Stealth aircraft). This theory holds that Project Blue Book was actually a disinformation effort designed to protect classified aircraft projects by categorizing them as “UFO reports,” thereby ensuring they would not be taken seriously by the mainstream press and much of the public. In other words, Project Blue Book was actually a military exercise to manipulate public opinion in order to protect classified projects and activities.
And if that’s true, then there might still be some “UFO-related” activities going on at WPAFB.
Getting a Look Inside: The Museum of the United States Air Force can be reached from Interstate 70 by taking Exit 44A, which leads to Interstate 675 South. Following this highway to Exit 15 (Colonel Glenn Highway) and turn right at the traffic light at the end of the exit. Drive to the third traffic light at Harshman Road/Wright Brothers Parkway and turn right.
Unusual Facts: Okay, so all the UFO stuff sounds like bullshit. Maybe it is. But, for whatever reasons, the Air Force kept some of the UFO information it compiled and stored at WPAFB secret even from Barry Goldwater, the former U.S. Senator from Arizona and a general in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
In a letter dated March 28, 1975, to Shlomo Arnon of Los Angeles, Senator Goldwater wrote, “About 10 or 12 years ago I made an effort to find out what was in the building at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where the information is stored that has been collected by the
Air Force, and I was understandably denied this request. It is still classified above Top Secret. I have, however, heard that there is a plan underway to release some, if not all, of this material in the near future. I’m just as anxious to see this material as you are, and I hope we will not have to wait too much longer.”
But Goldwater was still waiting on October 19, 1981, when he wrote to Lee Graham of Monrovia, California: “First, let me tell you that I have long ago given up acquiring access to the so-called Blue Room at Wright-Patterson, as I have had one long string of denials from chief after chief, so I have given up.” And, in a letter dated July 12, 1986, to William Steinman of La Mirada, California, Goldwater wrote, “To answer your questions, I have never gained access to the so-called ‘Blue Room’ at Wright Patterson, so I have no idea what is in it. I have no idea of who controls the flow of ‘need-to-know’ because, frankly, I was told in such an emphatic way that it was none of my business that I’ve never tried to make it my business since.” When Goldwater wrote these last two letters, the Republicans were in control of the Senate, and Goldwater was chairman of the Intelligence Committee and sat on the Armed Services as well as Science Technology and Space Committees. In other words, he had plenty of weight to throw around. Yet the Air Force refused to share the UFO information stored at WPAFB with the chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
Makes you wonder what in hell they’re keeping secret about UFOs at WPAFB, doesn’t it?
Getting There: The Museum of the United States Air Force can be reached from Interstate 70 by taking Exit 44A, which leads to Interstate 675 South. Following this highway to Exit 15 (Colonel Glenn Highway) and turn right at the traffic light at the end of the exit. Drive to the third traffic light at Harshman Road/Wright Brothers Parkway and turn right. Drive to the exit for Springfield Pike and turn right at the end of the exit ramp. The museum is on the right; follow the posted signs to the entrance.