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Nellis North Range Trip Report

From: (Glenn Campbell, Las Vegas)
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 1997 07:30:32 -0800
Subject: Nellis North Range Trip Report

Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 13:24:51 -0400
From: Sasquatch

Nellis North Range Trip Report - April 10/11 1997

4/10 - Left Vegas early in AM via Lake Mead Blvd. My intention was to
get up close and personal with Nellis Area 2. Alas, I was equipped
only with my Navada Gazzeteer when I really should have had 7 1/2 USGS
maps! After ambling around on 4x4 powerline access roads for a while,
I thru in the towel and headed back into Vegas to pick up I-15 North.
Interesting sidebar here is that the De Lorme map indicates that you
should be able to get through to Apex from the southeastern side of
the Sunrise Mountain cluster. I found No Trespassing signs when I got
to the Nevada CoGeneartion facility on the paved road a few miles
north of the Lake Mead Blvd turnoff and didn't want to risk further
travel. Anyone know if that road actually ties across?

Anyway, I headed north and soon found myself heading towards Coyote
Summit via 375. I noticed that all the ET highway signage seems to
have disappeared except in Rachel. Did the state take them down, or
have they all been stolen? About 3 miles shy of the summit I pulled
over to take advantage of the excellent visibility and have a good
look at the Bald Mountain radar facility with my trusty Nikon 10x50's.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed a black aircraft flying just behind
the mountains in the emmigrant valley area, toward Groom . Yes, it
really was black! I caught only short glimpses of it between the
peaks, but it appeared to be executing turns and moving up and down
the valley. While my visual impression was that of a B2, I  can't be
entirely certain, though it was most definately not a conventional
boom aircraft. In any case, the sighting lasted 10 minutes or so. This
would have been very close to noon. I packed up and headed in to
Rachel, stopping at the Research Center for a tip o' the hat and
lunching at the Inn.

Afternoon found me driving up to the Cedar gate of the range and
monitoring aerial high jinks visually and via radio. The range
maintenance folks seemed especially busy. I imagined that they were
probably still tidying up after Green Flag. I then proceeded  toward
the Tonopah Test Range. While enroute, in the middle of nowhere (north
Railroad Valley), I encountered a homeless fellow pushing a shopping
cart full of his worldly belongings down 375! He looked like he could
have been an abductee beamed off the streets of Vegas only moments
before. I thought about stopping, but decided that perhaps it had only
been a mirage. Anyway, he was heading toward Rachel and I didn't want
to delay his journey  to that earthly paradise.

Arriving and setting  up on a hill overlooking  the TTR, I found some
exciting doings. There appears to be a MAJOR construction project
going  on a few miles east of the existing base. Seems to be a lot of
grading and interesting structures going up. Also, there was a steady
stream of construction traffic and a large volume of containerized
freight going in. Does anybody know what this project is? After
staring through my bino's till my eyes watered, I packed it in and
headed for Tonopah, where I dined and roomed over night. I slept well,
knowing that my government was spending taxes faster than it can raise
them just a few miles away.

4/11 -  Got out of Tonopah early and headed up past Warm Springs on Rt
6. Stopped off at Basecamp, no troll, but there was electronic
maintenance taking place at the base of a communications tower about
1/3 down the runway. Two vehicles and about three folks were taking
part. No other action here. Gee, they take great care of that place!

Headed up to Project  Faultless site. Even though I've been up to NTS
Yucca Flat's , this place struck me as kind of eerie. So quiet.
Someone is apparently doing recent soil samples here. A brand new
shovel and several shiny new drums marked with codes and "not
analyzed" were examined. Also some survey flags, though these appeared
to be older. Picked up some cable as souveiner. They won't let you do

Proceeded on to Lunar Crater. Nice, worth spending some time there. I
found no markers remaining in the original BLM monument pedestal, but
someone had constructed a new bench (1996 date given) in memory of
the former Tonopah distict BLM recreational administrator whom had
served in 'Nam between 1968-70 (hell time in S.E. asia). The tiny
plaque stated that this was a favortite place of his for quiet
reflection. It occurred to me just then that I would have liked to met
this man.

Taking a chance, I thrashed my rental Montero (an able steed) east on
the BLM dirt track all the way down into the Railroad Valley to rejoin
375. A beautiful drive. I arrived back in Rachel at noon to grab a
Deja Vu lunch and listen to Uncle Joe talk to the tourists.
Apparently, they were all adament about returning with 4x4's to hike
Tikaboo, having heard that someone was shot at there recently (?) I
was lurking, so I didn't ask where this bizzare report originated
from.  A liquor or beer bottle, I reckon.

Finally, heading back toward Ash Springs on 375,  I decided to head
up Groom Lake road (even though I had sworn not to) and thrash the
Montero to Castle Rocks for the sheer hell of it. Inexplicably, this
prompted a visit from the Pave Hawk, which hovered over me at about
200' and did a little rocking jig. I guess I am a jaded old bastard or
maybe I've just lost respect - I flipped him off and he left for a
perimiter survey. I made my way back out on GLR past the usual tourist
traffic. Wow, that was swell.

Concluded the day with my drive back to Vegas. Looking forward to the
Interceptors test site tour and Nellis air show next week.

Key Observations: TTR constuction project looks expensive...and
interesting! B2 (assumed) flying in black paint (not usual haze grey)
at Groom indicates that they may be doing further radar cross section
work with new coatings or new weapons delivery system. This would have
to be classified work, otherwise I assume they would be doing it near
Palmdale (Tehachapi).  I understand a new "super penetrator" nuke
delivery package was being tested from the B2 platform at TTR late
last fall. On the other hand, maybe it wasn't a B2 at all! (Black
Triangle?) Anyway, it's good to know that they're keeping themselves
occupied with something up there.  All in all, just enough action to
make for a worthwhile trip.

-  Sasquatch

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