Museum of Flight to lift veil on Area 51

Staff writerApril 25, 2014 

Have you ever wondered what really goes on at Groom Lake, Nev., otherwise known as Area 51?

The super-secret U.S. Air Force facility isn’t a myth. But happenings there frequently become fantasy. That’s the result when alien conspiracy theorists mix with the world’s most secret and advanced aircraft.

In the 1980s, the base was the home of the F-117, the Nighthawk stealth fighter. Its unusual shape triggered alien spaceship rumors before the existence of the plane was disclosed to the public. Before that, it housed the SR-71 Blackbird, one of the highest flying and fastest spy planes that ever flew.

On Saturday, Area 51 will be the subject of a day of discussions at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Presenters include authors Peter Merlin and T.D. Barnes.

Merlin is an aviation historian at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California, and Barnes is president of the Blackbird spy plane historical organization, Roadrunners Internationale. Barnes has authored books about the Blackbird programs at Area 51.

The day includes a tour of the museum’s Blackbird. The program runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and is free with admission to the museum.


Where: The Museum of Flight, 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle (Exit 158 off Interstate 5 on Boeing Field)

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Museum admission: $19 for adults, $16 for seniors 65 and older, $16 for active-duty military, $11 for youths ages 5 to 17, and free for children under 5

More information: 206-764-5720 or


10-11 a.m.: Book signing with author Peter Merlin.

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Area 51 presentation by Merlin.

1:30-2 p.m.: Guided tour of the Museum’s M/D-21 Blackbird in the Great Gallery.

2:30-4 p.m.: Presentation by author T.D. Barnes, president of Roadrunners Internationale.

4-5 p.m.: Book signing with Barnes.

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