Over the years, mysterious military aircraft and UFO sightings have always marched in lockstep. Test flights of Top Secret or experimental airplanes have very often been mistaken for UFOs, and such research and development of these super high-tech airplanes is often conducted at the very air force bases most often associated with UFO lore, such as Wright-Patterson, Groom Lake, and of course, Area 51.
In fact, UFOs and secret military aircraft are so intimately related, it has often been suggested that such airplanes — for example the F-117A stealth fighter — were actually “reverse engineered” from crashed and captured UFOs.
No such story is better known among UFO circles, then the fabled “Project Aurora,” a project that has led to the development of actual military aircraft, some that to this day, officials still refuse to admit exist.
It all started back in the late-1980s/early 1990s, when rumors began to circulate among the aviation world that a highly secret, futuristic aircraft was being flown out of Area 51 – and under distinctly covert circumstances. The supposedly large, black-colored, triangular-shaped aircraft was said to be able to fly and maneuver at incredible speeds – as high as Mach 8, or over 6000 miles per hour – and could outfly just about anything else on the planet. It was rumored to be known as “The Aurora.”
Officially, at least, and according to the U.S. Government, the Aurora does not exist and has never existed.
The name “Aurora” was first ascribed to the mysterious super-plane in March 1990. That was when the well-respected magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology (AW&ST) had a cover story featuring the “non-existent” aircraft.
The article within revealed that the term “Aurora” had appeared in the 1985 U.S. budget – and had possibly appeared by mistake, which makes sense if the program was so “Top Secret” that its very existence had to be denied at all costs. And speaking of costs, it was rumored that around $500 million had been provided to those working out at Area 51 on secret, futuristic, some would even say even, “alien inspired,” aircraft.
AW&ST suspected that “Aurora” was not the name of any one single plane, but a “code-name” for any number of aircraft under development that were both radical in design and technology. Later investigators, though, concluded that Aurora referred to just one type of aircraft. AW&ST learned that by 1987 the budget for “Project Aurora” had soared to an excess of two billion dollars.
Does the Aurora Exist?
Despite continual denials, it seems the Aurora does indeed exist, and may have been seen flying over our closest ally the United Kingdom. In the early 1990s there were a string of sightings of large triangular shaped crafts, and strange sounds over Scotland which some bewildered locals said were UFOs.
However, documents recently obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the UK newspaper The Guardian, suggest that the UK officials knew, or at least very much suspected, what the lights and strange aircraft were. The documents show that Members of Parliament looked into rumors that the Aurora was operating secretly out of RAF Machrihanish Air Base on the tip of Kintyre.
Briefing notes given to the then defense secretary Tom King on March 4 1992 show that civil servants did give the idea some credence. “There is no knowledge in the MoD of a ‘black’ program of this nature, although it would not surprise the relevant desk officers in the Air Staff and [Defense Intelligence Staff] if it did exist.”
The most credible witness was Chris Gibson, who had 12 years’ experience with the Royal Observer Corps and was an expert on recognizing aircraft. He saw a triangular plane flanked by two US fighters being refueled in flight by tanker while he was working on the Galveston Key oilrig in 1989. The plane was unlike anything he had ever seen. “There was no precedent for this,” he said. “I kind of sussed out that it was something I shouldn’t have seen.” He reported the sighting to Jane’s Defense Weekly in 1992.
The Truth About Hypersonic Aircraft
Talking about Aurora and the possibility of whether it is indeed “out there” cannot be discussed without mention of the US’s SR-71 Blackbird. Now perhaps the most famous and recognizable spy-plane in the world, its existence as well was denied for decades. The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. Many believe that Aurora was designed, developed, and tested as a replacement for the famed Blackbird.
Both the SR-71, and its predecessor the U-2 — which also was supposed to not exist until the then Soviet Union shot one down in 1960 and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers – were developed by the Lockheed “Skunk Works.” In the late 1990s, journalist Nick Cook of Jane’s Defense Weekly traveled to the famed Skunk Works to interview its head, Jack Gordon, and tour the facility. He later recounted a mysterious incident that left him scratching his head.
“Just before I left the [Skunk Works] building, I stopped in front of a large chart on the wall of the lobby area,” Cook wrote. “I hadn’t noticed it on the way in. It proudly illustrated the lineage of every Skunk Works aircraft since the XP-80. Past the picture of the U-2, past the SR-71 Blackbird and the F-117A Stealth Fighter, past the YF-22 and DarkStar, and there was something called ‘Astra.’”
“Sitting at the top of the tree, Astra looked like an ultra-high-speed reconnaissance aircraft,” Cook added, “every pundit’s dream of how Aurora ought to look.”
Cook asked Lockheed’s press representative what “Astra” was, and weeks later was told it was a 30-year-old “concept for a high-speed airliner.” But why would a 30-year-old concept for a commercial plane be at the top of a tree of Skunk Works once super-secret military aircraft is peculiar, to say the least.
In 2013, Lockheed announced that indeed had in development the SR-72, a true successor to the famous SR-71, and in 2017, observers report the first sightings of a demonstrator vehicle believed to be linked to the Skunk Works’ planned SR-72 high-speed aircraft project.
Speaking to Aviation Week soon after those sightings, Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs organization, hinted that progress towards an optionally piloted SR-72 precursor flight research vehicle (FRV) was proceeding on schedule.
More recently, regarding the SR-72 Weiss has been quoted as saying “…all I can say is the technology is mature and we, along with DARPA and the services, are working hard to get that capability into the hands of our warfighters as soon as possible… I can’t give you any timelines or any specifics on the capabilities. It is all very sensitive… We can acknowledge the general capability that’s out there, but any program specifics are off limits.”
So the SR-72 is definitely a thing, and it and may just owe its lineage and pedigree to a plane named “Aurora” or “Astra” that supposedly does not exist, sitting atop a famous Family Tree.