Up-close visit from all 3 Pave Hawks

Message posted by JB737 on March 16, 2007 at 20:28:33 PST:

Now for some details on my triple-Pave-Hawk incident which I mentioned in the April Tikaboo thread. Some aspects of it were so surprising to me, that I think we all need to more seriously consider just what types of surveillance we may be under.

One day in December, 2006, during daylight hours, I drove directly from a Las Vegas hotel/casino up Route 93 to the usual turnoff between the Pahranagat Lakes to go to Tikaboo. I averaged probably 25-30mph from there to the fork with Old Corn Creek Road at 5 miles in. I mistakenly thought I was supposed to go right there, and did so after accidentally passing it by maybe 50 yards and backing up. On my Garmin i2 car GPS nav, the turn showed as a right angle rather than a fork, which decieved me into thinking it was the "sharp right turn" I was looking for, and the ground did appear to have been straightened out from that into a fork some while ago. After another half mile or so, I reached a barbed-wire cattle gate, so I thought that this confirmed I had turned at the right point (while nothing was further from the truth), and I got out to open it. That is when I heard helicopter noise quite nearby, seemingly hovering behind a hill behind me and to my left, hence to my southeast. It guessed the hill was maybe 1/4 mile away and the helicopter was maybe near its base on the opposite side from me, or possibly a bit farther away but low enough that the hill blocked my view of it. It took me a good minute or two to get the fence out of the way and drive through, and another minute or two to close the fence, check my shoes for horse dung, brush sand off them, etc. Still, the helicopter noise was heard in the same area but not seen. I proceeded maybe another half mile, where the going got pretty rough for my rented Taurus. Forget about the helicopter, I have to keep from doing a can-opener job on the oil pan, and preferably not scrape up the body either. I figured that whoever said any car could make it, had a different idea of what a car was than Hertz or I did, or maybe I was on the wrong road. The sides of the road are closing in on me with bushes being replaced by rock ledge, and the center of the track is getting higher, and the road is starting to curve hard right. Now I'm just stopping, creeping, stopping creeping. When the oil pan was starting to heavily scrape on the solid rock center of the road, and there was no room to avoid that, I backed out a couple hundred yards until I could turn around and then drove to the gate. By then I had rationalized that I was maybe on the right road, but that dirt must have washed out of the tire tracks. Or maybe the tracks were deepened by sinister forces, effectively raising the rock center to become Taurus-proof.

As I got out to open the gate again, the helicopter was still heard but not seen behind the same hill, now ahead to my right. Funny place for a helipad, and certainly nobody is hovering there just because of me, right...so when will this mystery be solved? As I unhooked the fence, a Pave Hawk appeared and slowly went from my right to my left (basically North, I think). So that explains that, I thought. With 3 helicopters patrolling the perimeter, it's not unreasonable to think that one of them stumbled upon my dust plume driving in, and checked me out.

But in an instant I also wondered: If it wasn't already nearby, how did it detect and get behind me so quickly without me seeing it come over the Tikaboo Range at full bore as it would have to if scrambled from base, to get there in time...no more than 12-15 minutes after I was just a random car driving up 93 from Vegas?

While I'm mulling that over, and trying to decide whether to grab my camera, out from behind the hill comes the Pave Hawk's evil twin! WHOA, I don't think they're here to drop me a dozen Dunkin Donuts.

Then a third one! What the f does THIS mean? I'm still 33 miles and 2 mountain ranges away from the helicopter base at Area 51, yet of all those thousands of square miles within that radius, ALL THREE of their security helicopters are HERE because of ME???

Yikes. I wish I had told someone when and where I was going to be out in the wild here. Nobody knows. OOPS!

What am I looking at here? Random patrol? Maybe. Extremely fast scramble time responding to sensors? They'd really have had to zip, and probably only possible if already in the air or on station with engines running. Routinely follow cars up 93? Doubtful. Always follow cars heading to Tikaboo via sensor tripping or cameras? Maybe. Some combination of the above, where they happened to be nearby patrolling the Tikaboo/Alamo side of things when they noticed me turn off 93 and kick up dust on the dirt road? Plausible, and I would hope it is the actual case. So it is still plausible I'm nothing to them but an unknown "wanderer of interest".

Then, from what they see, I could be.....Maybe climbing Tikaboo (but I'm not wearing boots yet). Maybe a birder, rock hound, or plant collector. Nothing special, just a car to take a peek at while bored on patrol. Clearly clueless, tried the 4WD road with a Taurus. Probably will eat lunch in Rachel and take a picture of the Deadly Force signs. (Which in fact I did, and did not, respectively.)

Or are they here for reasons more impressive and sinister. Like already knowing who I am, what my hobbies are, what car I rented, and where it is located at all times? If so, this tracking of Area 51 buffs is triggered by what? Are they listening to casino-hotel windows in search of time-exposure camera shutter clicks at night from rooftop devices on the Janet terminal in Vegas? Are they tracking down the real-life identity of everyone who visits any related websites, then putting them on a watchlist? Did I type the wrong word into Google one time too many? Or maybe the base commander just likes to hover his entire helicopter security fleet far off-base, for 15 minutes at a time, a few hundred yards from anyone who happens along...just to see if they can make them sweat. Well, it worked. :-)

Or maybe they knew I'd taken the wrong turn, and decided to stay and watch this Bozo get hung up on the rocks in a rental car. Maybe the first one called in the other two to film a rescue mission of a stranded tourist, or to cover them if I turned nasty. NOT. :-)

Baffled by their very presence, I was just satisfied that they showed no aggression, and I wanted to keep it that way.

The 3 of them were still very low and slow, maybe 100 feet off the deck and doing 20mph checking me out from no closer than 200yds or so. They were keeping a respectful enough distance that if there was just one, I probably would have waved and maybe taken out my camera if it had a shorter lens on it for a snapshot. Unfortunately it had a rather cannon-like lens assembly on it, and I was not going to point that at them. So I chose to just go about my business, considering that if I ticked off even 1 out of 3 of them by doing so, it could become a bad scene. I thought, "Maybe it's a bad scene already and they just haven't chosen to tell me yet.... but if it's not, I don't want to turn it into one."

They disappeared behind a nearby hill to the north of me. They were in sight maybe 1 minute between the hill on the right and the hill on the left.

Their MO up to now has been to go behind a hill and wait a while, then maybe peek to see what I am doing. Probably they popped out a few times while I wasn't pointing in their direction to check where I was, or maybe they knew my location through other means and only popped out when they either were satisfied that I was leaving, or wanted get a good look .

But in any case, it seemed very probable that if I kept wandering around there, one or more might hang around for a while playing hide and seek. Taurus vs Pave Hawk is a mismatch for hide and seek, even if they're just doing it for fun, and there is a very big chance they aren't doing it for fun, plus a small chance that they are specifically doing it to get me to leave. Or to track me until the Sheriff arrives to question me, or "take my film" if I have a camera, or whatever.

I retreated back to 93.
From a "finding the route" perspective, I wish I had then reset the trip odometer and given it another try, as I clearly turned off the main road at the wrong mileage. But I could do that by bringing better directions/maps next time. Not getting through, plus the helicopter incident, had convinced me to come back some other time better prepared.

My entire trip's worth of photos were on the single large flash memory card I had with me. I didn't want to be the first person to have camera equipment and/or photos confiscated near Tikaboo. Next time, I will show up with a blank (and I do mean blank, not just formatted) flash card for each segment of my adventures related to Dreamland.

Here, take my memory card, and have fun trying to find previous photos on it with Lexar's recovery software, because there are none. Mind if I open this other, factory-sealed chip for a group photo here, sir? :-)


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