I have been visiting Rachel since the early 1990's. It's such a peaceful, stable community that it is easy to loose track of time. I first stopped by on my way to my sister's in Arizona after looking up Groom Lake on a AAA Nevada map. I'd seen something on TV about Area 51 and knew it was at Groom, so off I went to discover for myself if we (our government) were flying air vehicles that did not require the use of fossil fuels.
On the road down from Queen City Summit (Hwy. 375) I could see Rachel off in the distance and began to wonder if this was that "alien place" I'd heard about somewhere. Sure enough, when I got close I could see the Little A'Le'Inn sign and stopped to check it out. I threw open the front door and shouted "I'm hooome!", and got the strangest look from Connie behind the bar as she tried to figure out who the heck I was.
I spent the night, bought Chuck Clark's "Area 51 and S4 Handbook", met him and got him to sign it, and took off for my sister's. I was back in a week, and Chuck was gracious enough to "show me the ropes". He took me and two RAF pilots out to the border to see the "Deadly Force Authorized" signs, the cameras and the "Cammo Dudes". We found a place in the rocks by White Sides where we could hide from the guards, hoping to get the Blackhawk helicopter to come look for us.
The B-2 was flying around Bald Mountain., doing touch and go's at Dreamland, and we could hear the guards getting nervous on Chucks scanner. The pilot of the B-2 spotted us and ratted us out to the guards and we were thrilled, laughing, jumping around and high-fiving each other and waving at the B-2!
I was fortunate enough to show up during a Red Flag exercises, and Chuck showed me some of the best places to watch and get a buzz job, and before I even did any serious night watching at Area 51 for discs, I was hooked! 14's, 15's, 16's, 18's, A-10's, F-111's, Mirages, Harriers, Migs, Tornados, Jaguars, B-52's, Hinds, Apaches and MI8's have all flown over my head 200 ft. or less at one time or another, and it's more fun than humans are allowed!
Over the years, I have seen 13 objects being tested at night over Area 51 that I can't explain, often flat and round with a pulsing light underneath that looked like you could grab it and it would drip off your fingers, with no wings. It truly looks like a disc. I've also seen a bouncing light make geometric shapes in the sky - equilateral triangles, circles, rectangles, etc. then stop, and as we searched the sky would find it happening a hundred miles away on the opposite side of the horizon. Each sighting was with witnesses and completely sober.
After a time I met more and more people in the town and was eventually declared a "resident-alien" by the folks in Rachel. I've found them to be hard-working, honest, "down home" people that watch out and take care of each other, and I am proud to call them my friends and Rachel my home away from home.
Update by the Webmaster: As of 5/2001 Bill has graduated from "resident alien" to full-time resident of Rachel, NV.
Local artist Bill Whiffen in his Rachel workshop
Bill eventually moved to turning wood, as it provides an avenue of artistic as well as functional creativity, with an emphasis of displaying the "soul of the tree". His work focuses on the natural edge, knots and other imperfections, and he tries to show the life that was in the tree in each piece he creates.
Bill has been an underwater photographer since 1989, and has done many pieces that integrate woodturning and the undersea environment. He is one of the first to inlay the "Diver Down" dive flag in pens, treasured by any scuba diver that receives one.
His work has been entered in the Nevada Clark County Fair which includes Las Vegas and all of Southern Nevada, where he won all three top honors in the Creative Arts division, as well as the only Directors Award given for a turned and carved Christmas Tree Ornament.
Bill passed away peacefully on August 6, 2008, after a short severe illness. Click here for the Obituary. He is at peace now. We miss you, Bill!