The name Area 51 conjures up for the conspiracy-minded a whole host of notions, from fantastical military weapons to UFOs and alien bodies stashed in deep freeze.
To Yuba City's Tony Bevacqua, though, the name means only a U.S. Air Force base in Nevada where he was stationed for a few months, and where not much was unbelievable other than, maybe, how Spartan the living conditions were.
"There was basically a bunch of trailers. There was no TV that I recall," said Bevacqua, 78. "Maybe if you had a shortwave radio you could get signals, but I don't remember any commercial radio."
Bevacqua, a U-2 pilot who spent February to June 1957 at what he knows as Groom Lake, talked about his time there as part of the book "Area 51," written by an investigative journalist with Los Angeles Times Magazine and published last month.
The journalist, Annie Jacobsen, relied on declassified material and interviews with Bevacqua and dozens of other pilots who were stationed at Area 51 while they tested the military's then-top secret spy planes.
"The declassified documents I was able to access filled in details and verified facts, but I believe the heart and soul of my book comes from the stories of the legendary Cold Warriors who lived and worked at Area 51," Jacobsen wrote in an email.
When he arrived at the base, Bevacqua said, he remembered seeing employees from the CIA stationed there but pursuing a different mission.
"I couldn't imagine that I'd ever need to or want to know what they were doing," said Bevacqua, adding the CIA was only there a few months before its operation was moved elsewhere. "You'd have to be a dummy if you didn't know they were spying."
For the five months he spent at Area 51, he flew U-2s with other airmen, testing the planes' capabilities for speed, fuel usage, flight time and other data.
In June 1957, the U-2 program moved to nearby Laughlin Air Force Base, and Bevacqua's time at Area 51 was over. Afterward, and after he retired from Beale Air Force Base in 1973, he didn't discuss Area 51, largely because no one asked.
"I wouldn't normally bring it up," Bevacqua said, pointing out the U.S. military only recently acknowledged the site's existence and still says little about its activities. "It was a very long time ago I was even there."
Though he said he doesn't know for sure, he suspects after he left, the military spent a lot of time upgrading the base to make it more current and sophisticated, then resumed test flights of spy aircraft there, such as the A-12 and SR-71.
As to wild theories about alien spacecraft there, Bevacqua said, he never saw anything of it and dismisses such talk as, in paraphrased language, cattle manure.
Details about the base coming to light now didn't bother him, he said.
"I think back then, I didn't see anything someone couldn't have found out about since then," he said. "A lot of stuff is unclassified that was classified then, except the missions themselves."
He added, there are other parts of his time there he still doesn't discuss.
"Some of the equipment is still being used today," he said. "So that's still classified."
Jacobsen said she believes there's more to the story, too.
"Almost every person that I interviewed told me that they were only telling me a fraction of what they knew regarding Area 51," she said. "What I have written - all 500-plus pages of it — is but a piece of the puzzle."
Geauga County, Ohio, Man Shares Story of UFO Sighting
Published: 12:53 PM 6/10/2011
By: Deb Lee, newsnet5.com
MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio - A man who believes he saw a UFO in Geauga County shared his amazing story Thursday night.
"There's this disc above the lake," longtime resident Glenn Frohring said. "It just hovered there and all of a sudden it was like it was on a giant rubber band and went 'woof' just like that."
Frohring said he believes the disc he saw that day in 1954 was a UFO. And there were other sightings during that same decade.
One man reported seeing a UFO leave a crop circle at Patti Clemson's grandparents' farm in Montville Township.
"I just remember them saying it was a UFO and this man saw it and went home to get someone and came back and it was gone," Clemson recalled.
She was seven years old at the time.
The subject of UFO sightings resurfaced with the planned opening of Observatory Park, which will offer a unique look into outer space. The facility is about a mile from the farm Patti Clemson's grandparents once owned.
"I'm sure it happened," she said of the mysterious crop circles.
Frohring has a theory about why there were so many UFO sightings in the 1950s. He believes it had something to do with the setting off of atom bombs.
And why were the sightings in Geauga County and not Cleveland?
"It's rural," Frohring said. "People are outside."
First, I want to say that I spent my entire childhood in Alaska and know very well what fog refraction, Aurora borealis lights (which brighten the sky during the night), red moon, red tides, midnight stars and a dozen other night lights in the sky look like, but this was very different.
It was shortly past midnight, when the living room's glass door seemed to have a spotlight shining on it.
The light was so bright that it was shining off my ceiling and onto the kitchen cabinets (no small feat). I noticed all three animals I own were acting very strangely, our dog was hovering on the couch, growling very low like he was afraid to actually growl or bark as he would normally if anything was outside.
Our cat huddled on the floor behind my husband's shoes, so just his nose and ears were above the rim of the sneakers.
He flattened his ears and was staring at the door that he is normally staring out or trying to sneak out (earlier I had let the dog out for his nightly routine and there was nothing strange about the night and our cat tried as usual to sneak out on me).
I called him several times before he literally jumped into the air and spun around to stare at me with huge eyes. We also have a dwarf rabbit that was frantically clawing at the bottom of her cage, as if trying to bury herself.
The light seemed very steady and bright, so I walked over to look outside.
The night sky was lit up like it was daytime, except the clouds (there was broken cloud cover last night, but the moon was in its waning crescent phase) had the shadows of the building near us and the trees around us, but there was absolutely NO fog last night.
It was as if there was a giant beam of light in the southern sky that was being refracted off the ground and causing everything to shadow on the atmosphere in the northern sky.
I know this because I actually opened the doors and walked out onto the patio. I was standing there looking around me wondering what in the world was going on, when I noticed that the entire night was void of any sounds, no animals or insects, like would be normal for this time of year, no helicopters or planes landing, not even any cars going past... nothing.
There was nothing but silence. I'm normally not frightened by the night time. In fact, I love the nights here in Oregon, but this time I felt a choking sensation, became sick to my stomach and a little dizzy, it reminded me of being in line behind a car with very bad exhaust and being choked, sickened and dizzy, except there was absolutely no odor in the air.
So I returned to my seat on the couch.
The light went from normal white type light to a yellow haze, then to an orange color. I watched the light for somewhere between 25 and 55 minutes (I'm not certain because although I recall looking at the VCR clock when it all began, I can't recall what time it was).
Although I returned to the couch, I kept a steady eye on the light outside coming from nowhere. I felt a strange tightness rising in my chest and my heart was beating heavily.
I grew up with fog, night lights that are organic and manmade, but this was like nothing I've ever seen! I can't seem to recall the exact time it began, although I do recall looking at the clock on our VCR, but the next time I looked it was 12:49 AM., by 12:58 it was gone, just like that it disappeared leaving the normal night time darkness.
I am not one to lose my cool and get shook up over very much, because growing up in Alaska, I saw some very odd stuff, red moons, red tides, lights reflected off of heavy fog that looked doubly bright, but this was like nothing else I've ever seen and I'm no spring chicken either.
I've been chased by bears, even had a shark swim between my legs after a salmon one summer and never was as scared as I was last night.
And just in case there are those who may want to believe I was asleep and somehow dreaming this, you can forget it because I didn't fall asleep until morning broke at 5:20 AM and I felt certain the thing was gone.
I'm wondering if anyone else out there saw the night sky and the strange bright lights.
It is a mysterious sound on the very edge of perception that has driven thousands of people around the world to distraction. Now a tiny English village is the latest community to claim to be being hit by the phenomenon known as "the hum".
Residents of Woodland, in County Durham, claim that every night a noise permeates the air similar to the throb of a car engine.
It is sometimes so strong that it even shakes the bed of one of the householders.
But no matter how hard they look, the community cannot find the source of the problem and, at their wits end, have called in the council to investigate.
The 300-strong population is the latest around the world to be hit by the rumble which has in the past led to wild conspiracy theories blaming it on UFOs, government experiments and abandoned mine shafts.
It is so widespread that it has even featured on the television show The X Files. It's most famous occurrence was in Bristol in the 1970s when more than a thousand people complained of the consistent drone causing nosebleeds, sleeplessness and headaches.
It vanished as mysteriously as it arrived and was never explained.
Residents of Woodland, a community consisting of one main street surrounded by farmland, claims their version of "the hum" is constant from midnight until 4am every night and stops them sleeping.
There are no pylons, factories or abandoned mines nearby. The noise started about two months ago and has been plaguing the isolated village every day since.
Marylin Grech, 57, a retired store detective, said: "In certain areas of the house you can hear it more loudly. It is definitely from outside, it's in the air, all around, very faint.
"It vibrates through the house. We've turned all the electricity off in the house and we can still hear it, so it's not that.
"Sometimes we'll be in bed and it vibrates right through our bed, like a throbbing.
"It's not tinnitus, that's a high pitched sound and this is very low. If I put my fingers in my ears it stops, so I know it's not in my head.
"At 4 am it's so clear, because we live in such an isolated place with no traffic, it's heaven.
"But it leaves a buzzing in your head for the rest of the day."
Gary Hutchinson, an environmental protection manager at Durham County Council, said: "I can confirm that we received a call regarding a humming sound in the Woodland area earlier on June 1 and we will now make further enquiries before deciding what action we will take."
I have just come back from holiday in Marmaris, Turkey. I was in my apartment on the balcony looking at the night sky when I thought I saw something moving slowly from east to west in the northern sky.
I had to straim my eyes, because it was very faint, and I could see 3 orange lights in a triangular pattern.
At first I thought it was a plane, but then they started moving in an irregular pattern. At this point I called my friend who was in the room to come and have a look.
I pointed them out to him which he also found very hard to see due to them being very faint, BUT he did see them, they then formed a triangular pattern again, but this time the distance between each point grew larger and then came closer again.
They then became too faint to see with the naked eye. Weather conditions were a clear, starry night, but the lights were nearer to the horizon against a lighter blue background as opposed to the darker blue higher up.
We discussed what we saw and threw ideas up in the air as to what it could have been, there was no sound or fume trails like you would see with some sort of aircraft, so we thought about lasers from a night club or hotel, but there were no clouds in the sky or sea mist or anything like that, and we never saw it again for the rest the holiday.
Odessa, Delaware, February 9, 1967, - Disc-Shaped Object with Cupola
At about 8:45 p.m. on February 9, 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Guseman of Middletown, Delaware, were driving south on U.S. 13 toward Odessa.
They had just crossed a bridge over a canal when Mr. Guseman saw two lights near the road ahead and to their left.
The left light was green and the one on the right red. Suddenly two bright white lights came on between the colored ones. Thinking they were landing lights, Guseman said to his wife, "Look at the crazy plane trying to land!"
As the couple drew nearer, they could see the lights were stationary and attached to a large and unfamiliar object. Only the white lights were visible as they came up opposite to the object, across the highway from them.
It sat motionless just over the trees approximately 200 feet from them at an altitude of about 70 or 80 feet.
Mr. Guseman rolled down his left window and he and his wife studied the object more closely. It was disc-shaped with a kind of cupola under the main body.
Its width was estimated at about 50 feet and its height at about 20 feet at the thickest point.
Except for the top, the object was clearly visible, a dark gray silhouette against the lighter sky. The surface was smooth and the bright white lights appeared to be searchlights affixed to the front end.
The beams of these lights were wider at the ends than at the source and only the source of the closer beam was visible, the other being hidden by the body of the object.
The rather squared cupola, or "gondola" contained a horizontal row of windows which gave forth a faint soft light, steady and uninterrupted by any forms or movement.
The light was described as "yellowish" by Mr. Guseman, "pinkish" by his wife. On the bottom of this gondola, in the center, were three red lights which shone with an even intensity.
For about two minutes the couple watched the object as it hovered motionless. Several cars and trucks passed on the highway, but none slowed down or appeared to take notice.
Then suddenly the two forward beams of light began to swing upward until they were pointed at a 45-degree angle from horizontal, shining upwards and out into the night sky.
As soon as they reached this new position, the object began moving in a forward direction toward the north, and to the left of the witnesses. As it moved, the Gusemans heard a soft hum or buzz, similar to the sound of an electric motor.
The UFO proceeded in a slow, straight trajectory at an even altitude and as it changed its angle of perspective relative to the viewers' position, it presented the same circular, disc-shape with the undercarriage and windows below.
After moving approximately two or three hundred feet to the north over the trees, the UFO seemed literally to disappear.
They assumed it had dropped down into a field beyond the tree-line, but when they drove near the field to check further they saw nothing; nor could they find any evidence on the ground where the UFO had hovered when they searched it with a flashlight.
Guseman, 29 at the time of the sighting, is president of the Delmarva Contracting Company, Middletown; his wife is a business administrator in Wilmington Memorial Hospital.
Their sighting was investigated by NICAP staff members Stuart Nixon and Isabel Davis and they were later questioned further at NICAP headquarters by Dr. James E. McDonald.
The witnesses were articulate, unemotional and cooperative in both their interviews.