By Micah Hanks
We’ve been hearing about the alleged “Project Aurora” for decades now, an alleged super-secret U.S. government spy plane which, according to popular legend, has been kept entirely off the books as far as public records go. ‘
Well, mostly off the record, since whispers about its existence have remained present since the late 1980s and early 1990s, when news of an alleged successor to the SR-71 Blackbird began to make the rounds.
According to Defense Aviation, “A British Ministry of Defense report released in May 2006 refers to USAF priority plans to produce a Mach 4-6 highly supersonic vehicle, but no conclusive evidence had emerged to confirm the existence of such a project. It was believed by some that the Aurora project was canceled due to a shift from spy-planes to high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles and reconnaissance satellites which can do the same job as a spy plane, but with less risk of casualties.”
Indeed, if the proliferation of U.S. government drones in the last few years is any indication, we certainly appear to have enough evidence that a shift toward more drone use was not only logical, but likely. As far as Aurora goes, absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence, per se, although one might think that there would be more evidence by now than we have seen.
Of course, by some accounts the evidence for the existence of Aurora was already becoming “diverse” by the early 1990s, as government secrecy analyst Steven Aftergood with the Federation of American Scientists noted in the FAS Secrecy and Government Bulletin back in 1993:
“The evidence supporting the existence of something like Aurora, a classified follow-on to the SR- 71 “Blackbird,” is surprisingly diverse, though hardly conclusive. At the same time, the evidence against its existence, derived from budget data, official pronouncements, and related policy decisions can not easily be dismissed. (This evidence is compiled and evaluated in an updated, August 1992 version of the FAS report “Mystery Aircraft.”) Most recently, Air Force Secretary Donald B. Rice insisted vigorously that no such secret program exists within the Air Force or anywhere else (Washington Post, 12/27/92, p. C6).”
Nonetheless, as we can see, there appears to be little in the way of budget data or any other information that can be conclusively linked to such an aircraft, and its existence.
While Aurora is largely designated a “myth” today, due to the lack of substantial evidence that the aircraft was ever built, some of the eyewitness testimony in relation to such a plane and its existence is rather compelling. A notable “sighting” of the aircraft occurred in 1989, as an engineer working on the GSF Galveston Key, a barge in the North Sea between Britain and Scandinavia, made a most unusual observation. Chris Gibson, who said he was joined by another witness, described seeing an “unfamiliar isosceles triangle shaped delta aircraft”, which appeared to be engaged in refueling with a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. Two F-111 fighter bombers were also present at the time.
Such dodgy eyewitness reports are hardly any better than the typical unidentified flying object report, according to many; further, we know that even pilots and aircraft engineers aren’t necessarily better reporters than any one else, at least according to a few skeptically minded naysayers. Gibson, however, who later drew a sketch of the aircraft and its accompanying formation, was no mere engineer, nor any average witness; he had been in the Royal Observer Corps’ international aircraft recognition team for nine years, a trophy winning organization. Gibson, who seems to have given us a very detailed description of what he had seen, was nonetheless unable to account for what type of plane he observed.
Despite the “official” evidence for such an aircraft, maybe Steven Aftergood said it best when he wrote, no doubt with knowledge of sightings like that of Gibson, that, “If it were true, as reported, that a classified hypersonic aircraft is in operational service, the deepest significance of this fact would not be the existence of the aircraft, but rather the magnitude and audacity of the deception that had been perpetrated to conceal it.”
Perhaps “that” level of secrecy is not something beyond the range of possibility, and should be given further consideration, as it relates to the alleged existence of aircraft like the long fabled Aurora.