Okay, okay, I'm just about to leave the speech and welcome everyone to read my trip report from my latest visit to NTTR, and it's surrounding areas.
My travel started from sunny (but still winter fresh!) capital of Poland - Warsaw. It's a place where I got to the plane, fastened my seatbelts and headed to L.A. along with my girlfriend and my female friend who both decided to stay in California instead of travelling with me to the places of mysteries.
After about 12 hours spent in the plane, I took a breath of a fresh Californian air and went for a car to lift my babies to their hotel and say goodbye to them before my journey to Nevada. L.A. to Alamo, NV is like 6 hours of pure driving without any stops, so it all gave me of over 38 hours without sleeping and taking at least a short nap. I felt asleep, so when I arrived in Alamo I bought some energetic drinks to lift me up. In those life conditions, even a short nap is gold at a time when you feel completely exhausted, but I wanted to get to my destination AFAP, so I just took my way to… Brainwash Butte - the excellent view spot of TTR. On my way up there, I decided to run a scanner and listen to some comms. Initially there was nothing interesting but just minutes later, while going through the NV-375, known as Extraterrestrial Highway, I was able to hear some indications of something entering or approaching Groom. I didn't remember the exact time, but I'm sure it was just one of the 737 Janet's. Hand scanner is a pretty thing to say the least! Your trip is completely different from of that when you don't have one as you are getting an idea of what's going around, and you can prepare your electronic, graphic devices (read just digital camera :) ) to get a photo or two. There were some other communications coming from other bases like Nellis, that only gives you chills! After about 1.5 hours of driving, I finally got to the road leading to Brainwash. The road is still in good condition, and you can drive there just about any car you can imagine (well, the European Fiat Multipla not includes, Lol). I parked my white and shining Jeep Wrangler and went to the Brainwash Summit. In front of me, I got a view I waited for the last 8 months. The beautiful desert landscape and TTR base in a center of it. Flash! Flash! - the first pics are taken! My weak tripod bends of the weight of my digital camera but with a small help is able to held it and acts like a mount for panorama. Hmm… isn't it too shiny to take shots of panorama in a midday? What about heat that lifts and weaves the air on such long distances… it will obviously make the pics looks worse. - I'm asking and answering mine questions to myself. I need to stay here until tomorrow's morning - to a time when sun will rise and temperature will be lower - these are the best conditions for pictures. Okay! So I have a plan for upcoming…. hours. The base was rather active, and I could see, photograph and record some Janet's taking off and landing on a TTR's runway. There was even something that got out of one of the hangars - a plane that was definitely an F-117. It only appeared for several minutes before entering the same hangar. My bad, I thought they got it to fly for me! After several hours of monitoring of the area, I decided to take some rest and went down to the car and ate some dinner. As the sun was about to set, I prepared my car for the night to be able to sleep gently. There were no movements at all, only several of Nellis 64th Aggressor Squadron F-16s playing in the range.
May is a month when a temperature isn't so high, even in the desert. The later hour, the colder outside. Feeling that the upcoming night is going to be quite cold, I took my things, closed my windows and tried to sleep. NO WAY! If adrenaline of a secrecy is surrounding you, there is no option to go sleep, so it ended like tossing from one side to another to find the best position to rest. Hours, hours… they are lasting so looong. Around 0810 I noticed a bright light in a vicinity of TTR. No, I'm not UFO nut, that's why I suggest you to not skip the later reading but just let me explain. It's funny how you can see things differently when you're feeling tired and asleep. My impression at the moment was that there is some bright light shining that not only is present on a sky, but it's moving and irregularly blinking, making a ‘sky-dance'. I thought "Hmm, maybe it's a drone? Well, I don't hear anything. Probably not." and then I realized that what I was looking at was simply a beautiful night sky. The moving effect was created because of an eye playing tricks with me. Ahh! I felt so dumb… okay, the adrenaline cooled down so the remaining part of the night I was able to spent on sleeping (finally!) but I knew I need to wake up early to take my stuff and take TTR pics on sunrise. As the sun begin rising and more and more of the sunshine took my view, I got to the summit again and mounted my camera to the bravely standing tripod. The weather conditions were perfect, and I could take the pics I wanted! This was my first visit to the area with the new equipment, so I was and felt very excited with the results. I recorded some scheduled Janet's that are easy to spot on due to their white painting. Unfortunately there was no another F-117 taking out of a hangar so possibilities of anything pure military arriving or departing TTR were rather low what confirmed in the end as 737s were the only aircraft I could see being up there.
I took down about 10AM and took my way to Rachel, where I decided to eat breakfast. I had some activities during the day, like chatting with my GF using Little Ale inn Wi-Fi or reading some stuff online or…. preparing for the next step of my visit - climbing Tikaboo Peak. Just around 0155PM, directly over Rachel a two F-16s made a flyby on a low altitude. I quickly took my camera to hand and managed to shoot a photo of the second one. Green cammo color scheme. This was a major aim of the travel due to the new bought camera, so I really wanted to be able to do the hike. Previous experience from last year pointed out that the activity may be somewhat difficult, so I prepared for this trip better and rented not a SUV but a proper off-road car (almost spot on, the lack of gravel tires was something I was worrying about). I remembered how the Badger Mountain Road (just Tikaboo road) was destroyed last October and I felt impressed when seeing that the road is almost completely re-built! All the issues that I affected last time were fully fixed, so I could drive all the way with a pedal to the metal. Of course there is one, now famous, washout just on the end of the road which you cannot pass using any 2WD or 4WD car. The washout is too deep, and you would destroy your machine which may not be a problem (silly jokes) but the lack of any Internet or cellphone connection makes it totally unfunny. You would just be lost in the desert, so the serious and forward-thinking is appreciated. Same place, same story. I took the rest of the way by foot. I knew it is not a long distance and is rather not demanding activity. Equipped with a tent, solid and strong gear, digital camera and exhausting phone, I begin to march. Meters by meters, hundreds by hundreds. Smile on my face is picturing as I'm hearing two jets in a Valley playing dog-fights. Trying to get glimpses of them on a cloudy sky, but I can notice only small contrails in a close distance from each other. Suddenly, Booom! Boooom! And then my happiness grew as fast as a speed of a fighter jet on afterburner, as it was the first time I heard sonic boom in my life. What's more, it was not just a boom but a double boom. Wow, amazing experience. I'm glad I was fortunate to hear that, especially considering that Tikaboo and Nevada are both my favorite places.
As the sun appeared and got to the right level, I took panoramas of Groom with a sun covering hangars and Groom's buildings. Again, recorded some comms and videos of arriving and taking off aircraft, which will find their way to the net soon! With no Internet or cellphone connection, I decided to leave Tikaboo at about 0830AM. The rest of a day I spent on conversations and chilling, as the next day I left the NTTR for L.A. and my way back to Poland.
I must say this was an amazing trip and it only lasted 4 days! Many people say it's too short time to do some researches, but hey, even a short time is better than nothing. I'm going to visit the places in not distant future again, but before it, I must prepare some decent shoes and learn some scout skills.
Video of TTR from Brainwash Butte
Video of Area 51 from Tikaboo Peak