Tonopah Test Range

In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. — Eric Hoffer

One clear Nevada evening in the late 1980s, I wheeled my government vehicle out of the

Yucca Flats at night...back in the day.

Yucca Flats at night…back in the day.

Area 6 parking lot located on the ridge between Yucca Flats and Frenchman Flats on the Nevada Test Site. Thinking that this job had become less of a job and more of a lifestyle, my main concern was to slide into Mercury before the cafeteria closed and I was forced to make an evening meal of Cheetos and Coca-Cola out of the machines one more time. My egocentric meanderings abruptly ended as I noticed helicopters, a lot of them, lined up and hovering along the ridges. Something very cool was up so I eased my vehicle onto the first available off-the-road flat spot, stopped, lit a cigarette, and settled in to wait.

The stars fairly danced a jig in the dry, clear desert air and the seven sisters of the Pleiades constellation sparkled

Pleiades: Dance of the seven sisters

Pleiades: Dance of the seven sisters

like sunlight playing off of water. Once again, I examined the curiosity that kept getting me in trouble. And once again, I found that it didn’t matter to me whether or not I got into trouble for asking too many questions. I loved what I was doing, the toys were astounding, winning the Cold War was important, and very smart people were doing very interesting things, which brought me back to the helicopters. I decided to try to count them. By the time I got to twenty-five helicopters, a large, black, triangular flying machine came roaring across the ridge between the flats at an incredible speed. “Well, hello”, said I.  Continue reading