Trevor Paglen has a new article out on state secrecy, which begins like this…
Late one night during the summer of 1984, two fighter pilots saw a ghost in the sky above Las Vegas. A single two-seat F-16 `Viper’ fighter was on a routine flight over the city that night, its pilots alternating between watching instruments, checking in with ground controllers, and scanning the skies above. And then they got a glimpse of something they could not explain. One thousand feet above, the Viper pilots watched a black arrowhead-shaped craft streak by. The startled fighter pilots radioed a Las Vegas air traffic controller below, who came back that the Viper had seen an A-7 Corsair. Shot back the pilot, “I don’t know what it is, but it’s no fucking A-7!”
If the Viper pilots imagined seeing a ghost that evening, they would have been right. The F-16 crew were the first `noncleared’ people to see an F-117A stealth fighter, a new and highly classified aircraft that had only recently begun to make cautious forays out of a vast tract of restricted airspace to the north. The stealth fighter was a `black’ aircraft; it `did not exist’.
I’m a big admirer of Trevor’s work and he is one of the few people working on the difficult topic of state and secret intelligence.