Thomas Wictor

Not conspiracy theories: mysteries

Not conspiracy theories: mysteries

I’ve said before that I don’t believe in the classic conspiracy theories. None of them survive the Snowden Test. If there were giant secret operations being carried out by thousands of people, at least one of them would’ve provided irrefutable evidence by now. Edward Snowden doesn’t even have a high-school diploma, but he penetrated the most covert intelligence organization in the United States and within three months had stolen all their classified information. Thus there’s nothing to the JFK assassination, 9/11, Roswell, and so on. But there are mysteries.

My brother Tim and I witnessed a potentially huge mystery today. But first, some others.

Sometime in the late 1990s, I came out of my parents’ house during an extended-family get-together. These were always big deals, with steaks or hamburgers cooked on my father’s custom-made grill.


Italian engineers in Venezuela built it for him, so they put a Piaggio motor-scooter manufacturer’s plate on it. We called the grill “the Piaggio.” It’s still at my parents’ house.


Don’t ask me why I put a stuffed polar bear dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard on it and took a photo.

At one point during this family get-together in the late 1990s—while my father grilled steaks—I came back to my house to get something to show my nephews. Being a cloud freak, I always look at the sky. Always. This time I saw a stationary black doughnut thousands of feet up. It looked exactly like this.


I wasn’t afraid or gobsmacked. Anomalies fascinate me. This thing was absolutely still. It was so high up that it had to be as big as a house. I went and got Tim, praying that it would still be there when he came out.

It was. Like me, Tim isn’t afraid of strangeness. We stood there and tried to figure out if it was of this earth or not.

“I’ll bet it’s an experimental surveillance craft,” Tim said. He waved at it. Right after he did so, a cloud passed in front of the doughnut. When the cloud moved on, the whatever-it-was had disappeared. I still wonder if some guys at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake suddenly said to each other, “Crap! They’ve spotted us!”

Or maybe the operators said this.

In 2001 I drove to Oklahoma for a postcard show. On the way back—somewhere near Odessa—I stopped to take picture of corkscrew clouds.


They’re caused by stable air flowing over mountains.

While the corkscrew cloud blew off to the left, this little dab went to the right.


My crummy camera couldn’t take a closer shot, but that blob kept going until it was out of sight. It never dissipated, and it looked like it was galloping.

You can see a lot of weird things in the sky. Every day, JANET flies over my house, on its way to Las Vegas. JANET is the unofficial name for the airline operated by the US Air Force. It takes military personnel and contractors to and from various military installations, including the Nevada National Security Site. Area 51 is located there. In case you don’t know, Area 51—also called Groom Lake and Dreamland—is where they build and test super-secret aerial technology.

The JANET flight that passes over my house every evening at around 7:00 p.m. is a Boeing 737.


It’s headed toward McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, taking military personnel and civilian contractors home from a day of working at either US Air Force Plant 42 or Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. JANET also transports military personnel and civilian contractors from McCarran International Airport to Area 51 and Tonopah Test Range.

In the late 1990s we used to hear very strange sonic booms in our area. A normal sonic boom sounds like this.

What we heard bore no resemblance to that. Every few days, there would be a ba-ba-ba-BAP! that shook the windows of our houses. It was likely the Aurora, an experimental aircraft that used a hybrid rocket and ramjet engine. The rocket brought the aircraft up to speed, and then the ramjet took over. Ramjets can achieve virtually unlimited speed, unlike the turbofan engines that are used in airliners, fighters, and bombers.

One night a massive flaming object came from the direction of Groom Lake and headed toward one of the military bases south of us. It was slow, silent, and gigantic. Judging by the mountains it passed over, this thing was one mile (1.6 kilometers) long. It looked like a sparkler.

The only difference was that it was oblong.

Now for today’s mystery.

Tim and I were standing in his front yard at 6:00 p.m. when we saw an enormous four-engined jet flying toward us along the JANET route. It seemed to be moving as slowly as a dirigible. Tim got his camera and took a photo.

It was an Air France A380-800 Airbus.


This is what the livery looks like.


The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner in the world. It’s a double-decker that carries 555 people, and airports have to be modified in order for the aircraft to land. This A380 was flying low enough that Tim could take a clear shot of it, and it wasn’t following the route into Los Angeles International Airport. It was headed toward McCarran in Las Vegas.

One thing: McCarran doesn’t accept the A380.

The biggest problem at McCarran is that the taxi strips leading to the gates are too close to each other for safe clearance with other planes.

The A380 is considered a Design Group 6 aircraft, while the 747 is a Design Group 5. The different designations address tail heights, lengths and wingspans of different aircraft types.

An A380 can land at McCarran only in an emergency. Do you know where an A380 headed toward Las Vegas could comfortably touch down? At Groom Lake. The main runway is 27,000 feet (8230 meters) long. An A380 needs a runway of 8000 feet (2438 meters), so Groom Lake has more than three times the necessary tarmac.

Why did a gigantic French airliner swoop low over our house, headed toward Las Vegas from the direction of military bases to the south? There is a daily Air France flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, but it uses Boeing 737s in Delta Airlines livery.


I can think of no reason for an Air France A380 Airbus to fly right over us. Unless it was full of French troops, pilots, and intelligence personnel who are being cross-trained with Americans at secret military bases in California and Nevada.

Not a conspiracy theory. A mystery. I like them.

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