3 Top Secret Aircraft Demonstrators Which May Have Flown at Area 51


Throughout the Cold War the United States and other countries spent billions of dollars developing cutting-edge military technologies in a bid to gain an edge over the opposition. Much of this work was carried out in secret at isolated locations such as the remote Nevada test site known as Groom Lake, aka Area 51. Among the ‘black projects‘ developed at Groom were high, fast flying spy planes and stealth jets, many of them one of a kind proof-of-concept aircraft.

Some of these top secret technology demonstrators have now been declassified, while others remain firmly under wraps, despite having likely been retired and potentially destroyed and buried over the years. This article features three classified aircraft that may have been built and flown over the past three decades. And while there’s no hard evidence that they were (the black project world is a murky one where misinformation abounds) there are some compelling clues.

General Dynamics Model 100 (aka Sneaky Pete)

general-dynamics-model-100-sneaky-pete (Image via Flygplan, author)

The Model 100 programme began at General Dynamics in 1976, around the time Lockheed was developing its Have Blue proof-of-concept aircraft. An early 1/4 scale Model 100 concept was known as ‘Cold Pigeon’, which evolved into a design nicknamed ‘Sneaky Pete’ by August 1977.

Originally a company-funded effort, the programme reportedly gained USAF support under the code name Have Key, and may have been developed in response to a 1983 Air Force requirement for a stealth aircraft capable of both reconnaissance and strike.

a-12-avenger-ii (Image: US Navy, public domain)

The GD Model 100 has been described as a single-seat demonstrator aircraft with a triangular planform, and is believed to have been less stealthy than Lockheed’s Have Blue or Northrop’s Tacit Blue demonstrators. It’s also thought that Sneaky Pete formed the basis of the ill-fated A-12 Avenger II (above), which was cancelled controversially in 1991 and remains a legal issue to this day. Interestingly, an ‘A-12 canopy’ appeared on eBay in 2011 (below).

a-12-avenger-canopy (Image: Seth Kettleman)

Sneaky Pete may be the source of various triangular aircraft sightings across the Antelope Valley during the 1990s. It’s also been suggested that subscale B-2 Stealth Bomber demonstrators could account for these unidentified aircraft, but there’s no solid evidence such a plane was ever built.

hangar-18-groom-lake (Image: Google Earth; Hangar 18 at Groom Lake, where Dyson’s Dock is believed to be located)

If the General Dynamics Model 100 does exist, it may be stored in a classified facility at Groom Lake (Area 51) known as Dyson’s Dock. It’s also possible it may have been buried miles from public land. What does seem certain is that, if Sneaky Pete did play a part in A-12 Avenger development, it’s unlikely to see the light of day any time soon.



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