• TR-3A Black Manta: This is a rumored project that secret aircraft buffs have been talking about for decades, though nobody seems to really know what it is, or even it if actually exists. 


  • Aurora: Back in 1985, the code name Aurora accidentally was leaked in an unclassified budget document, which depicted it as a ramjet-powered reconnaissance and strike aircraft capable of flying at least Mach 5 and deploying anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. Engineer and aircraft-recognition expert Chris Gibson reportedly observed a formation of U.S. military aircraft over the North Sea in 1989 that included an unidentified delta-shaped plane. It’s unclear what happened to the Aurora program.


  • Brilliant Buzzard or Mothership: Yet another rumored project at Area 51. This large jet would carry a smaller vehicle, perhaps an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The smaller vehicle is designed to launch from the larger jet while in midair.


  • Blackstar: In 2006, the industry publication Aviation Week & Space Technology reported that the U.S. military had funded the development and testing of a small orbital space plane in the 1990s. The two-seater Blackstar vehicle possibly made more than one orbital mission, before being quietly put into mothballs for budgetary or operational reasons.

Apart from the continued focus on UAV technology, secret project theorists suggest a few possibilities. One is a transport aircraft with stealth technology designed to move troops in and out of conflict areas without being detected. Another likely research project is a stealth helicopter. Though some people say stealth helicopters already exist and are in use, they haven’t been revealed to the public.

Of course, these projects are only the tip of the rumored iceberg. Area 51 is arguably better known for its connection with aliens and UFOs than with any of these aircraft.


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