5 October 2011 – Road Runners at the Little A’Le’Inn
Wow! It’s been how long since I posted something here ?
Life’s been a bit busy and tiring as usual, but I wanted to finally get a couple of posts published for a change
The Road Runners Internationale are a special group of people. They’re the men who built the base at Groom Dry Lake, the reconnaissance aircraft that gave the U.S. the edge in the Cold War, the pilots who flew them, and the families who supported them. Some of the programs were more tightly held secrets than the atomic bomb was in WWII and have only recently begun to be declassified.
I met T.D. Barnes and first learned about the Road Runners at Aviation Nation 2004 – my first trip to Nellis Air Force Base for an airshow. Over time we chatted via email and I was honored to be invited to join as an associate member. Reunions are held every two years and I sadly missed the last one. I wasn’t going to miss this one
Every reunion, the Road Runners have a field trip somewhere nearby. This is the first time I’ve managed to clear time to go on one Past field trips have gone to the Nevada Test Site where T.D. used to help test nuclear weapons and to Creech Air Force Base where the U.S. Air Force bases most of the Predator and Reaper UAVs which have been so effective in the wars overseas. This year was a bit different.
We all got together in a convoy and headed north from Las Vegas, then onto Highway 93 north, and then west on the Extraterrestrial Highway. We made a couple of stops along the way including the one in the pictures above at the Black Mailbox. Long time readers will likely remember seeing pictures of this place before from back when I first got my HHR. It was along again due to the need to help carry people to our destination for the day. Yes, even in the cold and rain, I’d rather have been on my bike – just as long as I had the right gear Still, the trip was well worth it especially with a couple of Canadians and a couple of Russians along as passengers
The 2011 Road Runners field trip was to the closest bit of civilization you can find near Groom Dry Lake. That place is Rachel, NV and it is very small, indeed. The largest business in Rachel is the Little A’Le’Inn OK, I’ve never seen any UFOs out there, but the place is pretty cool
As you can see from these pictures, the Little A’Le’Inn is rather remote and in that sense is similar to Groom Dry Lake.
There were prior attempts at making use of the area before the Air Force showed up in the early 1950’s, but they didn’t quite pan out. I can only imagine the tough life that those early miners lead out in the southern Nevada desert.
Inside the Little A’Le’Inn, people were packed in like sardines in a tin. Everyone enjoyed the great camaraderie, delicious food, and superb hospitality of the owners and staff
It’s amazing to me that this event even happened. T.D. and several of the Road Runners also commented that even a few years ago, they never could have imagined that they would be at a place like the Little A’Le’Inn which is so close to Groom Dry Lake, packed in with friends, family, and news media, accompanied by the Central Intelligence Agency’s gift shop staff. The novelty still remains when telling the stories about some of their formerly secret projects. I still can’t believe I get to be in the middle of it all and I get to talk to the people who developed the planes I never thought I’d be allowed to know much about. This was a truly great day
Joerg Arnu is the webmaster for Dreamland Resort and the Road Runners’ websites. Originally from Germany, Joerg knows more about the Nellis Range than I’ve ever thought to ask. This trip was his doing and I commend him for managing to organize such a great day He’s also one of those strange people who thinks that the best way to go down a road on a beautiful day involves two cylinders, two wheels, and leaning in corners Yeah, we’ll probably go for a ride together sometime before too long
I took the photos that became this panorama on the way back to Las Vegas from the Little A’Le’Inn. That road you see off in the distance is Groom Lake Road. That is the road that leads to a place I’d love to visit someday, but which I will likely never reach. It’s the road to Paradaise Ranch, AKA Watertown, AKA Dreamland, AKA Area 51. It’s the place where the U-2, A-12, SR-71, and many other very special aircraft were developed. Work still continues to this day on aircraft development and flight test out at Groom Dry Lake.
I don’t know what’s going on at that secret spot in the desert and I know it’s for the best that I don’t as I don’t have the need to know. In the end, I’m just glad I’ve had the chance to meet the people who made history there in the past and that’s enough for me
Thank you, Road Runners, for all you’ve done for your country in the past and for all you continue to do to educate the rest of us today
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