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Viva Las Venus

Exploring alien visitations, government cover-ups and pancakes in the Nevada desert

Author Nick Pope

ILLUSTRATION BY PETER OUMANSKI

LAS VEGAS—An expectant hush falls over the audience as the panel discussion begins. There are maybe 200 people seated in the auditorium at the Smithsonian-affiliated National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, and at least two of them are wearing tinfoil hats—which may or may not be an ironic gesture.

The participants in the event, titled “Military UFOs: Secrets Revealed,” are all serious-looking people. They include two Air Force colonels from Project Blue Book, the code name for the government’s now-defunct UFO investigation program. There’s also a former Army colonel who worked on Project Star Gate, the code name for a secret study on the intelligence-gathering potential of “remote viewers,” or psychics. (There are lots of code names to learn this evening, apparently.)

It doesn’t take long for some audience members to start getting a bit twitchy, though. Revelations have been promised. Secrets of the military variety. Maybe someone here knows something about Roswell or the Jimmy Carter UFO sighting. Maybe, once and for all, the public can learn the truth about alien probes.

At one point in the discussion, an ex-Air Force colonel says he thinks that UFOs are extraterrestrial or inter dimensional, and that there has been a systematic cover-up. An ex-Army colonel disagrees, arguing that he would have known about any cover-ups. The former calls the latter naive, and the moderator steps in before the interservice rivalry gets out of hand.

Disappointingly, the big questions remain unanswered. The audience does, however, learn of a man who sent pancakes to Project Blue Book, claiming that visiting aliens had given them to him. Subsequent Food and Drug Administration analysis concluded that the artifacts were, in fact, pancakes.

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