Base Camp Airfield, Warm Springs
A top secret airstrip located along a public highway? It’s true! Built in the 1960s to support a proposed new nuclear test site, this was taken over by the Air Force in 1985 and declared off-limits. In the early 1990s, Stealth fighters were seen practicing “touch and go” landings here. It is also believed that this is an emergency landing strip for test flights out of Area 51.
Base Camp is located on Highway 6 about ten miles east of Warm Springs. While it is out in the open, the area is very isolated and miles from the nearest town and gas station. Highway 6 gets very little traffic even on weekends; a top-secret aircraft could land there in the middle of the night or in the middle of most days and not be noticed.
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The name “Base Camp” was originally given to this site by the Atomic Energy Commission when it was planning to establish a new nuclear testing site in central Nevada. After that idea was abandoned, Base Camp was unused until the Air Force took over the area in April 1985 and began making improvements, including a new runway. According to the Air Force’s official land use statement, Base Camp is used for “collecting data for Air Force testing programs conducted in the vicinity of the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and the Nellis North Range.” It is also reported that Base Camp is used as a recreation site for personnel at the Nellis Range Complex (although what “recreation” is available here is not readily apparent) and as an emergency landing site for flights out of the Nellis Range Complex, including Area 51.
What’s There: Base Camp has a runway measuring 7,300 feet, radar domes and other navigation aids (including a radio-beacon), and firefighting equipment. There are several buildings that are mounted trailers and other mobile facilities; most appear to be office or administrative buildings although some are apparently used for housing. Rumors are that less than a dozen personnel work here at any given time.
Getting a Look Inside: There is no public admittance to this facility and trespassing is prohibited. However, Tybo Road runs through Base Camp, effectively cutting the facility in half, and the public is allowed access to this road. Tybo Road leads to the ghost town of Tybo: you should have a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle before attempting to drive the entire way to Tybo. In the mid-1990s, this road was incorrectly marked with “No Trespassing U.S. Government Property” signs and security guards tried to prevent cars from using this road. The signs are now down and you may travel freely on the road. However, if you are parked along the road, expect a visit from a security guard. They are polite (“Are you having some trouble with your car, sir?”) but very interested in why you are parked along the road.
Listening In: The aeronautical beacon here operates on 113.90 MHz and transmits “AEC” in Morse code every 30 seconds. “AEC” is almost certainly a relic from this site’s ownership by the old Atomic Energy Commission. Interestingly, you won’t find this beacon in any civilian list of aeronautical beacons.
Getting There: Base Camp is located on Highway 6 about 60 miles east of Tonopah and ten miles east of Warm Springs. Tybo Road is marked and the facility is unmistakable from Highway 6.