800px-Aurora_x-plane_3Several media outlets are now reporting a strange triangular aircraft was seen over Texas.  The aircraft is believed to be the mythical Aurora which has been seen off and on since the late 1980s and is supposedly the successor to the SR-71.  In this sighting plane spotter Steve Douglas also reported the aircraft was followed by two other chase planes which resembled the triangular shape of the aircraft in the images below.  Douglas also claims to have heard radio chatter between the aircraft which seems to indicate the aircraft were piloted, and has led to a fair amount of speculation at Air and Space Week as to what aircraft was actually seen.

The Aurora has long been the stuff of legends, and is supposedly not only weaponized (it has a bomb bay to carry munitions) but is also powered by a scramjet and pulse denotation engine which produces a “doughnut on a rope” contrail.  The puffs of smoke actually being the ignition points of fuel which is supposedly streamed out the back of the aircraft.  Other speculation points to a cruising speed of Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound) as well as a ceiling north of 80,000ft which puts the aircraft almost sub-orbital.

Douglas had also claimed to to have intercepted radio communication, which is also not common but also not unheard of.  The most famous Aurora communication were between an AWACS aircraft usingcall sign “Dragnet 51” believed to have been from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, and two unknown aircraft, believed to be Auroras, using the call signs “Darkstar November” and “Darkstar Mike”.  In this case the communication consisted of phonetically transmitted alphanumerics. Additionally Clyde Lewis, host of Ground Zero Radio, has played several other transmissions believed to have been from an Aurora.  The first being a communication between an Aurora and a refueling plane, and the second a request made to Oakland ATC for an egress route, at high altitude, out over the Pacific Ocean.

From these photos and the debate currently raging in the plane spotter community this does appear to be a new USAF high altitude triangular aircraft, and does represent the first real evidence of the Auroras activity in some time and that makes sense.  As we move into a new Cold War with Russia I would expect to see these aircraft start to be seen and noticed as they come online operationally.