The images shared by Zeifman were captured over a period of days in which he flew his Cessna 150 along the borders of restricted airspace at the Nevada air base, one of two military training sites that make up the Nellis Air Force Base Complex in the area. The complex itself is mostly used by the US Air Force Warfare Center and is often used for aerial gunnery and bombing tests, as well as those of the nuclear kind.
Speaking with the War Zone, Zeifman explained that he “had an interest in all the military airspace out this way for a while and figured [he] had to go check it out.”
“The first time I ventured into the Nellis Ranges was on a flight from Tonopah to Rachel via R4807A where I went down to the edge of that side of 4808A [also known as ‘The Box’] and got some views of Groom [Area 51] from the north,” he continued.
However, it would take a couple more flights before the avid pilot would finally be able to snap quality images of the areas. Zeifman stated that his initial attempts were foiled by weather and not having brought higher-powered cameras durings trips.
It wasn’t until last weekend that Zeifman struck gold.
“This last weekend, I was unable to get permission to fly into any of these restricted areas, so I took the opportunity to get some great pictures of [the Tonopah Test Range Airport] as I skirted the perimeter,” he said. “I don’t have any kind of special authorization in these airspaces, they’re just random transits that I’ve been given enroute to other places when the airspace is cold.”
“Cold” airspace refers to moments when the complex’s ranges are not in use, which allows air traffic controllers to give passing planes the go-ahead to fly through the area.
Included in the slew of images snapped by Zeifman are photos of the ongoing runway and terminal construction for “Janet Airlines,” a small fleet of Boeing 737s used by the US government to transport high-level workers.
The so-called “airline” is often used to shuttle individuals from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, to areas at the complex, as well as other secret US military test sites. Most recently, in 2018, the airline issued job ads for interested flight attendants and later for a pilot.
Flying near Area 51, otherwise known as both Dreamland and Groom, Zeifman also managed to capture an image showing the building of a new structure where hangars which housed old F-117s were located.
The War Zone speculated that “if this isn’t a new enclosed hangar space, [then] it will likely be an open-air shade that will keep whatever is underneath it out of view from satellites overhead.”
Zeifman also managed to scoop a picture of a lone hangar situated at the far south end of the military base. The outlet noted that the structure was “built roughly five years ago” and has remained a “major mystery” since then.
Other images include breathtaking views of Groom Mine, which was first opened in the 1870s and ultimately condemned under eminent domain in late 2015 following a dispute between the family owners of the property and the US government.
It’s presently unclear when Zeifman might venture out next, as much of the US is under stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He did tell War Zone that “asides from seeing the legendary Groom Lake, it’s been quite neat to see the other parts of the ranges, including all the targets and infrastructure.”