Discussion: Chapter 2: into the rabbit hole

Louis’ experience exposing him to the secrecy of UFO-related information while a United States Air Force officer would turn out to be the event that put him on track to be a UFO researcher. His unique eye-opening experience occurred at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio, his third duty station. There, he was assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Division as a Construction Manager, responsible for overseeing work by contractors at the Foreign Technology Division (FTD) building, then located in Area A.

FTD’s mission was to research weapons systems from other countries, evaluate threats, and weaknesses, and then relay that information to Aeronautical Systems Division in Area B. Area B was across the main highway where existing programs were either improved upon, or new programs were devised to counter those threats or take advantage of the weaknesses of foreign weapon systems. FTD was in a large warehouse-type two-story metal building surrounded by motion detectors on its lawn. Access, regardless of the visitor’s security clearance was through a manned entry control point. The ‘need to know’ concept was the prime system of operational security in this building.

One day while carrying out inspections, Captain Silvani went to inspect the second floor in FTD’s building. He entered a vestibule that opened into a small utilitarian ante-lobby where he reported to a junior NCO manning the security desk. The room was devoid of aesthetics and comfort. Silvani stated his reason for the visit, signed his name on the visitors’ roster, and received a badge indicating in bold red uppercase lettering, ‘ESCORT REQUIRED’. His escort, was a young senior airman assigned to the security police squadron. Captain Silvani followed his escort through the electrically-operated double doors into an extra-wide corridor.

Silvani noticed the floors, walls, ceiling, doors and door frames were all clean and white or off-white. He took note that there was no directory for this huge windowless warehouse-sized facility. Doors were only marked by a cypher lock. There were neither door numbers, nor room names. The offices and their occupants were compartmentalized. The occupants of one office did not have access to the office next door. The escort stopped at a door to an enclosed stairway and entered the code to unlock the door.

Captain Silvani followed his escort up the wide, austere and faintly lit enclosed stairway. The muffled tapping sound of their footsteps on the bare concrete treads echoed in the stair well.

Opening the heavy-duty steel door, they entered an area that was stripped of all ceiling tiles, floor finishes, fluorescent lights, partitions, and doors and frames. The entire floor was eerily vacant. Lighting was provided only by single utility incandescent bare light bulbs that were hung and temporarily wired. Except for the occasional chatter on the escort’s two-way radio, the vast interior space was silent. The captain, carrying out the duties of assisting the construction manager, was there to evaluate the existing conditions, compare them to the as-built drawings, and then check the design drawings for potential conflicts. The space was to serve as a ‘computer room’ according to the title on the drawings. There wasn’t much to look at; everything was bare, down to the metal building skeleton. Walking around the perimeter, he noticed his escort, standing near the exit, reading a book while monitoring the radio traffic. The escort rarely acknowledged what the captain was doing, obviously not there to supervise the senior captain.

After inspecting the physical space, Silvani spotted a set of drawings rolled up on a contractor’s cart. He went to unravel the roll and realized this set was the ‘as-built’ record drawings of the building. ‘As-builts’ represent: the condition of the building after the most recent project. In this case, there appeared to be no renovation since the initial construction, so these drawings were to represent the building in its original condition.

Louis flipped through the sheets and made his comparisons. He noticed a sheet labelled, ‘BASEMENT’. He questioned the accuracy of what he was looking at because he knew this particular building was a pre-engineered warehouse building and warehouses normally did not have basements. He inspected the drawing more closely, looking at the ‘footprint’, or the outline of the building to confirm that the basement floor plan matched with the first-floor plan. The captain realized that it was not a misprint, and the sheet was authentic. This building had a secret basement! He felt his face blush and his heart rate increased. The palms of his hands became clammy.

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