Denver Airport conspiracy theories
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Denver International Airport (DIA, also known by its IATA code "DEN" or ICAO code "KDEN") has accreted a collection of conspiracy theories. These theories most commonly claim that DIA is a new, secret (?) headquarters or compound used by the Illuminati, New World Order, Neo-Nazis, or Reptoids. These claims are usually based on an alleged swastika shape that the runways and taxiways make when seen from the air, as well as murals, sculptures, and other engravings claimed to be secret code or "alien" language.
Like many modern airports, the DIA consists of a central building complex surrounded by runways and connected to them with taxiways (see the picture on the left). This particular layout does allow for an extremely efficient configuration of planes to arrive and depart from the runways simultaneously without plane movements overlapping. The large distance between parallel runways provides more room around aircraft in bad weather, as Denver is well known for high winds and extremely unpredictable weather. It also allows for adding more parallel runways into the future.
Of course, if you have been primed to see sinister patterns in everything, the whole thing looks like a giant Nazi swastika. That is, if you ignore the fact that the shape has an extra arm and it's not radially symmetrical. Well, you can judge for yourself how close is the resemblance, but most people think it's more of a pinwheel shape. The Original layout of runways at Heathrow Airport, meanwhile, looks a lot like a Star of David.
Why was Stapleton replaced?
It's claimed that Denver's Stapleton International Airport (SIA) was fine -- yet Denver International was built with fewer runways, reducing Denver's capacity.
Stapleton International Airport was originally built in 1929, then repeatedly expanded over 65 years. While it had 6 runways in total, they were in the configuration of two sets of three parallel runways. The two sets crossed each other, meaning that only three runways could be used at any one time, while DIA's 5 total runways do not cross and (in calm weather or light winds) can be used simultaneously. In addition, only three of Stapleton's runways ran to 10,000 feet, just barely long enough for jets to take off in the thin air, while DIA's runways support the largest jets currently flying (12,000-16,000 feet).
Stapleton was at capacity for gate space, airline traffic (terrible in bad weather), and could not add space without expanding into the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a chemical weapons manufacturing center and, later, a Superfund site that would've required expensive decontamination. Stapleton was also five miles from the Denver city center, and had been repeatedly sued for noise violations by a number of neighborhoods in the Northern Denver Metro area. Being this close also limited the size of buildings in downtown Denver to between 700' and 715' tall. DIA is set 25 miles from the city center and covers an area of 53 square miles, for expandability and to keep people from complaining about the noise.
No protest notable of the "mainstream media" about the new airport ever happened. The hideously long delays experienced at Stapleton in bad weather cured most people of the grumbling. It seems to be a figment of the conspiracy theorists' minds.
Shattered windshields incident
Some claim that, in 2007, fourteen commercial aircraft spontaneously shattered windshields as the presumed result of electromagnetic pulses.
First, one must ignore what an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, actually is and does. The pulses themselves can only affect electronic items, and cannot damage glass or plastic. The only way the glass shattering could be linked to an EMP is if the pulse was caused by a nuclear explosion, and the materials were hit by the blast/heat effects. If this happened, it would have turned the entire airport into radioactive slag, not just shatter a few windows.
The investigation concluded it was high winds, grit, and cold temperatures. 9 of the 14 planes had just tried to take off or had just landed, 1 had taken off, and 4 were at the gate. Denver has high winds and an arid plateau climate with lots of rocks. Cracked windshields are also very common for cars in the Denver area as well, much to the delight of everyone.
There is a train that runs from the various concourses at DIA, plus supporting tunnels (actually quite fun to ride). There was also an automated baggage system built and touted as part of DIA. The system was a money-hemorrhaging nightmare that until recently never worked, but the tunnels still exist and are now used by airport employees.
Conspiracy theorists at one time displayed photos of the underground passageways with their rants. This was until a number of people pointed out you could see the larger portions of the conveyor belt machinery still in place. In an astonishing display of willful ignorance, conspiracy theorists just deleted the photos.
Statements about DIA being an evil headquarters of the NWO also boggles the mind. The Rocky Mountains are about the same distance from downtown Denver as DIA, so why build an underground facility in the middle of a flat plain under just soil? It boggles the mind after a number of nuts, including Jesse Ventura on TruTV, stated the facility was built to survive the 2012 apocalypse.
NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker, built to absorb a direct hit by a nuclear weapon, is ~75 miles away in Colorado Springs. If you are looking for a place for your super-villain lair, why not do the same and build a protected bunker under millions of tons of solid granite? Plus you wouldn't have airplanes taking off over your head, which is not conducive for a good night's sleep.
Really weird art
DIA's art contains what could be called "alien languages, soldiers in gas masks oppressing peasants, and Freemasons plaques", or "weird art". Take your pick.
You have a 32 foot tall, very anatomically correct blue horse, with glowing red eyes and veins that can be witnessed by people as they drive in and out of the airport. Which fell on its creator and killed him during placement. The airport itself was supposed to look like the snow-capped Rockies, while the locals often refer to it as the circus tent. There are also gargoyles that sit in luggage around the baggage claim.
The mural in question is a multiple piece of art called "In Peace and Harmony With Nature" and "The Children of the World Dream of Peace" by Leo Tanguma. The first part has the soldiers, the second that is omitted from the conspiracy is much happier. The artist stated the mural was to "... depict man-made environmental destruction and genocide along with humanity coming together to heal nature and live in peace."
The supposed weird alien languages are not alien at all, but rather, they are Navajo terms for areas in Colorado. The exceptions are the two words Braaksma and Villarreal, which are the names of the artists, Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villarreal.
The dedication marker does contain the Freemasons crest, and there are two Freemason grand lodges in Colorado. They mounted it over a time capsule placed at the airport they organized to fill. The Freemasons are just a local social and charity organization, although the capstone is inscribed with "New World Airport Commission": a body that does not, in fact, exist. Some locals have wondered if this was just something to drive conspiracy theorists even more bananas than normal. The New World Society named in the plaque is a collection of small businesses that helped promote the airport. The three organizations listed as members of the Commission do, in fact, exist.
No one has yet stated what would possess an evil super secret organization to blatantly display large works of art in order to show off its headquarters underneath the world's tenth busiest airport, to 50 million passengers a year. It defeats the purpose of being secret, and if the organization was all powerful... why would it care?
- on Denver International, Skeptoid
- Denver Airport Conspiracy: Guest Rich Orman of Dogma Free America, Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast
- Even the Wikivoyage Article has a three paragraph section on "conspiracy theories"
- Westword - DIA Conspiracies Take Off
- Get it? Get it?
- Patriotic Pinwheels, Skip to My Lou
- Runways crossing each other do not limit an airport's capacity. In most prevailing weather conditions, crosswind runways are simply not used. The wind on the ground is the major factor determining which runways are active; airplanes take off and land into the wind, with each aircraft type being rated for the amount of crosswind it can handle.
- Denver is not called "The Mile High City" because people like recreational drugs. Well, not only that.
- See the Wikipedia article on Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
- Google search on protests about DIA
- News 7 - DIA Cracked Plane Windshields Mystery Solved
- YouTube - Secret Underground 2012 Base at Denver Airport
- Westword - DIA Conspiracies Take Off
- In Defense of the Demon Horses Rear, what people see coming into Denver
- Mustang Pictures
- DIA Sculptor Killed By Own Sculpture
- DIA Gargoyle
- Flicker - DIA Mural