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.
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,[note 2] 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,[note 3] while DIA's runways support the largest jets currently flying (12,000-16,000 feet). In rigid terms, an A380 (the largest commercial airliner) could non-stop fly from Denver to Beijing (PEK).
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 end of 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.
One of the most prevalent conspiracy theories regarding the Denver International Airport is that the airport was built to conceal massive, top-secret, underground bunkers. There are multiple theories as to why these bunkers exist, including: the bunkers being a home for aliens, that the space will be used as a FEMA concentration camp in the future when the US government will kill its own citizens, and that the space is intended to be a fallout shelter for the wealthy and famous should the earth face some sort of apocalyptic disaster.
Undoubtedly there is an incredible amount of space below the Denver Airport (approximately 470,000 square feet) Conspiracy theorists propounding the FEMA Concentration Camp theory argue that this space serves no practical purpose: why excavate such a large area for no reason? They also point to the above-mentioned murals (which the majority of Denver Airport conspiracy theorists interpret as depicting a coming genocide conducted by the New World Order) as proof that something nefarious is afoot at the Airport. They then come to the conclusion that the underground facilities will be the scene of this mass genocide. The artist of the murals, a man named Leo Tanguma, has steadfastly denied that his paintings hide any sinister hints, although, of course, conspiracy theorists counter that Tanguma was bought off by the New World Order to lie and cover up the murals' true meaning.
According to the Denver Post, the space below the Denver Airport is a thriving workplace, that serves a very practical purpose, in which more than 1000 employees work every day. There are also two very long tunnels (about 7000 feet each) that are used to transport passengers’ luggage around the airport. Reporters from the paper were also given a tour of the underground facilities and reported back that nothing seemed to be amiss.
In 2016, the Denver International Airport began to offer tours of its underground tunnels to the public. If the Airport’s underground facilities were actually the future home of a concentration camp or a nuclear fallout shelter, would the New World Order really be so bold as to offer tours to curious conspiracy theorists?
The theory of the Denver Airport concealing a shelter for the world’s elite reached a more mainstream audience when the idea was further propagated by former American wrestler/politician Jesse Ventura in a January, 2010 episode of his sensationalized television show “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura”. In the episode, Ventura visits the DIA with a conspiracy theorist who claims that the space below the Airport will be used as a shelter for the world’s elite in the 2012 apocalypse ‘predicted’ by the Mayan calendar. Ventura is shown one of Tanguma’s infamous murals in which, according to the conspiracy theorist’s interpretation, a child is depicted holding a Mayan stone tablet. This (along with the enormous size of the facilities beneath the airport) is presented as incontrovertible evidence that the airport is nothing but a front for an apocalyptic fallout shelter: when the apocalypse strikes in 2012, the majority of humans will die while the New World Order survives below the Denver Airport.
Anti-conspiracy theorists would counter Ventura’s claims in two ways. The first being that, according to Dr. John Carlson, the Mayans never predicted that the world would end in 2012. The date of world’s presumed destruction (December 21st 2012) was a very important date on the Mayan calendar, but not a date that signaled any sort of impending disaster or global annihilation. The second counter is that, in fact, the world didn’t end on the day that the Mayan calendar ‘predicted’. It was just a regular day without any need for members of the New World Order to hide underground to survive the apocalypse.
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" (just like in Comet Ping Pong, huh). Take your pick. You have a 32 foot tall, very anatomically correct sculpture of a blue horse. His "official" name is "Blue Mustang", but with his sinister glowing red eyes and veins that can be witnessed by people as they drive in and out of the airport, the locals know him as "Blucifer". Blucifer was not built, it has always been there, thirsting for blood. Before installation, Blucifer had taken the life of his creator, and his hunger for human life is insatiable.
Fun Fact: The buffalo in front of the Colorado Art Museum has a big ol' sack, too.
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 consists of Denver business and civic leaders which sponsored the building of the airport. Some locals have wondered if the name was chosen just for funsies in order to drive conspiracy cranks even more bananas than they normally are. 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?
The dedication stone at the Denver International Airport is another key piece in arguments propagated by conspiracy theorists. In their eyes, the capstone is a blatant sign that the airport is under control of the Freemasons and, also, under the control of the New World Order.
Conspiracy theorists point to a few reasons as to why this is the case. One reason is that an organization named the “New World Airport Commission” is carved into the stone. In reality, the Commission is on the stone because it was integral in the building and funding of the airport. The name “New World Airport Commission” is, of course, similar to that of the New World Order and so conspiracy theorists believe that the two are irrevocably connected and that this lends further credence to the belief that the New World Order is secretly (or not so secretly) in charge of the DIA. While, on the other hand, anti-conspiracy theorists counter that the “New World Airport Commission was, in fact, named by an arts advocate, Charles Ansbacher, who chose the name as a tribute to Antonín Dvořák’s music piece New World Symphony. A DIA spokesperson said that the New World Airport Commission was the name given to a group of local politicians and businesspeople who helped fund the airport’s construction.
Conspiracy theorists also point to the fact that a Masonic symbol is featured on the dedication stone, while also placing great significance on the day of the stone’s dedication. The stone was dedicated on March 19th, 1994 and if you add up the individual numbers (1 + 9 + 1 + 9 + 9 + 4) it will equal 33, which represents “perfection and the highest degree in Masonry you can hold". While these numbers do add up to 33, it is hard to view this as anything other than coincidence fueled by a massive confirmation bias—there are myriad ways to add these numbers up (ie 19 + 19 + 94) without the answer being 33. Not to mention the fact that this ‘equation’ doesn’t take into account the stone being dedicated in March (the third month of the year, obviously). It only factors in the day and the year of the stone’s dedication.
- 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"
- Get it? Get it?
- 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.
- Westword - DIA Conspiracies Take Off
- Patriotic Pinwheels, Skip to My Lou
- See the Wikipedia article on Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
- Google search on protests about DIA
- News 7 - DIA Cracked Plane Windshields Mystery Solved
- In Defense of the Demon Horses Rear, what people see coming into Denver
- Mustang Pictures
- Belcher, David a. (2013-07-31). "Luis Jimenez, Sculptor, Dies in an Accident at 65 - New York Times". The New York Times.
- DIA Gargoyle
- Flicker - DIA Mural