Today’s reader mail is one I received a while back … and as I glanced out the window upon landing at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) yesterday, looking at the answer to the question, I figured this was the ideal time to answer this reader mail.
This week’s reader mail comes from Peter E. who asks, “I recently watched a few white Boeing 737s with a red stripe take off and land in Las Vegas. The planes have no markings and appear to not park at either the passenger terminals or the corporate jet terminals. So, what’s the deal with the red striped planes in Vegas?”
Peter the answer to your question is both easy and complex … and these planes are in fact steeped in the lore surrounding Area 51 conspiracy theories. The white Boeing 737-600s are refereed to “Janet Jets” or “Janet Airlines,” but technically have no airline name. The name “Janet” comes from the radio call sign the aircraft use.
The actual origin of the name “Janet” is unknown (although I am sure someone somewhere knows the answer). Many people tend to half-joke that “Janet” stands for “Just Another Non Existent Terminal,” this is due to the destinations and mission of the Janet Jets.
While technically the missions of Janet Jets are classified, it is known that the aircraft ferry defense, CIA and military personnel from the company hub in Las Vegas to four primary locations. The locations are Groom Lake/Area 51, Tonopah Test Range/Area 52, China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station and Edwards Air Force Base, as well as other locations as needed. A typical five-day-a-week schedule for the Janet Jets is 20 round-trip flights per day, flying an estimated 1,500 passengers a day.
Ownership of the Janet Jets used to be spread out with a number of private aircraft leasing companies, however with the transition from 737-200 aircraft to 737-600 aircraft, all Janet Jets are now owned by the Department of the Air Force, registered to 6082 Fir Avenue, Building 1232, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, 84056 … however the aircraft are exclusively operated by the URS Corporation (formerly EG&G), a defense contractor.
It is believed the interiors of the Janet Jet 737-600s are fitted with 120 seats in a single class configuration. All of the current Janet Jets aircraft began their service lives as commercial airliners for Chinese airlines.
Below is a photo of five of the aircraft in the Janet Jets fleet and a photo of two of the aircraft in the easy to spot White-and-Red-Strip livery.