Odd Desert Triangles

There’s always something odd to be found in the desert. This photo is no exception. Click to enlarge.

Anybody know what this is? Here’s the detail known so far:

  • Lat/lon  33.744375° -112.633221° 6.3 miles WSW  of Wittmann, Arizona.
  • The triangle is bordered with brush/bushy plants that appear to be part of the natural area.
  • The triangle measures 4123 feet or 0.78 miles on each side.
  • The apex of the triangle is aligned to true North
  • There are no structures nearby

There’s another similar triangle nearby in Surprise, AZ, 17 miles southeast, same size, different orientation, with a center line:

Click to enlarge. This one seems to have been built onto by some sort of housing development.

  1. #1 by Lawrie Ayres on May 13, 2011 - 12:12 am

    Chariots of the Gods.

  2. #2 by grandpa boris on May 13, 2011 - 12:33 am

    Looks like an old landing strip if you zoom in.

  3. #3 by Baz on May 13, 2011 - 12:40 am

    Bottom pic, The Surprise Tennis Centre.

  4. #4 by Simon on May 13, 2011 - 12:44 am

    Possibly Luke Air Force Base, auxiliary airfield 4:

    “This field was also known as “Wickenburg Field” (which could lead to some confusion with Echeverria Field, which was actually located in Wickenburg).

    Wickenburg Field (#4) had three 4,000′ x 300′ runways, and was “built during the period July – August 1942. Luke Aux #4 airfield was apparently closed at some point between 1956-66, and the property of this field was apparently transferred to the City of Phoenix.”


  5. #5 by TerryS on May 13, 2011 - 1:00 am

    There is another half triangle here: +33.71°, -112.42°

    They look to be old abandoned airfields: http://members.tripod.com/airfields_freeman/NV/Airfields_NV_NE.htm

    (h/t Kev-in-Uk at WUWT)

    • #6 by 2Hotel9 on May 13, 2011 - 4:50 am

      Nice catch! I was not certain, many of the training and auxiliary airfields of that era were triangular in design so that runways could be used in varying wind conditions, at least when the terrain would allow it.

      I had also thought that perhaps they were US Cavalry positions from the late 1800s Indian campaigns. Regimental size units often setup in triangular positions, each battalion occupying a leg. The precise compass lay would be rather typical of Westpointer type thinking.

  6. #7 by TerryS on May 13, 2011 - 1:07 am

    And another one here: +33.72°, -112.53°

  7. #9 by NikFromNYC on May 13, 2011 - 2:42 am

    Don’t dig there!

  8. #10 by Sunhawk on May 13, 2011 - 3:03 am

    That triangle is Wittman Auxiliary Airfield #1 It was a subsidiary field for Luke Air Force Base during WW2 and was activated on July 1st 1941. The one in Surprise is also a former Luke AFB auxiliary base.

  9. #11 by Louis Hissink on May 13, 2011 - 3:37 am

    There is a third one in the area – with a definite airstrip 33°43’10.32″N, 112°31’40.28″W associated with it.

  10. #12 by Roy Spencer on May 13, 2011 - 4:12 am

    Actually, these abandoned airfields have been visible in Landsat data for several decades, courtesy of the cold war. I used to live near one located at Raco, Michigan.

  11. #13 by Harry Kal on May 13, 2011 - 4:20 am

    It is the final evidence that AGW is changing the world.

  12. #14 by jmrSudbury on May 13, 2011 - 4:42 am

    The second one has a new housing development. Using Google Maps, I zoomed out from the first one to find the second. I could see the entire triangle. As I zoomed in, the pictures suddenly got newer and showed the housing development. — John M Reynolds

    • #15 by Joe Middendorf on July 13, 2014 - 10:47 am

      There are at least 5 located between Gila Bend and Ajo west of hwy. 85.
      Also large squares and circles next to the arrows.

  13. #16 by Theo on May 13, 2011 - 5:47 am

    Maybe it points to Supermans fortress of solitude?

  14. #17 by Max Broadway on May 13, 2011 - 6:39 am

    A line bisecting the NE / SW axis of the Wittman triangle and extended through the SE apex points to the Surprise triangle, passing just south of an airfield at Chapparal Rancheros with a similar structure about half way along the way. A line bisecting the N / S axis of the Surprise triangle and extended through the apex ends at the coast just south of Los Angeles. Perhaps they were set out to aid navigation for early pilots?

  15. #18 by Pilot on May 13, 2011 - 7:08 am

    According to aviation charts, it’s an abanoded field. (Runwayfinder.com is good for this is you can compare the charts to google maps).

  16. #19 by EdP209 on May 13, 2011 - 7:44 am

    Zooming out on Google maps you can see four of them in total in or around Surprise – shown on this map with the one in the town on the bottom left:

  17. #20 by harrie on May 13, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    “Perfect Triangle?” Then, what’s with the rounded corners? Airfield is right, I guess – but what do I know?

  18. #21 by Ben on May 13, 2011 - 2:32 pm

    It appears to be a remote airport, 3 runways. i have seen these in CA. for gliders or ultralites.

  19. #22 by Mike on May 13, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    It’s pretty obvious that the Egyptians beat the Lost Tribe of Israel (Mormons) to N America and began marking out several pyramids before they were rumbled by the natives who used them for sacrificial practises.
    This is the only thing that also expains why the Central Americans also built pyramids – they found the Egyptian plans buried in New York state inscribed on gold tablets which later mysteriously disappeared (who’d a thunkit?).
    The rest of the details will be exposed in my upcoming novel (after I retire).

  20. #23 by Chris R on May 14, 2011 - 10:58 am

    These are clearly the remains of old airfields. Triangular landing strips, to be exact.

  21. #24 by robert gregg on May 15, 2011 - 9:08 pm

    These are old airfields used in WWII. There are lots of them in the southern california deserts.

  22. #25 by Christian Bultmann on May 19, 2011 - 8:09 pm

    I took a picture of the Indian Head in comparison to the satellite image from Google, might be something for this side.

  23. #26 by Jeff on June 23, 2012 - 11:05 am

    I counted four of these on a flight from Phoenix to San Diego on 6/18/12. They seemd to be evenly spaced along our flightpath. Certainly a curious way to configure multiple airfields.

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  31. #34 by Jerry on February 24, 2016 - 8:47 am

    Aux. Landing strip for luke a.f.b

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  38. #41 by danielperlaky on May 23, 2019 - 5:48 pm

    I saw a handful of these on my flight from Austin to San Diego and was baffled… took a photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwr19fTFHRg/

    There are also slices around the triangle that make a square and a few other squares around as well. You can see a weird white tail going from the right side towards the mountain range. That’s almost stranger than the triangle.

    Also I read elsewhere from others who knew of at least three more and another who claimed six more within pretty close proximity. But none of the ones listed below seem to match up with my photo… at least as far as I can tell.

    A poster at https://www.neatorama.com/2006/08/20/mysterious-triangle-in-surprise-arizona/ provides some location info:
    “There are at least THREE MORE mysterious triangles within 10 miles of the one posted. That’s rather a lot of abandoned air bases per square mile, isn’t it?

    The posted triangle can be found by typing the following into http://www.google.com/local:
N 258th Ave, Wittmann, AZ

    All of the triangles are very close to being exactly the same size. All of the additional ones point west rather than north, and also all have a crossbar facing east-west.

    The second triangle is near W Beacon Lane, Wittmann, AZ
This one is partly obscured by what looks kind of like a newer, longer runway on the SW side. I really like the “X marks the spot” features near the NW and SE ends of the long “runway”. Maybe these are the “close window” buttons?

    The third triangle is near W Norwich Dr, Surprise, AZ (About 1 mile NNW of the junction of hwys 60 & 303)

    The fourth one is right in town at:
W Curveball Lane, Surprise, AZ
This one is partly obscured by new construction if zoomed in too far. Zoom out and you can see the entire triangle!

    At a scale of 2 miles/5 km, you can see all four at once if you position the first one at the upper left of the screen. They trail off to the ESE, except the last once is SE of the third one.”

    • #42 by 2hotel9 on May 24, 2019 - 6:46 am

      This was solved, military aviation training sites. And the one you mention having Xs at the ends of the “runways”? That means the field is no longer usable by aircraft.

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