Yesterday afternoon (approximately 12:00 AM MDT) the USAF notified the FAA that a TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) box was needed over a remote area of Western New Mexico.
The text of the TFR HERE read:
FDC 3/9977 ZAB NM..AIRSPACE FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS WEST OF RESERVE NM. EFFECTIVE 1310221815 UTC UNTIL 1311221815 UTC. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(2) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT WITHIN A 5 NAUTICAL MILE RADIUS OF 333526N/1085739W OR THE ST JOHNS /SJN/ VORTAC 158 DEGREE RADIAL AT 50.7 NAUTICAL MILES AT AND BELOW 12000 FEET MSL TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE. UNITED STATES AIR FORCE RESCUE COORDINATION CENTER IS IN CHARGE OF THE OPERATION.
On the surface it may indicate a crash of a military aircraft in the area and search and rescue efforts are underway, but what makes it unusual is that the TFR has been put in place for a full month.
This may indicate that something either toxic or sensitive crashed in the area, with the possibilities ranging from a secret aircraft type, a satellite reentry or something carrying nuclear materials.
I talked to an air traffic controller who works at ZAB (under the conditions of anonymity) and he remarked that the USAF isn't giving out any information on why the TFR is in place except they requested that if any unauthorized civil aircraft violated the airspace they wanted to be notified of type and tail and the ultimate destination.
The TFR is in a very remote area and not very accessible to the public but it is in the middle of the RESERVE MOA and several military training routes go right through that area. It also isn't far from the White Sands Missile Range to the SE.
Searches on the Internet can find no reports of crashed aircraft or incident reports coming out of the area and inquiries by the press are not being answered. If it's an SAR exercise - why is the USAF not talking? If it's something innocuous - as it may turn out to be- why not just say so?
In light of that, and with the rising interest by the mainstream press, expect the USAF to issue a press release soon.
Whether it's the truth or tantamount to being the modern day equivalent of a "crashed weather balloon" story is yet to be seen.
Nothing to see here - go back to your homes.
Stay tuned - more on this story as it unfolds.