Midway through our tour of the Denver International Airport, media-relations chief Heath Montgomery tells me, “It’s kind of amazing that it’s lived on as long as it has.”
We’re standing in the Jeppesen Terminal, a capacious main hall famed for its vaulted white tent roof that mimics the Rocky Mountains to the west, but Montgomery’s not talking about the structure or even the sprawling airport itself. He’s answering a very important question I’d posed: Why has the wild speculation about the Denver airport persisted for more than 20 years?
Ever since DIA opened to the public on February 28, 1995, after numerous delays and nearly $2 billion over budget, the airport has been a hub not only for United and Frontier, but also for our nation’s most salacious airport-themed conspiracy theories. The demonic horse greeting visitors, the apocalyptic murals, the involvement of the Freemasons, and the many other oddities relating to the airport and its construction have provided endless fodder for DIA truthers, hysteria-mongers, and late-night television hosts
Not surprisingly, Montgomery tells me that he’s talked more about these seemingly implausible conspiracy theories than any other topic in the four-plus years he’s been there. “I think they used to be annoyed by it, but in recent years we’ve just embraced it,” he says, pointing to a 2010 episode of Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura as a huge factor in the rumors going mainstream. “You can fight it and fight it and it doesn’t change anything. But if you embrace it, it becomes an opportunity to talk about the airport.”
Talking about the airport was why I’ve driven out here, of course, but I’m looking for answers that I’m not certain an official spokesman, no matter how forthright or knowledgeable, will be able to provide. So begins my dive into the dystopian world of Denver International Airport conspiracy theories, a quest that will ultimately bring me into contact with some of the people responsible for sparking these mysteries, send me to the library to scroll through microfiche as if I’m in a John Grisham movie circa 1993, and lead me to make some tough conclusions about what’s really going on at my deeply strange local airport.
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