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Denver Airport Conspiracy: The Facts, Rumors, and Beyond Bizarre Theories

It's been plagued by incredibly strange theories since it opened.

Back in 2014, I was driving through Denver on my way from Kansas City to Portland for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. I was passing through the outskirts of the city at night, and construction caused me to veer from my planned route, taking me past the enormous Denver International Airport (DIA). There, looming out of the darkness, I saw the famous “Blue Mustang” sculpture–known as “Blucifer” to locals–rearing up some 32 feet into the air, its red eyes glowing balefully down on passing cars.

Seeing that there in the dark, it’s easy to imagine why the Denver Airport is home to some of the wildest conspiracy theories you’ll ever find, and why those rumors continue to persist some 20 years after the airport’s completion.

When the airport opened in February of 1995–16 months behind schedule and nearly $2 billion over budget–it was already plagued by rumors and speculation. These are just a few of the strange stories that continue to haunt the largest airport in the country.

"The Denver Airport has secret bunkers built beneath the soil."

denver airport conspiracies
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Denver International Airport ultimately cost $4.8 billion. That’s a lot of money, and not everyone is entirely sure just where all that money went. Some believe that the reason the airport went so far over budget, not to mention the reason why it’s so dang big–fully twice the size of Manhattan Island–is because it actually hides secret structures underneath it. Depending on whom you ask, these shelters might be the secret headquarters of the Illuminati or an underground bunker designed to shelter world leaders in the event of nuclear war. That many see a swastika when viewing an aerial photo of the airport and its runways only adds fuel to this claim. 

Related: Here Are the 50 Most Haunted Places in the United States 

Some conspiracy theorists tie these secret underground chambers to the earliest era of the airport’s construction, or to Denver’s expensive and notorious automated baggage-handling system, which never worked properly and was abandoned in 2005, though supposedly never removed from the premises.

"The builders of the airport had strange ties to secret societies."

denver airport conspiracy theories
  • Supposed secret society symbols adorning the airport's sign

  • Photo Credit: Pexels

The connection to the Illuminati and other secret societies doesn’t stop with the supposed secret bunkers. At a dedication ceremony on March 19, 1994, a time capsule was placed beneath the airport for the “people of Colorado in 2094.” Above the time capsule is a capstone which bears, among other things, the Square and Compass symbol of the Freemasons, along with the name of a mysterious group called the New World Airport Commission.

Of course, conspiracists are quick to point out that no such group appears to exist. According to airport officials, no group by that name exists now, but one did back in 1994, formed specifically for the purposes of commemorating the opening of the new airport. Those two words “New World” right next to each other, however, suggest more sinister ideas to conspiracy theorists, some of whom believe in a “New World Order” that is attempting to build a shadowy globalist government or already has.

"The unusual murals may show the future—and it does not look pretty."

denver airport conspiracy theories
  • "The Children of the World Dream of Peace"

  • Photo Credit: Donal Mountain / Flickr

The Denver International Airport is home to more than its fair share of controversial artwork. Gargoyles perched on suitcases loom over the baggage claim, words and symbols that have been identified as everything from Masonic to Satanic to Templar in origin dot the terminals, and then there’s that big blue horse I mentioned earlier, but perhaps none has riled conspiracy theorists as much as a pair of murals painted by local artist Leo Tanguma. Entitled “In Peace and Harmony with Nature” and “Children of the World Dream of Peace”, these striking murals contain a number of unsettling visuals, including an image of a Nazi-style soldier in a gas mask swinging a saber at huddled children and a child’s letter from Auschwitz.

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When asked about the murals, the official responses echo the artist’s statements which accompany them, claiming that the murals express “the artist’s desire to abolish violence in society” and live in peace with nature. But conspiracy theorists see much darker subject matter in the paintings, including genocide, apocalyptic imagery, and the coming of that aforementioned New World Order.

"The horse sculpture that killed its creator may also be a harbinger of the apocalypse."

denver airport conspiracy theories
  • Photo Credit: Mike Sinko / Flickr (CC)

Remember that big, demonic-looking horse I mentioned before? Well, not only is it plenty creepy-looking on its own, but it also has its very own dark tale. Commissioned back in 1993, artist Luis Jiménez was still working on it in 2006, when the sculpture’s head fell on him, severing an artery in his leg and ultimately killing him.

The sculpture was later finished by his family and associates and put on display near the entrance of the airport, but the idea that it was “cursed” has hung over it ever since, not helped along by its infernal appearance. There are also those who say that, when the end times come, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will mount “Blucifer” there and ride him to the end of the world.

Like any big, busy airport, the Denver International Airport has been home to its share of accidents and incidents over the years. Besides the ill-fated baggage handling system, in February of 2007, 14 aircraft at the airport suffered similar windshield failures within a period of a little over three hours. Other times a Boeing 777 caught fire while refueling, another plane veered off the runway, and others were evacuated. 

Are these signs that the airport is cursed, or simply the usual problems that you run into with any big airport? As with many of the strange and usual claims about the Denver International Airport, it's in the (glowing red) eyes of the beholder. 

Featured photo: Amy Gahran / Flickr (CC); Additional photos: Pexel; Donal Mountain / Flickr (CC); Mike Sinko / Flickr (CC)

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