Ladies and gentlemen, we’re approaching Denver International Airport, also known as DIA – not to be confused with DOA, which is an abbreviation we don’t like to associate with air travel. As we’ve been placed in a holding pattern and will be circling for a while, allow me to tell you a little about DIA, which is definitely the most intriguing airport that Mockingbird Air serves.
DIA was completed in 1995, just a year and a half late and $2 billion over budget – so, about normal for a public works project. The new airport included a state-of-the-art computerized baggage handling system. But on the day airport officials invited the press to preview the handling system, the reporters found complete chaos: luggage flying off the conveyor belts and belongings strewn on the floor. The airport had to spend millions of dollars trying to get that baggage system to work, and finally, after 10 years, they gave up. Your baggage is now handled by actual human beings.
More than 50 million passengers fly through DIA each year. Hopefully at least a few of them will notice the 30-plus art installations. As you leave the airport, you won’t be able to miss the 32-foot-tall, anatomically-correct blue horse that symbolizes "the wild spirit of the old American West." During construction of this 9,000-pound fiberglass sculpture, a piece of the head fell off and killed the artist who had designed it. Plus, the eyes of the horse glow red at night. So although the official name of this sculpture is Blue Mustang, locals have dubbed it Blucifer.
There’s some other unusual art at DIA, including gargoyles popping out of suitcases in the baggage claim and murals depicting the end of the world. But enough about the cheery artwork.
The architecture of the airport is also unique. The roof consists of a row of white points, which are meant to evoke the Rocky Mountains. The roof is actually made of Teflon-covered fabric, which is held up with a steel cable system, similar to the Brooklyn Bridge. Inside, those peaks make the airport feel very light and airy.
But does something darker lurk beneath?
If you like your airports with a side of crazy, DIA is the place for you. It’s best known not for its art but for being a hotbed of conspiracy theories. A popular theory posits that the airport was built as a red herring to conceal the construction of a giant underground bunker that will be used to save the elites when the end of the world arrives. Depending on your particular conspiracy persuasion, this bunker was built either by a secret organization called the New World Order, which plans to create a totalitarian regime around the world, or… by the Reptoids.
I’m no Reptoid, but it seems to me that if you wanted to build a bunker to protect you in a nuclear holocaust, you would put it under the Rocky Mountains, not next to them, don’t you think?
In any event, these sordid stories make DIA an entertaining layover. While you’re waiting for your next flight, you can look for hidden codes in the public art. If you run into any issues at the airport, just ask one of the volunteer ambassadors, identified by their jaunty hats and blue checked vests. They might even be able to point you toward the nearest bunker entrance.
We’ll be landing at DIA shortly, whether you like it or not. Thank you for flying Mockingbird Air and have a pleasant day.