Earlier this year I had the wonderful opportunity to travel across the world to the USA to attend the wedding of a dear friend in Denver, Colorado. Roughly fifteen hours on a plane got me all the way from Sydney to LA. After a 4 hour wait, a missed flight, and a 4 or 5 hour flight to Denver via Sacramento (shout out to Southwest Airlines who sorted everything out for me with no fuss and no extra cost!), I landed in Denver, only a couple of hours late. I met up with my friend and together we made our way out of the airport. It was there in her car that I first heard of Blucifer.
I was told of a large blue statue of a mustang with glowing red eyes that stands outside of Denver International Airport. I chuckled at their description of a demonic-looking horse, but as we left the airport, that description became very real. This 32ft tall sculpture (that’s almost 10 metres for the rest of the world) depicts a fierce mustang, rearing up in an intimidating stance. The cobalt blue that covers the horse and the dark veins along the underbelly and face give a wild, stormy feel to this character. And of course, the red eyes do glow. Not just in a “painted bright red” way that I had anticipated but in a “red neon lights for eyes” way. There is no doubt that this horse exudes a fierce, wild power.
As it turns out, it’s not just the look of this horse that caused the locals to endow it with the nickname “Blucifer”. The horse was created by sculptor Luis Jiménez – a well-known artist of Mexican descent – and is a larger version of his “Mesteno” sculpture (“mesteno” is Spanish for “mustang”) that resides at the University of Oklahoma. Both versions are made from fibreglass and express a wild fierceness meant to symbolise the Southwest. It was this larger creation, though, that caused the death of its creator. On 13th June, 2006, as Luis Jiménez was in his studio, a large part of the sculpture fell on him, pinning him to the ground and severing an artery in his leg, ultimately causing his death. The work was completed by his sons and, in 2008, was installed in front of Denver’s relatively new international airport. And so this horse, with its fierce nature, glowing red eyes and the stigma of causing the death of its creator, was given the name “Blucifer”.
The horse is not the only point of controversy surrounding Denver International Airport however. The airport itself is said to have a number of questionable features, drawing in different conspiracy theories about its true purpose. The entire project began in 1980 with an investigation of six proposed sites on which to build a new airport that would replace the already existing airport. This alone sparked people’s interests as the question of why a new airport was necessary as the original one was functioning just fine closer to the city. In 1989 the location was decided upon and construction began in the hopes of opening the new airport in 1993. However delays pushed back the opening multiple times and didn’t take over as Denver’s sole airport until February 1995. Not only was this project well overdue, but it was also well over budget – 2 billion dollars over to be exact. More suspicions were raised as to the exorbitant cost of the airport. Add to that a fierce, red-eyed horse at the front and a myriad of strange murals and paintings inside and you have yourself an excellent candidate for conspiracy theories.
One such theory is that the airport was built by a Nazi group called the “New World Order”. The stone dedication marker credits the “New World Airport Commission” for contributing to the building of the airport, fueling various theories about what such a committee could be for. A simple Google search for such a commission leaves you with a list of conspiracies surrounding the airport, but a bit of digging shows that the New World Airport Commission was created simply to organise the opening of the airport and has nothing to do with anything other than the opening day. It has also been remarked that the airstrips for the airport, when viewed from above (as they generally are), create the shape of a swastika (the symbol of the Nazi party). However, it takes a bit of creative imagination in order to see a swastika rather than a pinwheel or a fan and may reveal more about the viewer than the airport.
Another popular theory is that the Freemasons had the airport built and use it as a base of global operations. This again stems from the dedication marker and apparently mysterious New World Airport Commission, as well as the Mason’s symbol that is carved into the dedication stone. The Freemasons, a fraternal organisation of individuals who trace their ancestry back to the local fraternities of stonemasons who regulated stone masonry in the fourteenth century, do have legitimate ties to the airport’s construction and dedication, but they are not involved with the day-to-day functioning or ongoing decision making of the airport.
Finally, the series of tunnels beneath the airport have sparked a multitude of theories about apocalyptic bunkers for elites, social groups such as Nazis or Freemasons, or even aliens residing below. The failed attempt to create an automated baggage system underground and the day-to-day workings of the airport have created many tunnels below. However, none of them lead to secret bunkers, and all of the plumbing and electrical wiring end at the lowest level of the airport.
The attitude of Denver International Airport towards these conspiracies hasn’t exactly helped to crush them however. Instead of expending the effort it would take to disprove every conspiracy theory that comes up, management seems to have decided to role with the theories a bit, taking in the free publicity, and even manages to have some fun with the theories. Workers have apparently been known to wear lizard masks in the underground tunnels while media groups tour the tunnel systems and the museum has featured an exhibition of some of the conspiracies in October of 2016.
Needless to say, the conspiracies of Denver International Airport and the interesting art that accompanies it have sparked much intrigue and publicity since its construction, and the horse is the most vivid of all of these. A giant blue mustang with blood-red eyes is bound to turn heads at the very least and certainly leaves an interesting first impression for anyone travelling to Denver.
Photographs provided courtesy of Denver International Airport.
“Blue Mustang – Denver, Colorado,” Atlas Obscura, <http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/blue-mustang>
John Wenzel, “The Definitive Guide to Denver International Airport’s Biggest Conspiracy Theories,” The Denver Post, 2016, <http://www.denverpost.com/2016/10/31/definitive-guide-to-denver-international-airport-conspiracy-theories/>
Sophie-Claire Hoeller, "People Have All Sorts of Crazy Conspiracies about Denver's Airport - Here's Why", Business Insider Australia, 2015, <https://www.businessinsider.com.au/denver-airport-conspiracy-theories-2015-10>