Conspiracy theories: Uncovering America’s secrets?

Digging deeper into America’s mysteries. This week: The Denver International Airport

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018


The Denver International Airport is surrounded in conspiracies. Leo Tanguma’s mural “Children of the World Dream Peace” is interpreted by conspiracy theorists as an omen of Armageddon.

As I scroll through my various news apps each day, I can’t help but notice my daily intake of current events regularly leaves me in a state of mild paranoia. If you ask me, the world as we know it is coming to an end.

My newsfeed is often riddled with photos of this week’s natural disaster, endless bombings in the Middle East and warnings of an impending nuclear attack at the hands of the North Koreans. Things are looking grim, I’d say.

How do I cope with all this? Conspiracy theories. Lately, my habit of researching the world’s weirdest mysteries has felt extra cathartic. Focusing on the possibility of the illuminati or aliens is a lot more fun than wondering when we might get nuked out of existence.

This week, I have decided to delve into an especially peculiar theory. Be warned, things are about to get weird.

Ever since its doors opened in 1995, the Denver International Airport (DIA) has been the subject of controversy. Theorists believe the airport is home to something a lot more interesting than airplanes. Strap in.

History of the DIA

On Feb. 28, 1995, Denver International Airport opened 16 months behind schedule. According to, this is largely due to the construction of an intricate series of tunnels built to house “the most technologically advanced rail and baggage handling system of all time.”

The DIA’s construction was plagued by problems; from financial disputes to a metalworker strike, the project was anything but a smooth operation.

Despite its rocky beginnings, said it is now the fifth busiest airport in the United States.

Devon Van Houten Maldonado, a writer for the art and culture forum Hyperallergic, described the airport as a place of inspiration and consternation.

“… don’t expect cottage paintings or pleasant abstraction here,” Van Houten Maldonado said. “The DIA art collection stands out for shunning the niceties of conventional airport décor and embracing the weird, with a focus on permanent installations.”

Weird is right. Possibly the most ambitious and talked-about piece is Leo Tanguma’s mural “Children of the World Dream Peace.”

This piece depicts a giant soldier wearing a gas mask, slicing a dove with a sword in one hand and brandishing a machine gun in the other as child of different cultures band together to destroy the swords slashing through the flags of many nations. Yikes.

Though Tanguma himself explained his mural was symbolizing his desire to end violence in society, conspiracy theorists use his artwork to fuel their theories about what really goes on in the DIA.

The conspiracies

This past July, I paid my first visit to the DIA. At this point in time, I was oblivious to the mysteries surrounding me. In hindsight, I remember some odd occurrences throughout my time there. Maybe this is nothing but a great example of the hindsight bias, but I distinctly remember feeling more turned-around than usual.

As I dawdled around the airport, perusing books and souvenirs, I found myself walking around in circles. At one point, I was making my way back to my gate, feeling certain I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t. Somehow, to my surprise, I had ended up on the complete opposite side of the airport. I thought this was a simple mistake, but now I am not so sure.

Per, one of the most popular theories is that the DIA is headquarters for the New World Order. Theorists say this underground group supposedly planning to take over the world will use the building to house political prisoners after their takeover.

In 2003, the facility was completely shut down due to mechanical issues and mysterious cracked airplane windshields. Theories explain the U.S. government has been conducting secret experiments in the tunnel system, resulting in the mechanical problems and windshield cracks.

The DIA website said the facility was built on Native American land, and since our ancestors stole it from them, I have a feeling this place is destined for bad things. The mechanical issues, the delays in construction, the creepy art. All of it is just too much. The theories are endless.

From an aerial perspective, the airport’s layout strangely resembles a swastika. In front of the airport is a giant, demonic statue of a blue horse named “Blucifer.” Leo Tanguma’s apocalyptic murals cover the walls. Mysterious Navajo words are hidden among the floor tiles. What is going on here?

Is the DIA an underground military base? The headquarters for a secret society? All I know for sure is there are more questions than answers. For now, I can’t say I believe any of these theories. But you can bet I will not be flying to Denver anytime soon.