When the aliens first appeared on Earth, we started studying Area 51, or so many people say. Is this true? There is no doubt that this very strange government facility in the middle of the Nevada desert, officially called Groom Lake, keeps many secrets locked in its safes. So far, however, there is no evidence that a bunch of little aliens are part of it.
This did not prevent people from speculating on the kept facility and considering that it took more than half a century for the American government to admit the existence of Area 51, people cannot be blamed for not trusting the official version. What can be confirmed about Area 51 is that it is a place of high-tech military tests and suspicious cover-ups, as is normally only found in one episode of Stranger Things. So here’s what we know about area 51.
1. Here is how the suspicious business started in the area
When we talk about zone 51, separating facts from fiction is a delicate issue. That said, How Stuff Works reports that this whole story began during the Second World War. Somewhere between the exploitation of atomic energy and the transformation of a skinny kid named Steve Rogers into a super-soldier. The U.S. Army built a pair of small tracks just beside Lake Groom in Nevada and named it the Army Artillery School. Sometime after the war, the artillery school was abandoned.
Thus, the equally paranoid CIA allied itself with the even more paranoid aerospace company Lockheed in the 1950s. Their joint project, entitled Skunk Works, aimed to develop U-2 spy planes. The secret of the project meant that the test flights had to be conducted in a remote location, away from commercial and military air routes, but close enough to a large city that receiving new deliveries was not a real headache. Fortunately, the project’s Air Force liaison officer mentioned the small abandoned artillery school in Nevada where he had trained. After careful inspections, Skunk Works moved into the old school and began testing its spy planes.
They didn’t say anything to the press. Their cover story was to refer to the military base as the “Watertown Project”, according to How Stuff Works, and claim that they were only studying bizarre weather phenomena.
2. The government has not recognized the existence of Area 51 until 2013
Nowadays, the existence of zone 51 is a matter of public knowledge. No one knows exactly what they do there, but everyone knows that it is a real place. Throughout the 20th century, however, the American government refused to admit it. It was only in 2013 that the CIA finally admitted the existence of the test site, according to Reuters, by declassifying some old documents on the subject.
Nevertheless, much of what the world knows today about the history of Groom Lake is due to the 400 pages that the CIA has made public, and it seems quite credible that the base’s primary intention was indeed to test experimental military aircraft.
3. Area 51 hides several secrets
If you’re wondering how a questionable government base could have remained hidden for so long, well, the cloud of secrecy surrounding Area 51 is quite large and misty. First of all, as NPR points out, it must be understood that Area 51 is not a small hole in the desert. The base is located within a 4,687 square mile lot that is much larger than Rhode Island, and almost the size of Connecticut.
Second, they are not kidding when it comes to privacy breaches. According to How Stuff Works, any pilot brave enough to fly in the airspace over Area 51, called R-4808N, faces a trio of horrific consequences, beginning with a court-martial, leading to a dishonourable dismissal, and may go to jail for several years.
Third, a former Zone 51 worker named T.D. Barnes describes a professional environment so secret that non-disclosure agreements are used for everything, jobs do not officially exist in the books, and less than 5% of those on the base even know that the CIA was involved. In an interview with a local Las Vegas news station, Barnes said that people on the base were communicating with fake names and were not even allowed to tell their families where they worked: Barnes’ wife thought her husband had shuttled to a foreign country until he told her the truth in 2009.
4. What exactly is in Area 51?
No one is sure what is in Area 51. That said, according to the Washington Post, you can almost be sure that the entire area is used to test high-tech experimental military aircraft. The declassified CIA documents clearly show that this is how the base was used for most of the 20th century. In addition to these U-2 spy planes, How Stuff Works points out that Lockheed’s A-12 Archangels were also tested there in the 1960s, followed by stealth fighters in the 1970s and Tacit Blue aircraft in the 1980s. It can, therefore, be assumed that the military is currently piloting new aircraft models.
5. Where do all the rumours about aliens come from?
It’s quite common when there’s a mystery, people always suspect aliens of having something to do with it. It was probably Bob Lazar who established a link between the aliens and Area 51. Newsweek reported that in 1989, Lazar – under the pseudonym “Dennis” – told the press that he was a former scientist who had worked in Area 51 for the reverse engineering of nine flying alien saucers.
Once “Dennis” spoke, everyone became interested in Area 51. No one stormed Area 51, but the news spread like wildfire, and Lazar’s story made Area 51 the center of the UFOs, forever. Shortly afterwards, Lazar presented himself with his true identity, claiming that his family’s life had been threatened.
6. We see a lot of UFOs near Area 51
Once again, according to the government, there are no flying saucers in area 51. There have been many UFO sightings in the region, according to Britannica, but they are generally attributed to people who have misinterpreted the real military tests.
That said, the declassified CIA documents contained at least one section on UFOs, which deals with Operation Blue Book. As Space.com summarizes, the CIA noted a dramatic increase in UFO observations after the UFOs began to be tested in Area 51, and although this seems to be an obvious case of cause and effect, they wanted to make sure. So they recorded the UFO observations, documented them and compared them to the flight logs of American aircraft to verify that nothing funny was going on. Thanks to this method, the Blue Book authorities were able to confirm that the majority of UFO observations corresponded to the flight paths of military aircraft.
7. Safety is important in Area 51
If you’re wondering how the U.S. government can legally prevent people from entering Area 51, well, it’s in the law. According to IFL Science, Area 51 is surrounded by signs warning trespassers that they could be subjected to deadly force, heavy fines and/or prison sentences if they enter this area.
8. The photo of the skylab in 1974
You would have trouble finding two government agencies more different than NASA and the CIA. While NASA only talks about openness, the CIA hides a lot of things. These contradictory approaches created an incisive exchange in 1974, according to the Space Review, when astronauts on board the Skylab 4 mission accidentally took an aerial photo of the famous Area 51.
9. Here is what is most frightening about Area 51
Do you want to guess where the CIA first tested the drones? Area 51, of course. The two UAV programs in Area 51, called AQUILINE and AXILLARY, began in the 1960s in response to the loss of all U-2 spy planes. These two projects were eventually cancelled because AQUILINE was too expensive and AXILLARY was too noisy for appropriate spying missions. However, they have certainly paved the way for the deadly battle drones we see used in wars today, and at least one of these AQUILINE prototypes has taken off from Area 51 more than 20 times… and, presumably, caused at least some UFO observations.
10. Why is this area called Area 51?
The truth is, no one knows why this mysterious base is called Area 51. According to Dictionary.com, this name was first discovered on diagrams from the 1960s, and it is possible that this name is only a relic of the Atomic Energy Board, which used a grid naming system (Zone 13, Zone 14, you can count) to name the various “safety experience” locations on the territory of the Nellis Air Base. That said, Field 51 is far from being the only name given to this place, and it is unlikely that those who work there will call it that. The airport identification code of the place is KXTA, and according to Wired, another official name for him is Homey Airport.
In any case, many of the nicknames in Area 51 have appeared over the years, as described in the New York Times, all straight from a science fiction horror movie. These include Dreamland, the Box, the Ranch or, quite simply, the “remote place”.
11. Some people will see Area 51 from a distance
No one goes to Area 51 unless they are invited, but the surrounding region has – as might be expected – known exactly the kind of foreign theme tourism that can be expected in such a place. The New York Times writes that Nevada State Route 375 was named the “alien highway” in 1996, and the region welcomes visitors from all over the world to enjoy the various museums, restaurants and hotels dedicated to little green men, according to the Washington Post.