What we know about Area 51
Written by Camões Radio on September 19, 2019
Area 51 is an active Air Force base in Nevada
Very little is known about the highly classified, remote base, making it the perfect object of fascination and conspiracy.
It’s unclear why the base is even called Area 51
According to the CIA, Area 51 is its map designation. But it begs the question — are there other “areas?”
As National Geographic notes, there are many other names for the base. One of those names, is Groom Lake, a reference to the dry lake near the base, while another is the sarcastic moniker Paradise Ranch. Its official site name is Watertown, but it’s sometimes referred to as Dreamland, after the Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name.
The base is not open to the public, but there are plenty of nearby tourist attractions that capitalize on its history
The active base has high security 24 hours a day. This means if a person — or, say, 1 million —wanted to storm the base in an attempt to see aliens, it would be incredibly dangerous.
But, as Travel Nevada notes, there are several attractions around the state that have glommed on to the alien-theme, playing up the secrecy of the base, including the Extraterrestrial Highway. Stops along the highway include Hiko, Nevada, where you can visit the Alien Research Center and purchase ET Fresh Jerky, and Rachel, Nevada, which is considered the “UFO Capital of the World.”
Until 2018, you couldn’t view satellite images of Area 51. Now you can
The base is located relatively far off from any public roads. According to a 2017 Business Insider video, some Area 51 employees have to fly to work on personal planes out of the Las Vegas airport.
The government won’t say what exactly goes on at the site
It’s unclear what the base is used for these days. The secrecy has led to a great deal of public speculation and, in turn, conspiracy theories — especially those relating to aliens and space.
We do know that it was used for military training during World War II
The remote location was later used by the US government to test high-flying U-2 planes during the 1950s.
The base was used to build prototypes and run test flights for the vessels, which could reach higher altitudes than standard crafts of the time, as declassified documents would later reveal.
After the U-2 was implemented, the Air Force continued to use the base to test other aircraft, like the OXCART and F-117 Nighthawk.
But, at the time, the American public had no idea.
The US government didn’t confirm that Area 51 was an Air Force base until 2013
After the National Security Archive at George Washington University filed a Freedom of Information Act in 2005 about the U-2 spy plane program, the CIA was forced to declassify documents related to Area 51 in 2013.
In doing so, the CIA not only revealed that the military spent 20 years testing the aerial surveillance programs U-2 and OXCART, but also confirmed the existence of the Area 51 base.
The area is also linked to conspiracy theories — mostly pertaining to aliens, space, and UFOs
Some of the excitement around the area have to do with the aircraft flying in, out, and around the base.
As a 2017 Business Insider video notes, there was an increase of supposed UFO sightings in the area in the 1950s — around the same time the U-2 planes were being tested. The secrecy of the program prohibited Air Force officials from publicly refuting the UFO claims at the time.