Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: Area 51

Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

Area 51: The Center of Supernatural Circumstances

Area 51 has a mythological status in pop culture. It has been known through most of its history as the main location for research by the United States government when it comes to extraterrestrial life and all of the occurrences that happen throughout the country. There was even an attempt to raid the military base on September 20, 2019 that transformed into a celebration of everything alien. Investigation and intrigue into this top secret site has been rampant as conspiracy theorists and speculators alike want to dive into the mysteries of alien life in our country. But what is Area 51 and how did it achieve the legendary status it holds today? Why does the government even want to know about extraterrestrials?

Area 51 is located in Nevada along State Highway 375, colloquially known as “extraterrestrial highway”. The base is located in the middle of America’s western deserts and is isolated from most major landmarks, 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It is one part of the Edwards Air Force Base and is highly classified. It is located around Groom Lake and officially referred to as Homey Airport on aviation maps, though it has unofficially gone by monikers like The Ranch, Watertown, and Dreamland Resort. The land was completely isolated before World War II, as the area was rich in natural resources and focused mainly on mining. After the second world war, the area was dedicated for nuclear research and testing. The name “Area 51” came into existence because the plot of land it is found on is the 51st location of the Edwards Air Force Base.

In 1955, the site began to focus on creating military planes due to the lack of people in the area. Within less than a year of the base opening, the U-2 plane was developed, which could soar the highest of any military plane before it and avoid any detection techniques employed by the Soviet Union. This plane was extremely advanced for the time, but only saw a few years of use before it was obliterated by Soviet war technology. Area 51, once again, began to look into developing more advanced aerial technology and created the A-12, which could hit speeds of 2200 mph and take clearly defined pictures of foot-long objects at 90,000 feet in the air. Other military planes, such as the F-117 Nighthawk and SR-71 Blackbird, were developed at this precise location.

The base itself is one of the most top secret locations on the planet. The land around and above is strictly controlled and most of the public is prohibited from flying above or setting foot in the land surrounding it. The isolated area around the base totals to about 575 square miles, so there is no opportunity for anyone to get a good view of what exactly happens within its boundaries. Anyone who tries to step foot in the surroundings will be faced with deadly force and the guns of some of the most intense military pressure in America.

The legend of alien activity began when a man named Robert Lazar who claimed to be employed by the base said that he had been provided with foreign technology and tasked with transforming it into military equipment. The thousands of A-12s that were developed and took flight from the area were also suspicious at the time, as they were classified by the public as unidentified flying objects. Lazar’s claims were discredited, though, as it was discovered that he lied about his credentials. Despite this, the government refused to acknowledge the existence of the base until 2013, and the base’s role has been unknown since the 1970’s. What occurs at Homey Airport is clearly top secret information, and the public might never be aware of what occurs there. The security present at the base is some of the most advanced in the nation (and possibly the world). 

In 2013, the same year as the government announced the existence of Area 51, George Washington University’s National Security Archive was able to release a government document detailing the history and origins of the U-2 plane built at the location. The original version of the document published in 1998 was missing most of its key information, but due to the Freedom of Information Act, the full version without any redaction was able to be released to the public. It detailed the history of various planes in the Area 51 development site, but most specifically the U-2.

There are plenty of tourist attractions surrounding the locations that are free for the public to visit as they please. Rachel, Nevada is a small town of around 60 people that has plenty of attractions and merchandise relating to the existence of aliens and the rumors surrounding Area 51’s mysteries. The NATM (National Atomic Testing Museum) provides tours in the wilderness around the location and information about its origins. There are even private tours in fancy vehicles driven by ex-Air Force members that provide educational information as well as lunch and plenty of snacks. The tours leave directly out of Las Vegas. 

The theories surrounding this location have run rampant. It is rumored that the pieces found after the Roswell UFO Crash were relocated to the location to be studied. Not only that, thousands of tourists flock there every year desperately seeking some sort of answer to the query of alien life. As long as the government continues to guard the location with some of its strongest military force, the rumors about what occurs there will only grow and flourish. Eventually, we might find out Area 51’s secrets, but for now, we can celebrate the extraterrestrial culture it has managed to foster.