Area 51 is a highly classified US Air Force facility located at Groom Lake in southern Nevada. According to the CIA, the name Area 51 comes from its map designation. It was also previously referred to as “Paradise Ranch” and then shortened to “the Ranch.” Other nicknames include “Watertown” and “Dreamland.” So many nicknames, conspiracy theories, and secrets surrounding Area 51! Actually, everything about Area 51 screams secrecy! Here are some interesting facts about Area 51 that will divulge at least some of it’s enigmas!
The US government’s official name for Area 51 is the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Before World War II, the area near Groom Lake was used for silver and lead mining.
Once the war began, the military took over the remote area and began conducting research: mainly nuclear and weapons testing.
It is located more than 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
In 1958, under Public Land Order 1662, the 38,400-acre land area was “withdrawn from public use by the US Atomic Energy Commission, a predecessor to the US Department of Energy”.
It is restricted to the public and has armed guards patrolling the perimeter.
It’s also impossible to enter the airspace above without permission from air traffic control.
Area 51 has long been a topic of fascination for conspiracy theorists and paranormal enthusiasts.
One popular UFO conspiracy is that in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, remains from a flying saucer that supposedly crashed were brought to the site for reverse engineering experiments to replicate the extraterrestrial spacecraft.
As if crashed UFOs weren’t enough, some conspiracy theorists also think that Area 51 is where the Moon landing was staged.
When the base was founded back in the early 1950s, President Eisenhower tasked Richard Bissell from the CIA to find the most remote, most secretive place in the United States where they could work on the U-2 spy plane away from any prying eyes.
In 1955 The CIA begins using Area 51 to develop the high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane.
Other aircraft are also tested at the site later, including the OXCART (a supersonic reconnaissance A-12 aircraft) and the F-117 stealth ground-attack jet.
A radar facility was established at Area 51 in November 1959.
The first A-12 arrives at Area 51 on the 22nd December, 1961.
In 1974 Skylab astronauts unintentionally took photographs of Area 51. The images were removed from the rolls of film and stored in a restrictive vault.
On the 26th of August, 1976, the National Security Council’s Committee on Foreign Intelligence approves the recommendation “that management of Area 51 is transferred from CIA to the Air Force by the fiscal year 1978.”
On the 13th of May, 1989, KLAS reporter George Knapp interviewed Bob Lazar, who exposed details about Area 51. Lazar claimed to be working with physicists trying to “back-engineer a downed alien spacecraft.” The interview generated public interest in the base.
On the 8th of September, 1994, the US Air Force issued a report stating that the wreckage recovered in Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947, consisted of a smashed part of the balloons, sensors, and radar reflectors from a classified government project called Project Mogul.
On the 30th of January, 1996, the U.S. President Bill Clinton signed a presidential determination exempting the “Air Force’s operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada, from any federal, state, interstate, or local hazardous or solid waste laws that might require disclosure of classified information concerning that location to unauthorized persons.”
In 2005, a Freedom of Information Act request was filed by Dr. Jeffrey T. Richelson, a senior fellow at the George Washington University National Security Archive. The FOIA request was for information on the CIA’s “Lockheed U-2 plane reconnaissance program.”
On the 15th of August, 2013, the CIA published declassified documents that officially acknowledge for the first time that Area 51 is a secret US military site, following the FOIA request filed in 2005.
On the 8th of December, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama becomes the first president to use the phrase “Area 51” in public.
On the 2nd of April 2, 2014, in an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Clinton joked that while he was president, he asked assistants to investigate what the government knew about UFOs and Area 51.
On the same show in 2016 the presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said if elected, she would open government files on any unexplained aerial phenomenon barring any threats to national security.
On the 11th of July 2019, more than 1.5 million people wanted to attend a Facebook event titled “Storm Area 51, they can’t stop all of us”, pledging to raid Area 51 in a quest to “see them, aliens.”
On the next day Laura McAndrews, an Air Force spokesperson, claimed that government officials were aware of the Facebook event and that they would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area.
On the 20th of August, 2019, officials in Lincoln County, Nevada vote to pre-sign an emergency declaration in preparation for the influx of visitors.
On the 20th of September, 2019, approximately 200 people show up outside the gates of Area 51 for the “raid” on the facility.
Area 51 references have also seeped into pop culture, making appearances in movies like Independence Day and Paul. It has also inspired episodes of The Twilight Zone and The X-Files, as well as the slightly less iconic straight-to-video film Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders.
Area 51 is still an active base developing cutting edge military technology.
Do you have any fun, strange or interesting facts about Area 51 that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!