For decades, media was replete with conspiracy theories and fantastic stories about the secret base known as Area 51 in Nevada, just 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas. In the movie Independence Day, it was the site in which the military held an alien captive, along with the spaceship it used to get to our planet. It’s been mentioned many times in the TV show X-Files, and even in Star Trek (DS9) a storyline had a bunch of time-traveling Ferengi being held in the base.
Area 51 Secrecy
It is arguably the most secretive military base in the world, and in fact it was just recently that the US government even acknowledged that the base actually existed. The base is full of intimidating signs that read Keep Out or Risk Use of Deadly Force and All Photography Prohibited, which will certainly pique your interest. Armed security guards patrol the area, and helicopters are also standing by to assist.
If you try to get to the base, buried motion detectors will notify security and you will be warned off by security guards. If you have a camera, it will be confiscated and you’ll also receive a visit from the FBI.
At nearby Nellis Air Force Base, pilots in training are explicitly warned that flying over the area is prohibited. It is an automatic Article 15, which involves an administrative reprimand, a loss of rank, and loss of pay. This law has been in effect since President Eisenhower signed the Executive Order 10633 in 1955.
It has many names, because not everyone calls it Area 51. It has been referred to as Paradise Ranch (or just “the Ranch”) to make it seem more attractive to the workers there. It has also been called Dreamland, Home Base, Watertown Strip, and Homey Airport. It’s also known as Groom Lake, because there’s an actual Groom Lake just northeast of the base.
Military personnel formally call it R-4808N, although in more relaxed settings they call it “the box” or “the container.” It is inside the Nevada Test and Training Range and other military personnel may also refer to it as the Air Force Flight Test Center – Detachment 3.
On the other hand, the State of Nevada did name the barren 98-mile stretch of Route 375 that runs close to Area 51 as the “Extraterrestrial Highway.”
Theories Regarding the Real Activities in Area 51
So why all the secrecy? Many people just accept the fact that the military has secrets it would like to keep from the public, and that includes data about weapons and nuclear bombs.
But the extraordinary secretive measures used for Area 51 have given rise to a load of theories. Many of the theories are all about space aliens. Supposedly, the military has captured an alien (perhaps the alien reported in the Roswell sightings) and did autopsy, and Area 51 is where its remains are.
Some of the stories include speculation about alien craft. This has been fueled by the fact that many military historians acknowledge Area 51 in the development of hi-tech planes such as the U2, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117 stealth fighter plane.
However, a lawsuit filed by former workers in Area 51 also alleges that it is an illegal dumping ground for hazardous waste. Whatever the truth may be, it will probably be many years before we get the answers we seek.