In the middle of the Nevada Desert, there’s a dusty, unmarked road leading to the world known Area 51. Protected with wire fencing, a ramp and ‘restricted access’ signs, the area is inaccessible to anyone who tries to get in. One would think that such a secret base around which various myths revolve should be better protected, but don’t let the appearance fool you. Because, they’re watching you!
There are security cameras around each corner. At top of the hill in the distance, there’s a white van with tinted windows, from where they’re monitoring everything that happens in the valley. Local residents claim that people at the base know of every movement in the area. Others claim that there are sensors at the entrance.
The question what happens in Area 51 has been the subject of much debate for decades now. This includes conspiracy theories that aliens are being kept at the base.
One of the most far-reached theories was that of existence of alien life, known as the Roswell Incident of 1947. It’s believed that Stalin, the Russian president at the time, and Mengele, a Nazi doctor, collaborated on a Cold War of the Worlds. The incident involves a Soviet flying soccer flown by children. The notorious Nazi doctor was alleged to have surgically changed the children’s physical description upon Stalin’s request in order to make them look like aliens.
Some also believe that the US government filmed the famous 1969 landing on the Moon in one of its hangars.
Despite myths and legends, Area 51 is till operational today, but only few know what’s actually going on inside.
According to aerospace historian and author Peter Merlin who’s been researching Area 51 for more than three decades “The forbidden aspect of Area 51 is what makes people want to know what’s there. And there sure is still a lot going on there.”
The Origins of a Mystery
The beginnings of Area 51 are directly linked to the development of U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. In November 1954, the US President – Eisenhower, approved a secret project high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft called the U-2 program. A secluded, hidden location was an imperative for the project testing and training. Such a location was found in the southern Nevada desert, near Groom Lake, which had once been a World War II aerial gunnery range for Army Air Corps pilots.
Thus, the far-away place became the new secret military base. In order to attract workers to come to the base, one of the U-2’s leading engineers, Kelly Johnson, gave Area 51 a more appealing name – Paradise Ranch.
The Birth of a Myth
U-2 testing started in July 1955, and it was immediately followed by reports of unidentified flying objects sighting. The reports often came from commercial airline pilots who had never seen an aircraft fly at such high altitudes as the U-2. While all commercial planes today reach altitudes of 14,000 m, in the mid-1950s, they flew at altitudes between 3,000-6,000 m. The U-2 flew at an altitude of 12,000 m, which was incredible at the time.
Although the Air Force knew that these were U-2 test flights, they never disclosed it to the public.
This is Earth Technology
Towards the end of 1950s, U-2 test ended, but other military aircrafts, such as A-12, “Bird of Prey”, F-117A and TACIT BLUE, continued tests in Area 51.
“They flew them [over Area 51]… and pitted our own fighters against them to develop tactics,” says Merlin, “They learned that you can’t out-turn it, but you can outrun it. And it’s still going on today…. Now, instead of seeing MiG-17s and 21s, there’s MiG-29s and SU-27s.”
Conspiracy theories gained firmer ground in 1989, when in an interview on Las Vegas local news, Bob Lazar said he’d seen aliens and had taken part in disassembling alien spacecrafts while working at the base. Many, including Merlin, have disregarded this as fiction. Merlin had previously spent two years interviewing former Area 51 engineers and employees, who were enraged by all the ado about aliens.
“Some are even mad because they worked on these things and built these amazing planes,” Merlin says. “This is Earth technology. You got folks claiming it’s extraterrestrial when it’s really good old American know-how.”
Few people know what really goes on in the top-secret US military base. There have been many allegations including improved stealth technology, advanced weapons, electronic warfare systems and, in particular, unmanned aerial vehicles. According to Chris Pocock, a renowned U-2 historian and author of several books on this subject, classified aircraft, more exotic forms of radio communication, directed energy weapons, and lasers are currently being developed at the base.