It all began with the U2 spy plane. Back in the 1950s, President Eisenhower commanded the CIA to find the most remote and secretive place in the United States where the government could work on the U2 spy plane. A place found in a desert in the middle of nowhere was ideal. Having this thought in mind, the person tasked for this job (Richard Bissell) found just the right place in the middle of Nevada located more than 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The place was located at an already classified facility where the government was conducting nuclear tests. This was the beginning of the secret US air force military installation we now know as Area 51.
It was named Area 51 because of its designation on the map of the Atomic Energy Commission. It also goes by many names: paradise ranch, the ranch, and water town and dream land. This base is extremely restricted to the public and has high level security guarding it. Although, it was founded in the 1950’s, former president Barack Obama was the first president who publicly acknowledged its existence in 2013. It took about 58 years for the government to stop its denial. That is one of the many reasons that made the public suspicious of this facility.
The conspiracy theories spiked the public’s interest to a great length that almost led people to try to storm in to the base. In 2019 an event called “Storm Area 51, they can’t stop all of us.” was planned for September 20 in which millions of people signed up for. It was inspired by a Facebook meme. However, the government didn’t let it happen and the event ended up being a concert.
How did Area 51 become the center of many conspiracy theories?
In the late 1980s a man named Bob Lazar went on a local Nevada news program and stated that he had worked at Area 51 on a flying saucer that he believed had come from outer space. Bob Lazar also told the public he though he saw an alien. This was the moment Area 51 became a public fascination but it didn’t end there. In 1996, employees of Area 51 who said they were exposed to toxic material filed a suit against the facility.
During the trial many documents were released for the first time. The documents included manuals which teach the base security officers on how to lie to the public. However, the most important material ordered to be released was withheld because the government went great lengths in its case against the workers who sued Area 51. It even threatened to use force to seize none-classified materials. In 2013, the national security archive at the George Washington University obtained a formerly classified CIA document on the U2 spy plane through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It was one of documents released in 1998 but was heavily redacted.
The Roswell Incident
It is rumored that in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, a flying saucer that supposedly crashed was brought to Area 51 for reverse engineering experiments. The experiments were held inorder to replicate the extraterrestrial spacecraft. The US air force issued a report much later on September 8, 1994. It stated that the wreckage recovered in Roswell, New Mexico, consisted of smashed parts of balloons, sensors and radar reflectors. It also stated that it believed the objects were from a classified government project called Project Mogul.
By 1959, many reports about UFOs was being received. Those reports came just a few years after a UFO crashing in Roswell army air field. The air force started investigating claims of UFO sightings in 1947, which later became known as Project Blue Book in 1952. By the tine Project Blue Book ended in 1969, the air force had investigated over 12,000 claims.
In 1950 when the U2 spy plane was occasionally spotted. It looked like a flying cross high up in the sky. In addition, people reported observations of UFOs since nothing could fly that high. People’s imaginations were running wild. However, CIA wanted to use this to its advantage and so it let the UFO mythology evolve. This was because it served as a useful cover for the secret base…or maybe that’s what they want us thinking.
The Government’s Perspective
“Area 51 is an open training range for the U.S air force and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” air force spokeswoman Laura MacAndrews told The Washington Post. But is that what it really is?
From the way the government always tries to hide its track to the many rumors that have been told about this base it is not that hard to understand that this place is where one of the most advanced and cutting-edge science and technology programs are being tasted.
Area 51 could be the place where America’s greatest success and its greatest mistake are buried.
Written by Elbetel Fisha
Book recommendations about Area 51
- The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
- From Annie Jacobsen( author of Area 51 ): An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base.
- Radar Man: A Personal History of Stealth by Edward Lovick, Jr.
- Scream of Eagles: The Dramatic Account of the U.S. Navy’s Top Gun Fighter Pilots and How They Took Back the Skies Over Vietnam by Robert K. Wilcox
- The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
- A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry by Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger