Top 10 SECRET FACTS About AREA 51
Malevolent societies, advanced spacecraft, extraterrestrials.. they’re all synonymous with Area 51. This base in the Nevada Desert has fueled unending curiosity over the secret activities that occur inside it, activities that some contend involve UFO's and alien beings. In this list, we examine the 10 facts about Area 51.
For decades, Area 51 has been the subject of unending speculation and theories by conspiratorialists, novelists, and filmmakers. There have been video games, motion pictures, novels, and television shows depicting the base as a haven for alien activity and/or malevolent government projects. The fact that the CIA didn’t acknowledge the site for almost sixty years only fueled the sensationalism. Much of the UFO theorizing, however, can be attributed to Bob Lazar, a self-employed photo processor who, in the 1980s, claimed to have worked at Area 51, reverse-engineering alien technology. Later investigations found Lazar’s claims about the site, as well as himself, to be dubious at best. Lazar nevertheless propelled Area 51 into the spotlight, where it’s been ever since.
Area 51 is Nothing Special
Area 51 receives a lot of interest, but the United States is hardly the only country to have a classified military site. Kapustin Yar, located in Southwestern Russia, was established as a rocket center right after World War II. Authorities kept a tight lid on the site, going so far as to mandate staff to reside in the nearby, unmarked town of Znamensk. The secrecy surrounding the base generated conspiracy theories inside and outside of the Soviet Union. The most pervasive theories surround Zhitkur, an underground facility focused–so they say–on UFO research. Even post-Cold War, the area remains off-limits to the general public, only fueling speculation.
Area 51 is Still Growing
When Area 51 was first developed, it covered a modest size of just 60 square miles, or a little under 100 square kilometers. But a lot has changed, with the base now making up 4,500 square miles, or 7,200 square kilometers. To put this into perspective, that’s almost the size of Jamaica. Most of that expansion occurred in response to nosy passersby and angry protests in the 1980s, but development on the site is still continuing and doesn’t look to stop anytime soon. The base looks to grow another 400-acres should the government be able to push Joseph Sheahan, owner of a portion of the former mining land, off of his family’s plot.
Area 51 was almost sued
In 1994, lawyer and professor Jonathan Turley brought forth a suit against the US Air Force and the Environmental Protection Agency. Turley was working on behalf of several Area 51 contractors who suffered from severe illnesses after disposing of hazardous waste from the site. In response to the lawsuit, which alleged proper safety equipment had been denied due to budget constructions, and in a move to prevent the exposure of sensitive information, President Bill Clinton made Area 51 exempt from environmental disclosure laws, hindering the court case. Despite several appeals, Turley and his clients walked away with nothing.
Area 51 was the site of a mining community
Long before Area 51 became, well, Area 51, it was part of a valuable mining region known as the “Groom Mining District”. The area was home to multiple silver mines developed in the 1860s. It was Groom Lead Mines Company that bought and lent its name to the area in the mid-19th century. Groom Lake, a part of that area, became an air force site during World War II until an eventual takeover by the CIA in 1955. From there, it was turned into a breeding center for extraterrestrial studies, or something like that.
Richard Bissell chose the site for Area 51
Bissell was an officer in the Central Intelligence Agency tasked with finding a site to test advanced military aircraft in response to increased Soviet espionage. With the help of aircraft engineer Clarence Johnson, Bissell settled on a desolate Nevada location then known as Groom Lake. The former mining community quickly played host to one of the government’s most popular secrets. During his career, Bissell oversaw many valuable CIA programs including the development of the Lockheed U-2 spy-plane, the Corona satellite, and, notoriously, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the event that ended Bissell’s career in the CIA.
First Unmanned Air Vehicle
Originally known as the Q-12, the Lockheed D-21 prototype made its maiden flight from Area 51 in December 1964, just 3 days before Christmas. The D-21 had identical specs to the A-21 spy-plane, traveling over three times the speed of sound and at altitudes deep into the stratosphere. The Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency used the D-21 to spy over Communist China in the late 1960s. Though a landmark aircraft, the US government retired its first drone in 1971 – just two years into its operational career.
Known officially as the Tonopah Test Range, Area 52 is located 70 miles, or 112 kilometers, north of Area 51. Like its more famous counterpart, Area 52 has an airport and serves as a testing site for prototype aircraft. Area 52 has gradually generated more interest among conspiracy theorists, some of whom claim that Area 51 is just a decoy, with 52 being the real site for extraterrestrial activity.
Area 51’s role as a top-secret air force testing site meant that it played host to some spectacular aircraft, one of them being the Lockheed A-12. The A-12, short for “Archangel Model 12”, was a variant of the famed SR-71 Blackbird. The A-12, which first took flight in April of 1962, could travel faster than any other plane in the world, hitting a top speed of 2,200 miles or about 3,500 kilometers-per-hour in 1963. On top of that, the A-12 could fly at altitudes up to 17 miles, or 27 kilometers, high.
The infamous military base is officially named Homey Airport. The name’s origin is unclear, but one theory has it referring to the site’s code-name of “homebase.” While Homey is the base’s official name, there are many unofficial ones used within government circles, including Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, and Watertown. So, where does the “51” come into play? From the parcel of land it sits on, of course.