The history of Area 51
Posted by mandyf on December 15, 2011
Area 51 is and has for decades been one of the most talked about and least understood pieces of real estate in the entire world. What is area 51? What’s inside? Is it aliens and UFO’s hidden away from the world or is it a more mundane warehouse for various secret military projects? Very few things about Area 51 are for sure aside from the old saying that “those who know won’t say, and those who say don’t know.” Is that really the truth though?
At various points along the Area 51 Perimeter signs can be seen warning away trespassers with the threat of being shot on site, and unlike many such signs seen across America these are taken seriously. The signs didn’t pop up until the 1950’s when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) took over the operations of Area 51. Prior to that it was under the rule of the Army Air Corps who had a pair of runways along the Groom Lake Nevada facility when it was still known as the Gunnery School back in the the 1940’s. The CIA involvement is where much of the speculation as to what goes on inside Area 51 is derived and therefore the best place to start examining.
In the 1950’s the CIA was partnered with a voluminous roll call of private industry counterparts developing everything under the sun, most notably a very secretive project with Lockheed (Later known as Lockheed Martin) to develop high altitude surveillance aircraft like the U-2 Spy plane. Kelly Johnnson who worked for Lockheed on what was tabbed the “Skink Works” project was as fanatical as his CIA handlers when it came to secrecy. Any leak could lose them a competitive edge or tip off an unfriendly nation as to the next wave of American advancement. To say Area 51 became a Top Secret locale is an understatement.
The Groom Lake facility was perfect for their needs. The most basic need was that it be off the beaten path with no reason for the civilian populace to wander near it. The second was that it be easily accessible for aircrafts while being off the normal flight paths of commercial airliners, after all they were going to need a way for supplies and workers to get in and test flights on their prototypes to take off in anonymity. The next consideration was that it had to be close to a major city so their daily supply needs could be easily met, and finally it had to be large enough for the huge pool of workers that the facility and projects would demand to operate.
By 1955 Area 51 was under the control of the CIA and The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) with Lockheed overseeing the task of base operations. This served two important roles, one being it downplayed the CIA’s involvement and the second being that with the AEC involved there would be little incentive for people to want to be in Area 51 as anything to do with atomic energy at that time was viewed by the general population as dangerous. You have to remember this was a generation that just saw the Atomic Bomb dropped and equated atomic energy with death. This was all set up under Executive Order Privileges of President Eisenhower so even many people within the government were out of the loop as to what was going on.
To further deter anyone from wanting to wander into Area 51 the AEC issues a pamphlet in 1957 called “Background Information on Nevada Nuclear Tests.” This seems to work even though it is believed there were never any nuclear tests being conducted at Area 51 at this time and it was a mere ruse to keep everyone off the trail as to what was going on inside. That wasn’t enough though so to make people think they were trying to cover up possible nuclear experiments they claimed Area 51 was really a facility that studied meteorological phenomena.
It was during this time that the whole idea of aliens and UFO’s came into play with some believing that odd aircrafts, strange lights in the night sky, unidentifiable sounds, and the hoopla over alien landings were somehow connected to Area 51. It was rumored and still believed by many Area 51 was a storehouse for the wreckage and Aliens that supposedly crashed at Roswell New Mexico. They pointed to the above mentioned unexplained phenomena along with what was known as the “Groom Box” which was an airspace restriction which allowed expanded 22×20 nautical miles beyond Area 51’s terrestrial perimeter and indefinitely upwards. By this time no flights were allowed to enter and only test flights were allowed to leave.
The development and testing of aircraft didn’t end with the U-2, and in 1962 the A-12 went into development and testing. This did little to dampen the alien conspiracy theorists from believing this was the chose landing spot for aliens on earth as they had no idea what an A-12 was and they were being told nothing about it’s existence. As the need for more advanced aircraft continued so did more strange looking aircraft, bright lights, and sounds in the night sky. Flights were almost always conducted at night so that they would not be visible which was great for maintaining a secret but not dampening alien enthusiasts.
By 1967 the first Soviet Mig 21 arrived and already stringent security was suddenly heightened, and as you could guess conspiracy theorists added another log to their growing fire of E.T. belief.
By the mid 1970’s aliens are now vogue in the public eye. With the huge success of movies like Star Wars but more specifically Close Encounters of the Third Kind, everyone and their brother across the U.S. and now in other countries knows about Area 51. While Area 51 was not a part of these movies the interest in aliens was growing in magazines and television which led to more and more people exploring the possibility of whether or not E.T.’s had visited earth. All roads led to two places, Roswell and Area 51. To make problems worse the U.S. Geologic Survey released an aerial shot of Area 51 that had people dissecting every odd yet seemingly indistinguishable shape with the hopes of finding an alien aircraft. It was also around the time, 1977, the project “Have Blue” launched. Security was now tighter than it had ever been and the public was prying into what went on inside Area 51 like never before.
In 1982 Have Blue produced it’s first results in the aircraft code named “Tacit Blue” which was unlike anything that had ever been seen in the sky. That aircraft was the first prototype of the F-117A Stealth Stealth plane. With more and more prying eyes and the terrestrial boundaries of Area 51 becoming a picnic grounds of sorts for everyone from alien believers to government conspiracy theorists (Along with what is believed to have been a few foreign nationals with a different interest) the base petitioned for an expansion of some 89,000 acres of additional land to expand it’s perimeter which congress was happy to grant even if not fully aware of what went on inside. As suspected locals and tourists were outraged at being pushed further away and couldn’t help but speculate it was because they were either too close to discovering the aliens inside or because there was an upcoming alien landing. You must recall the very odd shaped stealth could be heard and it’s lights briefly seen on takeoff’s and landings which was fueling this speculation.
In 1988 things took an odd twist in Area 51’s history, a Soviet Satellite photographed Area 51 nd gave the photos to Popular Science magazine to run. The Soviets in a not so subtle way were saying “we’re watching you” and the American Media was flouting government security concerns in a manner that was now becoming more and more common.
Oddly enough at the same time a man named Robert Frost who was a civilian employee at Area 51 died and had an autopsy which showed high levels of chemicals like dibenzofuran, dioxin, and trichloroethylene. His widow sues the government for his death claiming that was the reason he died at age 51 and it was all linked to Area 51. A few months later Robert Lazar claims he worked on a project reverse engineering alien technology near Groom lake but is fully discounted by all but alien conspiracy theorists. He never supports his claims with proof or is substantiated by a second party.
By 1995 the world is looking at Area 51 more closely than ever, tourists, locals, film crews. writers, and people from all walks of life were clamoring for documents, photos. and all sorts of information related to Area 51 under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and even access to the closed facility. President Clinton By Executive Order Exempts Area 51 from all such requests, legislation, and investigation citing national Security needs. Of course as you have guessed by now conspiracy theorists only took this as more proof there was more than research and development of aircraft held inside and actually go so far as to theorize the now publicly known Stealth Series of aircraft are the product of E.T. technology.
Finally caving into public pressure, in 1997 Area 51 is declassified although that winds up meaning nothing in reality. Everything inside is still a secret. Even the new hangars being built which are larger than any the facility has ever housed are being kept under lock and key. Requests for any material regarding Area 51 through FOIA are still routinely denied or sent to the requesting person totally blacked out of all text. So much for declassification.
What is the truth about what goes on inside Area 51? Is it really an interstellar landing pad for aliens as many UFO lovers believe? Is it as 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl claimed an illegal toxic dumping ground? That incidentally seems half baked considering you wouldn’t need so many people to man a toxic waste dump and Executive Order could easily designate such a barren area a legal dump under national security needs if so desired. Maybe it is possible that Area 51 really is what it seems to be on the surface, an out of the way location for top secret aircraft to be constructed and tested. Sometimes things are really just that simple. Or is it? W still don’t know for sure, what is inside is still a secret.