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Area 51 is a parcel of U.S. military-controlled land in southern Nevada, apparently containing a secret aircraft testing facility. It is also known as Watertown, Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, The Farm, The Box, and The Directorate for Development Plans Area, and simply Groom Lake. It is also famed as the subject of many UFO conspiracy theories.


Area 51 is a section of land of approximately 60 sq. mi. / 155 km in Lincoln County, Nevada, USA. It is part of the vast (4687 sq. mi. / 12139 km?) Nellis Range Complex (NRC). The area consists largely of the wide Emigrant Valley, framed by the Groom and Papoose mountain ranges. Between the two ranges lies Groom Dry Lake , a dry alkali lake bed roughly three miles (5 km) in diameter. A large air base exists on the southwest corner of the lake with two concrete runways, at least one of which extends onto the lake bed, and two unprepared runways on the lake bed itself.

Area 51 shares a border with the Yucca Flats region of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the location of many of the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear weapons tests. The Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility is approximately 40 miles (64km) southwest of Groom Lake.

The designation "Area 51" is somewhat contentious, appearing on older maps of the NTS and not newer ones, but the same naming scheme is used for other parts of the Nevada Test Site.

The area is connected to the internal NTS road network, with paved roads leading both to Mercury to the Northwest and West to Yucca Flats. Leading northeast from the lake, Groom Lake Road (a wide, well-conditioned dirt road) runs through a pass in the Jumbled Hills. Groom Lake Road was formerly the track leading to mines in the Groom basin, but has been improved since their closure. Its winding course takes it past a security checkpoint, but the restricted area around the base extends further east than this (visitors foolhardy enough to travel west on Groom Lake Road are usually observed first by guards located on the hills surrounding the pass, still several miles from the checkpoint). After leaving the restricted area (marked by numerous warning signs stating that "photography is prohibited" and that "use of deadly force is authorized") Groom Lake Road descends eastward to the floor of the Tikaboo Valley, passing the dirt-road entrances to several small ranches, before joining with State Highway 375 south of Rachel.

Operations at Groom Lake

Groom Lake is not a conventional airbase, and front-line units are not normally deployed there. It appears, rather, to be used during the development, test and training phases for new aircraft. Once those aircraft have been accepted by the USAF, operation of that aircraft is generally shifted to a normal airforce base. Groom is reported, however, to be the permanent home for a small number of aircraft of Soviet design (obtained by various means). These are reportedly analysed and used for training purposes.

Soviet spy satellites obtained photographs of the Groom Lake area during the height of the Cold War, but these support only modest conclusions about the base. They depict a nondescript base, airstrip, hangars, etc., but nothing that supports some of the wilder claims about underground facilities. Later commercial satellite images show the base has grown, but remains superficially unexceptional.

Senior Trend / U-2 program

Groom Lake was used for bombing and artillery practice during World War II, but was then abandoned until 1955, when it was selected by Lockheed's skunkworks team as the ideal location to test the forthcoming U-2 spyplane. The lakebed made for an ideal strip to operate the troublesome test aircraft from, and the Emigrant Valley's mountain ranges and the NTS perimeter protected the secret plane from curious eyes.

Lockheed constructed a makeshift base at Groom, little more than a few shelters and workshops and a small constellation of trailerhomes to billet its small team in. The first U-2 flew at Groom in August of 1955, and U-2s under the control of the CIA began overflights of Soviet territory by mid-1956.

During this period, the NTS continued to perform series of atmospheric nuclear explosions. U-2 operations throughout 1957 were frequently disrupted by the Plumbbob series of atomic test, which exploded two dozen devices at the NTS. The Plumbbob-Hood explosion scattered fallout across Groom and forced its (temporary) evacuation.

As U-2's primary mission was to overfly the Soviet Union, it operated largely from airbases near the Soviet border, including Incirlik in Turkey and Peshawar in Pakistan.

Blackbird (OXCART / A-10 / A-11 / A-12 / SR-71) program

Even before U-2 development was complete, Lockheed began work on its successor, the CIA's OXCART project, a Mach-3 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft later known as the SR-71 Blackbird. The blackbird's flight characteristics and maintenance requirements forced a massive expansion of facilities and runways at Groom Lake. By the time the first A-12 Blackbird prototype flew at Groom in 1962, the main runway had been lengthened to 8500 ft (2600 m) and the base boasted a complement of over 1000 personnel. It had fueling tanks, a control tower, and a baseball diamond. Security was also greatly enhanced, the small civilian mine in the Groom basin was closed, and the area surrounding the valley was made an exclusive military preserve (where interlopers were subject to "lethal force"). Groom saw the first flight of all major Blackbird variants: A-10, A-11, A-12, RS-71 (renamed SR-71 by USAF Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay and not by a presidential error as popularly believed), the abortive YF-12A strike-fighter variant, and the disastrous D-21 Blackbird-based drone project.

Have Blue / F-117 program

The first Have Blue prototype stealth fighter (a smaller cousin of the F-117) first flew at Groom in late 1977. Testing of a series of ultra-secret prototypes continued there until mid-1981, when testing transitioned to the initial production of F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters. In addition to flight testing, Groom performed radar profiling, F-117 weapons testing, and was the location for training of the first group of frontline USAF F-117 pilots. Subsequently active-service F-117 operations (still highly classified) moved to the nearby Tonopah Test Range, and finally to Holloman Air Force Base.

Later operations

Since the F-117 became operational in 1983, operations at Groom Lake have continued unabated. The base and its associated runway system have been expanded, and daily flights bringing civilian commuters from Las Vegas continue. Some commentators, after examining recent satellite photos of the base, estimate it to have a live-in complement of over 1000 people, with a similar number commuting from Las Vegas. In 1995 the federal government expanded the exclusionary area around the base to include nearby mountains that had hitherto afforded the only decent overlook of the base.

Rumored aircraft that have supposedly been tested at Groom include the D-21 Tagboard drone, a small stealthy VTOL troop-transport aircraft, a stealthy cruise missile, and the hypothetical Aurora hypersonic spyplane.

Area 51 Commuters

Defense contractor EG&G maintains a private terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. A number of unmarked aircraft operate daily shuttle services from McCarran to sites operated by EG&G in the extensive federally-controlled lands in southern Nevada. These aircraft reportedly use JANET radio callsigns (e.g. "JANET 6"), said to be an acronym for "Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation" or, (perhaps as a joke) "Just Another Non-Existent Terminal". EG&G advertises in the Las Vegas press for experienced airline pilots, saying applicants must be eligible for government security clearance and that successful applicants can expect to always overnight at Las Vegas. These aircraft, painted white with a red trim, include Boeing 737s and several smaller executive jets. Their tail numbers are registered to several unexceptional civil aircraft leasing corporations. They are reported to shuttle to Groom, Tonopah Test Range, to other locations in the NAFR and NTS, and reportedly to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Observers counting departures and cars in the private EG&G parking lot at McCarran estimate several thousand people commute on JANET each day.

A chartered bus (reportedly with whited-out windows) runs a commuter service along Groom Lake Road, catering to a small number of employees living in several small desert communities beyond the NTS boundary (although it is not clear whether these workers are employed at Groom or at other facilities in the NTS).

The Government's position on Area 51

The U.S. Government does not explicitly acknowledge the existence of the Groom Lake facility, nor does it deny it. Unlike much of the Nellis range, the area surrounding the lake is permanently off-limits both to civilian and normal military air traffic. The area is protected by radar stations, buried movement sensors, and uninvited guests are met by helicopters and armed guards. Should they accidentally stray into the exclusionary "box" surrounding Groom's airspace, even military pilots training in the NAFR are reportedly grilled extensively by military intelligence agents.

The base does not appear on public US government maps; the USGS topological map for the area only shows the long-disused Groom Mine, and the civil aviation chart for Nevada shows a large restricted area, but defines it as part of the Nellis restricted airspace. Similarly the National Atlas page showing federal lands in Nevada doesn't distinguish between the Groom block and other parts of the Nellis range. Although officially declassified, the original film taken by US Corona spy satellite in the 1960s have been altered prior to declassification; in answer to freedom of information queries, the government responds that these exposures (which map to Groom and the entire NAFR) appear to have been destroyed (Corona image). Terra satellite images (which were publicly available) were removed from webservers (including Microsoft's "Terraserver") in 2004 ( Terraserver image), and from the monochrome 1m resolution USGS datadump made publically available. NASA Landsat 7 images are still available (these are used in the NASA World Wind program and are displayed by Google Maps). In Non-US images, including high-resolution photographs from Russian satellites and the commercial IKONOS system are also easily available (and abound on the Internet).

In response to environmental and employee lawsuits (including a class-action lawsuit brought by employees of the base for toxic waste exposure), a Presidential Determination is issued annually, exempting the Air Force's Operating Location Near Groom Lake, Nevada from environmental disclosure laws (2002 determination, 2003 determination). This (albeit tacitly) constitutes the only formal recognition the US Government has ever given that Groom Lake is more than simply another part of the Nellis complex.Nevada's state government, recognising the folklore surrounding the base might afford the otherwise neglected area some tourism potential, officially renamed the section of Nevada Highway 375 near Rachel "The Extraterrestrial Highway", and posted fancifully-illustrated signs along its length.Interlopers discovered on (or, some say, near) the restricted area are generally detained by armed private security guards (reportedly employees of defence contractor EG&G) and are then handed over to the Lincoln County sheriff.

Modest fines (of around 0) seem to be the norm, although some visitors and journalists report receiving follow-up visits from FBI agents.Although federal property within the base is exempt from state and local taxes, facilities owned by private contractors are not. One researcher has reported that the base only declares a taxable value of million to the Lincoln County tax assessor, who is unable to enter the area to perform an assessment. Some Lincoln County residents have complained that the base is an unfair burden on the county, providing few local jobs (as most employees appear to live in or near Las Vegas) an iniquitous burden of land-sequestration and law-enforcement costs.

UFO and conspiracy theories concerning Area 51

The storage, examination, and reverse-engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology. Bob Lazar claimed to have been involved in such activities.meetings or joint undertakings with extra-terrestrials.the development of exotic energy weapons (for SDI applications or otherwise) or means of weather control.activities related to a supposed shadowy world government.Some claim an extensive underground facility has been constructed at Groom Lake (or nearby Papoose Lake) in which to conduct these activities.

meetings or joint undertakings with extra-terrestrials
the development of exotic energy weapons (for SDI applications or otherwise) or means of weather control
activities related to a supposed shadowy world government
Some claim an extensive underground facility has been constructed at Groom Lake (or nearby Papoose Lake) in which to conduct these activities.

'Area 51' Last of the Secret Military Bases

Many people who believe in UFO's also believe "Area 51" is where the Air Force keeps its stockpile of captured flying saucers. And maybe an autopsied alien body or two. Others believe the military base in the southern Nevada desert is the testing grounds for America's most secret military machines, everything from the F-117 stealth fighter to electromagnetic pulse weapons that would make Buck Rogers nervous.

What is certain is that there is something out there in that moonscape property north of Las Vegas. Officially designated the "Nellis Air Force Bombing and Gunnery Range" on Nevada maps, the federally protected territory in Nye, Lincoln and Clark counties covers an area equal to Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.

What also is certain is that more than 1,850 federal civilian workers are employed in mostly well-compensated jobs at several ultra-high-security facilities in and near the range, according to a Scripps Howard News Service analysis of government payroll records maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. "This really is one of the last big secret military bases in the United States.

In 1997 the Air Force last year conceded the existence of the base and its position along dried-up Groom Lake when it released a publication that suggested experimental Cold War-era aircraft could have been mistaken for flying saucers. At a Pentagon press briefing, Air Force Col. John Hanes was asked about Area 51. Whatever they do in the Nellis Bombing Range, they continue to do it under the Clinton administration.

There were exactly 2,000 civilian employees of the departments of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force and Energy in the Nellis Bombing Range area as of Sept. 30, 1992. Five years later, and despite massive job layoffs ordered by President Clinton as part of his government reinvention policies, there were 1,851 employees still working there.

The payroll records show that the Department of Eergy, which has control of the nation's stockpile of nuclear bombs, employs 32 people in the town of Mercury, Nev., the only city inside the bombing range. This town can be found on most maps but is not counted in the U.S. Census. Some or all of these people may be employed as part of Energy's Yucca Mountain project, a plan to open an underground repository to deposit America's used nuclear fuel.

Non-government military observers for several years have s aid they believe that hundreds, or thousands, of military and civilian workers who are employed in the desert facilities take daily flights from Las Vegas airfields into the base. The computer records appear to confirm this.

The Department of Energy officially employs a total of 448 people in the Las Vegas area, even though there are no known federal projects in the city that could justify such employment. The Air Force has 1,068 civilian employees there, some of whom certainly work at Nellis Air Force Base.

But more suspect are the 166 civilian employees of the departments of Defense and Army, the 156 Environmental Protection Agency workers, the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency employees and at least two representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff. Some of these people work in the still classified operations conducted inside the bombing range. Among the most popular occupations for this workforce are "miscellaneous administration," "secretary," "general engineering," "general physical sciences" and "management programming."

The average salary for the Department of Energy personnel last year was nearly ,000 a year, well above average for a federal employee. The payroll for all of the civilian workers in the area totaled .6 million. The analysis found that federal cutbacks that have removed nearly 16 percent of the civilian federal workforce and about 20 percent of the military during the Clinton administration has been especially mild in the area around Groom Lake. Slightly more than 7 percent of this civilian federal workforce in southern Nevada declined from 1992 to 1997.

For the past several decades, the Air Force has officially denied the existance of Area 51. A recent statement reads as follows: "There are a variety of facilities throughout the Nellis Range Complex. We do have faciliities within the complex near the dry lake bed of Groom Lake. The facilities of the Nellis Range Complex are used for testing and training technologies, operations, and systems critical to their effectiveness of U.S. military forces. Specific activities conducted at Nellis cannot be discussed any further than that."

Area 51 is a secret Air Force base secluded deep within a wide-ranging tract of restricted government land in the remote Nevada desert. It is 100 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas.

To drive there one must drive on Interstate Highway 375 now renamed "Extraterrestrial Highway".

There is a famous blackmail box on the road. It looks like any ordinary mailbox. It marks the crossroads that lead to a large secret military complex. People come from all over to watch pecular lights streaking across the skies like nothing they have ever seen before. Some report craft flying at approximately 10,000 miles per hour, that suddenly stop dead.

The alleged source of these UFO's is hidden behind the mountains along a dry lake bed. A top secret base known as Dreamland or Area 51. It has a five mile long runway. Every day at least 1,000 workers commute to the base from Las Vegas on it's own private airline.

Some report that "black projects" are worked on there. "Black project" means "black budget" - the public does know about this spending....or these projects. I have also read that much of the money comes from drug trafficing from South America.

The super secret SR 71 spy plane and the stealth fighter were reportedly developed and tested here. Some people contend the military uses the base to study downed and captured alien craft, even aliens themselves, eventually using the alien technology in American military projects.

What scares many people and investigators is that the government can use this blanket claim of national security to hide anything and everything which is what they have been doing in Area 51.

The secrets of Area 51 are increasingly well protected. The Air Force gained control of the best vantage points over looking the base and closed them to the public. Heavily armed men in white jeeps and camouflaged uniforms drive well beyond the boundaries of the base onto public land reported detaining and intimidating anyone who gets too close. Many people have been harassed some even arrested apparently with no legal authority because these people won't say who they are. As usual the government has nothing to say!

Most Detailed Images Ever of Top-Secret U.S. Air Base Show Major Expansion

Detailed images of Area 51 just released may not show evidence of little green men, but they do show that the super-secret Air Force base has grown significantly over the years.

"I want to see flying saucers as much as anyone," said Federation of American Scientist?s John Pike, who ordered the 1-meter (3.2-foot) images, the most detailed to date, from Thorton, Colorado-company Space Imaging. Instead, the photos -- captured over the past few months -- show that the area has significantly expanded since the first images were snapped of the infamous site over 30 years ago.

"Its interesting to contemplate what is going on there. It seems as though there is tons of money going in there and nothing is going out," he said.

In particular, the photos show a runway that is about 3,800 meters (2.36 miles), or about 42 football fields, long. That?s even longer than the runways for the world?s largest commercial aircraft.

The images also show a burgeoning growth in the area, including a complete rebuilding and expansion in size of the housing complex for base personnel over the past 30 years. In addition, there are new support facilities.

And four aircraft hangars are visible off the runway. Conspiracy theorists have long believed that one of these hangars, dubbed Hangar 18, is the holding area for the alien bodies and captured alien technology taken from crash sites.

These high-resolution images, captured by Space Imagings IKONOS satellite on April 2, were released less than a week after Raleigh, North Carolina-based Aerial Images unfolded its series of 6.6-foot (2-meter) photos of the mysteriously secretive area over the Web, crashing the site for days.

Though the public's ravenous appetite for these images was made obvious this past week, Pike?s purpose for getting these photos was different.

Pike said the request was a test to see how long it would take to gain access to these images and how they may be used by military agencies around the world.

"This is an interesting case study that enables us to explore in practical rather than theoretical terms just what is this 'Brave New World' weve entered into."

This so-called 3.3-foot (1-meter) resolution technology once was available only to intelligence agencies through their own spy satellites. But it has been estimated that by the year 2003, at least 11 companies in five countries will have high-resolution, remote-sensing cameras in orbit.

That sort of commercial technology in space worries government officials because they believe such detailed imagery could encourage industrial espionage, terrorism or more cross-border military attacks in the developing world.

But Pike seemed unfazed by the impact of this imagery on national security.

Because it took 2 months to get the images, he said the technology would only be useful during peacetime for monitoring specific regions instead of during wartime, when the military may need to target a strategic area.

"The war may already be over before you get your picture," Pike said.

Space Imaging's Mark Brender argued that obtaining images doesn't always take so long. "We can turn stuff around in 24 hours," he said. When twin tornadoes touched down in Texas on March 28, for example, Brender says that within a few hours they were evaluating the images and ready to release them to the public within 24 hours.

"We can produce images very shortly for natural disasters and crisis, " he said.

Area 51 -- 75 miles (121 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas occupies about 150 square miles (390 square kilometers) of a dried up lakebed in the Great Basin Desert, Nevada. It was named after the grid it occupies on an old Nevada map and came into existence in 1955 when aerospace company Lockheed Martin landed there to test the U 2, a high-altitude surveillance plane.

The top-secret base later became a proving ground for several generations of high-tech prototypes, including the F 117-A Stealth fighter.

The shroud of secrecy thickened once the Air Force bought up about 9,000 acres of land around the base to prevent the public from getting too close. In August 1994, an Air Force official admitted the base existed, saying the Air Force has "facilities within the complex near the dry lakebed of Groom Lake used for testing, training technologies, operations and systems critical to the effectiveness of U.S. military forces."

Ufologists have long believed that unidentified flying objects from other planets are entrenched in underground bases in the region and insist alien autopsies are being conducted there. But, conventional wisdom says the base is likely a center for super-secret operations dealing with sophisticated military aircraft.


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