Since its launch in the 1950s, Area 51 has attracted the great interest of a huge number of people, very keen to find out what lies behind the perimeter of the tightly guarded military airbase.
The top-secret location in Nevada desert has remained off-limits to the public for about sixty years, including a large no-fly zone in airspace nearby.
The lack of basic information has led to weird speculation about its primary purpose. Actually, to most, Area 51 has become a term related to outlandish conspiracy theories about government cover-ups and extraterrestrial life.
Eventually, the wild speculations have diverted public attention away from some of the magnificent developments which have occurred at the base over the many years, things that have remained relatively mysterious among the public.
There is still high confusion among the members of the public concerning the driving forces behind this facility since no photos have been released publicly in the recent years.
Area 51 has been the location of on-going secret programs managed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since its establishment. Used mainly to test fresh technologies, some of the most high-level air capabilities of military started their working life at the base.
Work at the location continues to be improved today, with the recent satellite images revealing that new structures are being constructed. Nonetheless, their purpose stays unclear.
Therefore, to attempt and assist you separate reality from myth, here are 15 things about Area 51 you probably don’t know.
1. Foreign Aircraft Were Present At The Base
The US used the Area 51 location to test captured technology acquired from aircrafts of enemy nations.
The earliest foreign plane to land was the Russian-built MiG-21 that had been captured by the Israeli forces in 1966 when one of the members of the Iraqi air force defected.
The primary purpose of the investigations was to reveal weaknesses in design and performance so that United States forces could exploit them during the combat. In 1970, further examinations of Area 51 began – this time on secretly developed Soviet radar systems.
Some speculate this method of examination goes on with the intergalactic spacecraft allegedly being kept somewhere inside the compound.
2. The CIA Only Acknowledged Its Existence In 2013
Until 2013, the CIA declined to acknowledge the presence of Area 51 in the official documents since the United States government deemed the work undertaken at the base to be very sensitive.
This secrecy gave rise to the elusive nature of the base and without doubt fed the thousands of myths surrounding it.
At first, all the secrecy was as a result of the Cold War. Washington became super paranoid about its military programs alleging that it might fall into the hands of the Soviet Union. Fair enough, it would have been pretty shitty if that would occur, so paranoia warranted.
The existence of Area 51 was eventually admitted in a secret report which covered the first 2 decades of operations at Area 51. It was released in 2013 as a result of a freedom of information request by a popular professor at the George Washington University.
Obama also made an impromptu comment regarding the Area 51 in 2013, making him the first president to openly acknowledge its existence.
3. First Drone Test Flight
Even though the use of drones by the United States military is currently widespread in conflicts in different countries, their development started some time ago.
Area 51 was the site of the earliest test flight of the unmanned drone in 1964. The aircraft was known as D21 and was designed for use as the surveillance aircraft.
It had taken quite some time before the drone was launched individually. However, by 1966, the D21 model had flown to the heights of 90,000 feet.
But during its 4th test flight, something went wrong when a particular drone was released from its primary carrier plane and both aircrafts were damaged, killing one crew member. The D21 drone continue to conduct 4 spying missions over China, from 1969-1971.
4. United States Army Accused Of Using Lethal Substances At Area 51
Suggestions have emerged that the military misused secrecy surrounding Area 51, and the confidentiality obligations assigned to those who work there to dump huge quantities of poisonous waste at the site.
The workers who became sick, and the widows of those who lost their lives, brought together evidence of huge drums of deadly waste being dumped in the trenches prior to being set alight.
A court case was arranged but could not proceed because of national security considerations. Claims were also made that due to the remoteness of Area 51, it was used to dispose of the waste gathered from some other military locations.
5. Area 51 Was Accidentally Disclosed
Area 51 is the well-known secret military base of operations in the entire world. However, a 1967 government memo is the single reason we know of its presence at all.
Protocol meant each reference to the Area 51 had to be redacted from each document but, enquiringly, in this memo that was sent by CIA Director Richard Helms and concerned the positioning of surveillance aircraft in the Vietnam, one slipped through.
The mistake did not reach the public, but the big question stands: was this leak actually accidental?
6. U2 Spy Plane Involved in First Area 51 Operation
The site started in 1955 as a top test center for the U-2 spy plane an aircraft established after WWII. It was able to conduct surveillance over the Soviet Union, and even practice flights were performed using the runways constructed onsite.
When it kicked off the operations over the Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, a cover story was made to display it as a weather research plane.
7. Photos Were Once Accidentally Taken off the Base
During the flight on board Skylab in 1974, a certain group of inexperienced astronauts unintentionally took photographs of the Area 51 site.
The incident prompted a national security debate and the likelihood of formally acknowledging the base was regarded. William Colby, retired director of the CIA, was drawn into a huge controversy within the intelligence service that eventually choose not to release the photograph to the public.
Confidential documents since released, show that Area 51 was the only location in the world which CIA had prohibited from being photographed from the space. This offers an indication of how valued the work done there was seen.
8. Area 51 May Have Tested The Helicopters Used In The Bin Laden Raid
The conspiracy to kill Osama Bin Laden in 2011 was conducted by a team of Navy Seals that were flown to his Pakistan site by 2 Blackhawk helicopters.
Nonetheless, when one helicopter crashed during the mission, aviation professionals recognized that this was no normal helicopter.
Some speculate it was the Blackhawk model which had undergone considerable modification; others claim it was a totally new and formerly unknown model, perhaps one which was purpose-built for this mission.
It is believed the testing grounds for this modern chopper would’ve been Area 51. The improved Black Hawk was regarded near invisible to the radar. Judging by the success of the mission, the aircraft was clearly much harder to sense than its predecessors.
9. The Recent Project May Be A Next Generation Spy Plane
Rumors are circulating, after the appearance of recent satellite data displaying Area 51 which a significant new project is under way. A huge, hangar-like building is supposedly being developed at the end of one of the runways.
According to the defense journalist Tyler Rogoway, the United States air force has indirectly admitted that the prototype of a long-range and the unmanned surveillance aircraft exists that’s believed to be a possible candidate for testing.
The hangar developed at Area 51 has been equipped with large doors, nearly 170 feet wide, suggesting that they’ve been precisely designed to deal with a massive object like an aircraft.
10. Entertainment Options at Area 51
If you are planning an enjoyable getaway to Area 51, you may need to pack some books since you are going to be bored.
Insiders have shown that, early on, the only entertainment choices at Area 51 were a small bowling alley and a single cement tennis court. There was no radio, and TV signals only made it through the nearby mountains in the evening.
However, the good news is that Area 51 workers ate very well. The mess hall occasionally served oysters and lobsters, and they enjoyed a weekly steak night.
Let’s not forget that people have camped near the area 51 gate.
11. Aliases of Area 51
During its early construction, Area 51 was given codenames Watertown, Groom Lake, the Edgar Allen Poe-inspired Dreamland and lastly, Paradise Ranch. It is unclear if Michael Jackson had a contributed any of these naming choices.
The primary idea behind “Paradise Ranch” was that it would eventually make the mission appear more desirable to the contracted construction workers.
Arguably, there was not necessary since months of back-breaking labor in the remote Arizonian desert certainly sounds like an idea of a great time.
“Paradise Ranch” is also the name of the campy Korean TV drama. Does it tells the story of the construction of Area 51? It certainly seems like it.
12. Most Ridiculous Conspiracy Theory of Area 51
According to her, Area 51 was an active center of a United States cover-up which went into motion after the alleged crashing of the UFO at Roswell, in 1947.
Refuting that it was a UFO, she alleges that the craft was the Soviet mission, piloted by genetically engineered kids to make people in the United States believe that it was the alien craft, to spread fear.
In this imaginary tale, Area 51 was used as a storage location for the Soviet ship and the remains of its crew. As if this wasn’t going far enough, she also claimed that the fugitive Nazi scientist had conducted the genetic engineering of these kids, Josef Mengele, who is ill-famed for his experiments on the concentration camp prisoners during the WWII.
13. Alien Reports
In 1952, a spectacular spike in the UFO sightings had the CIA admitting the remote prospect that interplanetary aircraft were used. The government considered the phenomenon seriously and even investigated every sighting.
90 percent of reported sightings were simply debunked –whatnot and weather balloons – but the other 10 percent were categorized as “incredible reports from credible observers.”
More than half of the UFO reports from the late 1950s through to the Swingin’ 60s were accounted for by the manned reconnaissance flights over the US. Nearly all of these came from Area 51.
Despite the reasonable explanations, several still claim that the alien aircraft are being kept at Area 51 and reverse-engineered to build new weapons and aircraft.
A recent poll confirmed that more than 70 percent of Americans believe UFOs are real. A number that believes in unicorns stays unconfirmed.
14. Hoax Moon Landing Twist
It is no secret entire hoards of people believe America did fake the moon landing in order to win the coveted Space Race. Most of them believe the staged event happened at Area 51 that’s ground zero for each wild conspiracy theory.
What you may not realize is the sliver of evidence corroborates this specific conspiracy. A huge variety of space equipment – including life-support systems and land rovers – were discovered at adjoining nuclear testing grounds of Area 51.
It is possible these were mainly used for test purposes by various astronauts, but it is still very suspicious.
15. Crashed A-12 Spy Plane
The A-12 is a super-sonic spy plane which was built and tested behind the black curtain of Area 51.
It was almost undetectable to the radar and could cross-continental the USA in only 70 minutes, capturing footage at a remarkable altitude of 90,000 ft.
Pushing the aviation limits came with some risks, still, and finally led to a terrible crash outside of Area 51 in 1963. When fragments of the crashed A-12 were revealed in Utah, the CIA chose to release and even publish photos of the plane.
Reportedly, pilot Ken Collins had managed to parachute to the ground where he was shocked to be meet 3 civilians in a pickup, who provided him a ride to the wreckage of his plane.
Instead, Collins asked them to take him in an opposite direction by informing them the plane had a nuclear weapon on board. In fact, this was a pre-arranged cover story in order to keep the craft secret and even proves the lengths officials were ready to go to.
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