Area 51, a classified United States Air Force military station near Groom Lake in southern Nevada. Edwards Air Force Base in southern California is in charge of it. The facility has been the subject of various theories concerning alien life, even though its sole acknowledged function is as a flight testing facility.

For years, there was curiosity regarding the installation, particularly in light of increasing claims of UFO encounters in the area. The site became known as Area 51 since it was labeled on Atomic Energy Commission maps. In the late 1980s, a guy claiming to have worked at the installation said that the government was studying recovered extraterrestrial spacecraft.

The United States government formally confirmed the existence of Area 51 in 2013. The National Security Archive at George Washington University received a previously secret CIA paper chronicling the history of the U-2 espionage plane under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that year; a severely redacted version had previously been published in 1998.

area 51 ufo

According to the study, the isolated site, which featured an airport that had not been used by the military since World War II, was chosen in 1955 to test the U-2. After the U-2 entered service in 1956, Area 51 was utilized to build various aircraft, notably the A-12 (also known as OXCART) spy plane, and the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. Many of the UFO sightings in the region were caused by test flights of that spy plane and later aircraft; the U-2 could reach heights considerably higher than any other jet at the time.

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For decades, Nevada’s Area 51 Air Force base has been the epicenter of a conspiracy storm centered on “proof” that aliens (and their technology) exist and are hiding beyond its gates. Books, TV programs, and even large internet “raids” have attempted to see beyond the harsh warning signs against trespassers.

While aliens aren’t settling at the facility, what’s going on there is just as intriguing.

A sandy, unmarked road leads to the main gate of Area 51 in the middle of the desolate Nevada desert. It’s only guarded by a chain-link fence, a boom gate, and frightening trespassing notices. One would assume that America’s much-mythologized top-secret military installation would be more well guarded, but make no mistake: it is not. They are keeping an eye on you.

Cameras monitor every aspect beyond the fence. A white pickup vehicle with a tinted windshield sits on a faraway mountaintop, gazing down on everything below. According to locals, the base recognizes every desert tortoise and jackrabbit that jumps the fence. Others say that embedded sensors are implanted in the coming road.

What happens within Area 51 has sparked decades of wild conjecture. Of then, there are the extraterrestrial theories that galactic visitors are hiding someplace within. According to one of the most outlandish theories, the iconic 1947 Roswell crash was actually a Soviet plane piloted by mutant midgets. The debris is still on Area 51 grounds. Some even think the US government recorded the moon landing in one of the base’s hangars in 1969.

area 51

Despite all the myths and stories, Area 51 is quite real—and still extremely active. There may not be aliens or a moon landing movie staged behind those walls. Still, something is going on, and only a few know what’s going on farther down that tightly watched wind-swept Nevada road.

“The prohibited element of Area 51 is what makes people want to know what’s there,” says aerospace historian and author Peter Merlin, who has spent more than three decades studying Area 51.

“And there’s still a lot going on over there.”


The origins of Area 51 may be traced back to the creation of the U-2 spy aircraft. Following World War II, the Soviet Union erected the Iron Curtain across itself and the rest of the Eastern bloc, resulting in a near-complete intelligence blackout for the rest of the world. When the Soviets backed North Korea’s invasion of South Korea in June 1950, it became obvious that the Kremlin intended to expand its power forcefully. A decade after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, America was concerned about the USSR’s technology, ambitions, and capacity to execute a surprise attack.

area 51 alien

In the early 1950s, the United States Navy and Air Force dispatched low-flying aircraft over the Soviet Union on surveillance operations. Still, they were always at risk of being shot down. President Eisenhower authorized the covert construction of a high-altitude surveillance aircraft known as the U-2 program in November 1954. One of the first tasks was to locate a secluded, clandestine site for training and testing. They discovered it in the southern Nevada desert near Groom Lake, a salt flat that served as an aerial gunnery practice for Army Air Corps planes during WWII.

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This middle-of-nowhere location, known as Area 51 on maps, became a new top-secret military installation. Kelly Johnson, one of the U-2 project’s senior engineers, gave it a more appealing name: Paradise Ranch, to entice employees to come.


Shortly after his death in August, an interview with a guy claiming to be former Lockheed Martin scientist Boyd Bushman emerged. In it, he goes into great detail regarding his time at Area 51 and his encounters with aliens, including photographs like the one above. Surprisingly, Bushman believes that more than a dozen aliens are now working for the US government. has deemed the video a fake, pointing out that the extraterrestrial figure appears very similar to a toy available at Walmart. The interview has now been removed from YouTube. 


area 51

U-2 testing began in July 1955, and reports of unexplained flying objects began to pour in almost immediately. It’s simple to understand why if you read the facts of a 1992 CIA study declassified with redactions in 1998 (and then released virtually in full in 2013).

Many of these sightings were made by commercial airline pilots who had never seen an aircraft fly at such high altitudes before, such as the U-2. Unlike today’s airliners, which can fly as high as 45,000 feet, airlines operated at altitudes ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 feet in the mid-1950s. Known military aircraft could reach 40,000 feet, and others speculated that manned flight couldn’t go any higher. The U-2, flying at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet, would have seemed totally alien.

What’s especially intriguing about the most recent 2013 report is that it validates the existence of Area 51. While the 1998 version has substantial redactions regarding the name and location of the U-2 test site, the virtually un-redacted 2013 version exposes considerably more, including several references to Region 51, Groom Lake, and even a map of the area.


area 51

Although U-2 activities ceased in the late 1950s, additional top-secret military aircrafts continued to be tested in Area 51. The A-12 and several stealth aircrafts such as the Bird of Prey, F-117A, and TACIT BLUE have all been built and tested in the Nevada desert throughout the years. More released papers show Area 51’s involvement in “Project Have Doughnut,” a 1970s attempt to analyze secretly captured Soviet MiGs.



Area 51 is still operational today. According to Google Earth, new buildings and expansions are regularly occurring. In most early mornings, visitors with keen eyes can observe unusual lights moving up and down in the sky. No, it isn’t a UFO. The semi-secret contract commuter aircraft “Janet” carries personnel from McCarran Airport in Las Vegas to the facility.