AREA 51- the most restricted and protected “non-secretive” U.S. Air Force base
Area 51 is a highly classified area used by the USAF. However, it is not fully known what they do in this area. In fact, the air force never acknowledged the existence of this huge area prior to 2013. The first one to admit Area 51 existed was the CIA in 2013, and they called it the ‘Groom Lake’, or the ‘Homey Airport’. Due to the highly restricted and classified nature of this place, many conspiracy theories abound!
It is a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base and was built in 1955 as part of the more substantial Nevada Test and Training Range complex (NTTR), initially to serve as a test facility for the U-2 Spy Plane. Although it has never been declared a “top secret base,” the area is highly protected and is restricted to both land and air use. Other well-known aircraft tested at Area 51 include the Archangel-12, the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, and even the SR-71 Blackbird CIA spy plane.
As a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), I toured the NTTR area years ago, witnessing the vast craters created by nuclear bomb detonations years ago. The region was remote and when we attended lectures about drone warfare at Nellis AFB, we were warned about coyotes that may snatch our Styrofoam lunch packages from us as we walked back to the lecture hall from the cafeteria!
Area 51 is in southern Nevada, 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas, on the edge of usually dry Groom Lake, which is located on the Nevada National Security Site — not at Nellis Air Force Base, as some assume, which is in North Las Vegas. But our AFIO bus drove along the outskirts of Area 51- it was desolate country with coyotes and bobcats now dwelling in old, abandoned homes that once housed construction crews.
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Although you can find it on a map, don’t expect to get even remotely close to this “non-secret” base. The perimeter of Area 51 is marked with orange posts and patrolled by heavily armed guards with zero tolerance for would-be tourists or curiosity seekers of any kind. Many signs posted warn that deadly force is authorized against Area 51 trespassers, whether they are attempting to “storm Area 51” during a viral Facebook event or are simply hiking up to a vantage point. Thousands CCTV cameras and motion sensors are positioned throughout the land leading up to the base’s perimeter, and an immediate response to your presence from security forces is guaranteed.
Its name comes from old maps of the Nevada Test Site that defined the allocation of land around Groom Lake as literally the 51st of the many areas that make up the military base. When Area 51 was first established, Lockheed — one of the U.S. Government’s major partners in top secret aircraft and spy plane development- called the area “Paradise Ranch” in an attempt to attract workers to the project.
Since the 1950s, locals and visitors were mystified when they spotted top secret aircraft, made of never-before-seen technology, flying at high speeds, and performing uncommon aerial maneuvers. They had no idea what they witnessed. Since these prototypes’ development was top secret, and sightings were rare, it is easy to understand how they thought the unusual aircraft must have been from another world.
To this day, Area 51 remains a top-secret testing facility, and the government and United States Military don’t want you anywhere near it. My busload of screened AFIO members were allowed to skirt around the edges of the restricted area, but the closest you can normally drive to Area 51 keeps you more than 15 rugged, carefully monitored, and lethally defended miles away.
In fact, the restricted airspace above Area 51 forms a rectangle with an area of 575 square miles, so don’t expect to get a drone in the sky, either, at least without an immediate response from camo-clad dudes with guns aimed at your face.
Lastly, enjoy this very informative video- Government Admits Area 51 Exists.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his CoreyPearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.