There are few places in the United States that attract as many conspiracy theories as Area 51. Located in the Nevada, approximately 134 km north-west of Las Vegas, this United States Air Force facility is an annex of the Edwards Air Force Base. Whilst it is commonly known as Area 51 its official names according to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are Homey Airport and Groom Lake. The site was originally purchased by the United States Air Force in 1955 as a site for testing the Lockheed U-2 aircraft.
These days the official use of Area 51 is unknown and is subject to a great deal of secrecy, this has made the site a constant target of conspiracy theorists. These conspiracy theorists have alleged that the site houses captured unidentified flying objects (UFO’s) and even alien lifeforms. This has led to the area becoming a popular tourist destination for those visiting Las Vegas and the greater Nevada area, with the town of Rachel located on the “Extra-terrestrial Highway” frequently attracting visitors interested in Area 51. In addition to this Area 51 has been a popular subject matter for Hollywood films and TV series, which has helped to keep the Area 51 conspiracy theories alive.
It was not until 2013 that the CIA officially acknowledged the existence of Area 51. This acknowledgement was made in response to a freedom of information request filed way back in 2005, which sort to have documents that detailed the history and purpose of Area 51 released. Upon the release of these documents it was revealed that the base had been used in the past for the development and testing of weapons systems and experimental aircraft.
It is clear from the high level of secrecy that something has been going on at Area 51 for a number of decades, today we will examine some of the secrets that have been revealed by insiders who have worked at Area 51. As with all conspiracies you will often find there is often a nugget of truth to even the wildest claims.
The no fly zone conspiracy
Conspiracy theorists commonly claim that something sinister must be going on at Area 51 due to its status as a restricted airspace. However, according to experts this can be easily explained by the developmental requirements of the OXCART aircraft. This aircraft was notoriously difficult to control and when flying at 2,200 mph required a massive 186 miles to make a simple U-turn. Therefore testing this aircraft required significant space to avoid putting the public at danger, this resulted in the Air Force creating a large restricted airspace around the Area 51 site.
The moon landing was staged at Area 51
Area 51 conspiracy theorist commonly state that the moon landing never took place and was actually staged on a television set located at the secretive site. As with many conspiracy theories there is often a small element of truth that has been twisted to suit a crackpot narrative. In this case Area 51 was actually used to test space equipment including land rovers and life support systems, which explains why astronauts and space equipment may have been sighted around the Area 51 site in the time close to the moon landing mission.
The CIA admitted that interplanetary aircraft exist
Way back in 1952 there was a significant increase in reported UFO sightings, but contrary to what conspiracy theorists would have you believe the CIA never admitted that UFO’s exist. In fact they actually stated that they would investigate each of the reported sightings in response to this sudden increase, with their exact statement being “there is a remote possibility that they may be interplanetary aircraft”. Following the CIA investigations, it was found that approximately 90% of UFO sighting claims could be easily disproven with the remaining 10% remaining unexplained and potentially credible. CIA investigations also found that around half of all claims made between 1950 and 1960 could be easily explained as flights made by reconnaissance aircrafts including the U2.
Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most credible
Many of the conspiracies surrounding Area 51 have been born from the high degree of secrecy that the site is required to operate with. Conspiracy theorists commonly twist small elements of truth to suit the story they wish to promote. However, until the CIA becomes more transparent about the activities that take place at Area 51 the rumors and conspiracies are unlikely to die down anytime soon. One way that conspiracy theories can be successfully combatted is by continuing to release historical information as it becomes declassified. This information can be invaluable to combatting the claims of those who believe something sinister is taking place and due to its historical nature is unlikely to cause any national security issues.