21 Declassified Facts About Area 51

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Area 51 is located in the middle of the desert in Nevada. It is 83 miles Northwest of Las Vegas. You’ll know you are there when you see a dry lake or salt flat known as Groom Lake. And there’s a bunch of signs too. 

Area 51 got its name from a grid reference that existed on an atomic energy commission map. Kind of disappointing for such a sinister sounding name. 

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Area 51 is an active military installation, not accessible to the public and is under 24 hour surveillance. It is administered by Edwards Air Force base in southern California. Why so far away? 

Area 51 shares a southern border with the Nevada Test Sites’ Yucca Flat region where the United States Department of Energy ran more than 700 nuclear tests. If there’s not aliens there then maybe there’s mutants wandering around. 

The only confirmed use of Area 51 the US government has said is a flight-testing facility. 

Way before Area 51 existed, silver and lead were being mined around Groom Lake during the mid 19th century. The lake got it’s name from the English mining company called Groome Lead Mines Limited.

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During the years of the second world war from 1939-1945 the U.S. Army Air Corps used Area 51 as a aerial gunnery range. 

In 1955, Project AQUATONE was carried out in Area 51 by the CIA. They were testing a secret high altitude aircraft called the Lockhart U-2. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized it. 


In 1956, after the U-2 plane was put into service, Area 51 was used to develop other aircraft . This included the A-12 reconnaissance plane and the stealth fighter F-117 Nighthawk. They also put in a 8,500 foot airplane runway at this time too.

Since everything happening at Area 51 was top secret, the government had to covertly travel the workers to Area 51 without anyone knowing. Their solution was personnel would fly very early Monday mornings to Area 51 and then fly back very late night on Fridays. They did it through a secret airport terminal at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport where the workers would leave in unmarked planes. They still run today. 

In the 50’s, Area 51’s layout was quite bare compared to what it is today. They had 2 unpaved runways, a control tower, three hangars, and some trailers to house the small crew. They put in a volleyball court and cinema house to help entertain the workers in their free time. 

In the 1960’s it was rumored that Area 51 was trying to develop unmanned aircraft technology, or drones as we know them as. This idea sparked when the Soviet Union shot down the U-2 plane killing the pilot Greg Powers inside. This incident helped further fuel hostilities between the two nations during the Cold War. 

Area 51 has gone by a number of names over the years but Area 51 was the only one that stuck. The other names included Paradise Ranch, Watertown, and Dreamland. Kelly Johnson, one of the designers who worked on the U-2 plane came up with “Paradise Ranch” to hopefully convince workers to move out there and build up Area 51’s infrastructure. 

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For being one of America’s top secret military bases it doesn’t seem like it’s protected very well. All that’s visible is a dinky little chain link fence, a boom gate, and the infamous, intimidating trespassing signs. Nothing is blocking anyone from going in but let us remind you again, it is under 24 hour surveillance by the U.S. military. 

Area 51 has been the focal point of endless conspiracy theories over the decades. From crashed UFO’s, dead alien bodies, extra-terrestrial technologies, to artificial weather control and time travel development. Everyone who owns a tinfoil hat seems to know a lot about the going-ons at Area 51. So much that it has become apart of American pop culture. There have been several well known movies that involve Area 51 shenanigans in it. 

In 1961, Area 51 went through a huge renovation. They replaced or repurposed all the original buildings and added a lot more. Among the new additions were 130 duplex housing units, 3 Navy surplus hangars, a reservoir pond and a whole perimeter of trees for privacy. 

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More Area 51 expansions were carried out in 1983, 1995 and 2015. In part of the 2015 expansion, a federal judge named a piece of land that overlooked Area 51 as a risk to national security, so the government seized that land from a Nevada family that owned it for nearly 140 years. What are they up to in there?

In 1974, an unknown CIA official sent a memo to the then-director of the CIA, William Colby. In the memo were photographs that astronauts took of a “sensitive location” while onboard the Skylab space station. Apparently the CIA was pissed those pictures were taken. The incident sparked debates between the departments about whether or not it was ethical to classify previously unclassified images. In 2006, space historian Dwayne A. Day put out a free online publication about his findings that the “sensitive location” was Area 51. The CIA obviously didn’t want people knowing about it because it was classified at the time. 

In 1989, marks the beginning of tales from a man named Bob Lazar who is the famous whistleblower of Area 51. His claims are what really started the public’s interest into Area 51. He said he was a physicist who worked there and personally saw documents that linked human interaction with aliens for over 10,000 years. 


In 1994, a lawsuit was brought against the US Air Force and the US Environmental Protection Agency by 2 widows and  5 contractors who worked at Area 51. They claimed they were exposed to unknown chemicals while being there. They all had high levels of toxins like dioxin and dibenzofuran in their body fat resulting in liver, skin and respiratory health problems. They also demanded information about the chemicals be released so they can be treated. The Air Force argued that declassifying that kind of information would be bad for National Security. 

Ultimately, the EPA demised the lawsuit due to lack of evidence. Also, then-President Bill Clinton exempted Area 51 from having to answer to environmental disclosure laws. This exception has been renewed yearly by every President to this day. 

The CIA has ever only acknowledged Area 51, in 2013, in a 400 page document released to the public by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. But they never mentioned any aliens or UFO’s. You know how the CIA would never lie about anything. 

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According to a guard who has worked in Area 51, they have full permission to shoot anyone who trespasses and ignores warnings. If you plan on going to the raid of Area 51 in September keep that in mind. The Air Force even came out and said “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”