Few places occupy the same mysterious status as Area 51. The remote Nevada base, about 150 miles from Las Vegas, is rumoured to be housing everything from aliens to soviet spy planes; with real tin-hat connoisseurs even claiming famous deceased folks, I’m looking at you 2pac, are chillin’ inside.
The dusty-road that leads up towards America’s much mythicised base is unassuming. The simple chain and boom-barrier look more like a countryside retreat than a top secret base, which is probably why they go a bit overboard on the intimidating trespassing signs. Make no mistake, if you reach this point you’re being watched.
Locals claim the entire approach up to the gate is lined with cameras with some even saying there are embedded sensors for some distance. It’s fair to say that they’re not overly keen on visitors, which begs the question – what on Earth actually goes on inside
Perhaps the most common theory is that Area 51 is home to galactic visitors, who supposedly touched down on Earth during the infamous Roswell Crash of 1947. Official accounts state the ‘UFO’ sighting was in fact a U.S. Air Force nuclear test surveillance balloon. Ufologists believe since this moment, government scientists have been attempting to reverse-engineer alien’ super-advanced technology.
Thornton Barnes, an Area 51 Special Projects Engineer from back in the day, spoke to the L.A. Times about the rumours. “We did reverse engineer a lot of foreign technology, including the Soviet MiG fighter out the Area,” he recalled. Unfortunately for the theorists, the MiG wasn’t shaped like a flying saucer.
Another popular theory – also space related – is that Area 51 was where NASA staged the moon landing. It’s been almost 50 years since Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” and still hordes of people believe the whole thing was staged inside the Nevada base. The smoking gun? Wind.
NASA claim the flag waved as Buzz Aldrin twisted it into the ground. The opposition call BS. Stating that the flags movement shows the presence of wind, which is impossible in a vacuum. As farfetched as that may sound, a 2009 study by Atomik Research found that 52 per cent of Brits think it was staged.
NASA Administrator Major Charles Bolden was asked if all the wacky theories are frustrating.”I understand if people have doubts,” he said. “I have no doubts we went to the moon and I have no doubts we’re going to mars in your lifetime.”
Whatever is going on there, Area 51 is still very much in use. Eagle-eyed Google Earth users note the base is expanding and developing constantly, and have even spotted strange lights in the sky and touching down in the base almost daily. No, it’s not a UFO. It’s actually the commuter airline that transports workers to the base from Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport.
Although the myths surrounding Are1 51 are likely to be fiction, that doesn’t stop theorists and believers approaching the link fences. Aliens are a big tourism draw. In 1996, Nevada renamed the approaching highway, Route 375, “Extraterrestrial Highway” and the nearby town of Rachel, with a population of just 54, pays homage to our galactic brothers with a sign welcoming earthlings.
If you want to take a closer look at what’s going on foryourself, you can get reasonably close to the base. There’s a useful website called Dreamland Resort, which describes itself as “the leading Area 51 research site” that’s full of firsthand accounts, maps and the best times to approach the area. However, I should probably add that they’re not overly keen on visitors, so do not trespass or over stay your welcome unless you’re prepared to pay a heavy fine. You might receive the same kind of treatment as this Brazilian drug plane that was taken down in the most badass way.
Area 51, or Dreamland as it’s known, has become the Holy Grail for conspiracy theorists. For all the myths and rumours, Area 51 is very much real and active. It’s highly unlikely a fake moon or alien corpse lies inside, but something is going down that only a select few people are privy to.
Aerospace historian Peter Merlin, who has been researching Area 51 and it’s surroundings for more than 30 years, explains the base’s draw. “The forbidden aspect of Area 51 is what makes people want to know what’s there,” he said. “And there sure is still a lot going on there.”
We’ll probably never know what’s going on. But if it’s answers about the galaxy that we want it’s probably best to chat to Professor Hawking who just announced he’s going to space, the man is also a bit of a genius… and 100 percent real.