Area 51: Is It More Secret Than Other Secrets?

Everyone knows about the “supersecret” base in Nevada called Area 51. I saw a documentary on TLC about it the other night that mentioned some real facts as opposed to just UFO stories. For one thing, it said that Area 51’s civilian employees live in the Las Vegas suburbs and take private planes to work every morning from a “secret” terminal. (The planes are apparently owned by EG&G, so it seems logical that the employees work for EG&G as well.) It also had a guy who claimed to be an ex-employee who said nothing about UFOs, but did say that workers were exposed to toxic waste without their knowledge, and that all the secrecy just bred corruption. My question, though, is whether Area 51 is substantially more “secret” than other Top Secret government projects. Is it all just hype, or does the government take extraordinary measures to preserve secrecy at Area 51 that they don’t use elsewhere?

Yes. It’s so secret that no one has ever heard of it.

That is, of course, the irony of Area 51. Because the government went to such lengths to mantain secrecy about it, it inspired everyone else to go to tremendous lengths to break that secrecy, and now we probably know more about it than any other military installation. But did the government really do anything to maintain secrecy that they wouldn’t have done for, say, NORAD?

[nitpick] It’s not called “Area 51” except by outsiders. The base itself has a name, which is confidential (AFAIK), and is located in a 6x10 mile block of land that was labelled 51 on an old government map of the area. [/nitpick]

It isn’t all that confidential, it is Groom Lake. (Groom Lake Dry Lake Bed, or some such variant on the name). I spent two weeks a bit north of Groom Lake in the Tonapah Ranges, all on the vast grounds of Nellis Air Force Base, on “Exercise Red Flag”, as OpFor Air Defense. There were things we were not supposed to look at, and places we were not supposed to go, both enforced quickly by guys in white SUVs. When a fat sweaty Range Officer found out we had binoculars, he about had a fit. We had prior approval to bring them, but I had to go stand in front of him and let him have his fat sweaty little power trip to get a confiscated pair back.

That place’s secrets had a greater need to be secret during the Cold War. We showered at the base where the F-117 was flown while it was still secret, Tonapah Airfiled.

I did sign a confidentiality agreement, and although the stuff I saw was no big deal, I will abide by it.

The guys who worked there said the security down at Groom Lake was MUCH tighter, but they may have been feeding us a line of bull to impress us. The Little A’Le’Inn was supposed to cater one hot meal a day, but it sucked.

I doubt knowledge of its existence is meant to be a secret (though perhaps initially they hoped so), the real secret is what they are doing in there, which I imagine is new military aircraft designing and testing. Maybe a few other scientific experimentation too. And even knowing what they do generally probably isn’t a big issue to them as long as nobody unauthorised knows specifics.

Gee, anyone who watches Stargate SG-1 knows Area 51 is the Groom Lake Facility! boggle

In this case “secrecy” facilitates “disinformation.” The fringe believes we are hiding aliens and their spacecraft there - this serves to minimize any rumors emanating from “sightings” in the area without the military confirming or denying anything. If the military went to any lengths debunking the UFO rumors, they would actually be revealing more than they concealed.

There is another paranoid reason to keep hyping the “secrecy” of the Groom Lake facility. Misdirection. Just suppose that there is another actual secret testing location used by the U.S. govt. By “promoting” Groom Lake (“Nothing here! No, really! Nothing to see, now give me that camera!”) they divert the public from investigating the possibility that there may actually be someplace else where the real flying saucers and aliens are kept.

Area 51 is just a large tourist attraction that has no rides, you can’t get into and aren’t allowed to photograph. :smiley: Something may have been going on there at one time or another, but why would the government persist in using a “secret” site for “secret” purposes when it is common knowledge that “secret stuff is going on there” and it’s obvious that the curious are willing to risk jailtime and/or getting shot to get a peek at what’s under wraps there?


IMO, even if the military said everything about what’s going on there and organized guided tours, people still wouldn’t believe them.

Pshaw! Area 51 is old hat. It’s the public relations division of all secrets areas.

It’s Area 127 that’s the really secret one.

You haven’t heard of it, neither have I, that’s the point.

It wouldn’t be beyond the government or military to use misdirection to actually draw attention to Groom Lake, while simultaneously clamping down on its personnel to “maintain secrecy.”

Nothing would drive conspiracy and UFO nuts crazy faster than this, I think. And it would effectively draw attention from other things that the military DID want kept secret.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that certain aircraft were tested at Groom Lake, and that their running lights could be seen in the sky there at night, which led to quite a bit of “UFO watching” from nearby.

From what I understand, much of the big stink was set off by one Robert Lazar, a guy who claimed to be a physicist who had been hired by the military to do something at Groom Lake.

According to Lazar, once he got there, he discovered that he had been hired to “reverse-engineer” some extremely odd, disc-shaped aircraft, and determine how they flew and what made them work.

Lazar reported that the cockpits and seating arrangements were not designed for humans, unless the aircraft were designed to be flown by eight-year-olds.

He claimed to have seen officers speaking with a “small gray person” with a bald head and very long arms, although he admits this may have been a trick to see what kind of reaction he’d have.

He also claimed to have been routinely subjected to intimidation and threats by military officials, while he was working there, which struck me as odd.

If Lazar was telling the truth, then he’s been pretty much thoroughly discredited by the evil shadow conspiracy, because these days, everyone pretty much agrees he’s a loon or an opportunist, one of the two…

Of course, the military has used these disinformation tactics in the past. Take the Roswell incident, for instance. It was a crash of a balloon carrying a payload designed to listen for illicit nuclear tests, under a program called “Project Mogul”. At the time of the crash, though, Project Mogul was still a secret, so they couldn’t admit the balloon’s true purpose. So instead, they actively denied that it was an alien spaceship. Just like that, the tinfoil hat crowd devoted themselves to the idea that it was a UFO, and the possibility that it was a completely different government program never even occured to them.

I think this is another point to consider. Military personnel have a sense of humor just like the rest of us. I don’t think they would go to great lengths to play-act for the general population about Alien Grays stashed there. However, I have heard enough stories about pranks played on raw recruits (sending someone to company B’s quartermaster for a tank of “radar beam grease,” for instance) that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear that someone got his kid to dress up in a cheap alien costume to boggle some friend of his.

This is still speculation, of course, and bordering on tinfoil-hat territory, but if one believes the USAF is taking advantage of the supposed “secrecy” of Groom Lake specifically to draw attention there, one must consider this. This was the agency that tried the harebrained idea of attaching bombs to bats, remember? Who says they wouldn’t try to develop a ship that looked like a UFO? If such a reconnaisance ship were ever spotted in the sky over enemy territory nobody would believe it.

Okay, tinfoil hat off now. I agree that we should pay closer attention to the level of secrecy at other experimental technology proving grounds and see if they are close to the same.

Between the late forties till around 1975-80 , that area was probably among the most desolate of the continental states. This gave it the advantage of being able to control population movement , along with the fact that only major powers had sattelites that could effectively view from orbit with a good deal of resolution in the photos. Being in the south west , it was also insulated some what from airspace intrusions from soviet or client a/c.

At one time, Dreamland may have existed there , but its probably been moved to another location , while keeping the area 51 complex to draw off the curious , as has been posted upstream.


A few years ago, I read a story where locals reported that activity around Area 51 had dropped to almost nothing. They speculated that the Air Force had finally shut down the “secret base” and moved the spy planes or stealth toilets or whatever they had there to some other base.

Hmmm, nope; but sure enough sounds interesting. :stuck_out_tongue:


I thought Cecil had done a column on the bat-bombs, but I couldn’t find it in the archives by searching for “military,” “bomb,” “bats,” or “Japan.” Here instead is a link to a book on Amazon and a mention on the University of New Mexico site that might be considered slightly more reliable. Neither cite is particularly detailed, though I found a number of less reliable links by googling for “bats, bombs, and US military.” Enjoy. :slight_smile:

The Russians were selling some color satellite photos of the facility, a couple of years back. One could make out swimming pools and tennis courts on the surface level. Thats reasonable enough, for a military base out in the middle of the desert. I just thought that was kind of funny. (“It’s the Secret Tennis Court of Spooky DOOM!”)

Anyway, there was a documentary a while back which had some guy claiming that the security around the Base had apparently been lightened up quite a bit, in recent years. The documentary went on to speculate that a lot of the Base’s really “secret” workload had been transferred to a few other bases, in Colorado and New Mexico. (I can’t remember any names, though. Sorry.)

I think that was the same documentary that had the guy who claimed to have helped pick the spot for the base. It seems the USAF needed a spot to start test-flying the U-2 back in the early 50s, and they decided to fly it out of some dry lake bed in the Nevada proving grounds, where it’d be nice and isolated. This guy said that he and Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson basically took a trip around the area on horseback (!), till they found a spot they liked.

My 1.5¢

Unca Cecil speaks on Area 51.

Well, Irma and me? We think it’s rays.

Now that´s one interesting troupe! add bats lobbing incendiary bombs and I don´t know why there isn´t a movie about this yet! :smiley: