Roughly 80 miles north west of Las Vegas, Nevada lies the infamous Area 51. Officially known as the Nevada Test and Training Range, the site is an extension of Edwards (formerly Nellis) Air Force Base. Nicknamed Paradise Ranch, Home Base, and Watertown, employees have sometimes referred to it as "the site" or "the ranch". UFO researchers often call the grounds "Dreamland" due to the supposed alien technology reverse engineering which occurs on the military site.
Full Map of Area 51 Grounds
The base originally comprised of an area 6 miles by 10 miles, but was later expanded to include areas north at Groom Lake, a salt flat used for runways of the Nellis Bombing Range Test Site. With these additional land acquisitions, the area now measures 23 miles by 25 miles, and encompasses two previous valuable vantage points for photography and filming of Area 51 activities, Freedom Ridge and White Sides. These lookout locations were closed to public access in 1995.
Overhead Image of Area 51
The only legal remaining vantage point is 26 miles away at Tikaboo peak. It's accessed by a dirt road from US-93. It's a long stretch to the summit, 18 miles of loose sand requiring an off road capable vehicle, which continues to deteriorate as tourists flock to the site in hopes of capturing a photograph of something alien. After the drive, visitors are faced with a short but arduous hike of 1.2 miles that rises to 1000 feet. You need to be in excellent physical condition to make the climb, but it is worth it to get the closest legal view of Area 51. Many have been fooled by weather formations which make it appear that a giant moon is ascending on the horizon. At the top of Tikaboo peak is a "weather station" recording weather conditions, as well as an Air Force surveillance camera. It's obvious that even from this legal vantage point you are being watched.
View from Tikaboo Peak
Operations at Area 51
Of particular interest to UFO researchers is an area approximately 8.5 miles south of the main base at Papoose Lake, which is known as S-4. This particular section of the Tonopah Test Range came into public view when Bob Lazar claimed to have worked in this highly sensitive department as part of an alien reverse engineering program. Some claim that S-4 is linked to other military bases around the country by a transcontinental underground railroad system. Sector 4 is also rumored to have a disappearing airstrip for these top secret extraterrestrial landings. Nicknamed the "Cheshire Airstrip", it will briefly appear when water is sprayed onto its specially camouflaged asphalt and later disappear once again. If supposed insider information is true, S-4 is where work on recovered extraterrestrial craft takes place.
Area 51, S-4 Area where Alien Technology is Reverse Engineered
The real and primary purpose of Area 51 still remains classified, and all activities at the base fall under Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). For a full list of security clearances, view my other post Above Top Secret: Security Clearances.
Other Explanations for Area 51
"60 Minutes" reporter Leslie Stahl suggested that the area was a dumping ground for toxic waste, and many lawsuits have been filed supporting the authenticity of this claim. According to UFOMind.com,
"Former workers and widows of workers claim injuries resulting from illegal hazardous waste practices at Area 51 in the 1970's and 80's. Highly toxic resins were allegedly dumped into open pits and burned, and workers at the base were exposed to the fumes. The most prominent plaintiff is Helen Frost, window of Robert Frost, who died in 1988. An autopsy of Frost's body revealed high levels of dioxins and other carcinogens which the widow contends were caused by exposure to fumes at the base. In 1996, the lawsuit was dismissed by a Federal judge on the grounds of military's national security privilege."
There is evidence supporting the theory that governmental black projects have been developed at Area 51, including the testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems. Much of this evidence was obtained from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2005, which led to the CIA publicly acknowledging the existence of the base in July of 2013 via a 400 page report. The U-2 and the OXCART/SR-71 development programs, as well as operations FISH HAWK, STPOLLY, and two unmanned aerial reconnaissance programs called AQUILINE and AXILLARY were confirmed by the report. Read the CIA release in its entirety at The National Security Archive.
Entering Area 51
Area 51 Main Gate
Despite the disclosure about the bases existence, access is still strictly guarded. The road leading up to the main gate gives a false sense of security as there are no impediments to approach - there are no fences surrounding the area but there are orange posts to mark the bases territory. But as soon as you get to the gate, it's obvious that security is not taken lightly. Fences with warning signs remind visitors of the classified nature of the base. Photography is prohibited. A closed-circuit TV camera watches over the perimeter of Area 51. Overhead, air traffic control towers protect the restricted air space. The skies above Area 51 are known as R-4808N and are restricted to all commercial and military flights not coming from the base itself. For military personnel, flying into buffer zones around the base will mean strict reprimands. Actually flying into the restricted space will mean a dishonorable discharge, court martial and potential jail time as with any other serious military offense.
It's also believed that high tech sound monitoring is employed, and even vibration sensors are in the ground. The sensors are calibrated such that roaming animals do not cause false triggers. Some observers believe the sensors actually detect the ammonia signature of any near by life: a nearby resident of the town of Rachel, Chuck Clark, found many of the sensors and was accused by the FBI of taking one which he denied. When ordered to return the government property, he agreed to stay away from the grounds and discontinue any further "research".
Keeping watch are heavily armed guards who patrol in trucks. Known as the "cammo dudes", these security officers monitor any movement and will quickly pounce on anyone who steps too close. Signs warn that trespassers will receive a fine though onsite security are authorized to use deadly force. It's believed that the cammo dudes are outside personnel, hired contractors, from security firms such as Wackenhut and EG&G. The Department of Defense will not comment or confirm the who employs the guards. Dressed in desert camouflage, these hired guns act as a deterrent to potential trespassers. They usually avoid face to face interaction with observers, preferring to creepily monitor from their off road trucks, and when necessary call for back up in the form of a local sheriff. Occasionally, they will engage their target and seize photography and recording equipment. It has been reported that they will call for helicopter air support to harass potential trespassers by flying (illegally) low in a form of scare tactic.
Area 51 Armed Guards
Needless to say, attempting access would result in some serious consequences. But what would really happen if a curious researcher attempted to cross the line and gain entry to Area 51? The summit and access route are on public land, under jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. This means it is perfectly legal to visit and camp in the area outside the gate and fences at anytime. A group called UFO Seekers decided to take advantage of this protected right, and set up camp in clear view of the camo dudes. This is their encounter at Area 51:
A pair of Grandmas were first to have the courage to go where no mortal has been, and in a Thelma and Louise moment, crossed through the gate. No one knows what came of the ladies, but we would love to hear their story.
More recently, a tour bus driver drove his occupants through the gate. He ultimately received a fine.
There are more terrifying experiences at Area 51 to report as well. This family was held at gun point by the armed guards.
It seems more people are taking the risk to cross the security gate, or trying to enter through back roads, as this man did. The need to know is just too great despite the potential consequences of entering Area 51. He did encounter a guard though, who threatened to take his camera.
I will admit, a trip to Area 51 is on my bucket list. I don't know if I will try to cross the line, but if I do I will be sure to tell someone where I am going so they know why I didn't come back. Have you been to Area 51? If so comment below and tell me your experience. Did you encounter the cammo dudes? See anything interesting?