Area 51 is also known as Dreamland, Watertown Strip, Paradise Ranch, The Box, Groom Lake, Neverland, and other by other names. The number 51 refers to a 6x10-mile block of land in grid number 51 of the Nevada Test Site, the centre of which is a large air base which the government will not discuss.
Area 51 contains an airfield whose primary purpose is believed to be the operation and analysis of enemy aircraft and weapons systems, and secret development and testing of new military aircraft. It is also believed that a number of Soviet aircraft obtained by the United States through various means are kept at Area 51 for study. Because of the high security of the area, and the high numbers of experimental flights, Area 51 is the frequent subject of UFO conspiracy theories. Area 51 has been the traditional testing ground for "black budget" aircraft before they are publicly acknowledged including the U2 spy plane, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, B2 Stealth Bomber and F117 Nighthawk.
Area 51 Conspiracy Theories
Until 1997, the US Air Force denied all knowledge of the existence of Area 51. Then in 1997, the U.S. Government declassified the existence of Area 51. Even though the government acknowledged the existence of Area 51, the area surrounding the lake is permanently off-limits both to civilians and normal military air traffic. The area is protected by radar stations, and unauthorised personnel are quickly expelled. Even military pilots training in the Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR) risk disciplinary action when they accidentally stray into the exclusionary "box" surrounding the Test Centre's airspace.
The base does not appear on any publicly available U.S. government maps; the USGS topological map for the area only shows the long-disused Groom Mine, and the civil aviation chart for Nevada shows a large restricted area but defines it as part of the Nellis restricted airspace. Similarly, the National Atlas page showing federal lands in Nevada does not distinguish between the Groom block and other parts of the Nellis range. Although officially declassified, the original film taken by U.S. Corona spy satellite in the 1960s has been altered prior to declassification; in answer to freedom of information queries, the government responds that these exposures appear to have been destroyed.
Area 51 appears on satellite photography on sites such as Google Maps Although it is widely believed that the images available are manipulated and that anything secret will be underground.
US President Bill Clinton also signed a Presidential Determination exempting Area 51 from environmental laws.
I find that it is in the paramount interest of the United States to exempt the United States Air Force's operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada (the subject of litigation in Kasza v. Browner (D. Nev. CV-S-94-795-PMP) and Frost v. Perry (D. Nev. V-S-94-714-PMP)) from any applicable requirement for the disclosure to unauthorized persons of classified information concerning that operating location.
Area 51 JANET Airways
Workers at Area 51 commute to work aboard 737 jets from a terminal at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas which is only two blocks from the Las Vegas Strip. On aviation frequencies, the Jets reportedly use JANET radio call signs (e.g. JANET 6). The name's meaning is unknown, however, it is said to be an acronym for "Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation".
Area 51 Alien Cover-up
It is also reported and commonly believed by conspiracy theorists that Area 51 is the location where Alien craft, or UFO's, are taken to be examined and reverse engineered. Technology from the crashed UFO recovered from Roswell is reputed to have been used to construct the highly advanced stealth plane, the F117.
In the 1980's the base increased in size, along with the runway. Shortly after, mysterious lights began to appear above the base, and armed guards are known as the "camo dudes", popularised by TV show The X-Files, started patrolling the border. The government closed many viewpoints from which the Area 51 base could be seen.
Area 51 is a common location for many television, movie and computer games, including X-Files, Stargate SG1, Star Trek, even the Simpsons.
Most Likely Explanation for What Happens in Area 51
After the Second World War, the Iron Curtain fell over Russia creating a near perfect information blackout from Eastern Europe and the USSR. The Soviets backed North Korea's invasion of South Korea, and fuelled by fear of what weapons and technologies Russia was developing, the USA started a top secret intelligence gathering programme. In November 1954, President Eisenhower approved the secret development of a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft called the U-2 program. High-altitude craft were essential as they were able to fly high enough to avoid being shot down.
It is believed that Area 51 was (and still is) the primary location for the research and development of stealth and spy technology. The reported UFO's could very well be experimental aircraft. At the time, commercial aircraft flew around 10,000ft and military had a high limit of 40,000ft. The U-2 flies at around 60,000ft, so to those not in the know such a plane flying that high could not exist, so natural phenomena, high-altitude weather research or aliens were convenient cover stories.
For all the myths and legends, what's true is that Area 51 is real and still very active. There may not be aliens or a moon landing movie set inside those fences, but something is going on and only a select few are privy to what's happening. The forbidden aspect of Area 51 is what makes people want to know what's there.