It’s the most famous military installation in the world, yet it doesn’t officially exist. Area 51 is a site for covert Cold War operations and has long been a magnet for crackpots, conspiracy theorists, and the overly curious. While there may not be truth to the rumours that Area 51 is a haven for UFO’s and extraterrestrials, it’s clear that the US government has been up to something in Area 51 for decades, and it turns out there is a kernel of truth to even some of the wildest speculation. Underground tunnels… Hidden enemy aircraft… Secret government UFO files… Now, after years of silence, for the first time Area 51 insiders spill their secrets and reveal what’s really been going on inside the most secretive place on earth.
In the middle of the barren Nevada desert, there’s a dusty unmarked road that leads to the front gate of Area 51. It’s protected by little more than a chain link fence, a boom gate, and intimidating trespassing signs. One would think that America’s much mythicized top secret military base would be under closer guard, but make no mistake. They are watching. Beyond the gate, cameras see every angle. On the distant hilltop, there’s a white pickup truck with a tinted windshield peering down on everything below. Locals says the base knows every desert tortoise and jackrabbit that hops the fence. Others claim there are embedded sensors in the approaching road.
According to a report released by the CIA, Area 51 was created in 1955 to test a top secret aircraft project; Code name Aquatone. Aquatone was the code name for the U2 aircraft “The Dragon Lady” which was made to spy on the Sovi e t Union and Nikita Khrushchev, the former Prime Minister who used to boast about the Russian Senate and Nuclear capabilities. This focused the attention of the US government on them which led to project Aquatone. Project Aquatone built aircrafts which had the capability of flying outside the range of Soviet Union’s air defences. These aircrafts could fly more than 70,000 feet and 13 miles above the earth.
This happened when the Soviet Union shot a U2 aircraft which caught the radar. Project Rainbow’s mission was to disguise the U2 aircraft. This was done by coating the aircrafts with radar absorbent material to the surface of the prototype of the aircraft. But with this coat on the aircraft, it weighed the aircraft down making it unable to fly as high as its original potential. Then Area 51 analysts tried finding a successor to the U2 aircraft.
Project ‘Have Doughnut’
In 1968 Area 51 expanded from the Nevada desert to build a technological lavatory, according to Thornton T. D. Barnes, Area 51 radar specialist. It seemed on the outset like an air base but however, this was where the US government analysed the Soviet Union’s technology, weapons. This technological ‘lavatory’ was the initiative of another secret project where the US government analysed and tested the enemy jet fighters. In 1968 the US government gets hold of a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 jet fighter, which was flown to Israel. They manage to ship this to Area 51 for an evaluation. This was under the code name – Have Doughnut (Mig 21 Fishbed). They figured out that the jet fighter aircrafts were not the problem, and that it was the pilots who were highly skilled. The US started an air base after this revelation to train US fighter pilots on how to defeat pilots of the Soviet Union in a dog fight. To support this programme Area 51 added more facilities, more hangars to accommodate the training procedure. The task was to train the pilots in Nevada before they were flown out to the war zone. The US then permanently closed the airspace above Area 51 due to this.
Truth is in the air
Today, Area 51 is still very much in use. According to Google Earth, new construction and expansions are continuously happening. On most early mornings, eagle-eyed visitors can spot strange lights in the sky moving up and down. No, it’s not a UFO. It’s actually the semi-secret contract commuter airline using the call-sign “Janet” that transports workers from Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport to the base. While the lore around Area 51 may be nothing more than imaginative fiction, that won’t stop people from gawking just beyond those chain link fences. At the most basic level, anytime you have something secret or forbidden, it’s human nature. You want to find out what it is.
Written by Devuni Goonewardene