Decades of extreme mystery have surrounded Area 51, a remote United States Air Force facility about 120 kilometres northwest of Las Vegas.
It has long been shrouded in secrecy and subject to conspiracy theories – that UFOs and extraterrestrial life have been witnessed in the desert.
The top-secret base has recently made headlines after more than a million people RSVPd to a Facebook event to storm the area to uncover the truth once and for all.
The details of the event, planned for September, read: “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Centre tourist attraction and coordinate our entry.”
“Let’s see them aliens.”
But what exactly is Area 51 and is there anything to be found there?
Inside Area 51
According to Britannica Encyclopaedia, Area 51 is located at Groom Lake in southern Nevada and is under 24-hour surveillance.
It has only been confirmed as a flight testing facility despite whistleblowers alleging alien technology has been worked on near the site.
The CIA lifted its veil of secrecy in 2013 on Area 51 in response to a public records request from George Washington University scholars in Washington D.C.
The university publicly released online a 400-page CIA history containing the first deliberate official references to Area 51, also known as Groom Lake, as a site developed by the intelligence agency in the 1950s to test fly the high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane.
Other top-secret aircraft were tested there later, including the supersonic reconnaissance A-12 aircraft, code-named OXCART, and the F-117 stealth ground-attack jet.
The conspiracy theories around Area 51
Among the more sensational pieces of UFO conspiracy lore linked to Area 51 is that the remains of a flying saucer that supposedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, were brought to the site for reverse engineering experiments that attempted to replicate the extraterrestrial spacecraft.
According to Britannica Encyclopaedia, Bob Lazar “blew the lid off” what was happening at Area 51 in 1989.
The self-proclaimed American physicist said his work involved studying alien technology at a site close to the Area 51 testing facility called S-4.
According to Britannica, he told a Las Vegas television reporter UFOs were examined at the facility and claimed to have seen autopsy photos of extraterrestrials.
In the Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers documentary released last year, he claimed his lab was raided by the FBI.
“At the risk of sounding paranoid, I do always have a suspicion that someone is monitoring me – it’s something that is difficult to get out of my mind,” he said.
Vice president of UFO Research NSW, Jaime Leonarder, interviewed Mr Lazar in the early 90s after he claimed he had worked on extraterrestrial technology.
But Mr Leonarder told Yahoo News Australia the physicist’s findings remains an enigma.
“A difficult person to debunk or verify,” he said.
“I don’t hold a huge amount of credence in his story but question marks make you wonder.”
Mr Leonarder said around the same time Mr Lazar made his claims, lawsuits were also filed in relation to environmental crimes at Area 51.
The Washington Post reports some former Area 51 employees claimed hazardous wastes had been burnt off in the classified area, which they say resulted in illnesses like cancer and respiratory distress.
The publication reports the government’s policy was nothing illegal happened at the classified site, as officially nothing that occurred at Area 51 was made public.
‘They are very dangerous areas’
In the wake of the planned event to storm Area 51, Mr Lazar warned against it in a post on his Instagram account.
“I have to comment on this ‘Storm Area 51’ thing,” he wrote on the social media site.
“I do understand it was started as a joke by someone, but there are a number of people who are actually planning on showing up. This is a misguided idea.
“Area 51 is a classified research base. There are no aliens or alien technology located there. The only place there was ever any alien technology was at Site S4, south of Area 51 proper.
“That was 30 years ago. S-4 may have moved decades ago or it’s possible it’s no longer being used for the project.”
Mr Lazar said he did not support the movement and the last person who tried to infiltrate Area 51 was shot.
“This is not the way to go about trying to get more information,” he said.
Mr Leonarder told Yahoo News Australia the idea to storm Area 51 was “absurd”.
“It is one small piece of a massive classified covert facility,” he said.
“Even getting in the gates you won’t know what way to go to find this restricted space.”
He said while more than a million had clicked attending from the comfort of their lounge rooms, the likelihood was only about 10 would show up.
“Area 51 is so highly secured – there are motion detectors and there is the right to shoot you on site,” he claimed.
“There’s no way you’re going to get a government body to reveal what it’s doing with that sort of action.
“They are very dangerous areas to go into and people going out in the desert at night who think they are seeing anomalies could just be seeing drones and new aircrafts being tested.”
Mr Leonarder said even if there were signs of other life within the secret base, there’s no way artefacts would still be there following the exposure of the Facebook event.
“Protect yourself, don’t go running into a fire,” he said.
– with Reuters
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