Area 51 is a highly classified United States military installation within the Nevada Test and Training Range. It is located at Groom Lake, in Southern Nevada, 83 miles from Las Vegas. Built in 1955, it was initially built to serve as a test facility for the Lockheed U-2 Spy Plane. Over the years, other well-known aircraft has been tested here, including the Archangel-12, the SR-71 Blackbird and the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. Area 51 was not officially acknowledged by the CIA as a military base until June 2013.
The CIA reports the correct names for Area 51 are Groom Lake and Homey Airport (KXTA). Groom Lake is a salt flat used for runways for the Nellis Bombing Range Test Site. The lake itself is 3.7 miles north to south and 3 miles across at its widest point.
While the origin of the name is unclear the general belief is that Area 51 was part of an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) numbering grid, however, Area 51 does not belong to this system. It has also been suggested that the number 51 was used because the AEC would not need it for the grid system.
Over the years Area 51 has been the focus of conspiracy theories about UFO sightings and extraterrestrials, although the military has never confirmed. The Air Force maintains that this a flight testing facility. Due to the folklore the small town of Rachel, Nevada often receives annual visitors as it has become somewhat of a tourist destination and even has an "Extraterrestrial Highway". Rumors began after civilians in the area started reporting UFO sightings, which were primarily test flights conducted by the installation.
Conspiracy theories about Area 51 blossomed in the late 1980s, when a man who allegedly worked at the installation claimed the U.S. government was auditing recovered alien aircraft. Over the years, other theories include Area 51 being used for weather manipulation, the development of energy weapons and exotic propulsion systems as well as the storage and reverse engineering of alien spacecraft. Very little information is available from the government regarding Area 51.
The Area 51 Raid
More than 2 million Facebook users clicked their interest, but in the end only a few thousand made the trip to Nevada.
The "Storm Area 51" invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko nearest the military site.
Will hordes of determined Americans descend on the desert this weekend to storm Area 51 in an effort to learn the truth?
The U.S. Air Force is still sending reinforcements just in case things get out of hand, top officials said Tuesday.
Matty Roberts had no idea what he was starting when he made a Facebook joke about aliens.
Could the Air Force really legally kill American citizens? And don't citizens have a right to see what their government is...
A Nevada county has drafted an emergency declaration and a plan to deal with the upcoming "Storm Area 51" invasion.
More than 1 million people have responded to the internet post calling for people to "Naruto run" at the facility on...
What the dickens is going on at Area 51?
"We'll give people something to do so they don't run amok," says Alien Research Center gift shop owner George Harris.
The Facebook event, "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," calls for enthusiasts to show up outside the base Sept. 20.
Despite detailed "plans" for the event, users have made clear the event is merely a joke.