The closely guarded military database, Area 51 has attracted the interest of a large number of people and has become a term associated with outlandish conspiracy theories about extraterrestrial life and government cover-ups. Area 51 was run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was principally used to test new technologies. Here are some facts about Area 51 one may not know.
Due to sensitivity issues, Central Intelligence Agency refused to acknowledge the existence of Area 51 in all official documents until 2013. Followed by a freedom of information request made by a professor at George Washington University, the existence of Area 51 was admitted in a classified report which covered the first two decades of operations at Area 51.
The Area 51 began as a test site for U2 spy plane which was capable of carrying out surveillance over the Soviet Union. The first test flight took place in August 1, 1955 with a Lockheed designed plane. However several incidents involving a U2 also took place and the famous one was when the aircraft crashed over the Soviet Union during an intelligence gathering flight in 1960.
The first test flight of an unmanned drone was carried out at Area 51 in 1964. This surveillance aircraft was referred to as D21 and it carried out several test flights before being launched independently. However the fourth test flight led to crashing of aircraft killing one of the crew member. The D21 drone carried out four spying missions over China, between 1969 and 1971.
Area 51 was used as a site for testing captured technology from aircraft which belongs to hostile powers. The captured foreign aircrafts were present at the base and the first foreign plane to arrive was MiG21, a Russian built which was captured by Israel in 1966. The examinations were conducted to identify weaknesses in performance and design of the aircraft. The examinations of the secretly captured Soviet radar systems were also conducted at Area 51 during 1970.
Area 51 was accidentally disclosed in the memo which dealt with the deployment of aircraft spying over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The mistake did not reach widespread attention and the government maps continue to identify it as a restricted area. However atlases show the facility as being within the nearby Nellis air force base.
The military took advantage of the secrecy in the Area 51 and the confidentiality caused those who work there to dump large quantities of toxic waste at the site. Even though a court case was scheduled, it couldn’t proceed due to national security considerations. There was also claims that the Area 51’s remoteness resulted in disposing wastes that are gathered from other military sites.
Area 51 was the only site in the world which was banned from being photographed from space by CIA. This gives an indication about how valuable Area 51 is. However the incident which triggered the national security debate was when a group of inexperienced astronauts inadvertently took photographs of the Area 51 site during a flight in 1974.
Rumors regarding the latest project of Area 51 is under way. US air force has implicitly admitted that a prototype of a long-range surveillance aircraft exists and it is considered to be a testing candidate at a large hangar-like building at Area 51.
A team of Navy Seals was considered to be responsible for the death of Osama Bin Laden which was carried out with the help of two Blackhawk helicopters. It was believed that Area 51 might have tested these helicopters before operation and must have made significant modifications in the copter when compared to its predecessors.
The most ridiculous conspiracy theory about the Area 51 was in connection with the alleged crashing of a UFO at Roswell in 1947. Many still belief that it was a fearful play by the Soviet Union in order to spread fear and to make the US people believe that it was an alien craft. However Area 51 is considered to be a part of this by acting as the storage site for the “Soviet” ship.