Area 51 has been a constant source of conspiracy theories since the 1950s, especially since no one actually knows what goes on behind this heavily guarded area of land except the people who work there. Speculation is rife with theories covering everything from unidentified flying objects (UFOs) to secret government aircraft manufacturing. It is located in a remote region of the Nevada desert, north of Las Vegas.
The official explanation given by the military is that this is the location of a firing range used by the US Air Force. It has a restricted “no fly zone” placed on it and is very heavily guarded. The perimeter fence is monitored by hundreds of close circuit television cameras, armed guards patrol the area, and signs warn that trespassers will be shot.
Except for the people who work there, virtually no one has ever been inside Area 51. Photographs exist showing a large airbase that is not marked on any map. One of the most popular theories as to what goes on behind the fence is that UFOs are studied there.
In the 1950s, a UFO supposedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, and the craft and its inhabitants were taken to Area 51 to be examined. Theorists say that the government is trying to replicate the technology used by the UFO or even trying to rework it back to flight status. These theories have done much for tourism in the area, and there are even highway signs that read, “Extraterrestrial Highway.”
Another major theory is that the base simulates the environment of the Moon, and it has been suggested that the whole of the Apollo moon landing in 1969 actually took place there. Still another popular theory is that this is where the military carries out top-secret aircraft testing. The aircraft supposedly tested there are known as black aircraft, and the idea is to keep their existence a secret for as long as possible. This includes keeping their existence hidden from the enemy and the public.
Area 51 has become embedded in US popular culture. Books, films, websites and computer games have all used this tiny location and the many theories and reasons behind its secrecy for entertainment. Whatever is going on behind the fence has been kept hidden for over 50 years, and the public seems to be no closer to finding out the secret.