Area 51: Are There Really Aliens There?

area 51, aliens, conspiracy
Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

Area 51 is a highly classified United States Air Force military facility and base. As a result of being shrouded in secrecy for many years, it’s a place that has spun all sorts of wild conspiracy theories, especially ones on extraterrestrial lives (aka aliens). One of the most common conspiracy theories is that the site is the main base for testing crashed alien spacecrafts. 


Officially known as the Nevada Test and Training Range, the U.S. has confirmed that the place is used as a training and test facility for the U.S. Air Force. The site sits at a 38,400-acre land, and the government only publicly acknowledged its existence in 2013.  

The area is heavily guarded, with signs that warn against trespassing. It’s definitely not open to the public, and it’s heavily guarded with armed guards patrolling its perimeters.

However, the surrounding area, including the small town of Rachel, is a rather popular tourist attraction, due to its association with Area 51 and the alien culture borne from it.  

Where Is Area 51?

area 51, signage
Photo by Ken Lund on flickr

Located in the south of Nevada, western United States, Area 51 is around 135 kilometres north of Las Vegas. It’s situated at Groom Lake, where the Nevada Desert is.

Where Did Its Name Come From?

map, area 51
Photos by Sansculotte & NASA on Wikimedia Commons

The term Area 51 refers to its map area. It has various nicknames in the past such as “Paradise Ranch”, “Watertown”, and “Dreamland” as well.  

History Of Area 51

plane, area 51
Photo by Christopher Michel on flickr

The CIA acquired Area 51 to test the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft meant to spy on the Soviet Union. Thus, there was a need for a secluded and remote site. The U-2 aircraft can fly up to 21,000 metres (which was unheard of back then) and perhaps that was one of the reasons why it could be mistaken for an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) by normal civilians. They also tested the A-12 OXCART aircraft and the F-117 stealth ground attack jet at the site.

In the late 1970s, the CIA transferred the management of Area 5 to the U.S. Air Force. The CIA acknowledged that Area 51 as a secret U.S. military base for the first time in 2013. They also claimed that the need for secrecy was to keep information from the Soviet Union, and not to hide the existence of aliens or alien technology.

Even today, Area 51 is still an active military base. There, they develop cutting-edge and advanced technology. Also, it also serves as a military training base for the U.S. Air Force. However, what actually goes on inside is still highly classified information.

The Start Of Alien Conspiracy Theories

Due to its secrecy, Area 51 has been a hotly contested topic among conspiracy theorists. But how and when did it start?

It all began in 1989, all thanks to Bob Lazar. In an interview, Lazar claimed he worked in Area 51 and that the government investigated a recovered alien spacecraft. Also, he asserted that the government hired him to reverse-engineer extraterrestrial (alien) technology. Aside from that, he claimed to see secret reports on grey aliens involved with mankind.  

His claims had dragged Area 51 out to the public, garnering widespread attention. It also encouraged and fuelled conspiracy theories about the mysterious site.

However, many discredited his report. Despite his claims of being a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, his records showed that he did not get a degree from the university. At that time, the engineers at Area 51 were actually studying and creating advanced aircraft.  In addition, it was also a base where they reverse engine foreign technology.  

Area 51 And Rumoured UFO Sightings In Roswell

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Photo by mr_t_77 on Wikimedia Commons

One of the more famous UFO sightings stems from the incident in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. It’s known as the Roswell Incident, in which the U.S. Air Force’s surveillance balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell. The local newspaper released news on how Roswell Army Air Field had recovered the remains of a “flying saucer”.

One conspiracy theory says that they brought back the flying saucer to Area 51 for reverse engineers to figure out alien spacecraft technology. Another theory posited that they also took and stored alien bodies from the Roswell crash in Area 51.

It wasn’t until 1994 that the U.S. Air Force issued a report detailing that it was actually a wreckage of a classified government project (Project Mogul) consisting of smashed parts of balloons, sensors and radar reflectors.

However, this incident made a mark on ufologists and conspiracy theorists alike. They published books on the incident. Consequently, this perpetuated the notion of the existence of aliens, especially in relation to the then mythical Area 51.

Ironically, it was the existence of conspiracy theories of aliens and UFOs that further cloak Area 51 in secrecy, directing attention away from what was really going on in there back then.

Majestic 12 (aka MJ-12)

Majestic 12 is an organisation of U.S. scientists, military leaders, and government officials. President Truman allegedly ordered the formation of this organisation. This group is popular in conspiracy theories. Theorists say that this group facilitates and conducts alien investigations. Their main base was allegedly in Area 51.  

The group’s alleged existence originated from leaked government documents in the 1980s. Theorists also linked them to the Roswell Incident in 1947. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) declared the documents to be “completely bogus”.

Project Pounce

Project Pounce is another conspiracy theory popular among enthusiasts. They say that Majestic 12 has an association with the project. The project began when authorities converted some of the F-94C fighters into “UFO interceptors”. UFO being Unidentified Flying Objects — any aerial objects that aren’t immediately identifiable — absolutely nothing to do with aliens.

Steve Wilson, who claimed to be an Air Force colonel, stated that he was an executive officer of Project Pounce. He further claimed instances of retrieving crashed alien spacecrafts and bodies of occupants.

However, people debunked this conspiracy as Wilson was not an Air Force colonel. Based on U.S. Air Force Officer Edward Ruppelt’s account in his book, Project Pounce has no ties with alien craft or anything to do with the questionable MJ-12.

Energy Weapons

laser, area 51
Photo by Javier Rodriguez on Pixabay

Theorists posit that scientists used Area 51 as a site where they can build energy weapons with alien technology. Similarly, there was no evidence to support such outlandish claims.

Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All Of Us: September 20 “Raid”

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Photo by InSapphoWeTrust on flickr

Recently, talks about Area 51 and aliens have flooded the internet, as if returning in vengeance, thanks to an event created on a whim on Facebook.

The date was September 20, 2019. It was supposedly an event to raid Area 51 at 3 am (Pacific Time), created by Matty Roberts on June 27, 2019, titled, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” to find aliens.

The Goal

The supposed “goal” was to break into Area 51, a place commonly associated with aliens or alien technology, in a huge group. The “logic” behind the raid was that it would be hard to stop the masses if everyone decides to storm the base together. However, the event was, of course, just a joke and Roberts wasn’t really planning on actually raiding Area 51.  

Also known as Storm Area 51 or Raid Area 51, what started off as a satirical joke event on Facebook exploded online, taking social media sites (i.e., Twitter, Reddit) by storm and is now the peak of internet memes. The Facebook event had gone viral due to its absurdity (and probably due to the recognition of it being a meme), spawning more than 2 million users RSVP-ing to the event itself.

Roberts also confirmed that the event was purely comedic. There wasn’t even any proper plan on the raid, just a rough plan to meet up at Rachel, a small town in Nevada near Area 51, at 3 am.

Bob Lazar, who’s now a cult figure in the UFO circles, inspired Roberts after listening to an interview he had with podcaster Joe Rogan earlier in June. However, he still received a warning from FBI and the Air Force also sent out a stern warning against the raid.

Using this momentum, Roberts had then decided to plan an alien music festival called Alienstock to celebrate anything alien. Alientstock was originally supposed to be held in Rachel, but the event was cancelled and the celebration was relocated to Las Vegas at the last minute. This was due to the lack of infrastructure, planning and risk management, as well as safety concerns for the large crowds that they were expecting.

Meanwhile, at Hiko, Nevada, the Alien Research Centre held its own alien festival called Storm Area 51 Basecamp.

On the Day Of Storm Area 51

With the escalation of the Storm Area 51 meme, it’s no wonder that the locals in Rachel and even Hiko were holding their breaths. As this can be a disastrous event, especially for small towns such as themselves. Local polices and guards at Area 51 were on high alert.

However, what happened on the day itself had them all exhaling a huge sigh of relief.

On the day of the supposed event, it was reported that around 3,000 people turned up for Alienstock, much lesser than what was probably expected. Although with a joke event, most people weren’t really sure if anyone’s going to turn up. People were dressed in alien costumes and the crowd was rather manageable with few arrests. And much to the surprise and relief of everyone involved, the event was smooth sailing.

Also, there were only around 150 people who went to the gates of Area 51. However, no one crossed the gate and the guards arrested nobody. Overall, it was relatively peaceful.

The Area 51 Basecamp event attracted only around 500 attendees, though the event was planned for 5,000. Due to the low turnout, the organisers considered it a failure.

What started off as a joke became somewhat of a reality. People who are interested in anything alien (or just there for the hype) came together. This is the power of internet and memes, perpetuated by the masses.

TL;DR: No one actually went to raid Area 51 or started the raid, and no one actually saw any aliens or UFOs.

The Aftermath

The Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us event on Facebook has since been changed into a full-fledged Official Alienstock Tour for next year.  

With the increasing attention on Area 51 and aliens, many ufologists have jumped on the bandwagon. Area 51 was once again brought into the spotlight.

Are There Really Aliens In Area 51?

checkpoint, area 51
Photo by Simon Johansson on Wikimedia Commons

Up till today, Area 51 remains an ultimate mystery. There doesn’t seem to be any concrete evidence of the existence of aliens thus far, despite longstanding rumours of captured aliens and UFOs.

According to Annie Jacobsen, who has extensively researched and written facts on what there is to know about Area 51, the U.S. does work on reversing engineer technology in the base.

However, the U.S. Air Force told CNN that they will not provide details as to what type of operations take place in Area 51 due to security reasons. Speculations there may be, but unless you work at the site, no one truly knows what goes on behind closed doors.


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