Penetrating the Secrets of Area 51
The History of Area 51
Groom Lake began life as a practice facility during World War II, mainly as a gunnery and artillery range. It was then provided to a team from Lockheed's super-secret Skunk Works division, as the ideal location to test the experimental U-2 spy plane. The dry lakebed made it possible to work in total isolation, an especially important attribute during the heightened paranoia of the Cold War. The mountain ranges of the nearby Emigrant Valley and the NTS perimeter protected the test site from spies.
In the early 50s, Lockheed constructed a makeshift base at the location. In only three months, a 5,000-foot runway was built. The first U-2 took off from Groom on August 4, 1955. The U-2s, under CIA control, began flying over the Soviet Union in mid-1956.
The U-2 itself has always been an object of intense speculation. In fact, the plane is one of the major reasons people believe Area 51 is a storehouse of extraterrestrial knowledge. Using mid-1950s design and technology, the U-2 could do amazing things. It could fly at 73,000 feet, so high that the pilot had to wear a spacesuit, which was unheard of in the 50s.
In 1964, Area 51/Groom Lake spawned Son of U-2, the incredible SR71 Blackbird. The SR71 was the U-2 on steroids. Its capabilities are still astonishing, especially for a plane that first flew in 1962. In fact, it was the world's fastest and highest-flying manned airplane throughout its career. In 1976, it broke the world record for non-space flight: an absolute altitude record of 85,069 feet. The Blackbird also holds the "Speed Over a Recognized Course" record for flying from New York to London at a speed of 1435 mph, making the journey in 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds. [Watch Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura on truTV]
How did a plane built with 1950s technology accomplish these feats? Area 51 may hold the answer. For years, rumors have swirled that the U.S. government possesses knowledge that outstrips anything known to modern science. It is speculated that this incredibly advanced engineering has been culled from captured or crashed UFOs—or given to us by extraterrestrials—and then retrofitted onto existing technology by top-secret personnel. It’s believed that only a tiny number of people with super-secret security clearances know the real truth. There have been fantastical stories of alien containment chambers, airlocks and anti-gravity examining rooms—10 stories below ground at Area 51.
The government, of course, tells a different story. According to official documents, Area 51 is a myth, and Nellis AFB is merely a testing ground for aircraft design and other unnamed “research” projects.
But eyewitnesses beg to differ.