The Many Secrets of AREA 51
Area 51 is the common name of a highly classified United States Air Force (USAF) facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range. A remote detachment administered by Edwards Air Force Base, the facility is officially called Homey Airport (KXTA) or Groom Lake (after the salt flat situated next to its airfield). Details of the facility’s operations are not made public, but the USAF says that it is an open training range, and it is commonly thought to support the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems. The USAF acquired the site in 1955, primarily for flight testing the Lockheed U-2 aircraft.
The intense secrecy surrounding the base has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component of unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore. The base has never been declared a secret base, but all research and occurrences in Area 51 are Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). The CIA publicly acknowledged the existence of the base for the first time on June 25, 2013, following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2005, and, at the same time, they declassified documents detailing the history and purpose of Area 51.
Area 51 is located in the southern portion of Nevada, 83 miles (134 km) north-northwest of Las Vegas. The surrounding area is a popular tourist destination, including the small town of Rachel on the “Extraterrestrial Highway“.
|Type||US Air Force facility|
|Owner||Department of Defense|
|Operator||US Air Force|
|Controlled by||Air Force Materiel Command|
|Built||1955 (as Paradise Ranch)|
|In use||1955 – present|
|Events||Storm Area 51 (2019)|
|Garrison||Air Force Test Center (Detachment 3)|
|Identifiers||ICAO: KXTA, FAA LID: XTA|
|Elevation||1,341.1 metres (4,400 ft) AMSL|