Area 51 is 4,000 acres of restricted land in the southwest corner of Nevada, 130 miles north and slightly west of Las Vegas. Rumored to exist at Area 51 are several extraterrestrial aircraft – some of which are being reverse-engineered to develop top-secret military craft. The A-12 and U-2 spy planes were supposedly developed there as well as the Stealth bomber and the high-altitude, high-speed Aurora spy plane.
The base at Groom Dry Lake is also said to contain the world’s longest runway (10 miles long!) the world’s largest and most powerful satellite dish (10 gigawatts) and an array of huge radio dishes, gigantic hangars and various support facilities. So why go there? Well, if you’re any kind of an aviation nut, the surrounding area of Nellis Air Force Base fills the skies with all kinds of military aircraft. But aside from that, the pilgrimage to this area of Nevada is of special interest to UFO buffs.
The majority of Area 51’s publicity is largely due to a man named Bob Lazar. He claims to be a physicist whose work history seems to include employment at another top-secret facility not far from Groom Lake at an area known as S-4 in Papoose Lake. Lazar claims that he worked on the infamous flying saucer that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 as well as 8 other extraterrestrial aircraft.
I say "claims" and "seems" because since going public with his allegations several years ago he has subsequently suffered thorough discrediting. Mysteriously, his employment records, his educational background and his very degrees from both M.I.T. and Caltech cannot be verified – as though he never existed.
But many people believe his claims and can’t resist traveling to Nevada to try and find out for themselves. That’s why, as two believers, my boyfriend Chuck and I bought 2 cheap plane tickets to Las Vegas, rented a car and pursued this quest to "see the secret base". If you want to plan a similar trip what follows is my own personal account of our journey and my heartfelt recommendations…
ABSOLUTELY MOST IMPORTANT
It is utterly IMPERATIVE that you order a copy of The ‘Area 51’ Viewers Guide by Glenn Campbell. It costs $15.00 but send $18.50 for extra speedy delivery to: Glenn Campbell, HCR Box 38, Rachel, NV 89001
This document/book is so completely necessary that you’d truly be lost without it. Not only does it explain the history and folklore of the base but explains EXACTLY how to get there, what to watch out for, what to bring, what to expect and detailed accounts of his own personal experiences. It is a vastly informative, funny read and reveals Nevada as a diverse and interesting place! Really! Nevada rules!
Here’s my story…
After arriving at the "Black Mailbox" along highway 375 we stopped for a while just to look around. The Black Mailbox is a famous landmark near Rachel, NV (Rachel is the closest town to Area 51). The mailbox is famous because A) many UFO sightings have been reported there B) an alien abduction supposedly took place there (a couple claimed they were taken aboard a space craft while camping – it’s a popular camping site) and C) it’s literally the only damn thing around for about 12 miles in any direction that isn’t sagebrush.
Area 51 itself lies about 10 miles beyond a mountain range (Groom Range) which is about 13 miles away. Chuck and I decided to get a bite to eat at the world famous "Little Ale’lnn" in Rachel about 20 miles down the highway. It’s actually a mobile home with a hand painted sign depicting a typical big-eyed grey on it. Right on!
Inside were a row of slot machines, a table in the corner with a stack of books (mostly UFO-related) and various aircraft/UFO/alien pictures all over the wall. There was also a heavy dose of anti-liberal, anti-gov’t, pro-gun type sentiments plastering the walls so if you have a funny haircut or anything you might want to watch what you say, chances are the locals will be eyein’ you close anyway.
After a hearty meal of scrambled eggs and bacon we decided to drive back down highway 375 and go for it! Woooo-weeee! It was still daylight (mid-afternoon) and we figured it’s now or never. Turning south on Mailbox Road there was no turning back. We drove several miles and stopped precisely at the spot recommended by Glenn Campbell (get the book!) for climbing up Freedom Ridge.
Freedom Ridge is an area on the mountain range christened by Campbell who discovered this spot on public land where the base was visible despite the government’s attempt to withdraw a large area from the public’s accessibility. Go Glenn!
There are numerous signs as you approach the restricted area warning, "Keep Out" "No photography" and creepiest of all, "USE OF DEADLY FORCE AUTHORIZED". They mean it. Turn around and go back if you see these signs. Chuck and I never saw these signs since we stopped and parked where Campbell recommends at a spot 2/10ths of a mile before they start popping up. It is a fact that well before you come even close to "the border" that you are being watched, your license plate recorded, etc.
Rumor has it that sensors are placed in the soil to alert security that someone’s getting a little close. I don’t know if any cameras were hidden in the Joshua trees, but the surveillance they did have was noticeable – about every 50 yards were tall poles with large silver balls on the top. When we’d see one we’d smile and wave. Technically, as long as you don’t cross over the border you’ve broken no law.
The hike up the mountain to Freedom Ridge seemed to be over mile and took a little less than an hour (all uphill in loose, sandy soil). We were careful to bring water, hats and a good pair of binoculars. We were equally as careful NOT to bring a camera or even a piece of paper and a pen. You are watched constantly and would immediately be arrested if caught photographing or even making a sketch of the area.
Campbell recommends that you keep a sharp eye out for the border that is marked by thin wooden posts located every several yards that are painted neon orange. You should be fine and will not be arrested or harassed if you just keep these posts to the right (south) of you. After about 40 minutes of uphill, high altitude hiking I briefly lost my vigilant mindset and suddenly looked up to my horror to see neon orange post about 20 feet to my LEFT.
"Oh sh*t! Oh my God!" I thought out loud, convinced that I would be immediately shot or arrested despite the fact that we seemed to be very much alone. "Sh*t sh*t sh*t," I kept saying as I gingerly tiptoed to the other side of the marker (as though stepping lightly would help) and prayed I wouldn’t die.
But not to worry, Freedom Ridge was only about 200 yards away. Onward. We climbed and climbed and just when I thought we were at the highest point on the ridge and didn’t seem to see anything BAM! there it appeared. The base that doesn’t exist! We couldn’t believe it. The accomplishment seemed anti-climactic in retrospect but it wasn’t, it was, great!
We gazed for an hour through
binoculars at this top-secret facility that only a relative few outsiders have seen. There they were – the hangars and that runway and that crazy mega joule whatsit satellite dish! Right there! No, we didn’t see any hovering saucers or wild aeronautics but that didn’t lessen the thrill. "Nyah nyah-we saw your secret base!"
After climbing down the mountain we noticed then that we weren’t alone. About 100 yards from our rental car stood 2 men that Glenn Campbell calls, "Cammo dudes". These are employees of a "civilian entity" and their job is to patrol the area around the border. Cammo dudes wear military desert camouflage fatigues and always drive white 4-wheel drive Jeep Cherokees. Suddenly I noticed yet another white, Jeep with 2 more cammo dudes (prepared to use deadly force?) parked about a 1/4 mile away on a hill commanding the road into Dreamland.
Campbell mentions these guys a lot in the Viewer’s Guide and when we saw two white Cherokees parked near our car with four fellas watching us through high-powered binoculars I knew we’d definitely gone where we weren’t welcomed. Cool!
They didn’t approach us as we returned to our car – just kept a close eye on us. As we drove away they "escorted" us for about 5 miles back down the dirt road keeping a respectful distance of about 50 yards. Just to see what they would do, Chuck suddenly stopped the car. The jeep stopped. He then slowly perused our cassette selection until the appropriate musical accompaniment was found and cued up. He had zeroed in on Metallica. Putting it in and turning it up full blast as we peeled out felt incredibly delinquent. We both felt a little like Beavis and Butthead but I guess that was kind of the point. "Nyah, nyah!!"
Last I heard, the government applied to the Bureau of Land Management to seize the last bits of land around Area 51 that provide a viewing area of the base for the public. I do not know the current status of this proposed land seizure so write for Glenn Campbell’s "Area 51 Viewer’s Guide" and find out!
Keep watching the skies!