AREA 51, A SOCIAL, CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PHENOMENON IN AMERICA'S SUBCULTURE
by Norio Hayakawa
It seems so astounding just to think that in the past 25 years or so, AREA 51 has transformed itself from an obsure R & D and testing facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, to the world's most well-known 'secret base', bar none!!
In the mid to the late 1950's, this location so remote and unknown to the world was not even officially CLASSIFIED initially, according to military aviation historian, Peter Merlin. It was then a CIA managed operating base.
The term AREA 51 was not even officially used by the Air Force even later on (and even to this day) because it was simply a designation initially created by the Atomic Energy Commission (today's Department of Energy) to describe various parcels in the Nevada Test Site.
Photo courtesy of Joerg Arnu of Dreamland Resort website
There is only one official name for the facility used by the U.S. government: "AN OPERATING BASE NEAR GROOM LAKE". Notice that the government does not even state that the base is at Groom Lake. It only states that it is "near" Groom Lake!!
It seems that the government does not even officially use AFFTC-DET 3 as a designation for the area. (Air Force Flight Test Center Detachment 3, allegedly a managerial umbrella of Edwards Air Force Base in southern California).
(The exception was when a Security Manual for security personnel was printed in the late 1980s. They did use the designation DET-3, alluding to the AFFTC).
It was around 1987 when rumors slowly began to circulate among some researchers that the base, among other projects such as hyper-sonic spy planes, may even have been test-flying a recovered spacecraft of extraterrestrial origin.
In 1988 AREA 51 was mentioned briefly by name in a nationwide 2-hour FOX TV Special entitled: UFO COVER-UP LIVE.
Then in 1989, with the arrival of Bob Lazar, AREA 51 became the 'de-facto' alien base story to the believers. The rest is history, as everyone knows.
However, a strange rumor started in 1997 (that resulted from a misinformed article that appeared on POPULAR MECHANICS magazine) that AREA 51 had closed its doors and had move to Utah. This rumor still seems to be believed by some folks.
Contrary to that unfounded rumor, AREA 51 had never moved its operations elsewhere.
In fact, today it seems to be expanding. It is definitely alive and well.
And it seems to go hand in hand (probably in a working relationship) with the newly designated NEVADA NATIONAL SECURITY SITE (N2S2), the former Nevada Test Site, AREA 51's next door neighbor and a growing testing range designated for such things as anti-terrorist weapons programs.
Today AREA 51 is a sprawling complex that almost resembles a small city with so many structures that are easily visible even with a decent set of binoculars from atop Tikaboo Peak, 26 miles away.
It is estimated that as of 2012, anywhere from 1800 to 2200 employees continue to work at the growing base in diverse, highly compartmentalized programs conducted by at least a dozen defense contractors. Yes, this is the reality.
However, at the same time, AREA 51 has solidly (and CONVENIENTLY for the government) entrenched itself in America's subculture that includes a segment of the population's die-hard belief in UFOs and Aliens.
Yes, it has become a social, cultural and psychological phenomenon, far removed (SOME SAY) from reality but much needed for some folks who may feel the urge to believe in something (i.e., 'aliens' who are working with our government secretly in places like AREA 51, will soon reveal themselves to us and help us solved all these human problems), especially in these troubling, uncertain age of global economic, social and political crises.
To the mainstream, it may seem quite amazing that there are still some folks that actually believe that somehow the base is connected with Alien Technology!!
(Of course, some may rightly say that ultimately we do not know for sure, since there is no proof to support that belief nor is there proof that such a thing is not there).
By the way, here is a tune that I composed back in 2002 while I was pondering at home about AREA 51. It was just a couple of months away then from the 50th anniversary of AREA 51. I had an unforgettable experience of performing this music at a public gathering celebrating the 50th anniversary of the base. The event was held at the perimeters of AREA 51 in May of 2005 under the watchful eyes of base security.
SECRETS IN THE DESERT