Misinterpretations of Area 51 – – a social, cultural and psychological phenomenon, far removed from reality

A-51 US Marine Corps fo hire - C.V.

(photo, courtesy of a “U.S. Marine Corps for hire” – C.V.)

It seems so astounding just to think that in the past 30 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: http://roadrunnersinternationale.com/no_secret.html

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.

Until recently, there was only one official name for the facility used by the U.S. government:  “AN OPERATING BASE NEAR GROOM LAKE”.  Notice that the government did not even state that the base was at Groom Lake.  It only stated that it was “near” Groom Lake!!

A-51 Paglen

(photo, courtesy of Trevor Paglen)

It seems that the government did not even officially use AFFTC-DET 3 as a designation for the area.  (Air Force Flight Test Center Detachment 3,  a managerial umbrella of Edwards Air Force Base in southern California).  Recently, however, AFFTC-DET 3 has been renamed to AFTC-DET 3  (Air Force Test Center).

(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).  (Presently, AFTC)

Security Manual

(courtesy of Glenn Campbell)

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.  However, Bob Lazar never claimed that he worked at Area 51. His claim was that he worked at a facility called S-4, allegedly 10 miles south of Area 51, by Papoose lake.  In other words he claimed he worked at S-4, via Area 51.  The rest is history, as everyone knows.

Today it seems that the only major personality that still fully supports the Bob Lazar story is Las Vegas newscaster (KLAS-TV) George Knapp who rose to fame because of his initial introduction of Lazar to the world through his Eyewitness News reports.  NEW YORK MAGAZINE reporter described Knapp as a “debonair raconteur”:

John Lear's version

(It was John Lear who first started the rumor that there was an S-4 facility by Papoose Lake, 10 miles south of Area 51 where Bob Lazar allegedly worked….this modified “air chart” was created by John Lear)


(Except for some strong imagination, such as this illustration above,
The illusive S-4 (Site 4) is nowhere to be found by Papoose Lake, south of Area 51 except in a “modified” air chart originating from John Lear.
In Nevada, the only recognized Site 4 is in the Electronic Combat Ranges of Tonopah Test Range, Nevada.
In Southern California there is a Site 4 (Northrop Grumman) at the Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale where the B-2A was in development and construction.
For those who are into science fiction, here is a short video about imaginary S-4 by Papoose Lake:


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.

employees parking lot

(Click and enlarge above photo – -Area 51 employees’ parking lot at URS Terminal for commuter airline “Janet” at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, is constantly full)

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 a variety of weapons testing and training programs (even including such as anti-terrorist weapons development and training).


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 2015, 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.

JT3 2 (1)



(a conglomerate company called JT4, a joint venture of Raytheon and AECOM including its subsidiary URS,  handles the personnel procurement for such complexes as Area 51)  (their website is https://www.jt4llc.com/)

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 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.

Oren Peli 3

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).



E-mail = noriohayakawa@gmail.com

FACEBOOK = https://www.facebook.com/fernandon.hayakawa



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