Secrets of Area 51: Beginnings, Bob Lazar, facts and fantasies

Area 51
Area 51 dossier

MYSTERY WIRE — There’s no telling what’s next at Area 51. For a place that’s in the middle of nowhere, the secret base has already recorded an unbelievable history.

But it’s the untold secrets that hold so much promise for the greatest story in human history.

The Area 51 dossier

For decades, the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada, survived on the grit of its residents, living a testy co-existence with the Big Secret across State Route 375. Locals shared a cup of coffee or a beer with the CIA, Air Force and the “Camo Dudes” who patrolled the desert for reasons unknown.

During the ’50s and ’60s, spectacular aircraft — the U-2 spy plane, the A-12 and the SR-71 Blackbird — made appearances in the skies, and people started to notice.

As the years passed, the base grew — stealing land and telling anyone who asked that “Area 51” didn’t even exist. That pattern doomed the chance for the quiet co-existence.

A land grab in 1984 drew the spotlight to the secret base, and five years later, a shadowy worker hiding behind the name “Dennis” announced a secret that no one had expected: There were nine “flying disks” stored at a place called “S-4,” and the government was trying to learn how they worked — and maybe flying them around. The secrets revealed in Bob Lazar’s interview with George Knapp were at the center of a 1989 special, “UFOs: The Best Evidence,” and years of coverage since then.

The world was first introduced to the story of flying disks and alien technology at Area S-4 by Bob Lazar in a 1989 interview with George Knapp of KLAS TV.

Instantly, Rachel had a tourism economy, and the town cafe rebranded itself the “Little A’Le’Inn.” The community built business around what the base provided: a steady stream of people who wanted a glimpse of secret planes, or maybe strange lights in the sky.

The rumors grew, and the security around the base held fast.

The information flowing out of Area 51 since has been sparse. Occasional photos, documents and satellite photos pique our interest. Thanks to observers, we have seen much more than the government is ever willing to admit. Here’s the most recent example:

Videos

KLAS-TV’s coverage exposed the secrets of Area 51, starting with Richard Urey’s look at the history of the base and the land grab, to Tom Warden’s reports on Freedom Ridge — an overlook that provided a too much visibility of the secret base, at least in the eyes of government officials. And the stories Lazar told Knapp are on a completely different level, launching an industry of UFO merchandise and even inspiring movies that casual observers often seem to view as non-fiction.

Links to stories

The best of our Area 51 coverage:

All this happened before many Americans jumped on the bandwagon in 2019 when a Facebook post went viral with the suggestion that it was time to “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.”

Matty Roberts of Bakersfield, California, created the storm. It turned into a pair of music festivals and #StormArea51 events in Rachel and nearby Hiko.

Residents railed at the prospect of unwanted crowds, and made it clear that Roberts was not welcome there as the festival neared.

When the dust cleared, #StormArea51 was a fun — relatively small — event that drew about 3,000 people to the area on Sept. 20-21. But staffing security and services for the event cost Lincoln County about $200,000, and barriers to a repeat event went up quickly.

But can you really stop a viral Facebook post?

Timeline

Follow the Area 51 story from the start:

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