Area 51

Area 51

Area 51 is a geographical area in Nevada in the United States — also called Dreamland, Watertown, The Ranch, Paradise Ranch, The Farm, The Box, Groom Lake, Area 51 A, Neverland or The Directorate for Development Plans Area — where there is a so-called secret military base, testing among other experimental devices. It is mentioned for the first time on official US documents declassified in August 2013 describing the secret tests of the Lockheed U-2 aircraft.

Area 51 (A)
Country United States
State Nevada
Coordinates 37° 14′ 06″ North, 115° 48′ 40″ W
Altitude 1,360 m
Aeronautical information
Manager United States Air Force
Direction length Surface
14L/32R 3,658 m Asphalt
12/30 1,652 m Asphalt
09L/27 3,489 m Salt
09R/27L 3,489 m Salt
03L/21R 3,057 m Salt
03R/21L 3,057 m Salt

Since 1989, it has been linked to UFO theories. The UFO community frequently takes it up to develop various conspiracy theories suggesting secret relations between the US Army and extraterrestrials. In this environment, it is known by its English name.


Map showing Area 51, NAFR and NTS
Map showing Area 51, NAFR and NTS

Area 51 is a rectangle of approximately 155 km2 in Lincoln County, Nevada, approximately 100 miles or 160 km northwest of Las Vegas. It is part of the vast (12,140 km2) territory of the USAF of Nellis (Nellis Air Force Range or NAFR). Area 51 consists mainly of the Emigrant Valley, bordered by the Groom and Papoose mountain ranges, to the north and south, respectively; and the Jumbled Hills to the east. Between the two ranges is Groom Lake (37° 16′ 05″ N, 115° 47′ 58″ W), a dry lake bed about 5 km in diameter. On the southwest side of the lake (37° 14′ 00″ N, 115° 49′ 00″ W), there is a military airport with concrete airstrips, one of which, disused, continues on the lake bed, and four dirt runways on the lake itself.

Area 51 has five operational runways. The main one being the 14L/32R, a concrete-surfaced runway 3,650 m long by 60 m wide with an overflow area of 300 m at each end. The second runway, the 12/30, which also serves as a taxiway, is 1,650 m long by 45 m wide. The disused runway is almost 10 km long (six miles). Its surface is concreted over nearly 3,800 m, asphalted over 3,400 m, and 1,600 m and 800 m of asphalt in poor condition at the north and south ends, respectively. There are at least three distinct groups of indicators, suggesting that the runway has never been used for its entire length at once. Currently, only a 2,000 m portion is identified, forming runway 14R/32L. The dirt tracks on the lake bed are in pairs and have a length of up to 3,400 m. They were used during strong headwinds.

A geographical plate of Area 51 in an ancient dried lake. This dried lake served as an emergency runway for NASA's Space Shuttle
A geographical plate of Area 51 in an ancient dried lake. This dried lake served as an emergency runway for NASA’s Space Shuttle

To the west of the runways are numerous hangars that can accommodate aircraft of various sizes, workshops, the Janet aircraft terminal, dormitories that can accommodate more than 1,000 people, a gymnasium with swimming pool, a cafeteria, various administrative buildings and even a baseball field. At the southern end of the base, there is a quarry to manufacture on-site concrete for runway repairs and the construction of new buildings. Further south are bunkers where armaments are stored. At the northern end of the base, on the shores of the dry lake, is an array of radar antennas of various models. A little northwest of the baseball field are the trenches, now backfilled, where garbage was once burned.

Area 51 shares its western rim with the Yucca Flats Zone of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the place where the U.S. Department of Energy conducted much of its nuclear testing in 1951. The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository is approximately 65 km southwest of Groom Lake.

The area is connected to the NTS road network, with one or more paved, paved or asphalted roads to the village of Mercury and the Yucca Flats on the northwest side. On the northeast shore of the lake, Groom Lake Road, a dirt road in good condition, winds through the Jumbled Hills. Groom Lake Road is the old road that led to the mines in the Groom Range.

It has been improved since the closure of the mines. Its tortuous course passes through a gatehouse, but the security perimeter surrounding the base extends one kilometer further east. After the boundary of the restricted perimeter, marked by several warning signs that indicate that ” all photography is prohibited ” and that “the use of force that could result in death is permitted”, Groom Lake Road descends to the Tikaboo Valley, passing the entrance to several small ranches before joining Route 375. named the Extraterrestrial Highway , south of Rachel’s village.

Creation of Area 51

The creation of Area 51 was initiated by Richard M. Bissell Jr., a CIA officer who was then responsible for overseeing the development of U-2 spy planes, and was looking for an ideal site for test flights and pilot training. He first spotted the area during an aerial reconnaissance mission over Nevada in April 1955, along with a representative of the U.S. Air Force and two others. The four men landed that day near an old abandoned runway on the edge of Groom Lake, not far from the Nevada nuclear test site. Richard Bissell then asked Admiral Lewis Strauss, who chaired the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), to acquire the land, which he did easily. President Eisenhower also approved the addition of this desert land, known by its Area 51 mapping designation, to the Nevada test site.

Operations at Groom Lake

Groom Lake is not a conventional base and front-line squadrons are not usually deployed there. Rather, it appears to be used for the development and testing of new devices. When these are accepted by the USAF, their operation is usually transferred to a conventional military base. Groom Lake would also be the permanent residence of a small number of aircraft of Soviet origin obtained by various means that are supposed to be studied and used for the training of American pilots.

Soviet satellites photographed Area 51 during the Cold War, but these images allow only modest conclusions about the base. More recent images obtained by commercial satellites show that the base has gained in surface, but show nothing exceptional.

Senior Year / U-2 Program

A Lockheed U-2
A Lockheed U-2

Groom Lake was used for artillery and bombing practices during World War II and was then abandoned until 1955, when it was selected by Lockheed’s Skunk Works Division as the ideal location to test its future U-2 spy plane. The dry lake bed was an ideal runway to operate the aircraft in its early days and the mountain ranges of the Emigrant Valley and the security perimeter surrounding the NTS made it possible to carry out these tests away from curious eyes.

Lockheed built a base at Groom Lake that was little more than a few shelters and workshops with a constellation of mobile homes to house the small team working there. The first U-2 flew over Groom Lake in August 1955, and CIA-controlled U-2s began flying over Soviet territory in mid-1956.

At that time, NTS nuclear tests were still conducted in the open. U-2 operations were often interrupted in 1957 by the Plumbbob series of atomic tests that detonated two dozen bombs on the NTS. The Plumbbob-Hood explosion on July 5 spread radioactive debris over Groom Lake and forced its temporary evacuation.

As the main mission of the U-2 aircraft was to fly over the USSR, it subsequently operated primarily from bases near the Soviet border, including Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and Peshawar in Pakistan.

OXCART / A-12 / SR-71 / D-21 Program

Lockheed SR-71 blackbird
Lockheed SR-71 blackbird

Even before the development of the U-2 was completed, Lockheed engineers began work on its successor: the CIA’s “OXCART” project, a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that could spin at Mach 3 and that would lead to the famous SR-71 Blackbird (“Senior Crown” project). The USAF was also leading a project to develop a fighter (YF-12 A project, abandoned) and a bomber (never realized) based on the same prototype. The SR-71’s flight characteristics and maintenance requirements required a massive expansion of the Groom Lake complex.

The prototype of the A-12 made its first official flight on April 30, 1962, after a first unofficial test 4 days earlier. By this time, the main runway had been extended to 2,600 m, and the base now staffed over 1,000. There were tanks to store special fuel for this aircraft, a control tower, and even a baseball field. Security had also been greatly improved. The small iron mine in the Groom Basin was closed and the territory around the valley was classified for exclusive military use. Groom Lake saw the first flights of all the major variants of the program: the A-12, the RS-71 (renamed SR-71 by Air Force Commander-in-Chief Curtis LeMay), the prototype YF-12 A fighter as well as the “Senior Bowl” project of supersonic drone D-21 Tagboard which was to be launched from the rear of a modified A-12 or B-52.

Have Drill / Have Ferry / Have Doughnut Program (MiG-17F / MiG-21)

A MiG-21
A MiG-21

At the end of the Korean War a North Korean pilot deserted and surrendered to the Americans. His aircraft, a MiG-15, was designed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Following the success of this enterprise, and again facing these Soviet aircraft during the Vietnam War, the United States decided to obtain copies of the aircraft used by pilots in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in order to find their weak points and to perfect the training of American pilots who had to face them.

In 1968, the United States borrowed a MiG-21 of Iraqi origin from Israel as part of the “Have Doughnut” project. In 1969, it was the turn of two MiG-17F fighters of Syrian origin to be studied. One of them was called Project “Have Drill”, and the other, Project “Have Ferry”. The three aircraft were studied at Groom Lake and returned to the Israeli Air Force at the end of the exercises.

Have Blue / Senior Trend / F-117 Program

A Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk
A Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk

The first prototype Have Blue stealth fighter, a small cousin of the F-117 Nighthawk, flew at Groom Lake in late 1977. Testing of this top-secret series of prototypes took place there until mid-1981, when testing gave way to the initial production of F-117 fighters. In addition to flight tests, the Groom Lake complex was used to verify the aircraft’s radar profile, weapons testing of the F-117 and training of the first group of F-117 pilots of the U.S. Air Force. Subsequently, F-117 in-service operations were moved to the Tonopah Test Range complex located in northwest NAFR (37° 47′ 51″ N, 116° 47′ 00″ W) and finally to the military base in Holloman, New Mexico.

Subsequent Programs

Since the F-117 entered service, operations at Groom Lake have continued unabated. The base and runways have been expanded, and daily flights from Las Vegas carrying civilian personnel continue to operate. Some analysts say that according to recent satellite photos, the base has a staff living there of about 1,000 people with as many traveling from Las Vegas every day. In 1995, the U.S. government expanded the exclusion perimeter around the base to include adjacent peaks that allowed the curious to have a view of the base. Since then, limited visibility of the complex is only possible from a few distant peaks, particularly Mount Tikaboo (37° 20′ 40″ N, 115° 21′ 32″ W), about 42 km to the east.

Some rumors speculate that the aircraft tested at Groom Lake would include some secret drones, a small stealth vertical take-off and landing troop carrier, stealth cruise missiles, as well as the hypothetical Aurora hypersonic aircraft. Some also say that the Tacit Blue stealth demonstration aircraft was also initially tested at Groom Lake.

Employees of Zone 51

Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, Inc., now known as EG&G, operates from a private terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. A number of unidentified aircraft commute daily between McCarran and various locations within NAFR.

These devices would use the Janet radio call (e.g. JANET 6), which would be an acronym for “Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation” or, perhaps, jokingly, “Just Another Non-Existent Terminal”.

According to ads that the EG&G places in Las Vegas newspapers to recruit airline pilots with experience, those must undergo a government security screening and if chosen, they can always return to sleep in Las Vegas.

These planes, painted white with a red stripe (colors of Western Airlines, now defunct), include Boeing 737s and several small private jets. It should be noted that these aircraft have no distinctive number, unlike most passenger aircraft. According to their registration number, they belong to various civil aircraft leasing companies. They would link to Groom Lake, Tonopah Test Range, other locations in NAFR and possibly to bases in Palmdale and China Lake in California.

Observers who counted departures and cars in the EG&G parking lot in McCarran estimate that more than 1,000 people use JANET flights each day.

For the few employees living in the villages surrounding NAFR, a white-painted bus runs along Highway 375 and Groom Lake Road. No one knows if these people are employees of Area 51 or other NTS facilities. The bus stops in the villages of Crystal Springs, Ash Springs, and Alamo.

The Government’s Position on Area 51

A letter from the USAF responding to a request regarding Area 51
A letter from the USAF responding to a request regarding Area 51
Safety towers on the mountains surrounding Area 51.
There are many safety towers on the mountains that surround Area 51. It is also possible to observe security vehicles constantly monitoring the many entrances to the base.

The U.S. government acknowledges the existence of the Groom Lake complex, but does not comment on what is done there. Unlike the rest of NAFR, the area surrounding Groom Lake is permanently off-limits to scheduled civilian and military air traffic. Even Air Force pilots training in NAFR are severely reprimanded if they venture into the “box” named R4808E surrounding Groom Lake airspace.

Perimeter ground security is provided by uniformed guards employed by EG&G who patrol in white Jeep Cherokee pickups or sand-colored Ford or Chevrolet pickups. The uniform of the guards earned them the nickname “camo dudes” (camouflaged guys). Although the guards are armed with M-16 assault rifles and are allowed to use them, no violent incidents have been reported; Camo Dudes usually simply escort visitors out of the perimeter and wait for the Lincoln County Sheriff to fine them about $600. Some later received visits from FBI agents; others were detained outside the perimeter for simply pointing their cameras at the base. The guards are assisted in their task by motion detectors and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.

The base does not appear on any official U.S. government map; the topological map of the area mentions only the abandoned Groom Mountains mine, and civil aviation maps for the state of Nevada show a large limited space, but include it in Nellis restricted airspace. Similarly, the National Atlas page showing federal lands in Nevada does not distinguish between the Groom Lake base and the rest of NAFR’s facilities. Before being made public, the images taken by the Corona satellite in the 1960s were altered.

In response to requests from the public under the Access to Information Act, the government responded that these photographs appeared to have been destroyed. Images taken by the Terra satellite, which were available to the general public, were removed from web servers, including Microsoft’s service, in 2004. The images taken by the Landsat 7 satellite are still available and these are the ones used by the Google Maps program. Images from non-NASA sources, such as high-resolution Russian and IKONOS commercial images, are also available.

One of the signs on Route 375
One of the signs on Route 375

Some commercial software that allows pilots to make their flight plans lists the coordinates of the runways at Groom Lake Base as Homey, Nevada, but does not specify the content.

The Nevada state government, recognizing the tourism potential, has renamed the section of Route 375 near Rachel’s village “Extraterrestrial highway”.

While federal properties within the base are exempt from taxes, privately owned facilities are not. One researcher noted that the base only declared a value of $2 million to the Lincoln County tax collector, who is unable to make the valuation, not having the necessary credentials to go to the site. Several county residents complained that the base was an unfair burden on the county, given the high costs of police surveillance required and the few jobs provided to county residents — with the majority of Area 51 employees coming from Las Vegas.

On August 15, 2013, a top-secret 400-page document, made by two CIA historians to trace the history of the base, is declassified at the request of an interested historian. which formalizes for the first time, indirectly, the existence of Area 51 in Nevada.

Environmental litigation

In 1994, the wives of Walter Kasza and Robert Frost, who had been married to civilian employees of the military, along with five other anonymous employees represented by George Washington University law professor Johnathan Turley, filed a lawsuit against the USAF and the Environmental Protection Agency. In their lawsuit, they alleged that they were present when large quantities of chemicals were burned in open trenches at the Groom Lake site. Pathological analyses of samples taken from the plaintiffs were performed by biochemists at Rutgers University and high levels of dioxin, dibenzofuran and trichloroethylene were detected in their body fat.

The plaintiffs alleged that they suffered skin, liver and respiratory damage as a result of their work at Groom Lake and that these contributed to the deaths of Messrs. Frost and Kasza. The lawsuit sought compensation for the injuries, alleging that the USAF illegally handled toxic materials and that the EPA failed to enforce the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (which governs the use of hazardous materials). They also wanted detailed information about the products to which they had been exposed, hoping to obtain more adequate treatments for those who were still alive.

The government has asked Las Vegas Court Judge Philip Pro for an exemption from having to file protected documents or forcing witnesses to reveal secret information, which could threaten national security. When Judge Pro rejected the government’s argument, U.S. President Clinton issued an executive order exempting “the Air Force’s Operating Location Near Groom Lake, Nevada” from disclosure clauses in environmental laws. As a result, the judge had to dismiss the case for lack of evidence. Professor Turley appealed this decision, claiming that the government had abused its power to classify protected material. Air Force Secretary Shiela E. Widnall filed a document alleging that revealing elements in the air and water in the vicinity of Groom Lake “could reveal the nature and extent of the protected activities.” The Court of Appeal dismissed Professor Turley’s application. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case, taking away any hope for the victims.

The President continues to renew the Groom Lake Exemption Order annually. This is the only formal, albeit indirect, recognition that the Groom Lake facility does not serve the same purpose as the rest of NAFR’s facilities.

In August 2013, the area is mentioned for the first time on declassified official U.S. documents describing the secret tests of the Lockheed U-2 aircraft, whose test base is located in Area 51.

The Skylab incident of 1974

A 1974 memo written by CIA Director William Colby to another CIA administrator reports that, as part of a larger program, astronauts aboard Skylab 4 had inadvertently photographed a location they shouldn’t have (“There were specific instructions not to do this. <CENSORED> was the only location which had such an instruction.»). According to journalist Dwayne Day, the context of the note suggests that it is indeed Groom Lake.

The memo demonstrates the debate among several federal agencies regarding the status of these photos; the Department of Defense, on the one hand, wanting the photos to be classified top-secret, and NASA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the other, not wanting it. The purpose of the note itself was whether it was legal to classify images obtained by a program that was not.

A handwritten remark on the document, probably written by Director Colby himself:

“He raised it. Saying that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a specific opinion on this, but that it was tempted to let me decide. I wonder if we need to protect them because:

  1. The USSR already has them thanks to their own satellites;
  2. What is revealed?
  3. If it’s revealed, why isn’t it just said that the USAF is working on it? »

The memo does not say what happened to these photos, but they are not, along with the other photos in Skylab 4, in the National Archives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

UFOs and other conspiracy theories about Area 51

The connection of Area 51 with secret aeronautical research programs as well as some reports of unusual phenomena have brought Area 51 to the center of modern UFO folklore and conspiracy theories. Some of the alleged activities include:

  • that this base would belong to the CIA’s Directorate of Science & Technology, to the Air Force Research Laboratory, to the secret design offices of companies such as Lockheed Martin, the American aeronautics company that created stealth aircraft such as the F-22 or the F-117 Nighthawk (via its secret/special projects division Skunk Works), or Boeing Phantom Works;
  • the storage and study of extraterrestrial devices (including material recovered from Roswell), the study of their crew (living or dead), and the manufacture of devices based on extraterrestrial technology;
  • the development of energy weapons (for the Strategic Defence Initiative or other) or meteorological control instruments;
  • meetings or collusion with extraterrestrials;
  • the various activities related to a secret world government.

Many of these theories involve underground facilities at or near Groom Lake. Most of the facilities would be underground and some hangars would house giant freight elevators. In 1989, Bob Lazar claimed to have worked at Papoose Lake on the propulsion systems of a flying saucer owned by the U.S. government in a complex he named S-4.

Another theory is that the Apollo program is a hoax and that Area 51 is where the 1969 moon landing was filmed. This theory appears to be based on Russian satellite photos that show that portions of Area 51 and the NTS resemble the surface of the Moon. In 2000, the American television network FOX broadcast a report on this subject and declared that this assumption was false.

Still others claim that during the 1990s, the most secret work done at Groom was moved to other locations including Dugway Proving Ground near Salt Lake City, Utah or in Area 6113 a military zone believed to be located in Alaska and that the secrecy that continues to surround Area 51 would only be maintained to mislead the curious.

In the early 2000s, one of the world’s most skilled hackers, Gary McKinnon supporting these theories, infiltrated a hundred computers from NASA and several military services in an attempt to steal evidence. He claims to have got his hands on documents relating to the possession of an infinite source of energy, discovered thanks to extraterrestrial spaceships.

However, it appears from a report drawn up by the CIA between 1954 and 1974 and now declassified that the number of UFO sightings recorded in the area increased very significantly at the time when the tests of the U-2 spy plane began. The latter flew at an altitude of twenty thousand meters or more while commercial aircraft of the time did not exceed the altitude of six thousand meters, which may have misled observers in flight or on the ground. The U-2 program being confidential at the time no one could explain to the witnesses what they had seen.

Area 51 in popular culture

Films and television series

  • The X-Files: On the Edge of the Real (1993–2002): Area 51 is a recurring plot element of various episodes of the series. In episodes 4 and 5 of season 6, titled Area 51, FBI agent Fox Mulder learns of the existence of a secret base containing alien technology for 50 years. He decides to go there to find evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials. Accompanied by Agent Dana Scully, they are intercepted by soldiers, and their leader, Morris Fletcher, who orders them to leave. At this moment, a mysterious spacecraft flies over them and reverses the identities of Mulder and Fletcher. Mulder ends up in Fletcher’s body, and Fletcher in Mulder’s.
  • Kalifornia (1993): On their way to California, Early and Carrie enter the Dreamland area during a tornado and take refuge in a nuclear test house filled with dummies.
  • Roswell, the Conspiracy, episode 24 (1999): This episode is called “The Mystery of Sector 51”.
  • Zoom: The Academy of Superheroes is a 2006 American drama film directed by Peter Hewitt.
  • The Hill Has Eyes (2007), a 1977 remake.
  • National Treasure 2: the Book of Secrets (2008)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
  • Independence Day (1996): Area 51 is depicted as a top-secret base used to house research on an alien race. It is home to the damaged ship of the Roswell affair. It should be noted that even the President of the United States and the Chief of Staff, in this film, are unaware of its existence, all the work that takes place there being managed by the Secretary of Defense alone. The latter ends, in Air Force One , which has just left Washington, destroyed by extraterrestrials, by revealing to President Whitmore the existence of this secret base. This is where Air Force One actually goes to allow the President to coordinate resistance to the alien invasion. Faced with the extraordinary technological quality of the gigantic underground complex that is really Area 51, President Whitmore rages at his Secretary of Defense by asking him where the funds, obviously staggering, that have financed all this for decades come from. His minister prefers not to answer.
  • Fast Lane to Vegas (erotic TV movie released in 2000): On the road to Las Vegas, Brian and Zack meet aliens.
  • Stargate SG-1: Area 51 is used to store and analyze technologies from other planets, brought back by SG teams using the Stargate. The GSC itself is referred to as “Area 52”.
  • Smallville: a secret complex where Lex Luthor and then Tess Mercer experiment on human guinea pigs.
  • Paul (2011): by Greg Mottola, starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jason Bateman. Two nerds embark on a road trip in Area 51 where they meet Paul, an alien.
  • Doctor Who (2011): The doctor is imprisoned by the CIA in a hangar in Area 51, in the second episode of season 6.
  • The Looney Tunes take action (2003).
  • Futurama: We learn that the ship and the alien are nothing but the body of Bender and Doctor Zoidberg.
  • Sonic X: In episode 3 of season 1, Sonic goes to a military base resembling Area 51 to rescue Cream and Chesse, but the base is called “Area 99”.
  • American Dad! (2012): The family’s alien, Roger, is rescued by Stan and evacuated from Area 51.
  • Extreme Challenges: The World Tour (2010-2011) During episode 15: Les bleus de l’espace, Louis Mercier lands our candidates in the middle of Area 51 where they must find elements of extraterrestrial origin.
  • Transformers 2: Revenge (2009, Michael Bay): The Cube.
  • Malcolm (TV series): In one of the episodes set in Las Vegas, Hal, Malcolm and Reese, are arrested after entering a military forbidden zone, in the middle of the desert, strongly resembling said Area 51.
  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012, Kathryn Bigelow): Area 51 is a military vessel where stealth helicopters are designed as part of Operation Neptune’s Spear.
  • The Last Invasion (2013, David Flores): This film, similar to Independence Day, is about Area 51.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode “The Fatal Bus“, Lisa gets lost and ends up in Area 51, where a soldier clarifies that it’s actually Area 51-A, and a map says, “You’re here, not us.”
  • The Signal (2014): The main characters think they are in Area 51.
  • Archer: In episode 7, Nellis, of season 6 aired in 2015. Cheryl Tunt’s plane gets too close to the base, is hit by a missile and makes an emergency landing on the base. Subsequently, Pam and Krieger meet 2 aliens, and at the end, we see a flying saucer.
  • Scorpio (2016): Episode 8 of season 2 is called Area 51.
  • TF1 Series Films (2018): Area 51 appears in one of the advertising jingles.
  • Area 51 (2015): Three curious teenagers enter the mysterious Area 51.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens, which tells the story of monsters hidden in the base.
  • Godzilla (2014), the second MUTO escapes before destroying Las Vegas.
  • Code Lyoko, in episode 81 (An Eye for an Eye), Aelita makes a reference to Area 51 when she is in a military base.

Video games

  • Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding: Area 51 is the location of the game’s third and final level of competition, called Roswell.
  • Half-Life: Area 51 largely inspired the Black Mesa Research Center, the main location of the adventure.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Area 51 is depicted in this video game, along with the surrounding locations. But its name was changed to “Area 69”.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: a military base called “Fort Zancudo” looks almost like Area 51, higher in the clouds just above the base, there is a UFO that can be seen very closely with a flying vehicle.
  • Tomb Raider 3: Area 51 and its interior represent two levels of this video game. The heroine, Lara Croft, also finds in these levels aliens and rockets.
  • Flight Simulator X: One mission is to replicate a Janet flight in a Boeing 737 (white with a red stripe), to reach Area 51 from McCarran Intl Airport in Las Vegas. UFOs can be seen upon arrival at the airport in Area 51.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops: Area 51 is represented in the multiplayer map “hangar-18”, which features SR-71s, aliens and other experiences. It is also present on the zombie map Moon.
  • Perfect Dark (2000): Area 51 is depicted in this video game; Part of the game’s story is to infiltrate it to rescue an alien.
  • Deus Ex: Area 51 is the last mission of the game, which contains the Helios system – based in its concept on the real Echelon program. The base contains aliens, named the Grays.
  • Duke Nukem 3D: Area 51 is represented in a bonus level, where we discover a number of elements of science fiction folklore: teleporters, autopsies on aliens, alien ship, etc.
  • World of Warcraft: A place is called “Area 52” and is located in Raz-de-Néant. She is watched over by goblins dressed in black tuxedos.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Level 28 is called Area 51. There is a race against flying saucers.
  • Destroy All Humans!: a location in the game is called “Area 42”; the player must destroy a UFO recovered by the military and then destroy the base using an experimental atomic weapon.
  • The Sims 2: In the PSP version of the game, Area 51 is represented as a game area.
  • Area 51: A video game featuring the “mysteries of Area 51” and portraying it as a research complex whose goal is to create a spaceship and various advanced weaponry based on alien technologies.
  • Champions Online: An area in the desert is called “Area 51,” a military complex studying an alien ship near a crash site.
  • SimCity 4: Area 51 is represented as a building to be built, you can control from this building a supersonic fighter, and an alien ship.
  • Social War: Area 51 is represented by a research center allowing various improvements. A second research center allowing another series of constructions is also present.
  • Redneck Rampage Rides Again: The first level takes place in Area 51 (renamed Area 69 by clones and aliens) and inside the complex we discover a strategic command center and a flying saucer marked CCCP in the colors of the Soviet Union.
  • DC Universe Online: Area 51 appears in this game. It is an instance in which the base is invaded by Brainiac’s alien minions.
  • Digital Combat Simulator 2.0: The Groom Lake base is present in the flight zone of the Nevada map.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: Nellis Air Force Base can refer to Area 51 by its protected access and the presence of aircraft, hangars and its xenophobic and secret inhabitants.
  • The Escapists 2: The prison “area 17” refers to area 51. It is one of the best-guarded prisons in the game.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and its remake: At one of the locations in the Stella Plateau is a sign that tells Mario and Luigi that they are currently in Area 51 of the said celestial border. This reference is except in the English and Dutch versions.


  • Groom Lake, comic strip by Hervé Richez and Jean-Jacques Dzialowski published by Bamboo, in the Grand Angle collection; Area 51 is the scene of experiments on human guinea pigs.
  • The Aggressors, an episode of the comic book Buck Danny de Charlier where the heroes train at the base of Nellis in Nevada as part of the Red Flag program. One of the protagonists hijacks his plane and flies over Area 51 where top-secret military aeronautical prototypes are tested.
  • The Mars Hare, the hero goes to Area 51.
  • The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk, Volume 23, page 21; a dwarf utters this sentence, following the success of the expedition of the proud of the axe: “Father! You won’t believe me, but the surfaciens have cleared Area 51!”.


  • The future will no longer be what it was, novel by Yann Quero published in 2010, in which a group of Americans go in search of the saucer of Roswell and discover traces in Area 51.
  • The Book of the Dead, a novel by Glenn Cooper, in which the main character works on the security of the archives of Area 51.


  • DJ Hardwell titled a song Area 51, in collaboration with DallasK, on his album United We Are;
  • DJ PhaseOne titled a song Area 51, in collaboration with F3tch;
  • The American thrash metal band Megadeth titled one of their songs Hangar 18 on the album Rust in Peace;
  • The band Tool mentions Area 51 in more than one song, including Rosetta Stoned from the album titled 10,000 Days;
  • Area 51 is the theme of the Pixies song The Happening, on the album Bossanova.
  • Metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen titled one of his songs Hangar 18, area 51 on the album Alchemy;
  • The American trailer music production company Two Steps from Hell titled one of its songs Area 51, in the album Nero;
  • The Casseurs Flowters use the term “zone 51” in the song Manger c’est cheather;
  • DJ Burnedd titled a song Area 51 (Jump up);
  • The band Hilight Tribe titled a song Area 51 on the album Trancelucid.
  • The band Columbine titled a song Zone 51, on their album Clubbing for Columbine.

Documentary films

  • Dreamland Zone 51, UFOs in the desert“, American-British documentary by Bruce Burgess, 1997.
  • Is Area 51 a secret space base?“, American documentary (Collection Secret et mystère du monde) by David W. Balsiger and Gail Fallen, 2000.
  • Area 51, Nevada, USA“, Russian-American documentary by De Dirk Pohlmann, 2008.
  • Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura”, documentary hosted by Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, who investigates alleged conspiracies involving the US government (documentary series 2009-2012).
  • Inside: Area 51“, American documentary by Peter Yost for National Geographic Channel, 2010.

References (sources)