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Area 51

Area 51

Located in the middle of the Nevada desert, Area 51 is the most secret and secluded military zone in the world and is the object of fascination. The place, inhospitable, attracts year-round streams of curious seeking truth about aliens. Beyond the fantasy of enlightened ufologists, what secrets does Area 51 really hides?

Area 51 is a military exclusion zone as there are hundreds in the United States. Established in 1941 on the south shore of Groom Lake, not far from Death Valley (in southern Nevada, northwest of Las Vegas), it initially accommodates only an auxiliary airfield to the Las Vegas Aerodrome for US Army pilots training. The "Indian Springs Airfield Auxiliary No. 1" briefly welcomes the maneuvers of the Las Vegas School of Artillery before it closes after the war. In 1946, the CIA launched the Aquatone project. Initiated during the cold war, this program aimed at the development of a strategic reconnaissance apparatus, the future U-2, can not be implemented on the basis of experimentation already known to Soviet spies and satellites. The choice is on Area 51, a discreet and insensitive site which has the advantage of being located in the middle of the desert. The air base, called "Watertown", had to be temporary; in the space of five years, it became one of the main test and development centers for the US Air Force. After entering the operational service of the U-2, it successively hosts the programs A-12 / SR-71, OXCART, D-21 and F-117. In 1957, the Department for Atomic Energy began a series of nuclear tests in the area near Yucca Flat. The usefulness of Area 51 is not clearly defined by the authorities any more than its existence, which will only be officially recognized by the US government in September 1995. By the culture of secrecy that surrounds it, Watertown arouses from the 1940s up the interest of ufology specialists, a stammering discipline but in full swing.

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The most protected site in the United States

Everything that happens in its compound is systematically classified to the highest degree of defense secrecy. The approximately 1,000 military and non-military employees who work there are transported daily to Las Vegas by a military airline. No movement by land is tolerated. In the vicinity of the field, large signs warn that the security services have the legal authority to shoot at sight on any outside visitor. Inside the base, surveillance is drastic. The military police ensure that employees only have access to the information they need to work. Until recently, the database did not appear on maps issued by the US government, nor on satellite images available on the Internet. In 2006, historian Dwayne A. Day mentions an incident caused in 1974 by the crew of Skylab, the first inhabited orbital station. A memorandum from then CIA Director William Cosby states that the astronauts inadvertently photographed the Groom Lake area, despite clear instructions: Area 51 should not be photographed under any circumstances. Would there be something to hide? This assumption opens the door to many speculations. Are these missile defense experiment (SDI) facilities promised in 1983 by President Reagan? Teleportation and time travel devices? Buildings used to store and study captured UFO’s and their occupants? A meeting place with extraterrestrial civilizations? The most extremists go further: Area 51 would be home to a ghost world government, or even the Majestic 12 organization, a group of scientists, politicians, and military that would have been formed on order of President Truman as a result of the Roswell incident.

The Roswell incident, fantasy or reality?

In the 1970s, a curious case that had already made headlines in 1947 resurfaced. On July 4, 1947, William Brazel, owner of a ranch near Roswell, discovered the site of a crash. The first statement from the military, mentioning a "flying disc", was immediately denied. Subsequently, a second press release and a press conference attempted to provide proof, with photos, that the debris found belonged to a weather balloon. It was not until the late 1970s that extensive investigations developed the thesis of a UFO crash. The first book published on the subject in 1980, signed by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, revolves around the testimony of a retired officer, Jesse Marcel, who was among the first on the scene of the crash. The man says the debris presented at the press conference was nothing like what he saw then and said he was convinced it was a spaceship. In 1992, documents supposed to belong to the archives of the Majestic 12 group appeared in the press. They indicate that eight aliens, including two live, were recovered at the Roswell site. But the documents turned out to be fake. The proliferation of hoaxes and false leads begins to shake the certainties of the most convinced. In 1995, an amateur film revived the affair and gave it a global reputation. Broadcasted everywhere in the world, the document shows the autopsy of a humanoid creature. The world's press is racing; doctors and anthropologists take turns in the media to explain that the organic structure of the body does not correspond to that of any living being on earth. In 2007, the deception is finally unveiled: the film, made with great technical resources, staged a latex mannequin filled with sheep organs ...

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The witnesses of the conspiracy

For ufologists, the reverse is scathing, but a majority of them keep the firm belief that the Groom Lake military base hides an underground science complex, "Sector 4" (S-4). Traces of landings on the dry lake bordering the aerodrome, visible by satellite, would accredit according to them the thesis of a concealed activity. In 1989, Bob Lazar claimed to have worked in S-4, which he locates near Papoose Lake. He certifies to have participated in the examination of a spaceship recovered by the government. In 1996, a documentary, Dreamland, presents the testimony of a mechanical engineer of 71 years old who claims to have worked on the model of a flight of a "flying disk" imitating that of a captured UFO. More surprisingly, he says he was in contact with a humanoid named "J-Rod", described as a "telepathic translator". In 2004, a microbiologist, Dan Crain, states that he aided in the cloning of an extraterrestrial virus in Area 51, in contact with the same "J-Rod". These few sensational testimonies hide the hundreds of opposing versions delivered by the staff of the base. The majority of men in the 509th US Air Force bombing group, based in Roswell, have repeatedly rejected ufologists claims that these stories of "crushed flying saucers" are absurd. Engineers and pilots who have worked on the OXCART spy plane program describe an atypical prototype that is wide and flat to accommodate a large fuel tank. His titanium fuselage reflects the sun's rays, so that in the twilight it could easily conjure up a UFO. It is not surprising, in their opinion, that these aircraft flying mostly at Mach 2 in the Nevada sky were mistaken for alien ships.

Incomplete official explanations

In its 1955 official report on the Roswell incident, the Department of Defense unveils the Mogul military project. It is a network of balloons carrying microphones and radio transmitters capable of detecting nuclear tests and Soviet ballistic missile fire. In 1997, another official document, called the Roswell Report: a closed case confirms the existence of the Mogul project. It also admits the parachuting of dummies during military programs in the 1950s and the experimentation of circular Martian probes in 1966, 1967 and 1972. For the American authorities, the witnesses were victims of "temporal compression"; in other words, they would have associated unusual events but distant from each other in time. The report discredits testimonies about alien corpses, noting that they did not emerge until the late 1970s, more than 30 years after the alleged events. Since the early 2000s, new investigations have consistently concluded that there is no alien presence in Roswell. Many sociologists and psychologists have reinterpreted the case from the perspective of the collective construction of a myth. Nevertheless, recent developments have revived speculation. In 2008, in an interview with Kerrang Radio, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a member of the Apollo 14 lunar mission, said that the Roswell crash took place and that the United States exploited alien technologies. In 2012, a former CIA agent, Chase Brandon, told the Huffington Post newspaper that he had discovered in the archives a secret file on the Roswell incident with photographs attesting to the presence of a "ship that did not come from this planet".

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