Area 51

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Area 51,

name for a U.S. military site, S Nev., c.80 mi (130 km) NNW of Las Vegas. Shrouded in secrecy since the mid-20th cent., it is located within the U.S. Air Force's enormous Nevada Test and Training Range and has long been used for research and development of secret experimental aircraft and weapons systems. A portion of Area 51 has been used for testing of nuclear weaponry since the Manhattan ProjectManhattan Project,
the wartime effort to design and build the first nuclear weapons (atomic bombs). With the discovery of fission in 1939, it became clear to scientists that certain radioactive materials could be used to make a bomb of unprecented power. U.S.
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, and the base was of particular strategic importance during the cold warcold war,
term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc from the end of World War II until 1989. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and
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. The secretive nature of the installation and its flights of odd-looking experimental aircraft have undoubtedly contributed to Area 51's association with UFO sightings and a variety of theories involving aliens and other extraterrestrial phenomena.


See A. Jacobsen, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base (2011).

References in periodicals archive ?
Area 51 Black Jets: A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, America's Secret Aviation Base.
40 Ascot Officially known as Groom Lake or Homey Airport, Area 51 is a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base in southern Nevada.
Groom Lake in an area popularly known as Area 51 in Nevada.
The CIA history released Thursday not only refers to Area 51 by name and describes some of the aviation activities that took place there, but locates the Air Force base on a map, along the dry Groom Lake bed.
A simple linedrawn plan finally confirms the location on Groom Lake salt flat.
A line-drawn plan confirms the location on Groom Lake salt flat.
Publicly released online on Thursday by the university's National Security Archive, the 400-page CIA history contains the first deliberate official references to Area 51, also known as Groom Lake, as a site developed by the intelligence agency in the 1950s to test fly the high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane.
Officials also had referred to a location "near Groom Lake.
The report reveals that the site by Groom Lake was acquired by the government in 1955, with the purchase order personally signed by president Dwight D Eisenhower.
According to the New York Daily News, the documents obtained by George Washington University's National Security Archive confirm that Area 51 exists as a small rectangular area in southern Nevada, adjacent to a salt flat known as Groom Lake.
Included in the tour is a detailed look at the Groom Lake Air Force Base, the Papoose Dry Lake Area with its hidden underground facility entrance, several unidentified research facilities and airfields, "ground zero" where six decades of nuclear testing has left its mark, and countless roads that seem to lead nowhere in particular.
The mystique that supports the highway designation centers on Groom Lake, a dry lake bed in the Emigrant Valley 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas.