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1. Part of Alien Hype From the Beginning
It’s easy to think associating Area 51 with aliens is something that happened later. For example, many people didn’t know about the existence of Area 51 until the movie Independence Day. But it wasn’t Hollywood that made people link aliens and Area 51. It was the United States government (by accident, of course).
Back in 1954, President Eisenhower wanted an area in which to conduct aerial reconnaissance tests and secretly store the planes. And what would become Area 51 was built as part of an already-secret base used to test nuclear weapons.
Long story short? Secrecy, the CIA, and a mysterious hidden base were part of Area 51 from the very beginning. And it was likely testing out the planes that led to early alien associations (more on this later).
2. Secrecy Builds Hype
Sometimes, conspiracy theories are more like self-fulfilling prophecies. And this is certainly something that happened with Area 51!
Like most secret military bases, Area 51 is completely off-limit to civilians. These days (especially in the age of Google Maps), people know exactly where the base is located. And on one memorable occasion, insane internet people met up there, leading to a viral video of a kid doing the Naruto run while news cameras were running.
Still, that would-be ninja only saw the outside of Area 51. No civilian has ever seen the inside of it. So, even as rumors swirl that the base is filled with aliens and alien technology, no non-military personnel have been allowed in to confirm or deny what had happened.
3. Accidental Alien Associations
Remember when we said that Area 51 began as a way to further America’s overhead surveillance efforts? Well, that never actually stopped. Over the years, it was engineers at Area 51 that built cool technology like the SR-71 Blackbird. These days, the base and surrounding land are still used to fly countless drones and spy planes each day.
The engineers making these planes and drones are charged with making them almost impossible to detect. But the end result is that mysterious lights and craft have been sighted around the base and throughout Nevada for years. Sorry, alien lovers: the most likely explanation for all UFO sightings (including the footage the military recently released) is that these are human spy planes or drones more advanced than what the average person is familiar with.
4. A whistleblower goes public
As we noted, Area 51 has been associated with aliens almost from the beginning by creating the technology often mistaken for intergalactic aircraft. However, most people wouldn’t know Area 51 by name if not for one person: Bob Lazar.
In 1989, Lazar gave an interview with the Las Vegas news station KLAS. In this interview, he claimed that Area 51 existed to help capture and reverse-engineer alien technology. And this mainstream interview provided fuel to the fire of experts and hobbyists that had been speculating about such secret desert bases for years.
It’s worth noting that many believe Bob Lazar, others claim he is an untrustworthy source, claiming that many details about his own life have been fabricated. Still, his interview ignited an interest and passion in aliens and Area 51 that never fully went away.
5. Endless Multimedia Appearances
After that 1989 interview, the truth didn’t really matter anymore. The idea of the military having a secret base filled with aliens and alien technology was too cool to ignore. And that’s why we started getting endless Area 51 appearances in multimedia.
On the big screen, everything from Independence Day to Indiana Jones treated Area 51 as all about aliens. On the small screen, shows like X-Files and Roswell helped to normalize alien assumptions about this base. And we even had video games such as the Area 51 series that encouraged gamers to blow away alien threats with some good, old-fashioned human weaponry.
At this point, the cat’s out of the bag. Those who didn’t listen to early conspiracies and didn’t hear the Lazar interview nonetheless grew up in a world saturated by Area 51 multimedia. Now, accurate or not, this real base will always be associated with aliens that may or may not be real.