Area 51

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If the US government is not hiding in the Nevada Desert, why could entering it cost you your life?

Around 190 km north-west of Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert, google maps show roads, creeks, mountains, bunkers, buildings and a massive 9.5 km runway across an area the size of Switzerland.

Public access to this zone is forbidden. 'Use of deadly force authorized', warn the signs. Its airspace is the most sacred in the US. This is Nellis Air Force Range and Nuclear Test Site, more commonly known as Area 51 (a name given for one section of the base on old government maps - also known as Groom Lake or Homey Airport). The closest people can get to it is Highway 375 - renamed Extraterrestrial Highway in March 1996.

Founded as a secret base in 1954 so the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation could develop spyplanes for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Area 51 is still home to some of the US's most futuristic projects. The Stealth bomber was tested there with other unconventional aircraft. It has been shrouded in secrecy with the US Air Force (USAF) only admitting it existed in 1994. It represents the cutting edge of US military technology. The only trouble is that the technology is not American. Nor are the technicians. It is claimed that both are from outer space.

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