Let's get this out of the way: officially, "Area 51" is the common name given to a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base in Southern Nevada acquired by the government in 1955. The CIA pretended that the base - which is most likely a testing ground for experimental aircraft - didn't even exist until July 2013. This, of course, has spawned a ton of Area 51 urban legends.
Now to the fun stuff! Weird stories about Area 51 almost all stem from the belief that the government is most likely hiding UFO technology or aliens at the base. You probably know some Area 51 stories from movies (Independence Day) and TV shows (The X-Files).
The theory goes that because the site is heavily guarded and virtually impenetrable, there must be something to hide beyond just military secrets. Why all the fuss? Creepy stories and legends about Area 51 include theories about Nazi experiments, legends about alien abductions, and all-too-real accounts of deadly chemicals being used on-site. Read on for some of the creepiest tales from Area 51. Vote up the stories that make you rethink that alien-hunting trip you were planning.
A Pilot Says He Saw a Huge Blue-and-Violet Hologram Near Area 51
A former pilot for TWA (Trans World Airlines) known as "Michael D." claims to have seen something eerie in the desert outside of Area 51 in 1988. Air traffic control re-routed his flight from St. Louis to San Francisco for some unknown reason at 1:00 a.m., telling him and his fellow pilot to head north and "await further instructions."
The pilot looked down at the surface of the desert and saw a bizarre hologram appear out of nowhere. It was "blue and violet light crossing at 90-degree angles" to form what looked to him like a three-dimensional Instrument Landing System (ILS), something he had never seen before in all his years as a pilot. It was a column of light "at least five miles high and one-half mile wide across." Then he saw "20-30 firefly type lights flitting around way up high in the sky" that soon began "making hard right-angle turns" and zooming down into the column.
The lights then suddenly disappeared and air traffic control told him to take a new course to San Francisco. He asked his fellow pilot, "Did we just see that?" He answered, "No sir, we did not."
A Former Canadian Government Official Claims to Have Toured Alien Tech at Area 51
Former Canadian Minister of Defense Paul Hellyer says that an "unnamed former Canadian Chief of Emergency Measures" was flown to Area 51 to observe a UFO and "make notes." Allegedly, this unnamed government chief didn't even tell his wife about what he saw. He waited until he was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease to spill the beans to Hellyer. For the record, Hellyer also believes that "80 different species of aliens" are in communication with world leaders, but governments are, of course, covering it all up.
Two Civilian Contractors Died at Area 51 After Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
The widows of civilian contractors Walter Kasza and Robert Frost sued the US Air Force and the EPA in 1994 after their husbands died after working at Area 51. Allegedly, the contractors were present when "unknown" chemicals were burned in open pits and trenches. This lead to skin, liver, and respiratory injuries in five other contractors and later killed Kasza and Frost.
The Washington Post reported that "biopsies showed that [Frost's] tissues were filled with industrial toxins rarely seen in humans." The widows lost the case, thanks in large part to President Clinton making Area 51 (or "The Air Force's Operating Location Near Groom Lake, Nevada") exempt from environmental disclosure laws. Since the government didn't have to reveal the nature of the chemicals, there was insufficient evidence to try the case.
A Humming Sound and a Heavily-Guarded Tent on a Runway Freaked One Security Guard Out
A security guard for a mine near Area 51 named Charlie Arrendale claims he was ordered to "shoot on sight" anything that came near the property for two nights in 1965. Charlie and some other security personnel were bussed to an airstrip and told to guard the perimeter. On the first night, the guards heard a "muted humming sound" for about a half an hour. When the sound stopped, they were bussed out. On the way out, they spotted a circular camouflage tent on a runway "encircled by troops that stood elbow-to-elbow with their backs to the tent." The troops "were all carrying automatic weapons." On night two, the guards heard the same humming sound, but when they left for the night, the tent was gone.
A Former Area 51 Worker Spills the Beans on Live Radio, Gets Cut Off
This is likely just an elaborate hoax, but it's creepy and entertaining nonetheless. In 1997, a guy called in to a radio show called Coast to Coast hosted by Art Bell and claimed that he used to work at Area 51. He said - sounding pretty terrified - that "extra-dimensional beings" have "infiltrated a lot of aspects of the military establishment" and they want to "wipe out" the "major population centers." During the call, the satellite transmission carrying the show was legitimately interrupted, leading many to believe that the government was monitoring the call. The man called back several more times.
Tom DeLonge Says He Heard Alien "Chatter" While Camping Near Area 51
Pop-punk icon Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 has a little-known side project: alien hunter. In an interview with Paper in 2015, DeLonge says he spent a few nights camping near Area 51 to see what the fuss was all about. Here's what happened:
"I woke up right around three a.m. My whole body felt like it had static electricity, and I open my eyes and the fire is still going, and there's a conversation going on outside the tent. It sounded like there were about 20 people there, talking. And instantly my mind goes, OK, they're at our campsite, they're not here to hurt us, they're talking about sh*t, but I can't make out what they're saying. But they're working on something. Then I close my eyes and wake up, and the fire is out and I have about three hours of lost time."
Creepy. DeLonge says that such "chatter" is common in stories of abduction and "contact."
One UFO Hunter Thinks 'Living' Lights Hover Over the Area
UFO hunter/enthusiast Steve Barone thinks this footage shot on April 12, 2016, shows a "spectacular show" of lights near Area 51 that are emanating from something not "100% machine." Barone thinks the lights were communicating with each other: "At times, they almost seem to be capable of thought and seem to communicate with each other through light. Perhaps I should just call them light ships." Skeptics, however, are total buzzkills and insist it's just a "geomagnetic storm."
The Roswell Aliens Might Have Been Tiny Soviets 'Engineered' By a Nazi Fugitive
Los Angeles Times journalist Annie Jacobson has a pretty creepy explanation for the "little gray men" of Area 51. Jacobson says a "firsthand witness" told her that the little gray alien-looking dudes that (allegedly) crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 were actually "child-sized" Soviet pilots from a "human experimentation program" (possibly lead by Nazi fugitive doctor Josef Mengele) made to look like aliens "a la Orson Welles' War of the Worlds." Why would the Soviets dress up "human experiments" and crash them into the desert of the American Southwest? Jacobson says it was meant to be a "warning shot over President Truman's bow" to show that a pre-nuclear Stalin "could compete in the world of black propaganda." If that doesn't make much sense to you, you're not alone.