Area 51 used to - GASP - test secret planes, not flying saucers

Area 51 used to - GASP - test secret planes, not flying saucers

Area 51 used to - GASP - test secret planes, not flying saucers

Bad Astronomy
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April 8 2010 10:22 AM

Area 51 used to - GASP - test secret planes, not flying saucers

ufos_zappingWhen the topic of flying saucers comes up, someone inevitably talks about the government's secret installation in the Nevada desert called Area 51. The base has been public knowledge for a long time, though I suspect a lot of folks heard about it through the movie "Independence Day". The idea is that the alien spaceships that crashed at Roswell New Mexico and other sites were carted off to Area 51, and the technology there examined and reverse engineered to create a lot of modern tech today.

You can just guess what I think of this theory.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


But I'll spell it out: it's nonsense. Yes, Area 51 exists, but the idea that we keep alien tech there is pretty silly. First, all our technology has a clear line of antecedents; the transistor, velcro, smart metals, and so on didn't just pop up ex nihilo as some UFO enthusiasts claim. Second, we have a simpler and more logical line of reasoning here. We know that the military has a black budget to create advanced tech. They don't want our enemies to know what's going on, and the Nevada desert is pretty isolated. When the news came out that a base was out there, of course the government's first line of defense is to deny it. When the rumors and evidence pile up, they admit it exists, but won't say what it's for. Of course they don't! That's kinda the point of it being a secret.

And we know that advanced tech comes from the military; the SR 71 Blackbird is an incredible piece of engineering, and it was designed in the 1960s. Stealth tech can be thought of in a similar way, and it's decades old as well. They are clearly designing amazing stuff at Area 51 and perhaps other locations, and this is exactly the sort of hardware that we need to keep secret. Like it or not, there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall, and this kind of technology helps prevent that from happening.

Weekly World News: Alien cries for McCainJumping from that to harboring aliens and their flying saucers is a wee bit of jump of logic. Of course, I have said for years that I'm sure the government loves the UFO rumors, since it takes the pressure off the real secrets there.

And so it goes: an article in the Statesman corroborates that view. Several Area 51 vets have come out and discussed recently declassified information. My favorite bit is at the very end:

[Area 51 radar specialist] Barnes thinks the Air Force and the CIA didn't mind the stories about alien spacecraft. They helped cover up the real secret planes that were being tested.

Ya think? Anyway, while I may not be happy with everything that supposedly goes on at Area 51, I can be reasonably -- stress the word reasonably -- sure that it involves stuff developed right here on good old planet Earth.

Tip o' the tin foil beanie to James Oberg.