Area 51 as Cold-War Espionage: Believable or Conspiracy Theory?

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Area 51 File Photo near Rachel, Nevada

Journalist Annie Jacobsen has shocked even the most devoted conspiracy theorists with claims regarding a U.S. military installation in the Nevada desert, known as Area 51. The base, which is 75 miles north of Las Vegas, has been discussed for decades because of the government’s secrecy regarding what exactly goes on there.

What really crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, was not an alien ship, nor was it a weather balloon as previously speculated by many, according to Jacobsen. In fact, she says, it was a Soviet spy plane. And it was controlled by disfigured adolescents, two of whom survived the crash.

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Jacobsen also claims that Area 51 engineers and pilots reverse-engineered Soviet-made MiG fighter planes and developed drones which were then used to bomb Afghanistan and Pakistan. The U-2 spy plane and its successor, the A-12 “Oxcart,” were developed by the Central Intelligence Agency, Lockheed and the U.S. military, she says. Jacobsen also claims that Apollo astronauts practiced moon-walking in the bomb craters of the testing range.

These events are described in her book, Area 51, An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, and are intertwined with an informative account of Cold War spy planes, weaponry and espionage.

The revelations emerged following a conversation with physicist Edward Lovick during a family dinner in 2007. Lovick is said to have leaned over to her and said, “Have I got a good story for you.” And she was subsequently put in touch with 74 key figures, including scientists, pilots and engineers who had witnessed accounts of Area 51 firsthand, which enabled her to get access to the most obscure documentation.


Her accounts are strong and believable, but many of the documents nonetheless remain classified, meaning that it’s hard to know whether her theory is reliable or just mere speculation.

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