AREA 51, sometimes referred to as "Dreamland" or "Groom Lake", is a secret military facility located about 90 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada. A block of land 6 miles north-to-south by 10 miles east-to-west, it is bordered by Nellis Air Force Base on the northwest, north, east, and south, and by the Nevada Test Site on the southwest. Although the government will not discuss its existence, many highly classified national defense projects have been conducted at AREA 51 since the 1950s and the airspace around the base is off-limits even to most military pilots. Spy planes such as the U-2, SR-71, YF-12A, and F-117A were developed there, as well as the technology associated with the Strategic Defense Initiative (aka "Star Wars"). AREA 51 is also the approximate location where scientist Robert Lazar claims to have worked for the U.S. government reverse-engineering the propulsion mechanism of a captured alien spacecraft. In the past, there were actually two viewpoints from which the public could legally view this secret facility -- from White Sides and Freedom Ridge -- but the Air Force closed down both locations in 1995. It is still possible to view the base, however, from a distant mountain, Tikaboo Peak. However, it requires a strenuous 1 1/2 hour hike from a remote dirt road to reach this vantage point.
During World War II, U.S. pilots began reporting odd balls of light or shiny metallic spheres that could fly circles around their planes. These UFOs came to be called Foo Fighters. British and German pilots also reported seeing these strange lights, and each side thought that they were some sort of secret weapon developed by the enemy. The phenomenon was never explained.
The earliest known report of a UFO sighting was by Julius Obsequens, a Roman writer, in 100 B.C.. He claimed to have seen "things like ships" in the sky over Italy. Some people also believe that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains a reference to a UFO sighting. The Book of Ezekiel chronicles the period from about 593 B.C. to about 573 B.C., so if this is actually a UFO reference, it would pre-date the sighting by Obsequens.
"I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north -- an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures."
During the solar eclipse of July 11, 1991, Mexico City experienced a wave of UFO sightings. According to hundreds of eyewitnesses, a bright object hovered over Mexico City for almost thirty minutes before, during, and after the eclipse and was videotaped by seventeen people in different parts of the city. The sightings, which began with the eclipse, continued for several years. After the eclipse, it was reported that the Mayan prophecies (specifically the Dresden Codex) had predicted that the total eclipse of July 11, 1991, would usher in two life altering events: earth changes and cosmic awareness in the form of encounters with the "Masters of the Stars". Debunkers, however, have challenged this interpretation of the Dresden Codex, as well as the actual sightings which they suggest were simply the planet Venus which would have appeared unusually bright during the eclipse.
The U.S. Air Force conducted a 22-year investigation, based out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, called Project Blue Book which studied evidence for the existence of UFOs. J. Allen Hynek, Project Blue Book's lead investigator from 1948 to 1969, investigated hundreds of UFO reports each year. The official conclusion of the project was that no evidence of extraterrestrials or extraterrestrial vehicles existed. Critics, however, argue that Project Blue Book was never really intended to be a serious scientific study and that its real purpose was simply public relations. Their mission, according to Robert Goldberg, author of Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America, was to "denounce the UFOs, dismiss the UFOs, debunk the UFOs and anybody who believes in them." And, in fact, Project Blue Book did dismiss sightings by many credible witnesses, including experienced military personnel. Col. Robert Friend, the project's director from 1958 to 1963, has admitted that Blue Book's real purpose was to "re-educate the public regarding UFOs, to take away the aura of mystery." In 1969, the Air Force shut down Project Blue Book, concluding that UFOs were of no "scientific interest". But after more than twenty years on the job and over 12,000 investigations, lead investigator J. Allen Hynek had become a believer. He spent the rest of his life investigating UFO sightings and, in 1973, founded the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago. He served as the center's scientific director until his death in 1986. CUFOS continues Hynek's legacy, to this day, through its serious study and examination of the UFO phenomenon.
In July, 1947, a rancher named Mac Brazel discovered some unusual debris strewn across his land in Roswell, New Mexico. The debris had created a shallow gouge several hundred feet long. Finding that some of the debris seemed to have strange physical properties, Brazel contacted military authorities who sent two intelligence officers to investigate. Brazel's ranch was soon cordoned off, and soldiers arrived to remove the debris. Then, on the morning of July 8, 1947, Col. William Blanchard, the commanding officer at Roswell Army Air Field, issued a press release stating that the wreckage of a "flying disk," as UFOs were then called, had been recovered. This press release was transmitted over the wire services in time to make headlines in more than thirty U.S. afternoon newspapers. Within hours, however, a second press release, this time from General Roger Ramey, Commander of the Eighth Air Force at Fort Worth Army Air Field in Texas, claimed that Col. Blanchard and the officers of the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell had foolishly mistaken the radar reflector of a weather balloon for the wreckage of an UFO. Public interest faded, and Roswell became a part of UFO folklore. But those who knew Col. William Blanchard say that he was not the type to make such an unbelievably stupid mistake, and they may have been right. Blanchard did, after all, go on to become a four-star general and Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Col. Jesse Marcel, one of the intelligence officers Blanchard had originally dispatched to the crash site, was also considered highly competent. In 1979, he went public in a videotaped interview, adamantly insisting that the debris he recovered was no weather balloon. When asked about the strange properties of the debris, he stated that "It wouldn't burn ... that stuff weighs nothing, it's so thin, it isn't any thicker than the tinfoil in a pack of cigarettes. So I tried to bend the stuff. It wouldn't bend. We even tried making a dent in it with a sixteen-pound sledge hammer. And there was still no dent in it." On one small section of debris, he even claims to have seen strange hieroglyphic symbols. But the claims of Glenn Dennis, a young mortician who worked for the Ballard Funeral Home at the time of the crash, make Marcel's statement seem completely mundane. Shortly after the wreckage was recovered, Dennis received several telephone calls from the mortuary officer at the air field inquiring about the availability of small, hermetically sealed caskets. The officer, who questioned Dennis about the best way to preserve bodies that had been exposed to the elements for several days, seemed strangely concerned about altering the chemical composition of the tissue. The next day, Dennis spoke to a friend of his who worked as a nurse at the base. She seemed quite disturbed, and when he pressed her, she told him that she had assisted in the autopsy of several small, non-human bodies! Several of the original participants in the events at Roswell, including Dennis, say that they were threatened by the military and told not to tell anyone what they knew. Mac Brazel, the rancher who discovered the wreckage, was sequestered by the military for almost a week and never spoke about the incident again, even to his family. If the Roswell UFO crash story is true, then the government has had alien technology in their possession since 1947, and many ufologists have suggested that the U.S. military may have successfully reverse-engineered their own UFOs, thus explaining some of the more recent sightings near U.S. military facilities. The government has consistently refused to cooperate with researchers seeking Roswell or UFO-related documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Claims have been made that documents don't exist or can't be released for national security reasons, and the few documents that have been released are so blacked-out as to be totally useless. Even United States Congressman Steven Schiff of Albuquerque, New Mexico, found himself stonewalled by the Defense Department when requesting information regarding the 1947 Roswell incident on behalf of his constituents. Congressman Schiff called the Defense Department's lack of response "astounding" and suggested that, even after all these years, the government may be involved in a cover-up of the true nature of the events that unfolded at Roswell.
In October (some sources say January) 1969, Jimmy Carter observed a UFO in the skies near Leary in southwestern Georgia. This unidentified flying object, which appeared just after dusk, was a single luminous object about 30 degrees above the horizon that Carter estimated to be about 300 to 1000 yards away. Carter and about a dozen other men watched the object for about 10 to 12 minutes as it hovered, changed course several times, and eventually disappeared in the distance. During his 1976 Presidential campaign, Carter told reporters: "It was the darndest thing I've ever seen. It was big, it was very bright, it changed colors, and it was about the size of the moon. We watched it for ten minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One thing's for sure, I'll never make fun of people who say they've seen unidentified objects in the sky. If I become President, I'll make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists." Carter even filed an official report of the incident with NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. While there have been many unsubstantiated rumors of other U.S. Presidents having close encounters with UFOs, none of these have ever been confirmed or officially reported.
MUFON, or the Mutual UFO Network, was founded on May 31, 1969, shortly after the publication of the University of Colorado "Condon Report", as a vehicle to promote the investigation of UFO phenomena. A grass roots organization, it operates as a loose federation of individuals, avoiding strict centralized control in order to encourage initiative and leadership at the local and regional level. State section directors assist field investigators, radio operators, and amateur astronomy groups. In addition, dozens of U.S. scientists and technicians act as consultants on a wide range of specialty subjects, and it is this expertise and experience, at the grass roots level, that sets MUFON apart from other amateur clubs or UFO hobby groups. Every year since 1970, MUFON has held an annual symposium, open to the public, as a means of sharing information.
In November of 1989, Robert Scott Lazar gave a series of interviews to George Knapp on KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, in which he claimed to have worked for the U.S. government reverse engineering an alien spacecraft at a hidden base known as S-4, near AREA 51 or Groom Lake. The spacecraft, which Lazar refers to as the "sport" model, reportedly used a radioactive compound with the atomic number 115 to generate gravitational waves. Lazar suggested that he was going public with the story because he feared for his life, and no one wanting to keep a lid on the project would dare to kill him in the public spotlight because that would only draw more attention. At the time, Lazar was ridiculed by scientists who pointed out that no compound with the atomic number 115 even existed. However, in 2004, a team of Russian and American scientists reported the discovery of two new chemical elements, one of which (Ununpentium) had an atomic number of 115. Still, there are reasons to be dubious of Lazar's story. A number of his statements don't check out, including his education and scientific credentials (i.e., he claims to have studied at Cal Tech, but, according to records, actually attended Los Angeles Pierce College.)
On September 24, 1235, General Yoritsume and his army observed mysterious globes of light flying loops in the night sky near Kyoto, Japan. The General's advisors told him not to worry -- it was merely the wind blowing the stars about.