Since the 1950s, the federal facility at Nevada’s Groom Dry Lake has been synonymous with secrecy. Surrounded by mountains and scrub land, the base known as “Area 51” has generated its share of controversy and speculation, despite its “non-existent” status. Prior to last week, the closest that the federal government had come to acknowledging this facility was in 1999, when then-President Clinton issued a directive exempting an Air Force “operating location” near Groom Lake from a variety of federal and state environmental laws.
The federal government recently changed its decades-long policy of denying the existence of Area 51 with the release of a raft of CIA documents that detail the history of the U-2 spy plane program. The documents – obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University – contain multiple references to “Area 51” and Groom Lake, and confirm long-time speculation that the site was developed to test sensitive aviation projects, including Lockheed’s U-2.
Public Record Media (PRM) holds archival footage of interviews about Area 51’s operations and history. The interviews were conducted in 1997 by Matt Ehling. Interview subjects include reporter Ed Vogel, activist Grace Bukowski, and Area 51 investigator Glen Campbell.
Ed Vogel writes for the Las Vegas Review Journal, and covered its military affairs beat during the 1980s. In the mid-80s, he reported on the controversy over the federal government’s seizure of land parcels surrounding the Area 51 complex.
Grace Bukowski was a political activist who sought to reduce the U.S. military’s footprint in rural Nevada during the 1980s and 1990s. She and others entered the Area 51 facility to stake mining claims as a protest against the federal land withdrawals that were occurring at the time.
Glen Campbell is a former computer programmer who moved to rural Nevada to investigate the Area 51 facility during the early 1990s. Campbell lived in and around the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada as he explored the operations, politics, and lore of the nearby, classified facility. He chronicled his findings in the self-published “Area 51 Viewer’s Guide” and was a frequent presence in the media during the 1990s.
Find all of the intreview transcripts on our blog.