Other facts from the novel are real as well: the Air Force continues to use Area 51, and it ran Project Blue Book until 1969. Area 51 receives a passing reference in Ariel’s conversation with the Moon People. Luz Luna, Air Force ROTC instructor at Santa Margarita, has more than a passing acquaintance with Project Blue Book.
Area 51, Edwards Air Force Base, Nevada
The United States Air Force facility, commonly known as Area 51, is a detachment of Edwards Air Force Base located in southern Nevada. The correct names for Area 51 are Homey Airport and Groom Lake, or Restricted Area 4808 North.
What goes on at the base has always been Top Secret. Current work most likely concerns the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.
Despite the secrecy, one thing is certain: in 1955 the Air Force facility was set up by the CIA as part of the development of the Lockheed U-2 spy plane, a product of Cold War technology.
For years, the extreme secrecy of the base’s operations and its isolated location have helped nurture conspiracy theories about its purpose—many centering around unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore. Area 51 is perhaps the favorite U.S. arena for all sorts of creepy and terrifying pseudo-science.
Project Blue Book
A flurry of UFO sightings that began in 1947 prompted the founding in 1952 of the Air Force’s Project Blue Book, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH. Until its termination in 1969, 12,618 UFO sightings were reported with 701 of them remaining “unidentified.” Perhaps a disappointment to some, none of these unsolved sightings were considered extraterrestrial. All of Project Blue Book’s records have been transferred to the Military Reference Branch of the National Archives, and are available to the public.
Even though Project Blue Book has ended, the search for aerial phenomena continues, led by universities and scientific and private organizations.