Nov 23, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Weirdest Things About Area 51 and Other Bases: Secret and Strange

Just about everyone has heard of Area 51, the famous "secret base" that might or might not be holding aliens - and that may be alive or not. There is, however, something strange about Area 51 - and at other top secret facilities, too. As you'll see now. From 2003 to 2009 I lectured at Ryan Wood's annual UFO Crash-Retrieval Conference, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. As is so often the case at such conferences, an attendee came up to me at the 2008 event with a very strange story to tell. Aged around thirty he said that his now-retired father had worked out at Area 51 in the early 1980s, specifically in the development of Stealth technology for military aircraft. The guy said that on several occasions, in the 1990s, he had asked his father about the rumors of crashed UFOs and dead aliens held at the secret base. His father said that the only thing he knew about aliens at Area 51 came from watching TV shows. Indeed, he told his son that he had never seen any evidence at all of alien-related activity at Area 51. But, there was one strange event that the man was willing to share with his son - and which was then shared with me. The story told to me was that on one occasion in January 1981, a pedal bike was found deep in a remote part of the vast amount of land that is collectively known as Area 51. Yes, a bicycle. The highly-sophisticated sensors that are carefully placed all around the facility had picked up the sudden presence of something not far from one such sensor. So, a security team was quickly sent out to investigate. It was that team, I was told, which found the bike. But, there was something very strange about the bicycle: it was extensively damaged - as if it had plummeted to the ground from a great height.

(Nick Redfern) The world's most secret base

Had it fallen from an aircraft? Probably not! It's a fact that unauthorized flights over Area 51, and in the immediate vicinity, are treated very seriously. Any such event over the base would have resulted in drastic (maybe even deadly...) action. And, of course, the base would likely have gone on lock-down. Even NASA's astronauts have almost found themselves in trouble for photographing the facility from space. The guy who shared the story with me said that the finding of the bike was a matter of deep concern: how had it got there? Where was the rider? Who was the rider? Why did the bike look like it had fallen from a great height? There were no answers. As a result, the investigation was finally closed down. Quiet and concerned discussion of the weird affair apparently continued for quite some time though, among those who had heard of it. The whole thing, the man told me, became a bit "of a legend." No doubt!

Now, let's move onto the U.K.'s Porton Down facility. It's located in the English county of Wiltshire. Its overwhelmingly-classified work focuses to a very significant degree on exotic viruses, chemical-warfare and biological-warfare. Although work at Porton Down originally, and secretly, began at the height of the tumultuous First World War, it was not until the dawning of the 1940s that the installation became the central hub for British interest in, and concerns relative to, the expanding realms of chemical- and biological-warfare. From 1946 onward, one year after the successful defeat of Nazi Germany, Porton Down’s work began to focus more on the defensive – rather than chiefly offensive – aspects of such issues, and in 1957 the installation was duly christened the Microbiological Research Establishment. By the late-1970s, a decision was made to place the MRE under the control of a civil body. As a result, significant reorganization duly occurred: on April 1, 1979, the MRE became the Center for Applied Microbiology and Research. Then, in 1995, it was absorbed into the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency. Six years later, there was yet another change: DERA split into two organizations, a private body called QinetiQ, and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, a body steeped in official secrecy, as a result of the fact that it is an arm of the Ministry of Defense. After that, the facility became known as DSTL, Porton Down.

All of which brings us to a very strange story. Jonathan Downes is the director of the U.K.-base Center for Fortean Zoology. But, it's not just strange creatures like Bigfoot, Nessie, and Mothman that have attracted Downes' attention. It's the issue of Crop Circles too. For years, there have been rumors of classified, military/government investigations into the Crop Circle phenomenon in the U.K. Downes publicly stated something that may have had a bearing on those same rumors. He said, in 2000: "I am aware that midway through 1996 on land adjacent to the Government’s chemical and biological research establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire, a Crop Circle was found. When it was first seen, the circle was still in the process of being formed and had actually been surrounded by both troops and police who had cordoned off the area." I have heard variations on this very odd story over the years, suggesting that an intricate formation was indeed found within the grounds of Porton Down in the mid-90s. Whether it was the work of fence-jumping circle-makers of a very human mind, or the work of something much stranger, is very much still open to debate. Of course, if the formation really was forming as the police and the military watched on, then that effectively rules out a human connection.

(Nick Redfern) A Crop Circle and Porton Down - a strange connection!

It’s a fact that most people who have studied the claims of Bob Lazar focus their attentions on what he had to say about the UFOs allegedly held at S-4, as well as his statements concerning Element 115. There is one issue which doesn’t get the attention that it really should. It’s a part of Lazar’s story which takes things down a path that is filled with disturbing revelations involving the afterlife. One of the many briefing papers that Lazar said he read at S-4 stated that the aliens refer to us, the human race, as what we would call “Containers.” But, containers of what? Well, that’s where things get really controversial. Lazar told KLAS-TV’s George Knapp “religion was created so we have some rules and regulations for the sole purpose of not damaging the containers.” 

There followed an awkward conversation which saw Knapp pressing for answers, and Lazar almost squirming because of the nightmarish nature of the story. That’s hardly surprising, because the claimed big secret is that the aliens have an interest in the human soul. Worse, though, they allegedly use the human soul in a way that the U.S. Government doesn’t fully understand. Or, that the government does know, but does not know how to tell the world the awful truth. One of the theories is truly terrifying: that the aliens “feed” on the human soul, on our life-force.  In this scenario, the earth is a farm and we are the cattle. On our deaths our souls are reaped and the life-energy sustains the aliens. Far out? Definitely. But, Lazar stands by what he read in those briefing papers. The soul angle has led some UFO researchers to believe that the aliens are actually nothing of the sort. Rather, the theory is that they are high-tech demons! What a story! And, what about the alien that Lazar saw at the S-4 base. Or didn't.

One of the lesser known aspects of the Bob Lazar controversy is that which suggests he just might have seen an alien entity at Area 51 – a live one, no less. The story gets very little publicity, but it’s fascinating in the extreme. The issue of aliens – alive, dead or both at Area 51 -first surfaced from Lazar in early 1989. When asked about that specific matter by George Knapp, Lazar quickly shot down the question in an awkward fashion and changed the subject. Later, though, in what was a private, rather than public, interview, Lazar opened up a bit more. What he had to say was brief but amazing – if true, of course. According to Lazar, “I walked down the hallway at one time I was working down there, and there were these doors – the doors that go to the hangar are smaller than the doors in the corridors and have a 9-inch or 12-inch square window with little wires running through it, just about head level. And as I was walking by, I just glanced in and I noticed – at a quick glance – there were two guys in white lab coats, facing me towards the door.”

Lazar then got to the heart of the matter: the two men were looking down at a small, humanoid figure with long arms, seemingly talking to it. Although Lazar only saw the entity for a second or so, he was in no doubt about what it appeared to be. I say “appeared” because Lazar himself wondered if this was some kind of set-up. He said of this possibility: “Maybe they stuck a doll in front of these guys and made me walk by it and look at it, just to see what my reaction would be.” Such a thing is not at all impossible, as the following brief, but notable, comment from Lazar makes clear: “They play so many mind games there [italics mine].” While enthusiastic UFO researchers may dearly want to believe that living aliens are at Area 51, Lazar’s carefully worded statement suggests we should exercise restraint on this issue – at least until, or if, further vindication comes along. 

How about a strange story that came out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, USA? History is made in many and varied ways. For “Harry Palmer” it occurred deep below Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio in the 1980s. I know this, as Palmer contacted me on a dark September 2014 night to share a very strange story – and after reading my 2012 book, The Real Men in Black. As Palmer revealed, he had debated for weeks as to whether or not he should take the plunge and speak to me. On the one hand, he wanted to get my opinions on what it was that he encountered. But, on the other hand, he was somewhat concerned about the possibility of his revelations causing “troubles” – specifically with Uncle Sam. It was around 11:00 p.m. when we started chatting and it was well into the early hours when we finally wrapped things up. I spent the entire time on my back, stretched out on the couch and listening carefully. Although Palmer was somewhat hesitant at first, he soon gained his wits and opened up. What follows is a summary of the strange and sinister experience found himself in, more than a quarter of a century earlier.

Wright-Patterson AFB is a highly secure military installation that has a reputation for allegedly being the home of a number of well-preserved – and some not so well-preserved – corpses of dead aliens, presumably recovered from more than a few UFO crashes. Many UFO skeptics ignore or write-off such claims. Harry Palmer knows better. It was a winter’s night in 1988 when Palmer was ordered to report to one particular building on the base that he had never previously been in, one which was connected to a certain weapons-storage area. On doing so, he was met by three very pale men dressed in dark suits; they directed him to a door which, when opened, revealed a large elevator on the other side. Silently, the black-clad trio motioned him into the elevator. He quickly realized he was descending – and to a fairly deep degree. He was then ushered into a corridor, which had a large vault-like door at its end. One of the three men opened it, and in a strange high-pitched voice, ordered him into the vault. The same man pointed at a large container – perhaps nine feet in length and five feet in width – and ordered Palmer to take a look inside. He did as he was told and was shocked – to the point of feeling nauseous and clammy – by the sight of a badly damaged body of what he, Palmer, could only guess was an extraterrestrial: the head was large, the eyes were huge and black, and the severed torso was skinny. 

(Nick Redfern) Dead aliens at Wright-Patterson or a very strange test of national security?

In seconds, Palmer was forcibly taken from the room, then taken to yet another room, and then ordered to sign a document that effectively said that if he ever spoke of what he saw he would be prosecuted to the extent of the law for violating U.S. national security. After signing the document, a deeply worried Palmer was taken back up the elevator and unceremoniously left there to make his way back to his normal place of work. Clearly, this affair makes no sense at all – unless someone was playing weird mind-games with Palmer, although for what bizarre reason one can scarcely guess. After all, why even show him the body in the first place? His work at the base had zero to do with UFOs. The whole thing, I told Palmer, seemed like some bizarre theatrical event, but for whatever purpose was anyone’s guess. Palmer agreed. There was a curious afterword to this particular story: the very day after Palmer contacted me, he received four hang-up phone calls in the early hours of the morning. It was something which led him to regret sharing his experience with me, as he admitted, when he called me back the following night. That I told him hang-up calls in the dead of night – and specifically in relation to UFO issues - were typically attributed to the Men in Black, didn’t really help him to relax. How could it?

“Don’t use my real name if you publish this,” a worried Palmer said, before hanging up with not even a solitary “goodbye.” Yep, another weird night in almost a lifetime of them. After speaking with Palmer for the second and final time, I had to wonder what, exactly, a group of clearly non-human MIB were doing in the depths of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on that mystery-filled night in 1988. Were they working alongside the military? Have the MIB infiltrated the U.S. Government? If so, which side is in control? Is anyone in control? It was questions like these that made me wonder just how weird the MIB issue really was – and still is. And how weird those bases are, too!

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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