- Many people who believe in UFOs also
think that "Area 51" -- dried-up Groom Lake in Nevada -- is where
the Air Force keeps the flying saucers it captured.
- And maybe an autopsied alien body or
- Others think the military base is the
testing grounds for America's most secret military machines, everything
from the F-117 Stealth fighter to electro-magnetic pulse weapons that would
make Buck Rogers nervous.
- What is certain is that there is something
in that moonscape property north of Las Vegas. Officially designated the
"Nellis Air Force Bombing and Gunnery Range," the federally protected
territory covers an area equal to Rhode Island and Connecticut.
- What also is certain is that 1,851 federal
civilian workers are employed in mostly well-compensated jobs at several
ultra-high-security facilities in and near the range, according to a Scripps
Howard News Service analysis of U.S. Office of Personnel Management payroll
- "This really is one of the last
big secret military bases in the United States," said Jeff Moag, a
National Security News Service researcher in Washington. "It used
to be that the Air Force tried to pretend that Area 51 didn't exist at
- The Air Force last year conceded the
existence of the base when it released a publication that suggested experimental
Cold War-era aircraft could have been mistaken for flying saucers.
- Whatever they do in the Nellis Bombing
Range continues under the Clinton administration.
- Payroll records show the Department of
Energy, which controls the nation's stockpile of nuclear bombs, employs
32 people in Mercury, Nev., the only town inside the bombing range.
- But non-government military observers
for several years have said they think that hundreds, or thousands, of
military and civilian workers who are employed in the desert facilities
take daily flights from Las Vegas airfields into the base. The computer
records appear to confirm this.
- The Department of Energy officially employs
448 people in the Las Vegas area, even though there are no known federal
projects in the city that could justify such employment. The Air Force
has 1,068 civilian employees there, some of whom certainly work at Nellis
Air Force Base.
- But more suspect are the 166 civilian
employees of the departments of Defense and Army, the 156 Environmental
Protection Agency workers, the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency employees
and at least two representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff.
Some of these people work in classified operations at the bombing range.
- The payroll for all of the civilian workers
in the area totaled $80.6 million.