The mystery and intrigue surrounding Area 51 was kicked into warp drive back in 1989 when we first aired an interview with a guy named Bob Lazar.
More recently, his story gained a new audience, which sparked the two large parties underway here in Lincoln County.
Of all the thousands of people drawn here, we found the one guy who’s been pursuing the Area 51 mystery longer than anyone.
Amid the party animals and throngs of E.T. curious earthlings drawn to the edge of the world’s best known secret base, aviation journalist Jim Goodall says, been there, done that. About 80 times in the past 35 years, in fact.
Goodall was part of a small group of desert detectives known as the interceptors, who would trade tidbits of information about classified technology and planes. Goodall has written several acclaimed books about secret aerospace technology including the Blackbird craft that were developed at Area 51.
He’s spent countless days and nights lurking outside of both Area 51 and its sister facility Area 52 near Tonopah.
READ: Special Area 51 online section
In the mid ‘80s, he helped launch the speculation about captured alien technology thanks to tips received from aerospace insiders, about things in the desert that could make Stars Wars director George Lucas drool.
“Ben Rich told me whatever you can imagine, we are 50 years beyond it. Star Wars, Star Trek, we’ve got it.” Rich was an engineer for Lockheed, working in the aerospace giant’s famed Skunk Works.
Goodall understands that the Pentagon needs to keep some things secret, but he’s sympathetic to the UFO activists who came here demanding transparency. He defends the public’s right to know.
“It’s Area 51. That’s taxpayer money being spent out there,” Goodall said.
Goodall says he is encouraged to see so many young people take an interest in classified programs and budgets, and hopes at least a few of the partiers here this weekend will pick up the mantle and try to pierce the veil of secrecy.
“That veil is pretty thick today,” Goodall said. “The security around Area 51 is thicker than we’ve ever seen.”