Las Vegas Sun

January 17, 2018

Currently: 52° — Complete forecast

National Atomic Testing Museum unveils Area 51 exhibit


Sam Morris

Retired Army Col. John Alexander.

More arts and entertainment

  • Check out Robin Leach's for more celebrity and A&E coverage.
Click to enlarge photo

Area 51 poster

Area 51 exhibit

UFO Files

It was once one of the most secret places in America, so secret that the U.S. government denied it even existed. Maps were altered so that its name never showed. The “black programs” there never made the military’s published budgets, and employees who were flown there from McCarran International Airport had to lie about their jobs by creating fictitious employment.

That secrecy fueled incredible rumors about Area 51 about 80 miles north of Las Vegas. Were aliens and their spacecraft held there along with medical examinations of extra-terrestrial creatures? Were spy planes and stealth aircraft that looked like flying saucers tested there? Those strange craft added to further speculation that flying saucers were based from nearby Groom Lake.

We still don’t have all the answers, but we know more thanks to the new Area 51 exhibit now open at the National Atomic Testing Museum east of the Strip on Flamingo Road. On Thursday night, military expert John Alexander, who lives here, will lecture at the new attraction on “UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities,” the title of his recent book.

John knows of which he speaks. He commanded Special Forces “A” Teams and has been an adviser to the CIA and the National Intelligence Council and given briefings to White House staffs. This year, John was presented with the Knowlton Award for his lifelong contributions to military intelligence. He’s even displayed on video near the end of the room at the exhibit for UFO sightings.

My friend Lee Speigel, who writes about such matters for AOL and Huffington Post, took me on a tour and showed me a section of “Authentic Alien Artifacts,” a collection of objects including vials and materials from an alleged UFO crash in Russia.

Whatever went on or goes on still today at Area 51 has been long covered up, shrouded in mystery, and only now have CIA historical documents about the once-abandoned bombing range been allowed to go on display.

Allan Palmer, the museum’s executive director, talked about the opening on the radio program “Coast to Coast” with Las Vegas journalist George Knapp. George is credited with breaking the 1989 story of alleged alien technology at Area 51.

“Now we know a lot more about Area 51 and can present some of the really true stories that happened out there. We feel an obligation to tell the larger story about the public’s perception, which runs right into aliens, UFOs and extraterrestrial time travel,” Allan told Lee. “Contractors are still doing business for the Department of Defense with ‘black programs,’ and they may be ongoing at Area 51.”

George was the first to report of another mysterious classified military outpost known as S-4. It came from his meetings with physicist Bob Lazar, who worked at Area 51 and said he’d reverse engineered crashed alien spacecraft so that the government could use the technology. Is this why we have drones today?

If the stories that George reported had never surface, we wouldn’t have known that Area 51 existed. The NATM paid tribute to his role in putting it on the map by including a George Knapp Room in the exhibit to pour over documents, films, videos, photos and artifacts he’s collected, including the UFO crash at Mount Izvestkovaya now referred to as the Russian Roswell, a nod to a 1947 crash of a supposed alien craft in New Mexico and its cover-up.

George commented for my friend Lee: “We’ve often heard the argument from the naysayers that there’s nothing to study, no evidence. This famous case happened in Russia where scientists went to the scene of a very dramatic incident and collected samples, and they gave me some of them.” George produced a video report of the exhibit’s opening.

Allan, who is a highly decorated combat jet fighter pilot for the Air Force and the Navy, summed up: “You’ll be left to decide what you think is the true story about the place: Is it aliens, UFOs, intelligence? What’s all this about? And that’s what we’re going to expose.

“Sometimes what you see is not always what’s real. And that may be true the other way around. What you may think are just ordinary, regular things might be extraterrestrial or visitors from other places. Who knows?”

Tickets are available online at the museum’s website For more information, call the NATM, 755 E. Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, at (702) 794-5151. The museum is open 7 days a week.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy