- LAS VEGAS -- Many people who believe in UFO's also believe "Area 51"
is where the Air Force keeps its stockpile of captured flying saucers.
- And maybe an autopsied alien body or
- Others believe the military base in the
southern Nevada desert 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
out there in that moonscape property north of Las Vegas. Officially designated
the "Nellis Air Force Bombing and Gunnery Range" on Nevada maps,
the federally protected territory in Nye, Lincoln and Clark counties covers
an area equal to Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.
- And more than 1,850 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 government payroll records maintained by the U.S. Office of
- "This really is one of the last
big secret military bases in the United States. It used to be that the
Air Force tried to pretend that Area 51 didn't exist at all," said
Jeff Moag, a researcher for the National Security News Service based in
- The Air Force last year conceded the
existence of the base and its position along dried-up Groom Lake when it
released a publication that suggested experimental Cold War-era aircraft
could have been mistaken for flying saucers.
- At a Pentagon press briefing, Air Force
Col. John Hanes was asked about Area 51.
- "If you are talking about Groom
Lake, Nevada ... quite frankly, I have no knowledge or expertise in the
matter," Hanes said. "I understand there are classified things
that go on there. And that's all I have to say about it."
- Whatever they do in the Nellis Bombing
Range, they continue to do it under the Clinton administration.
- There were exactly 2,000 civilian employees
of the departments of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force and Energy in the
Nellis Bombing Range area as of Sept. 30, 1992.
- Five years later, and despite massive
job layoffs ordered by President Clinton, there were 1,851 employees still
- Among the most popular occupations for
this workforce are "miscellaneous administration," "secretary,"
"general engineering," "general physical sciences"
and "management programing."
- The average salary for the Department
of Energy personnel last year was nearly $59,000 a year, well above average
for a federal employee. The payroll for all of the civilian workers in
the area totaled $80.6 million.