While 'Area 51' may be almost a household name today, twenty years ago it was only just coming to public attention through the work of independent researchers. In the early 1990s one researcher in particular, Glenn Campbell, was instrumental in bringing press attention to the secret military base at Groom Lake in the Nevada desert - rumoured by some to be a repository of secret alien spacecraft technology - largely through his self-published guide to the location, the Area 51 Viewer's Guide. Campbell has now published this seminal document online for free as a PDF, and you can grab a copy for yourself from his website (make sure you check out the terms and conditions before doing so):
In UFO research, it can be hard to distill the truth from the overwhelming ocean of rumors, ideologies, hyperbole, hoaxes and false perceptions. All of these things are rampant here, so I have chosen in this document to stay as close as possible to concrete, undeniable fact. This is a guide not to UFOs themselves but to the many practical matters concerning the hunt for aerial objects in the vicinity of the "Black Mailbox," the remote highway location north of Las Vegas where many visitors claims to have seen UFOs. This document reviews the geography of the region, the references available, local accommodations and services and many other practical topics of interest to visitors. Much of this information should be helpful to any traveler passing through the area regardless of their views on flying saucers. It should also be of interest to aviation enthusiasts in search of secret "Black Budget" aircraft built entirely by humans.
This book is an anomaly. It is a guide to hunting for UFOs and secret aircraft, but I do not honestly believe you are going to see any. In over two years living in this area, I have never seen any light in the sky I cannot explain or any military device that I would regard as particularly secret. There are a few intelligent UFO stories emanating from the military area that I think deserve serious attention. These concern the claim that the U.S. government may have had extraterrestrial hardware in its possession and may even have been in contact with aliens themselves. That is different from the claim-fostered by the less reputable media and by a certain local merchant - that you can come here to this remote desert highway and see flying saucers in on demand. This is ridiculous. The "Alien Highway" is a myth that, regrettably, I helped create by drawing attention to this area. It serves the human need for rituals and things to buy, but it does not bring us any closer to the truth.
This document reflects a certain period in my investigation of Area 51, ending around Dec. 1993, when I was collecting a general base of geographical knowledge about the area. I continue to update this Viewer's Guide on an irregular basis to reflect changes in the facts initially reported, but I will not pursue any new avenues of investigation here.
If spotting a saucer at Area 51 is unlikely, I hear you ask, then why then bother consulting the guide in the first place? Because, as Campbell says, "a saucer-watching expedition has a certain nostalgic appeal, and nothing can be more pleasant in the summer than setting up a lawn chair under the crystal clear desert skies, miles from anywhere, with the dream of seeing something out of the ordinary". I like his thinking.
For those interested in more up to date tales of Area 51 incursions, in the spirit that Glenn Campbell mentions above, make sure you check out Blair MacKenzie Blake's wonderful article in Darklore Volume 7, "Dirt Roads to Dreamland" (grab a copy from Amazon US or Amazon UK), in which he tells of his expeditions to the famed secret base along with his good friend Danny Carey, drummer for the best band on the planet, Tool.