Area 51 is a nickname for a military base that is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States (83 miles north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas). Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large secretive military airfield. The base's primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.
The base lies within the United States Air Force's vast Nevada Test and Training Range. Although the facilities at the range are managed by the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, the Groom facility appears to be run as an adjunct of the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, around 186 miles (300 km) southwest of Groom, and as such the base is known as Air Force Flight Test Center (Detachment 3).
Other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Home Base, Watertown Strip, Groom Lake, and most recently Homey Airport. The area is part of the Nellis Military Operations Area, and the restricted airspace around the field is referred to as (R-4808N), known by the military pilots in the area as "The Box."
The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has led it to become the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore.