There is no truth whatsoever to the ridiculous rumor that AREA 51 and its operations were abandoned and were relocated elsewhere, such as to Utah.
Basically, this rumor had originated from a disinformative article written by Jim Wilson that first appeared in the June, 1997 issue of POPULAR MECHANICS. The unexpected article no doubt was greatly "appreciated" by Nellis AFB and particularly by those at the "remote operating base" at Groom Lake. The folks at Nellis AFB probably rolled on the floor laughing over the article on AREA 51, which was for the most part filled with factual errors much to their absolute delight! The June, 1997, POPULAR MECHANICS piece also must have brought much delight to the then Secretary of the Air Force, Sheila Widnall.
It is my hope that this type of misinformed article did not serve to curtail the general public's interest in and rightful scrutiny of AREA 51 (Groom Lake Complexes), particularly in regards to those issues relative to the alleged infractions of environmental statutes at the site. The article, written by Jim Wilson, science editor of POPULAR MECHANICS, inferred that "the Air Force had abandoned top-secret testing at its once most secret test site". Then Wilson came to the hasty conclusion and stated that "we know why and we know where they moved to (i.e., Utah)". Nothing is farther from the truth than this overly generalized inference. Jim Wilson, despite his probable sincerity and good intentions, obviously missed the whole picture.
To begin with, he clearly took a wrong turn on "Groom Lake dirt road" and went to the wrong location. It was obvious from the photo that what he did was go south on the "Mail Box dirt road" from Hwy 375, crossed the "Groom Lake dirt road" and went further south all the way till he encountered an old, poorly maintained wind fence, believing that he had arrived at the back gate of AREA 51, when in reality he had arrived at the northeastern boundary of Range 61. There he decided that nothing was happening at AREA 51, and made a hasty statement, saying "the 'cammo dudes' are no longer patrolling the perimeter of AREA 51" and further rashly stated that "what we found was a securely locked wind fence that appears to have been undisturbed for months".
He further commented that even though he had arrived at the back door to AREA 51, there was "no guard post". Brilliant! (There never was any.....ever at that location!). He also stated in the article that the "warning signs flanking the gate aren't very threatening either". (The reason for that is because there never existed any "threatening" warning signs there except the sign that says NO TRESPASSING......Nellis Bombing Range). It is because that location is not AREA 51.......it is merely the northeastern boundary of Range 61. Wilson then came to the naive conclusion that "AREA 51 has shut down!!". Again, a brilliant conclusion!! I suggest next time that he go to the right location.......towards the real Guard Shack area....(west all the way on Groom Lake Road).......where he may really encounter the "cammo dudes", white Jeep Cherokees and perhaps a military chopper or two to welcome him, if he dare go to the Guard Shack area. He would also see some real "threatening" warning signs along the dirt road that clearly say LETHAL FORCE WILL BE USED.
From what I understand from several reliable sources, Groom Lake has not had a major lessening of activity whatsoever. In fact, there may be more going on at Groom Lake now than before.
In October of 1997, I observed the Groom Lake facility from high atop Tickaboo Peak and verified with my own eyes that the facility is not only there but even thought that there may be slightly more structures out there than before. A couple of new water tanks seem to have been added recently behind the big hangar. Also, deducing from a fairly recent, highly-detailed panoramic photo that I acquired (allegedly taken several months after the closure of both the Freedom Ridge and White Sides) I have no doubt that there are some new constructions going on, particularly along the southwest slope next to Groom Lake. (I had observed the Groom Lake facility a number of times before from both the White Sides hill and the Freedom Ridge before those hills became off-limits to the public).
The night prior to the day that I climbed the Tickaboo Peak in October of 1997, we were standing at the exact spot where Jim Wilson had stood.......at around 7:30 p.m., at the northeastern boundary of Range 61. As we were looking towards the direction of Groom Lake, we were surprised by a sudden illlumination of the sky just over the direction of Groom Lake and witnessed around 3 or 4 reddish "balls" of lights that appeared over the direction of Groom Lake and then disappeared momentarily, after which the sky over that area returned to total darkness. I could not speculate what those reddish "balls" of lights were.......but this went on intermittently for about three times during the next 20 minutes or so. There was no doubt that there was activity of some kind that night at Groom Lake.
This was in stark contrast to the allegation by Jim Wilson that nothing is going on at AREA 51 and that nothing was going on when he was standing at the northeastern boundary of Range 61, looking towards the Groom Mountains. Probably nothing major was going on that was visible on that particular day or evening when he was there. Moreover, we must bear in mind that most sensitive programs are thought to be conducted below ground level, to begin with.
Primarily because of the misinformative article from the June, 1997, POPULAR MECHANICS, the whole world now seems to be under the impression that there is nothing going on at AREA 51, and that everything had moved to the Green River Missile Launch "complex" in Utah.
One of the erroneous facts that Jim Wilson mentioned in the June, 1997 POPULAR MECHANICS article was that there was an "officially named AREA 6413" in Utah. There is no "officially named AREA 6413" in Utah. What he meant to say was Restricted Air Space 6413 in Utah. However, even to this date, anyone can easily get right next to the Green River Missile Launch "complex". There is nothing top-secret going on over there. Rather than the Green River Missile Launch "complex" (which Jim Wilson seemed to have inferred as the possible site of the new AREA 51), we should keep a closer eye on the new "non-lethal" weapons programs as well as the new "bacteriological warfare programs" going on at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. It is, by far, more interesting there than the Green River area!!
All in all, the June, 1997 POPULAR MECHANICS article was in such a drastic contrast to the more well-researched article that coincidentally appeared one month prior, in the May, 1997 issue of POPULAR SCIENCE in which Groom Lake was mentioned several times, with an inference that there was still plenty going on at Groom Lake.
Some of the ongoing programs at AREA 51, according to reports from the Monitoring Times and other publications, seem to include a new series of B-2 follow-on by Northrop/Grumman at S-2, possible series of newer Darkstar (Tier 3 - UAV) by Lockheed at S-4 and Tier 2+ and Tier 3+ UAVs at S-9 by such as Teledyne Ryan Aero.
In June of 1997, after the article appeared on POPULAR MECHANICS, I was informed that some new components of new, small-scale VTOL produced by Lockheed had just been transferred to Groom from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
There is no doubt that there are new generations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (remotely controlled surveillance platforms, etc.) being tested at Groom Lake. New testing of "skins" for outer coating for a new generation of stealth program is going on as well, as inferred by the May, 1997 issue of POPULAR SCIENCE.
A new generation of "electro chromic panels" are probably continuing to be tested at the facility. A move towards "daytime" stealth capability (such as through the use of special sensors for transmission of image reflections of the background environment on the lower as well as upper bodies of the aircraft) may be in the works at AREA 51.
I would not be surprised at all if they were working on such as limited tri-dimensional holographic image maximization that could be integrated with the "electro chromic panels" used to reflect background environment on the aircraft to bring about "transparency effect" as well as distorted image size of the aircraft. All this, in addition to several new black, triangular aircraft (such as TR-3A Black Manta) that they may be working on.
Anyway, the point is that there may indeed be some new programs going on in Utah and elsewhere, but to infer that AREA 51 "moved" to Utah is totally unfounded.