The lawsuit forced the government to formally acknowledge the Groom Lake facility in order to keep its secrets.
On 29 September 1995, President Bill Clinton signed Presidential Determination No. 95-45, which stated in part: "I find that it is in the paramount interest of the United States to exempt the United States Air Force's operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada from any applicable requirement for the disclosure to unauthorized persons of classified information concerning that operating location."
Area 51's secret nature has bred rumor and speculation among fringe groups that believe the U.S. government is hiding captured extraterrestrial spacecraft, or even aliens (dead or alive) at the site. Such stories have been circulating since at least the late 1970s. Starting in 1989, groups of UFO believers began to camp out near the Nellis Range boundaries near Groom Lake to watch for "flying saucers."
As the news media caught wind of these "saucer base expeditions," print and television publicity was met with stony silence and terse denials from Air Force officials. This further fueled public speculation, spawned new rumors, and attracted still more publicity. Camera crews from around the world descended on the remote and forbidding Nevada desert. Local entrepreneurs capitalized on the situation by selling all manner of Area 51 souvenirs, videos, and visitor's guides.
The DET 3 security force, comprised of Air Force and civilian contractor personnel, worked overtime to intercept the "alien" invaders. A few civilians discovered that some nearby hilltops with a bird's-eye view of the secret base had been overlooked in the government's Groom Range land grab. Word quickly spread. Tourists sometimes camped on the hilltops 24 hours a day for days at a time. Flight test operations and even ground activities had to be postponed or cancelled.
In April 1995, the Air Force seized 5,000 more acres of public land to prevent civilians from viewing the base.
Out of the Black, Into the Blue
While many current and historic programs at Dreamland remain classified, some information has been released to the public. Formal announcements, published technical papers, and official personnel biographies often reveal details of previously "black" projects. In the absence of official information, rumors abound.
The Northrop B-2 Spirit Advanced Technology Bomber has frequently been seen over DREAMLAND. Prototypes from the B-2 Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB and operational aircraft from a detachment of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri have flown against Soviet-type radar systems and the Dynamic Coherent Measurement System (DYCOMS). Known on-site as Project 100, this airborne RCS range has been used to measure the L.O. characteristics of all U.S. stealth aircraft from the F-117A to the F/A-22A.
Project HAVE GLASS was undertaken in 1982 to significantly reduce the RCS of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. A series of modifications included RAM coatings and fillings, reflective materials, and component shape changes. The results were verified using the DYCOMS.
In 1983 AeroVironment received CIA sponsorship to build a proof-of-concept high-altitude, solar-powered, radio-controlled UAV called HALSOL. It was essentially a rectangular flying wing made from lightweight materials. Initial test flights were powered by eight electric motors