Why is a dry lake bed in Nevada the source of continuous controversy in the UFO community?
Robert Lazar, a self-proclaimed Area 51 employee, went public with tales of flying saucers and "greys" hidden in plain sight of the fabled military installation. These stories of reverse engineered UFOs and alien interaction created quite a buzz, but is there enough evidence to back the tales up?
An Area 51 Employee Goes Public
In 1989, Robert Lazar, a shadowy figure claiming to work at Area 51, spoke with Las Vegas-area television station KLAS-TV.
In a series of interviews, Lazar told stories of a project to reverse engineer alien technology. The project centered on nine different UFOs collected by the U.S. Government over decades and hidden in hangers amidst in a location named S-4. Lazar's information about S-4 corroborated with Papoose Lake, a now-dry lake bed just miles southwest of Area 51.
As the interviews continued, Lazar went into detail about the intentional construction of the hangars at a devious angle and military attempts to camouflage the buildings.
Lazar also spoke in detail about Zeta Reticulans — the "grey" aliens popularized in movies — present in the hangars who aided in the the military's research and intervened in events on Earth over the past 100,000 years.
Shortly after Lazar went public, his educational and work history came under intense scrutiny. Reports surfaced concerning contradictions as to the origins of his claimed graduate degree, leading to an immediate dismissal of his revelations amongst even the most stalwart of UFO and Area 51 conspiracy fans.
Lazar dismissed any contradictions as the result of government actions to discredit him.
Model Kits and the Mir Space Station
Very little, if any, evidence exists to substantiate Lazar's tales. Despite the lack of evidence, a model company, Testors, created a 1/48 scale version of a Papoose Dry Lake UFO in 1990. Testors called on Lazar as an advisor, with the kit featuring a "sport model" flying saucer described by Lazar. The kit included a gray bipedal alien to go along with Lazar's description of one of the nine UFOs kept in S-4 hangars.
Along with the model came a poster-size image of S-4, an image corroborating with the location of Papoose Dry Lake. In the days prior to Google Image search, Testors acquired the photo from the Russian government. Testors paid nearly $2000 for a digital camera image taken from either the Mir Space Station or a satellite flyby, depending on the report.
While the photo inspires ideas of bases hidden by natural geological outcroppings, upon examination, it reveals little out of the ordinary.
Wandering Across Papoose Dry Lake
A group of protestors associated with Greenpeace stormed the grounds near Papoose Dry Lake in an effort to protest nuclear weapons research. The trespassing Greenpeace members traversed Papoose Lake unscathed, reporting nothing out of the ordinary.
Archaeologist Jerry Freeman attempted to make a trek to Papoose Dry Lake. Freeman did not seek information about flying saucers, but to trace the trail of a 19th Century wagon train headed to California in the days of the great gold rush. Jerry did see Papoose Dry Lake, but encountered a small degree of scrutiny from Air Force security along the way.
The Legacy of Lazar's Claims
In the majority of UFO and Area 51 circles, Robert Lazar is exiled for his claims, with wanna-be UFO believers seeing Lazar's stories as wanting for concrete evidence. Lazar makes occasional appearances on Coast to Coast AM, while owning and operating a chemical supply company that caters to hobbyists and amateur scientists.
The company, United Nuclear Scientific Equipment and Supplies, carries mildly radioactive materials. United Nuclear came under fire for selling polonium in 2006 and received a federal fine in 2007 for selling components that could be used to make illegal fireworks in 2007.
Due to the lack of concrete evidence, the stories of UFOs being kept and reverse engineered at Papoose is likely just another interesting tale fitting into the mythology of Area 51. If the military ever used Papoose Lake for clandestine tests or operations, they did a great job cleaning up the remains.
While Lazar's story and past are often disputed, the mythology of Papoose Dry Lake is an interesting one that seeks to make amends for the lack of recent sightings around Area 51. For those looking to keep dreams of UFOs whizzing around the desert alive, Lazar's tale might do the trick.
The top image is via Gerhard Uhllhorn/Flickr. Sources linked within the article.