ET phone "Homey", Area 51 gets a shadowy name change

Homey Airport? Doesn't sound like a very thrilling name for as place with lots of thrilling lore. But maybe that's what the government had in mind when it quietly (what else?!!) changed the name of the base known as Area 51 in Nevada to the new Homey moniker.

Area 51, or more officially Groom Lake, Nev. is a secret military facility that has been the development home to some of the Defense Department's most top secret aircraft, namely the U2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes as well as the newer stealth aircraft such as the F-117 Nighthawk. The DoD didn't even acknowledge the base existed until 1994, when former base employees sued the government and claimed they'd been poisoned by hazardous materials used at the base, according to the Army Times.

The Area 51 designation (the place is also known as Dreamland, Paradise Ranch and The Box) refers to a 6-by-10-mile block of super-secret land, at the center of which is a large air base, guarded by fighter aircraft and who knows what else.

But it is Area 51's association with UFOs that has garnered much of the outside world's curiosity. Alien conspiracy buffs also speculate that Area 51's high profile has forced officials to move much of the top-secret stuff to the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, said the Army Times.

Meanwhile, a number of reports say the name change came to light through civilian aviation groups, flight-planning software and on handheld GPS receivers which started reading the site as KXTA, which given the legend of the base was promptly read as "Extraterrestrial."

A spokeswoman for Nellis Air Force Base, which sits 85 miles south of Homey Airport and is responsible for the airspace and any ground facilities, to the Army Times that "we already know about the designation, but it doesn't have any effect on operations at the base." She didn't know the origin of the name "Homey Airport."

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