Area 51 is located in central Nevada, 90 miles north of Las Vegas. At the request of the CIA, the Atomic Energy Commission procured a disused World War II airstrip and the Groom Lake salt flat to use as a site to train pilots and test the U-2 spy plane.
President Eisenhower agreed to the addition of Area 51, so named for its location mark on the map, to the Nevada test site. Area 51 had several names over the years, such as Paradise Ranch, Dreamland, Groom Lake and Watertown. The official name of Area 51 is Air Force Flight Test Center, Detachment 3; it is a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base.