Glenn Campbell History
I first came to the outskirts of the base in October 1992. I was interested in UFOs at the time, and the "Black Mailbox" was supposed to be a place you could see them on a scheduled basis. I quickly dispelled these stories. I saw many fantastic lights in the sky, but I learned what they were and that they weren't alien. At the same time, I realized that there was a secret base out there that the government refused to acknowledge and that most of America knew nothing about. This in itself was fascinating to me, and I took it upon myself to collect information about the base and promote it to the world.
Almost immediately upon visiting the area, I started working on a document, the Area 51 Viewer's Guide (still available from me). In it, I tried to collect all known information about the base and the surrounding area. I returned in December 1992 to collect more information for my guidebook, and when that proved insufficient, I drove my small RV to the nearby town of Rachel in January 1993. At this time, I was "retired" from my previous career as a computer programmer, and I had a modest nest egg to keep me going. I expected to stay in Rachel for a month, but it turned into 2-1/2 years!
For most of 1993, I labored in obsurity, collecting information about the base and forming connections with like-minded people. I joined with a loosely knit group of base watchers who called themselves the Interceptors. This was just before the internet revolution, and our only communication at the time was by mail, phone and personal visit. In this romote location 150 miles from Las Vegas, living in Rachel felt like joining a monestary. I bought a trailer, painted it bright yellow and called it the Area 51 Research Center (see right). During that first year, I learned everything I possibly could about the base and the surrounding desert. I was an addicted data collector, and I had plenty here to collect. While the base itself was off limits, I took it upon myself to thoroughly explore the perimeter and organize everything that was known.
The base itself is a military airfield, similar to any other Air Force base, surrounded by vast tracts of empty desert. Over the years, the Air Force had taken more and more land to protect the anonymity of the base, but when I arrived there was still one point on public land where you could see the base, White Sides Mountain. This viewpoint was less than ideal, however, because it required an hour-long hike to reach. While hiking along the border in late 1993, I discovered another viewpoint. This was a lower hill but more easily reachable by 4WD. I dubbed this "Freedom Ridge", and I immediately began publicizing it. In January 1994, we held our first public outing there, with a group of visitors that mainly included hard-core aviation watchers.
In spite of the obvious appeal of a base that didn't exist, there was little press interest in the secret base in 1993 or prior years. For the most part, they just didn't get it. That all changed in 1994, when media interest in Area 51 took off. This could be attributed to several factors: (1) claims in court of worker health problems and base environmental abuses, which generated a legitimate news story; (2) moves by the Air Force to formally seize White Sides and Freedom Ridge, creating another news story; (3) the birth of network TV shows on the paranormal, starting with Sightings; (4) the appearance of something called "email", which allowed instantanous communication between subscribers; and (5) my own full-time presence in Rachel to provide information on the base and act as a liaison to the press.
In January 1994, I published my first issue of the Groom Lake Desert Rat, an email newsletter that came to have huge following. In those ancient days, we had only email and newsgroups, and the Rat was easily distributed on both. The Rat and my Viewer's Guide provided the reference documents used by journalist doing stories on the base. 1994 saw every conceivable form of media make the pilgrimmage to Area 51, usually interviewing me. (See Glenn's Media Appearances.) Highlights included a feature story in Popular Science, a feature story about me in the New York Times and a live 2-hour show by Larry King from the deserts outside the base. I also dealt with the low-brow media, including a semi-live appearance on the Montel Williams show (photo, newsletter article) to face down my enemy, alleged psychic Sean Morton. I can't say that all this press coverage got us any closer to the truth, but it certainly taught me a great deal about the media and how it operates.
After 1995, it was all downhill. Press coverage diminished only slightly, but I was growing tired of it and felt that the Area 51 story had run its course. In the Summer of 1995, after the near viewpoints were finally seized, I moved from Rachel to Las Vegas, leaving my Area 51 Research Center in the hands of a capable local. In Las Vegas, I moved into an apartment directly overlooking the airport terminal when workers boarded private jets to Area 51. This was my way of saying I wasn't giving up, but in truth I hardly ever looked out the window.
In 1995, the World Wide Web came along, and like many young webbies, I got sucked into more obligations than I could handle. I tried to create an indexing website for ALL paranormal phenomena—not just Area 51 or UFOs but everything unproven. (The only remnant of this site is the Area 51 Section.) My websites were incredibly popular in the early days of the web (I had 60,000 hits a day on the main page alone.) but I had no plan for how to pay for it, and I was perpetually overstretched.
At the end of 1999, I finally pulled the plug on the Area 51 project and most of my websites and mailing lists. (I claimed they were a casualty of Y2K.) Later, I started writing a book about my experiences at Area 51, but it didn't get beyond 8 chapters. (I decided that the "book" as a medium was a financial dead-end and that my resources were better spent moving forward than looking back.)
So do I believe in UFOs? I have gone back and forth on the subject, but my final answer is, "It doesn't matter!" If aliens have visited Earth, they seem to be doing their best to stay out of our business (obeying the Prime Directive), which is the most we can really ask of them. At Area 51, I found a lot a fascinating mysteries and challenges, none of which lead to anything alien. The most prominent Area 51 alien story—that told by Bob Lazar—is completely explainable on earthly terms. (I stop short of saying he is lying, only that his credibility is so low that pursuing the story further isn't worth the effort.) What I gained from Area 51 is not alien insight, but greater wisdom about life on Earth. My stint as an Area 51 expert was essentially a graduate-level course in (a) media operation, especially television, (b) public speaking and self-presentation, (c) law and government, and (d) psychology and human belief systems. The experience has been extremely valuable to me and will continue to be.
After Y2K, I wanted nothing more to do with Area 51, but I have softened my position recently. Beginning in 2008, I started offering tours (ended in 2011) and entertaining the media again. My position is strictly nostalgic, however. I can talk about my activities in the 1990s and am still an expert on the surrounding desert, but I have done no serious research into Area 51 since 1999. Since coming out of retirement, I have appeared on UFO Hunters, MysteryQuest, Secret Government Warehouses and a couple of as-yet unreleased projects. In general, if you see me on a TV show, don't believe it! These shows depend on selling you paranormal claims, and they are not likely to report information that might dispel those claims. (See my video Area 51 Exposed at Last! — the truth in 44 seconds!)
I appointed myself the "Family Court Guy" and I started building an eleborate website, FamilyCourtChronicles.com. (Most of which is still present but not active. I only removed the "entity" section on specific individuals and organizations.) I also wrote a Family Court newsletter, reminiscent of the Desert Rat, in which I reported on issues and scandals of the court system.
My plan was to turn child welfare into the "New Area 51", drawing public attention here in same way I had done for Groom Lake. Unfortunately, without any paranormal claims, the world wasn't interested. In spite of a substantial article in a local paper and an interview on nationwide public radio, my readership remained miniscule. I lived on a shoestring while reporting on the court until finally giving it up when I left Las Vegas in 2008.
Family Court remains a fascinating field that I now understand, and my three years studying it was an immense contribution to my education, but the lack of an audience was frustrating. While hundreds of thousands of people read my Area 51 newsletter, I was lucky to get a dozen hits on one of my Family Court issues, which I felt were far more substantial. Around June of 2008, when I learned that I would be laid off from my airline job, I decided to quit both Las Vegas and Family Court. Now it was time to travel!
Most of my philosophical writings and videos since 2008 have been an offshoot of the things I learned in Family Court. It turned my pollyannaish view of the world into a more realistic one.
Although I have never received any publicity for my philosophical
writings or videos, I see this as my most important legacy.
See my Philosophy Page for an overview of my
Near the end of my study of Family Court, I began to be more interested in the wider philosophical questions the court raised. For example, watching divorces play out made me wonder if marriage wasn't a delusion to begin with. I experimented with philosophical writing my Family Court Newsletter and in a section of my website called the Family Court Philosopher. This eventually evolved into a general-interest philosophy newsletter called Kilroy Cafe, which I continued to work on after I left Las Vegas. Since the themes in Kilroy Cafe were universal, I could pursue them anywhere. I continued to produce the Kilroy newsletter for almost two years, until March 2010.
My favorite philosophical newsletter from my Family Court era is one that I later reproduced in KilroyCafe: BAN GAY MARRIAGE (heterosexual marriage, too!).
When Twitter became popular, I quickly recognized it's potential for philosophical wisdom. I tweeted first as @KilroyCafe then as @BadDalaiLama, which I continue to tweet today. I joined YouTube in May 2010. In the short time I have been active in video, I have published hundreds of videos, about a quarter of which are philosophical discussions. (Example: "How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse".) I now prefer video over essays.
No matter what I do in the future, you can be assured that I will always be spouting philosophy in some form.
See Glenn's Philosophy for more details.
I am not famous for travel—but I should be! I have been more places
in the last four years than most people would visit in several lifetimes.
In fact, since September 2008, my life has been one continuous road trip.
I rarely linger anywhere for more than three days.
The evidence is found in my photos,
and Facebook page.
Recently, I have also accumulated evidence in
my geotagged tweets
and geotagged postings to
Google+. If the geotag
says I'm in Cairo one day and Kentucky the next, it is probably true!
My current road trip began in Sept. 2008 when I got laid off from my part-time ramp job at US Airways in Las Vegas (photos). By a magical confluence of circumstances, I was able to fly for free on US Airways for three full years following my employment. (I call it "winning the travel lottery".) Although the perk ended in Sept. 2011, I haven't slowed down. I continue to live on the road because that's the place I like to be. Now that I am an expert on budget travel, the free flight isn't as valuable to me as it once was, and I am not tempted to work for an airline again. (For the details of my 1-year employment and 4 years of free flight see my hour-long video: Oral History of my Airline Career.)
I supposed you could call me "addicted" to travel, but I prefer to call it a "lifestyle choice". You may call me "homeless", but I call you "home-encumbered". Let me give you a short history of how this "addiction" came about....
During my childhood, I hardly left New England, but I dreamed of faraway places. I studied maps and had a big stamp collection, where I collected the symbolic tokens of faraway places. After one year of college, I "went West, young man". While trying to decide what to do with my life, I explored the USA any way I could—by buspass, railpass, thumb and occasional freight-train hopping. Within three years, I had visited every US state and most Canadian provinces. Although higher education wasn't really my thing, I used college (and college financial aid) as a travel pass. I went to USC in Los Angeles for one semester, where I majored in... Los Angeles! — giving little attention to my classes. After that I "studied" at the University Alaska for a year, braving the 40-below winter.
Only after I had mastered the States was I willing to tackle foreign lands. My first journey overseas was to New Zealand, where I worked for three months between USC and Alaska. It wasn't until my late 20s that I attempted Europe.
My first voyage to Europe was typical of the many crafty deals I would pull off in my traveling career. I bought a ticket from Boston to Brussels on soon-to-fail People Express Airlines for $99 each way, for only a long weekend. At my outbound connecting city (Newark) I missed my connection to the Brussels flight. To compensate me, the airline gave me a voucher for another future free flight to Europe, plus they let me board a later flight to London. I landed there and in about three days I visited London, Manchester, Paris, Brussels and Cologne before heading back home. (I don't have any photos to prove it, but I swear it happened. I just kept moving for the whole 72 hours.) So for $198, I got TWO trips to Europe, visiting 5 major cites on the first trip along. On top of that, I got enough frequent flying miles for a domestic round trip!
I loved working these deals and I also loved Europe. From 1988 through 1992, I flew everywhere I could, whenever I could. It was a bad time for airlines but a golden era for clever flyers. I watched for low fares and frequent flyer deals and joined a last-minute travel club. I had a regular job as a computer programmer, so I had to fit most of this travel into weekends (2-4 days). Usually, I would rent a car at the destination, engage in a massive road trip, then fly home. I flew these weekend jaunts both domestically and internationally, and sometimes the only aim of the domestic trip was to collect frequent flyer miles to use on international ones. I also did something that would be illegal and impossible today: I recruited other people to fly as me on travel-club tickets: They got the low fare and I collected the frequent flyer miles.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION. TO BE CONTINUED...
See Glenn's Photos for travel photos and videos.