It's not uncommon for government buildings to be opened up to the public, even active military bases provide tours to interested parties, but could the legendary Area 51 ever be opened up to the members of the public?
Well, the simple answer is no.
All world governments have secrets, places where they research new technologies, weapons and aircrafts. In the US, the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) is that place.
The highly classified Area 51 is just a small part of the the NTTR. The whole test range is the size of a small country... literally. At 4,531 square miles the NTTR is about the same size as Jamaica. There is a non-fly zone over and around the base, in total 12,700 square miles of airspace is managed. That's an area of sky the size of Belgium.
Area 51 is located almost in the centre of this complex in an area called Groom Lake. Its exact size is not known, but the even more heavily controlled airspace around Area 51 makes up an area of 575 square miles. The control here is so strict that even military pilots from neighbouring facilities in the NTTR are not allowed to enter the Area 51 no-fly zone.
The land is so remote and so vast that it makes it the perfect place for the air force and other government departments to hide their secrets. It's for this reason that the public are very unlikely to ever get the opportunity to visit Area 51. Even if Area 51 itself was declassified and decommissioned, there would still be plenty of other sensitive facilities within the NTTR.
The only way the security would ever be relaxed across the whole site is if the government was overthrown and all of their military facilities within the NTTR were shutdown.
There is one part of the test range that can be visited by the public, Nellis Air Force Base, which covers about 18 square miles on the southern edge of the complex. On the base's official website, the air force say that thousands of people visit Nellis each year and that a tour can be an excellent educational tool for those interested in learning more about the United States Air Force.
Due to the sheer scale of the NTTR complex, members of the public touring the air force base won't get anywhere near Area 51, as Groom Lake is over 80 miles north of the base.
Even if you were to be given free run of Area 51, you'd have an area the size of Houston, Texas to explore if you wanted to see all of the base. That's not to mention what else might be hidden and of interest in the Nevada Range, but covering an area the size of Jamaica is going to be no mean feat.
The government is under no obligation to tell US citizens how the defence budget is being spent at Area 51. The facility at Groom Lake is classified as top secret to preserve and protect national security and to keep the base's secrets away from the prying eyes of the country's enemies.
Of course there are conspiracy theories about the base's involvement in hiding and back-engineering extraterrestrial technology and even housing alien visitors here on Earth, but there's no real evidence to support that another intelligence has ever come to our planet. It's more likely that these stories have been concocted by the government themselves to distract the public from uncovering the base's real use.
We do know a little about the history of Area 51, since the government finally admitted its existence in 2013. Researchers have uncovered in formerly classified CIA documents that the base is a flight testing facility.
The base is where the Lockheed U-2 spy plane was developed and tested, as well as the A-12 reconnaissance plane , also known as OXCART, and the stealth fighter F-117 Nighthawk.