The Airline of Area 51

September 29, 2021

"Janet Airlines" flying out of McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas.

If you’re ever flying out of McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, take a look at some of the planes flying out with you. You may spot one that looks like any other but doesn’t have any markings. It’s an airline that you can’t book a flight with, but it’s real and very secret.

This secret airline consists of nondescript, white planes that ferry civilian contractors from Las Vegas McCarren Airport to China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, and the place known as Area 51, the top-secret base of the U.S. Air Force. The fleet is unofficially known as “Janet Airlines.”

Janet Airlines is run by a private defense contractor called AECOM, though the aircraft are the property of the U.S. Air Force. The reason the airline is called Janet is largely unknown, though unofficially, it has come to mean “Just Another Non-Existent Terminal” or “Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation.” No one knows for sure. The airline became known as Janet Airlines because JANET is the callsign the aircraft use when flying into and out of Las Vegas.

The airline operates daily flights direct from a terminal at McCarren airport using Boeing 737–600 aircraft. The planes are white with a red stripe running down the side, and they carry about 190 people. In addition to the 737s, the airline operates five twin-turboprop aircraft; three Beechcraft Super King Air 200Cs, and two Beechcraft 1900s. The airplanes are given immediate clearance to take off and land, and any other aircraft are required to park to the side to let them depart when they’re on the ground, putting them first in line to take off.

Aerial view from Google Earth of Groom Lake and Area 51.
Groom Lake and Area 51

These aircraft, apart from military aircraft, are the only planes that are allowed to fly into the heavily restricted airspace around Groom Lake, a dry lake bed that borders the land where Area 51 is located. Area 51, as you may very well know, is one of the U.S. government’s most secret bases, and the government only acknowledged its existence in 2013 when it was referenced in declassified documents.

It has been rumored by conspiracy theorists to house extraterrestrial aircraft, though as time has passed, it has been discovered that it was the testing site for the SR-71 Blackbird, U-2 spy plane, and F-177A Nighthawk stealth fighter, just to name a few. Anything else the government does there is a closely guarded secret.

The requirements to be hired with Janet Airlines as a pilot or flight attendant are the same as other airlines, with a noticeable twist. The applicant must be able to hold a “Top Secret” clearance from the U.S. Government. The job listings are found with AECOM, the operator of the airline, but without any mention of it being the airline of area 51.

Sources: The Aviationist, YouTube,,, How Stuff Works, Business Insider

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A Huge Aircraft That is Designed to Launch Rockets Into Space
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The Time When a Pilot Shot Down a Satellite

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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