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"Everyday[sic] powerful artifacts are being discovered by people who have no idea what to do with them. Something has to be done."
―Man in suit[src]

Hangar 51 was a United States military installation located in Nevada.

Officially a storage facility for replacement B-series aircraft parts, Hangar 51 was, in actuality, a repository of items kept in secret by the US government such as the Ark of the Covenant and the New Mexico specimen.


"This warehouse is where you and your government have hidden all of your secrets, yes?"
Irina Spalko, to Indiana Jones[src]

A vast warehouse[2] located in Nevada[1], Hangar 51 was in operation as early as 1934, the year that the Adventure Society, a collective of archaeologists and explorers occasionally aided by Indiana Jones, unearthed several artifacts around the globe, many of which held supernatural properties. Spooked by the sudden accumulation of powerful objects with zero oversight, agents of the USA launched an extensive raid of the Adventure Society's Base Camp in Central America and other sites in Egypt.[3]


Musgrove and Eaton at Hangar 51.

In trying to deal with the fallout of the Egyptian operation, Indiana Jones and the protegé of Adventure Society professor John Allen got separated with the latter catching a flight to Hangar 51 in Nevada where, unknown to Jones, they were met by American intelligence agents Eaton and Musgrove who proposed that Allen's group become their "top men".[3]

Thousands of secret items were stored at the warehouse, including the Ark of the Covenant — placed there in 1936.[4] Among other secret items stored there were the unearthly remains after the events in Roswell in 1947. It was the latter which Irina Spalko and her band of Soviet soldiers forced Indiana Jones to find for them in 1957. During the battle in the warehouse, many crates, including the one containing the Ark, were damaged.[1]

The facility had an external perimeter which was guarded by military police while hangar basement contained a rocket testbed which Indiana Jones and Antonin Dovchenko accidentally activated while fighting each other.[1]

Hangar 51 personnel[]

Behind the scenes[]

The warehouse first appeared briefly at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a scene which has since has been parodied multiple times in media.[4] The building is given a name and seen much more elaborately in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[1] According to writer David Koepp, the idea to retroactively reveal Hangar 51 as the warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant was entombed served as a great way to launch back into the series, acknowledging the past but moving forward.[5]

"Hangar 51" is a reference to both Area 51 and Hangar 18, places traditionally associated with US national secrets and UFO remains in conspiracy theories and urban legends. Like Hangar 51, the real-life Area 51 is also located in Nevada. However, a direct connection is anachronistic to real-world history as Area 51 was established during the '50s, two decades after the storage facility's appearance in Raiders.

For the filming of the Hangar 51 scenes in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, its entrance gate was built on Corralitos Road, a rural thoroughfare between Deming and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Its exterior was filmed at Deming Municipal Airport in New Mexico while the interior was built in a soundstage at Downey Studios in Los Angeles, which was enhanced by matte paintings digitally. Downey Studios also built the rocket sled control room, while the live-action plates for the rocket sled sequence were done somewhere near Corralitos Road.[6]


Property master Doug Harlocker with the Staff of Moses and its crate.

According to the Crystal Skull DVD feature, Iconic Props, a prop of the Staff of Kings based on the staff of Moses from the 1956 film The Ten Commandments was created and put into crate 4054504.[7] The staff, however, goes unseen in the final cut of the film.[1] For their 2008 Indiana Jones toy line, Hasbro included an artifact from across the Expanded Adventures with each figure as an accessory which were held in their own version of a crate from Hangar 51 with a unique number.[8][9]

There was a scene filmed for Crystal Skull which depicted the Soviets evacuating Hangar 51 after real US Marines arrive having been alerted by the launch of the rocket sled. Though cut from the final film, this scene is briefly visible in one of the TV spots.[10]

In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Eaton fulfills the role of the Warehouseman as the one who stores the Ark of the Covenant in the hangar, after which he finds himself lost within the vast space.[11] In the video game's sequel, a janitor is the one who stores the Ark. As a nod towards Harrison Ford having played both Indiana Jones and Star Wars character Han Solo, Solo frozen in carbonite is among the items stored at Hangar 51, as is the Staff of Ra.[12]



Notes and references[]