Area 51 Conspiracy Revealed: Declassified CIA Documents Expose Existence Of Secret Base And U-2 Spy Program

By Philip Ross on August 16, 2013 12:22 PM EDT

area 51
Area 51, the mysterious military base in Nevada’s desert. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Area 51 conspiracies have loomed large in the American public psyche ever since people started reporting UFO sightings over the Nevada desert in the mid-20th-century. Theories about what went on at the remote and secret military base were wild and fantastic, and included extraterrestrials, alien autopsies and even ideas of time travel.

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But newly declassified CIA documents paint a different picture. Mainly, that the mysterious Area 51 military base 125 miles northwest of Las Vegas was a testing ground for the American government's Cold War spy program.

This is the first time the U.S. government has acknowledged the existence of Area 51. The documents also reveal that the Air Force used the facilities in Nevada to test their U-2 plane, a strategic reconnaissance aircraft used by the U.S. all over the globe.

The declassified CIA documents credit the U-2 planes, which flew at much higher altitudes than commercial airliners, as the source of UFO sightings. Pilots of commercial aircraft frequently reported witnessing strange objects in the sky.

"High-altitude testing of the U-2 soon led to an unexpected side effect-a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects," the declassified CIA document notes.

"Being so high in the sky, [the U-2's] silver wings would catch and reflect the rays of sun and appear to the airliner pilot, 40,000 feet below, to be fiery objects."

According to the report, the U.S. Air Force even had a specific department dedicated to debunking UFO sightings and linking them to natural phenomenon.

"[The report] marks an end of official secrecy about the facts of Area 51," Jeffrey Richelson, senior fellow of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, told the Las Vegas Sun. "It opens up the possibility that future accounts of this and other aerial projects will be less redacted, more fully explained in terms of their presence in Area 51."

Richelson obtained the 400-page report, titled "Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and Oxcart Programs, 1954-1974," a few weeks ago through a Freedom of Information request he submitted in 2005. He released the document to the public Thursday.

Here's an excerpt from the Area 51 declassified CIA documents, discussing the Air Force's effort, called Operation Blue Book to explain people's UFO sightings around Nevada:

Based at Wright-Patterson, the operation collected all reports of UFO sightings. Air Force investigators then attempted to explain such sightings by linking them to natural phenomena.

BLUE BOOK investigators regularly called on the Agency's Project Staff in Washington to check reported UFO sightings against U-2 flight logs. This enabled the investigators to eliminate the majority of the UFO reports, although they could not reveal to the letter writers the true cause of the UFO sightings.

U-2 and later OXCART flights accounted for more than one-half of all UFO reports during the late 1950s and most of the 1960s.

Do the recently released CIA documents tell the truth? Or will the new information about Area 51 be subjected to further conspiracy theories and skepticism?

Read more from iScience Times:

UFO Over San Antonio Caught On Video: Did Mario Vallejo See A Flying Orb?

UFO Britain Conspiracy: Ministry of Defense Shuts Down UFO Division, Releases Secret Files Of Stonehenge, Parliament [PHOTO, VIDEO, REPORT]

UFO Hits Air China Passenger Jet? Aviation Experts Baffled By Damage To Boeing 757 [REPORT]

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