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CIA Admits Area 51 Exists, but Little Else

I know…”Trust no one.” But while a recently declassified CIA report officially acknowledges the existence of Area 51, it contains no accounts of any extraterrestrial beings ever visiting, dyeing, being imprisoned or nursed back to health there.

In its 1992 report — “The U2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974″ — the CIA refers repeatedly to “Area 51″ as being the secret test site for the U2 and A-12 OXCART high altitude surveillance aircraft, and even displays a map of Area 51′s location in the Mojave Desert, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The A-12 OXCART was the prototype of the amazing SR-71 Blackbird high-altitude, long-range, ultra-sonic spy plane.

The CIA report was acquired by George Washington University’s National Security Archive through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Area 51′s First Day

The report even describes details of the day on April 25, 1955, when CIA project director Richard Bissell and Air Force officer Col. Osmund Ritlandt first selected Area 51 – named for its military map grid designation – as the location for the super-secret test flight programs.

According to the CIA history Bissell and Col. Ritlandt were flying over the desert in a small plane piloted by Lockheed’s chief test pilot Tony LeVier, when they saw what appeared to be an abandoned runway on a salt flat labeled as “Groom Lake” on their maps. Noting that Groom Lake was near the Atomic Energy Commission’s Nevada Proving Ground, the trio decide to land and have look around.

“After debating about landing on the old airstrip, LeVier set the plane down on the lakebed, and all four walked over to examine the strip,” states the history. “The facility had been used during World War II as an aerial gunnery range for Army Air Corps pilots. From the air the strip appeared to be paved, but on closer inspection it turned out to have originally been fashioned from compacted earth that had turned into ankle-deep dust after more than a decade of disuse.”

“If LeVier had attempted to land on the airstrip, the plane would probably have nosed over when the wheels sank into the loose soil, killing or injuring all of the key figures in the U-2 project.”

Based on their brief inspection, the group agreed Groom Lake “would make an ideal site for testing the U-2 and training its pilots,” according to the CIA history.

But What About the UFOs?

While it does address the countless UFOs reported in the vicinity of Area 51, the CIA history states that people were actually seeing U2 spy planes flying at extremely high altitudes, rather than alien spacecraft.

“High altitude testing of the U2 soon led to an unexpected side effect — a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs),” states the history.

The government’s steadfast refusal to directly address the UFO reports or even admit the existence of Area 51, led to theories of the base being used as everything from a landing strip and hideaway for alien spacecraft, to a hospital and prison for wayward extraterrestrial beings.

The reality of the UFO’s was far less exotic, according to the CIA, involving only a combination of silvery wings, high altitude and the sun.

According to the CIA, most of the UFO reports were made by pilots of airliners flying from east to west – toward the setting sun – during the early evening. “When the sun dropped below the horizon of an airliner flying at 20,000 feet, the plane was in darkness,” the history explains. “But, if a U-2 was airborne in the vicinity of the airliner at the same time, its horizon from an altitude of 60,000 feet was considerably more distant, and being so high in the sky, its silver wings would catch and reflect the rays of the sun and appear to the airliner pilot, 40,000 feet below, to be fiery objects.”

While the airline pilots were aware of the optical effects of flying toward the setting sun, the history suggests they reported the sightings because, “At this time, no one believed manned flight was possible above 60,000 feet, so no one expected to see an object so high in the sky.”

Area 51 and Operation Blue Book

According to the CIA history, the Area 51 UFO reports resulted in the often-maligned Operation Blue Book, the Air Force’s ongoing attempt to officially link the sightings to natural phenomenon.

“Blue Book investigators regularly called on the Agency’s (CIA’s) Project Staff in Washington to check reported UFO sightings against U-2 flight logs,” states the history. “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.”

So while the CIA history will do little, if anything, to dispel the theories of extraterrestrial doings at Area 51, at least a little bit more of the truth is out there.

Also See: Bush Orders Area 51 Can Keep its Toxic Secrets (2003)

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