Area 51 'declassified' in U-2 spy plane history

 
Satellite image of Groome Lake and area 51 Area 51, so-named for its designation on a 1950s-era map, surrounds a dry lake bed, Groom Lake

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The CIA has officially acknowledged the secret US test site known as Area 51, in a newly unclassified internal history of the U-2 spy plane programme.

The document obtained by a US university describes the 1955 acquisition of the Nevada site for testing of the secret spy plane.

It also explains the site's lingering association with UFOs and aliens.

The remote patch of desert surrounding Groom Lake was chosen because it was adjacent to a nuclear testing facility.

"The U-2 was absolutely top secret," Chris Pocock, a British defence journalist and author of histories of the programme, told the BBC.

"They had to hide everything about it."

The U-2 plane, developed to spy on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, is still flown by the US Air Force.

Reports of UFOs

The document, a secret 1992 internal CIA history of the U-2 programme, was originally declassified in 1998 with heavy redactions.

Many of the blacked-out details were revealed this month after a public records request by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University in Washington DC.

The site was selected for the U-2 programme in 1955 after an aerial survey by CIA and Air Force staff.

According to the history, President Dwight Eisenhower personally signed off on the acquisition.

Officials from the CIA, Air Force and Lockheed, the contractor building the U-2, began moving into the facility in July 1955.

While a lengthy account of the development of the U-2 spy plane programme, the history also attempts to shed light on the public's fascination with the Area 51 site and its lingering associations with extra-terrestrials and UFOs.

It notes that testing of the U-2 plane in the 1950s - at altitudes much higher than commercial aeroplanes then flew - provoked "a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs)".

"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," note authors Gregory Pedlow and Donald Welzenbach.

'Inclination towards secrecy'

The original request for the redacted portions of the history was made in 2005. It was released to the National Security Archive several weeks ago.

Jeff Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive, said the long period of secrecy was notable because of the extent people across the world were already aware of Area 51's existence.

Mr Richelson speculates the CIA must have recently made a conscious, deliberate decision to reveal Area 51's existence and origins.

"There is a general inclination towards secrecy," he said, and the many US agencies and non-US governments involved in the U-2 programme would have had a say in the declassification process.

"As far as I can tell, this is the first time something must have gone to a high-enough level to discuss whether or not to formally acknowledge Area 51's existence," he said

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 330.

    Air Force reports in the 1960s concluded that @ 95% of UFOs were misidentified aircraft, natural phenomena, etc., leaving 5% as "serious" unknowns often w/ instrument readings to back them up. Legit UFO researchers have long believed that some of that @ 5% were Air Force R&D projects. The present news effectively confirms that assessment. (continued in my next comment)

  • Comment number 329.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 328.

    I recall the Democratic Convention back in the early 1960's. Jerry (?) Brown got up on the podium (against the rules) and began talking about Area 15 until they quickly dragged him off the podium. Said the military was secretly using unattached prisoners (no family) for experiments with nuclear bombs in the desert. Mr. Brown was reported (by others) to have had a "breakdown". I've wondered.

  • Comment number 327.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 326.

    Area 51 acknowledged??? Well whoopty duptey skidaddley doo. Aliens as we know it are still microbes. Did somebody think different? Fools. Hello.. the planet is burning..Wake up and smell the afterburn. And that's not the aftershave.
    Holy flaming comet Batman thars aliens in them thar hills.
    U2 spy planes? Faster than a speeding missile? Obsolete old school.
    How about religious fanaticism?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 325.

    @ 318 Allen T2 Interesting that your comment reflects what much of the world currently thinks. At least in respect of keeping your troops within you own borders and minding your own business.

    Rather than a militarily aggressive stance aimed at expanding business interests. Whilst allowing those same businesses to decimate the nations economy through offshoring and inept banking practices.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 324.

    AllenT2 - "Get a life. Start by living your own in your own country and learn to mind your own business."

    Comedy gold. US tells others to 'mind their own business'

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 323.

    beammeup wrote:

    "maybe you are confused, but you are on the BBC site...British being the operative word."

    What does that have to do with the obsession you Brits have with America???

    "Brits being obsessed with Americans...I don't think so....."

    Then why are there vastly more stories on the BBC, and other British websites, about America and its culture than any other country?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 322.

    I find it distasteful that people are slagging off americans.

    They have no more say as to what their governments do than we in the UK have.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 321.

    @318 AllenT2
    ----------
    Sorry Allen, maybe you are confused, but you are on the BBC site...British being the operative word.

    Brits being obsessed with Americans...I don't think so....we feel the way the rest of the world does when it comes to the US.

  • Comment number 320.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 319.

    So Pte Manning (whistle blower of the US) was right!?

    Now that this is in the open I wonder how many other things are true.
    Second thoughts - Still could be another red herring to divert the truth?

    At least I am not paranoid about the security satellites viewing us all from space. It would only be paranoia if it were untrue.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 318.

    beammeup wrote:

    "I think it is because you Americans are so bizarre & somewhat pathetic that we find you amusing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    You're embarrassing yourself even more.

    Get a life. Start by living your own in your own country and learn to mind your own business.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 317.

    @315 AllenT2
    ------------
    I think it is because you Americans are so bizarre & somewhat pathetic that we find you amusing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 316.

    Man at the top is voted in office to protect peoples interest

    As Snowden said level of overreach in surveillance is unacceptable not in peoples interest which is why he revealed NSA GCHQ activities

    Obama has proven unfit for job and should leave office, transparency should be handled by someone who will act in peoples interests better

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 315.

    Boy you Brits are really obsessed over what Americans do. It would be amusing if it were not so bizarre and pathetic.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 314.

    Aliens left years ago , they work on level 6 at the Birmingham hippodrome , trust me on this one . they call themselves "LEVEL6 " ask any of staff there .

  • Comment number 313.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 312.

    Ooooo how exciting, let's start talking about old Area 51, Roswell & UFO's instead of why - in cahoots with successive UK Govts - the US has been spying on any UK citizen's emails & phone-calls that it feels like.
    Hey, Mr President - you'll need a carpet bigger than area 51 to sweep that one under!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 311.

    Why do Cats have 'alien eyes'? I think that they really came from another world, invaded Area 51, hypnotized the CIA and spread out. They discovered that we are extremely gullible and stupid and can easily fall for their fur and their purrs, which they used to trick us into thinking that they are harmless, yet secretly, planning to melt our faces and wipe us all out at the same time

 

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