CIA acknowledges its Area 51 test site for 1st time
By Steve Gorman ReutersTAIPEI, Taiwan -- National security scholars at George Washington University have some good news and bad news for UFO buffs — the U.S. government has finally confirmed the existence of Area 51 in Nevada, but it makes no mention of little green men or alien spaceships.
August 18, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The government acknowledged the existence of the mysterious aviation test site known as Area 51, a remote installation about 80 miles (130 km) northwest of Las Vegas, in a newly declassified CIA history of its U-2 spy plane program.
After decades of extreme secrecy surrounding the site, stoking conspiracy theories about UFOs and experiments on alien spacecraft, the CIA lifted its veil on Area 51 in response to a public records request from George Washington University scholars in Washington, D.C.
Publicly released online on Thursday by the university's National Security Archive, the 400-page CIA history contains the first deliberate official references to Area 51, also known as Groom Lake, as a site developed by the intelligence agency in the 1950s to test fly the high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane.
Other top-secret aircraft were tested there later, including the supersonic reconnaissance A-12 aircraft, code-named OXCART, and the F-117 stealth ground-attack jet, said archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson, who asked for the CIA's U-2 history in 2005.
A newly revised document restoring numerous references to Area 51 that had been redacted in earlier versions was furnished by the CIA a few weeks ago, he said.
“It's the first time that there must have been a senior-level decision to acknowledge the term 'Area 51' and its specific location,” he told Reuters on Friday.
Chapter 2 of the CIA history recounts how Richard Bissell, the CIA officer then overseeing development of the U-2 plane by Lockheed, first spotted the site on an aerial scouting mission over Nevada in April 1955, accompanied by an Air Force officer and two others.
The four men landed their plane near an old, abandoned air strip at the edge of a salt flat known as Groom Lake near the northeastern corner of the Nevada Test Site, the nuclear proving ground then controlled by the Atomic Energy Commission.