The National Security Archive at George Washington University has posted a document obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that finally officially acknowledges the existence of Area 51, although this is not the first official document to reference Area 51 and the CIA’s account of the U-2 and UFOs is not entirely accurate.
The document is a CIA report on overhead reconnaissance, and details the history of the development of the U-2 and OXCART spy planes from 1954 to 1974, both of which were developed and tested at the super secret Area 51 airstrip on the Nevada Test and Training Range, adjacent to Nellis Air Force Base.
Until now, it has been ironic that Area 51 has been both the most secretive U.S. Air Force base, while at the same time being perhaps the most well-known. KLAS TV news in Las Vegas has been on the forefront of Area 51 research. They began investigating the secret base and reporting on its activities via information they had gathered from engineers who worked on the base in the early 1980s. However, it wasn’t until 1989 when KLAS reporter George Knapp interviewed a man claiming to have worked on back engineered extraterrestrial space craft at Area 51 that the base began to pique the interest of the public at large.
Since then it has been referenced in countless books, movies,video games and TV shows. The entire time, the US government did not acknowledge its existence. Until now, some people have doubted it existed at all.
John Greenewald, a specialist in FOIA requests, has amassed one of the largest collections of declassified government documents on his BlackVault.com website. He says he thinks the hype over the newly released CIA document is a little over blown. He says he actually has in his records two other documents that reference Area 51. One of those he obtained with a FOIA request on Area 51 to the Department of Energy.
The document states: “The 38,400-acre land area once known as ‘Area 51’ was withdrawn from public use by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 35 years ago under Public Land Order 1662 (filed June 25, 1958).”
His other document was obtained by a FOIA to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) regarding Area 51. It is a document from 1962 with the subject, “Aerial Observation of Area 51.” The document recommends that they fly over Area 51 with a U-2 spy plane in order to assess what the soviets may see if they should be able to take pictures with the Sputnik 13 satellite.
Greenewald does note that the CIA document released yesterday had been in the public prior, but much of it was redacted. The new version has much less redaction, and is the first time the references to Area 51 in the document have been declassified.
Area 51 and UFOs
Interestingly, the CIA document does reference UFOs. It has a section titled “U-2s, UFOs, and Operation Blue Book.” This section states that once they began test flights of the U-2 in the mid 1950s there was an increase in UFO reports. It says witnesses began to write letters to the Air Force, and “This, in turn, led to the Air Force’s Operation Blue Book.”
While it is most certain U-2 flights did lead to an increase in UFO reports, this did not lead to the creation of the Air Force’s Project Blue Book. Project Blue Book was an official U.S. Air Force investigation of UFOs established in 1951, and was actually the third Air Force project to investigate UFO sightings. The first was Project Sign, set up in 1948, which then became Project Grudge in 1949, and finally Blue Book in 1951.
The best history regarding the early era of official Air Force UFO research was written by Edward J. Ruppelt, the Air Force officer in charge of Project Blue Book during its inception in 1951. He left Blue Book in 1953. Ruppelt is credited with coining the term Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs).
Ruppelt documented his experiences with Project Blue Book in his book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, which he says reads just like a report he would have sent his superiors. He says of the Air Force UFO investigations:
It is well known that ever since the first flying saucer was reported in June 1947 the Air Force has officially said that there is no proof that such a thing as an interplanetary spaceship exists. But what is not well known is that this conclusion is far from being unanimous among the military and their scientific advisers because of the one word, proof; so the UFO investigations continue.
There is no other mention of UFOs or aliens at Area 51 in the CIA document, but Greenewald is hopeful that if there is some evidence to be found in classified government documents, persistent FOIA requests will eventually lead to the declassification of the evidence UFO researchers have been looking for. Until then, his work and the work done by the National Security Archive and other members of the public utilizing FOIA requests will continue to slowly help us learn more so we can continue to put together more pieces of the puzzle.