Area 51. UFOs. Dead aliens. A lakebed about 125 miles north of Las Vegas has ignited imaginations for more than half a century.
Now a CIA report just made public tells the secret history of how Groom Lake was turned into Area 51, and explains how U-2 spy planes targeted China and confused the Soviets.
First off, those weren’t UFOs, they were U-2s. Sorry.
The U-2 flew at 60,000 feet. If one “was airborne in the vicinity of the airliner [during twilight hours] … 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,” according to the CIA history.
If there were no UFOs, there weren’t any aliens. Not even any humans in Area 51 by 1957, when it was feared fallout from a series of nuclear tests might reach the salt flat that formed the secret site with part of a World War II-era landing strip. But two years later, the CIA was back and the site expanded.
The map and other documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Jeffrey T. Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive.
Chinese and British pilots were also part of the U-2 program, Richelson notes. The report “openly credits Chinese Nationalist pilots with numerous (U-2) missions over the People’s Republic of China” and explains how the U-2 spied on the French who were conducting nuclear tests in the Pacific, Richelson says in an article for Foreign Policy. President Eisenhower believed if British pilots flew U-2s, it would confuse the Soviets as to who was behind the program.
Here’s a pdf of the report. Good luck getting it to download. We don’t appear to be the only people interested in it.