By Amanda Holpuch | The Guardian
Friday 16 August 2013
Conspiracy theorists likely to be disappointed as CIA declassifies documents for the notorious UFO-sighting locale
It turns out that the cultural repository for American alien conspiracies has a much more mundane history. Area 51, the secret government space in the Mojave desert, was used to test aerial programs.
While government officials have mentioned the base in passing over the years, a newly declassified history provides the first official acknowledgement that Area 51 exists and provides new details on what the space has been used for – and it is not what conspiracy theorists want to hear.
According to the seven-chapter history, Area 51 was used as an aerial testing ground for US government projects. The released documents specifically refer to the U-2 and Oxcart aerial surveillance programs.
“High-altitude testing of the U-2 soon led to an unexpected side effect – a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs),” according to the documents, which became public through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by George Washington University’s National Security Archive.
The documents, first published in 1992 and posted online on Thursday, attributed these UFO “sightings” to the U-2s ability to fly above 60,000ft – which was considered too high for manned flight by the general public at the time.