Few places are as well-known in America’s cultural mythology as Area 51, said to house remnants of crashed alien space ships. A new declassified CIA history of Area 51 hints that high-tech spy craft, including forerunners to unmanned drones, sparked American imaginations.
A moonscape corner of Nevada known as Area 51 became synonymous with cold-war spy craft and intrigue – home to Project Aquatone and Operation Baby Face – but also gave rise to a whole body of UFO literature after a durable seed was planted in the American imagination: Could the truth about whether we’re alone in the universe be “out there”?
The National Security Archives on Thursday released a blockbuster CIA history that for the first time officially acknowledges the existence of “the facility at Groom Lake.”
The CIA, of course, managed to redact enough paragraphs to keep the debate about the facility’s role alive for a subculture of alien and UFO believers who say the site has been used by the government for everything from achieving the means of weather control to reverse-engineering spacecraft.
But the report, "The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974," also gives new details about what the government was really doing out there – developing new breeds of military aircraft, many of them unusual looking and unmanned – the secrecy around which fueled conspiracy theories that, in some cases, helped mask what the Americans were really plotting in the deep desert.