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CIA gets UFOs wrong in Area 51 document

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.

Area 51 map from the CIA’s report on overhead reconnaissance. (Credit: CIA)

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The document states: “The 38,400-acre land area once known as ‘Area 51’ was withdrawn from public use by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 35 years ago under Public Land Order 1662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.

U-2 on aircraft carrier
A left front view of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS AMERICA. (Credit: US Navy)

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.

YF-12A aircraft, precursor to the A-12/SR-71. The OXCART program was created by the CIA to develop the craft at Area 51. (Credit: CIA)

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.

Alejandro Rojas

Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

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  1. At first reading, it sounds as though, the UFO reports were because of witnesses seeing the tests that were going on at Area 51 and the government wanted to make sure it was just that and not a Russian satellite. It doesn’t seem like the U.S. government was ever too concerned with extraterrestrial space craft because they too, like Edward J. Ruppelt mentioned, have no proof. If the Roswell incident was ever officially declassified, that would help answer so many questions, but why does it still stand as a mystery? Why not just officially declassify those old documents as well?
    This article also made me think about Bob Lazar and his claim to UFO fame when he said he studied alien space craft at a lab 8 miles from Area 51. When I went back and re-read his story, he claimed the lab was “underground.” Now that this Area 51 document is being declassified, it makes his story and anyone else’s stories about there being alien technology near Area 51, really far fetched. ::shifting my eyes::

  2. Istead of waiting for Govt., nasa, seti or astronomers to tell you yes,UFPOs do exist, and yes they are et piloted etc. why not google Larry King, CNN, uTube, ‘UFOs shut down missile silos’.

    Then why not open http://www.theyfly.com. Now, before you scream fraud as the fact that we have open et contact is just too much for you to stomach, note that half a dozen US investigators spent decades trying to debunk Meier, the Swiss et contactee, and failed. Note also that Meier published planetary data on our Solar System given to him by et, and from personal observation(!), sometimes years ahead of nasa’s’ discoveries’.

  3. Eh, how do you conclude that U2 flights lead to an increase in UFO sightings report?
    are you aware of any reports that in any way match the description of the U2?

    Don’t get swayed by bullshit claims like secret planes lead to UFO reports. That’s debunker bullshit. Noone ever saw U2 and SR71. They fly too remotely and too high.

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