The government acknowledged the existence of the mysterious aviation test site, well-known as Area 51, a remote installation about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, in a newly declassified CIA documents.
After decades of extreme secrecy surrounding the site CIA lifted its veil on Area 51 in response to a public records request from George Washington University scholars in Washington, D.C.
Publicly released online on Thursday the 400-page CIA history contains the first deliberate official references to Area 51, also known as Groom Lake, as a site developed by the intelligence agency in the 1950s to test fly the high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane.
Other top-secret aircraft were tested there later, including the supersonic reconnaissance A-12 aircraft, code-named OXCART, and the F-117 stealth ground-attack jet, said archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson, who asked for the CIA’s U-2 history in 2005.
Photos of the site and a newly declassified map outlining and labeling the location were also included in the document.
The intelligence agency had little to say about the disclosure:
“What readers of the CIA study will find is that CIA tests its U-2 and A-12 reconnaissance aircraft at the site in Nevada sometimes referred to as ‘Area 51,’” CIA spokesman Edward Price said. “What readers won’t find are any references to aliens or other conspiracy theories best left to the realm of science fiction”