The CIA has released a 355-page document which officially acknowledges that Area 51 in Nevada does exist, and the agency comes clean about their weather balloon cover stories.
The document covers the U-2 and SR-71 spyplane programs and Project OXCART, the aerial reconnaissance programs, from 1954 to 1974.
Nope, no revelations about extraterrestrial spacecraft or alien bodies hidden at the base, but a really grainy map showing the location of Area 51 is included.While Area 51 has been the subject of fascination for conspiracy theorists and paranormal enthusiasts — and is entrenched in UFO-ology and pop culture — the newly declassified information (with surprisingly few redactions) admits the base was a top-secret aircraft testing facility for Cold War reconnaissance of the Soviet Union.
That UFO sightings increased during the times of the flight tests was an unexpected side effect, the document says:
"High-altitude testing of the U-2 soon led to an unexpected side effect-a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). In the mid-1950s, most commercial airliners flew at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet and military aircraft like the B-47s and B-57s operated at altitudes below 40,000 feet. Consequently once U-2s started flying at altitudes above 60,000 feet, air-traffic controllers began receiving increasing numbers of UFO reports."
The document also explains Project Blue Book and other frequently associated UFO story staples. The job of Project Blue Book was actually to figure out when civilians were reporting UFOs that were actually U-2s and then work out how to keep that from happening again.