It's a good day to be a conspiracy theorist. Ending a decades-long game of leak after leak without any official word, the US government has finally admitted the existence of Area 51 in a recently declassified CIA report detailing the history of the U-2.
The National Security Archive at George Washington University published the report, "The Secret History of the U-2", and within its pages are numerous references to Area 51, which the US used as a secret test facility for the Cold War-era plane. Describing how they came to settle on that particular, now notorious piece of Nevada land, the report states:
On 12 April 1955, Richard Bissell and Col. Osmund Ritland (the senior Air Force officer on the project staff) flew over Nevada with Kelly Johnson on a small Beechcraft plane piloted by Lockheed's chief test pilot, Tony LeVier. They spotted what appeared to be an airstrip by a salt flat known as Groom Lake, near the northeast corner of the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) Nevada Proving Ground.
After landing on the lake bed, the group concluded that they had found the perfect place to host their covert tests — and the consequent cascade of alien and UFO conspiracy theories that would soon follow. But the name Area 51 (which came from its map designation) doesn't exactly inspire that warm, fuzzy feeling, so after getting President Eisenhower's approval, they went for something a little more feel-good. According to the report:
The outlines of Area 51 are shown on current unclassified maps as a small rectangular area adjoining the northeast corner of the much larger Nevada Test Site. To make the new facility in the middle of nowhere sound more attractive to his workers, Kelly Johnson called it the Paradise Ranch, which was soon shortened to the Ranch.
But just because Area 51 hadn't been officially recognised until now doesn't mean that people weren't fully aware that it was, in fact, a very real thing. Still, what this government milestone does mean is that, now that they've fully admitted to the base's existence, this opens up a whole slew of potential soon-to-be-declassified documents that would otherwise have remained closed off thanks to their close connection to Area 51.
Even with this new revelation, though, the fact remains that there are still portions of the report that are blacked out. So don't lose hope — just because we haven't seen any mention of aliens or UFOs yet doesn't mean they're not still hidden somewhere under all those dark, mysterious lines. And at the very least, it's a day of (some degree of) validation for all you Area 51 truthers out there. So dust off the ol' tinfoil hat and put it on, friends — you've earned it. [The Atlantic Wire]