Declassified Report: Area 51 a Base for U-2s

USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady (U.S. Air Force photo)
USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady (U.S. Air Force photo)

Area 51, the Nevada site long linked to UFOs, has been acknowledged in a declassified report as the base for U-2 surveillance aircraft, an historian says.

The report is a "substantially less redacted version" of a classified study published in 1992, says Jeffrey T. Richelson in an article published Thursday in the National Security Archives.

Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archives, wrote that the study, released under a Freedom of Information Act request made in 2005, "is notable for the significant amount of newly declassified material with respect to the U-2."

The report includes the names of pilots, their codenames and a table with key data on all U-2 flights over the Soviet Union.

It also includes an account, "almost entirely deleted in the previous release," Richelson said, of U-2 operations conducted by Chinese Nationalists that were sponsored by the United States.

The report reveals that British pilots sometimes flew the U-2, a plan by President Dwight Eisenhower "to confuse the Soviets."

A map of Area 51, which is about 125 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is published in the study.

The site has long been rumored as a government hiding place for the bodies of extraterrestrial beings or crashed alien spacecraft after alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects in the Nevada desert in the 1950s and 1960s.

Richelson said he believes the release of the study could signal the government might be willing to release more information about Area 51 in the future, CNN reported.

"It marks an end of official secrecy about the facts of Area 51," Richelson said. "It opens up the possibility that future accounts of this and other aerial projects will be less redacted, more fully explained in terms of their presence in Area 51," the Las Vegas Sun reported.

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