The CIA finally acknowledged the existence of the mysterious Area 51 in central Nevada, referencing the site that's been the stuff of conspiracy stories for decades in newly declassified documents made public on Thursday.
Previously released documents about the CIA's secret U-2 spy plane program contained zero references to Area 51, USA Today reported. But these same documents, requested in 2005 by the George Washington University National Security Archive and received this week, include all previously redacted references to the area.
The references to Area 51 highlight the CIA's reconnaissance program, as written in the CIA's history files in 1992.
Part of the history described the first time the CIA's project director, Richard Bissell, and his Air Force officer colleague, Col. Osmund Ritlandt, saw the site — an old airstrip by a lake.
"[They] walked over to examine the strip. The facility had been used during World War II as an aerial gunnery range for Army Air Corps pilots. From the air the strip appeared to be paved, but on closer inspection it turned out to have originally been fashioned from compacted earth that had turned into ankle-deep dust after more than a decade of disuse," an excerpt read.
The documents also said the CIA officials found the area "an ideal site for testing the U-2 and training its pilots," the paper reported.
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