Of the vast number of stories about UFOs and alien sightings, there is no other with as much diffusion in popular culture as that of Area 51.
Of the large number of stories about UFOs and alien sightings that have fueled conspiracy theories during the 20th century, there is no other with as much diffusion in popular culture as that of Area 51 and the so-called Roswell incident, which tells how the 7 July 1947, an alleged extraterrestrial ship crashed in the middle of the desert, near that small town in New Mexico, in the United States. However, more and more data dismantles the ufological version of the matter and gives more reasons to those who point out that, indeed, Area 51 did exist and different secret experiments were carried out in it, but that these had nothing to do with inhabitants of other planets, but with the testing of new aircraft by the US military.
The last grain of sand on this mountain has been provided by a report from the National Security Archives that has just been declassified by the CIA and that the George Washington University has freely made available, which explains, among many other Things tests that were performed with the U-2 plane in the so-called area 51, on Lake Groom, as well as known. It is a document called The National Intelligence Agency and Reconnaissance from Above: The U-2 and Oxcart Programs, written by Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzbenach, which, in its more than 400 pages, can throw a new light to the practices carried out in said Nevada complex that, indeed, were and are top secret. But not for the reasons many thought.
About UFOs and optical effects
The report states on page 85 that «the heights at which the U-2s were tested caused an unexpected side effect, a tremendous increase in sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).» As the report explains, the citizen was accustomed to seeing commercial aircraft that reached a height of between 10,000 and 20,000 feet, while the U-2 did it three times higher, at 60,000. It is also stated what is the time when the largest number of these sightings occur: at dusk, and above all, by airline pilots traveling from east to west. The confusion was produced, explains the report, by the effect that the light reflected in these planes produced, and that caused these ships to look like «burning objects».
Which, however, would not explain the large number of dismayed Nevadans calling authorities after seeing something suspicious in the skies. As the document suggests, the proliferation of sightings probably had to do with the fact that no person, to date, had ever seen anything like it, which usually leads to the attribution of a paranormal or extraterrestrial origin to what has really happened. born by the hand of man. In this regard, Pedlow and Welzenbach indicate that «at that time, no one thought that it was possible to make a manned flight above 60,000 feet, so no one expected to see an object at such a height in the sky.»
The Aquatone project
Many of these sightings appear collected in the so-called Blue Book Project, a compilation of studies carried out between 1952 and 1969 by the American Air Force with the aim of determining the veracity and dangerousness of each of the sightings made in the sky of the United States. Most of these sightings were discarded. As the report notes, «U-2s and later OXCARTs made up more than half of the reported UFO sightings between the late 1950s and most of the 1960s.»
El proyecto que puso en marcha la aparición de los célebres aviones de reconocimiento estratégico U-2 es el conocido como Aquatone, desarrollado en el área 51 a partir del año 1955. El encargado de encontrar el lugar ideal para realizar las pruebas fue Richard M. Bissell Jr., que pensó en el lago Groom como el lugar ideal para establecer la nueva base de pruebas. El informe señala, en palabras del ingeniero Kelly Johnson, que era “el perfecto campo de aterrizaje natural, tan suave como el tapete de una mesa de billar y totalmente natural”. Con posterioridad, el programa CARRETA daría lugar al SR-71 Blackbird, y el OXCART, al Lockheed A-12.
What we already knew, what we will never know
The existence of the so-called Area 51 is nothing new. Former Democratic President Bill Clinton himself acknowledged during a visit to Hong Kong that he had devoted part of his efforts to finding out what was happening in the famous area also known as Dreamland or Paradise Ranch. And he did not find anything mysterious or revealing, but rather something “boring”. «I tried to find out if there were any secret government documents that would reveal anything,» he explained. But he only found that «defense work» was being carried out. However, this did not exempt him from drafting during his tenure a waiver that abolished the obligation for Area 51 to make its environmental impact reports public.
Although those who prefer to continue to believe in the alien theory, they can continue to do so. In an FBI document from the time, and which can be freely accessed after its declassification in 2011, agent Paul Ryan explains how a CSI colleague told him how on the night of January 30, 1949, he observed how an «object flying” exploded in the middle of the sky and its fragments fell scattered around the area. Of course, this does not contradict the skeptical hypothesis, that is, that the alleged flying saucer was nothing more than an American army ship filtered by the imagination of a population, the American population, which began to consume regularly, spurred on by the Cold War, science fiction movies and novels.