For conspiracy theorists looking for evidence of secret government collusion with aliens, the papers are a disappointing read.
The Central Intelligence Agency and US Air Force just admit for the first time that Area 51 does exist – but was merely a testing ground for surveillance operations during the Cold War with Russia.
Area 51 was one of the US government’s worst kept secrets.
But some strange goings-on are recorded – even though they do not involve aliens.
For instance, airmen had to vacuum the runways to protect sensitive tyres and engines on surveillance aircraft from dust and sand.
U2 spy plane
The details of the airbase were revealed by the US government to a writer researching the history of the U2 spy plane.
The plane flew high over Russia photographing space, military and other sensitive locations. The revelation caused a sensation when one U” was forced to land in Russia. While Russian scientists reverse engineered the technology, the pilot, Gary Powers, was paraded in front of the world as a spy.
The Area 51 papers were released under a freedom of information request to the government from Jeffrey Richelson of George Washington University’s National Security Archive.
Earlier freedom of information requests result in heavily edited documents that gave little or no information about the base.
“This set of papers has a large amount of newly declassified material included,” said Richelson.
“It talks about the U2 spy plane and gives the details of pilots, codenames and codes, locations, funding, electronic countermeasures equipment, organisation, cooperation with foreign governments, and operations, particularly in Asia.”
The new documents even include a map of Area 51.
Roswell and aliens
Providing conspiracy theorists believe the documents, a lot of history is debunked, like the Roswell incident, which relates the capture of an alien when an extra-terrestrial space craft crashed in the US, plus a lot of ‘fact-based’ fiction like the X-files TV series and articles in the Fortean Times.
The Fortean Times is a magazine that collates strange stories and sightings of aliens and other extra-terrestrial visitors to the Earth.
The history of Area 51 appears less sensational. The base was a gunnery range during World War 2 and later approved as an atomic testing centre by President Dwight D Eisenhower.
The papers refer to Area 51 by the nickname ‘Paradise Ranch’ or just ‘The Ranch’.
To keep the hopes and dreams of conspiracy theorists alive, the papers do lack information about some small areas of the base.