The news has been ablaze with the CIA's revelation that Area 51 actually exists. However, this is not the first government document obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to name the base.
The National Security Archive at George Washington University recently posted a document obtained via a FOIA request from 2005 that finally officially acknowledges the existence of Area 51. The document is a CIA report on overhead reconnaissance, and details the history of the development of the U-2 and OXCART program spy planes from 1954 to 1974, both of which were developed and tested at the super secret Area 51 airstrip on the Nevada Test and Training Range, adjacent to Nellis Air Force Base.
This particular document was released before, but the words "Area 51," and other bits of information, were redacted. This is the first time the CIA has not redacted the term Area 51, thus indicating a declassification of that information.
Until now, it has been ironic that Area 51 has been both the most secretive U.S. Air Force base, while at the same time being perhaps the most well-known. KLAS TV news in Las Vegas has been on the forefront of Area 51 research. They began investigating the secret base and reporting on its activities via information they had gathered from engineers who worked on the base in the early 1980s.
However, it wasn't until 1989 when KLAS reporter George Knapp interviewed a man claiming to have worked on back engineered extraterrestrial space craft at Area 51 that the base began to pique the interest of the public at large.
Since then it has been referenced in countless books, movies, video games and TV shows. The entire time, the US government did not acknowledge its existence. Perhaps because of its association with extraterrestrial conspiracies, until now, some people have doubted it existed at all.
John Greenewald, a specialist in FOIA requests, has amassed one of the largest collections of declassified government documents and posts them on his BlackVault.com website. He says he thinks the hype over the newly released CIA document is a little over blown. He says he actually has in his records two other documents that reference Area 51. One of those he obtained with a FOIA request on Area 51 to the Department of Energy.
The document states: "The 38,400-acre land area once known as 'Area 51' was withdrawn from public use by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 35 years ago under Public Land Order 1662 (filed June 25, 1958)."
His other document was obtained by a FOIA request to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) regarding Area 51. It is a document from 1962 with the subject, "Aerial Observation of Area 51." The document recommends that they fly over Area 51 with a U-2 spy plane in order to assess what the soviets may see if they should be able to take pictures with the Sputnik 13 satellite.
Another reference to Area 51 was sent to me last week on Facebook by a man named Shepherd Johnson. It can be found in the Air Force's Project Blue Book files. This was the Air Force's official UFO investigation that ran from 1951 to 1969.
This reference is in regards to a UFO sighting investigation in 1961 near Las Vegas, Nevada. A man claimed to have seen an aircraft make strange maneuvers from his rearview mirror. In the course of the investigation local airports were checked for activity and one of those listed was the "Area 51 Test Site."
To those of us aware of the investigative research of KLAS and those interested in UFOs, the existence of Area 51 is no surprise. Perhaps if it had never been associated with aliens and UFOs, many would have been less likely to dismiss claims of its existence.
Either way, the base continues to operate under heavy secrecy and access is not permitted. There is no gift store or museum on the base, and the signs on the road leading to the base are most uninviting. I have been on one of those roads recently and there isn't much to see. I suggest that instead you head to Las Vegas and check out the Area 51 exhibit at the National Atomic Testing Museum. Many of you will be happy to know UFOs, aliens and men in black were not left out of the exhibit.