What is Area 51?

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Area 51 is a remote U.S. Air Force military installation at Groom Lake in southern Nevada, about 80 miles from Las Vegas. The BBC reports that the facility is so named for its designation on 50's era maps of the Atomic Energy Commission.

According to Reuters, extreme secrecy surrounded the facility for decades until the CIA publicly acknowledged its existence in 2013.

According to declassified internal CIA documents, Area 51 was selected in 1955 to be the test site of the high altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane, which was developed to spy on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Other top-secret aircraft were later developed at the site, including the supersonic reconnaissance A-12 OXCART aircraft, and the stealth F-117 Nighthawk jet.

While the CIA document didn't address any alien conspiracy theories associated with the site, it did suggest a connection between U-2 test flights and UFO sightings.

The U-2 flew at much higher altitudes than commercial planes, and people who sighted them wouldn't have known what they were due to the secretive nature of the program, so in that sense they were unidentified flying objects.

Area 51 is still an active military installation. It's currently under 24 hour surveillance and not accessible to the public.

Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews told the Washington Post that the site is an open training range where American armed forces are trained.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Location of Area 51
2. Area 51 used as test site for U-2 spy planes
3. Other aircraft developed in Area 51
4. Possible connection between U-2 test flights and unidentified flying objects
5. Area 51 currently an active military training ground

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Area 51 is a remote U.S. Air Force military installation at Groom Lake in southern Nevada, about 80 miles from Las Vegas."

"According to Reuters, extreme secrecy surrounded the facility for decades until the CIA publicly acknowledged its existence in 2013."

"According to declassified internal CIA documents, Area 51 was selected in 1955 to be the test site of the high altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane, which was developed to spy on the Soviet Union during the Cold War."

"Other top-secret aircraft were later developed at the site, including the supersonic reconnaissance A-12 OXCART aircraft, and the stealth F-117 Nighthawk jet."

"While the CIA document didn't address any alien conspiracy theories associated with the site, it did suggest a connection between U-2 test flights and UFO sightings."

"The U-2 flew at much higher altitudes than commercial planes, and people who sighted them wouldn't have known what they were due to the secretive nature of the program, so in that sense they were unidentified flying objects."

"Area 51 is still an active military installation. It's currently under 24 hour surveillance and not accessible to the public."

"Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews told the Washington Post that the site is an open training range where American armed forces are trained."

SOURCES: Reuters, BBC, CIA (via NPR), Encyclopedia Britannica
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-area51-cia/cia-acknowledges-its-mysterious-area-51-test-site-for-first-time-idUSBRE97G01120130817
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-23731759
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/08/16/212549163/there-it-is-area-51-revealed-in-declassified-cia-report
https://www.britannica.com/story/what-is-known-and-not-known-about-area-51