Declassified: America's Area 51

The almost mythical Area 51 has now been exposed by a set of once-classified documents.

Speculation and intrigue have surrounded Area 51 since its notorious rise to the public gaze back in 1989.

A man claimed that he had worked at the facility to research alien hardware which apparently had fallen to earth. However, the facility was also used to develop aircraft -- far away from the eyes of the public and potential spies.

Even in the modern-day, little has been revealed about Area 51 -- governmental references often spreading no further than "a facility in the Nevada desert." However, on Thursday, the National Security Archive disclosed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act which offer a detailed look into the formation and history of the facility.

The document spans testing in 1955 to test aircraft and the subsequent search for a remote enough facility to the formation of its name -- not only "Area 51," but also "the Ranch" and "Watertown Strip."
Nuclear test evacuations and the expansion of housing and runways came into being, and the facility still appears to be in operation now.

Although unlikely to be a revelation to scholars who have researched Area 51, it's still interesting to learn more about the secretive facility.

You can view the classified documents here (.pdf). Keep in mind its 335-page size and grab a coffee while you're waiting.

Via: Foreign Policy

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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