By- Deep Dargan
The beginning of Area 51 is directly related to the development of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. After World War II, the Soviet Union lowered the Iron Curtain around themselves and the rest of the Eastern bloc, creating a near intelligence blackout to the rest of the world. When the Soviets backed North Korea’s invasion of South Korea in June 1950, it became increasingly clear that the Kremlin would aggressively expand its influence. America worried about the USSR’s technology, intentions, and ability to launch a surprise attack—only a decade removed from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Making a Myth
U-2 testing began in July 1955, and immediately reports came flooding in about unidentified flying object sightings. If you read the details in a 1992 CIA report that was declassified with redactions in 1998 (and subsequently released nearly in full in 2013), it’s easy to see why.
Many of these sightings were observed by commercial airline pilots who had never seen an aircraft fly at such high altitudes as the U-2. Whereas today’s airliners can soar as high as 45,000 feet, in the mid-1950s airlines flew at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet. Known military aircraft could get to 40,000 feet, and some believed manned flight couldn’t go any higher than that. The U-2, flying at altitudes in excess of 60,000 feet, would’ve looked completely alien.
The truth is out there
Today, Area 51 is still very much in use. According to Google Earth, new construction and expansions are continuously happening. On most early mornings, eagle-eyed visitors can spot strange lights in the sky moving up and down. No, it’s not a UFO. It’s actually the semi-secret contact commuter airlines using the call-sign “Janet”,that transports workers from Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport to the base.
As for what’s happening these days in America’s most secretive military base, few know for sure. Merlin has some educated guesses, including improved stealth technology, advanced weapons, electronic warfare systems and, in particular, unmanned aerial vehicles. Chris Pocock, noted U-2 historian and author of several books about the matter, told Popular Mechanics he thinks classified aircraft, more exotic forms of radio communication, directed energy weapons, and lasers are currently under development at the base.