Area 51, Central Intelligence Agency

Area 51 Was Created To Accommodate The A-12 OXCART And The U-2 Reconnaissance Programs

Area 51 was founded, at a location in proximity to Nevada’s above ground nuclear testing site, after the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began a high altitude reconnaissance program with former Air Force pilots. Air Force Pilots had to resign their military commission to work on the CIA’s Top Secret A-12 OXCART Program and the U-2 Reconnaissance Program. To conceal the existence of the U-2 spy jets, the CIA would disassemble a single plane and transported it into a large C-124 cargo plane to the Area 51 land-strip, where they were reassembled. To further deceive the public on the true mission of the U-2 spy jets, the director of NACA issued a directive stating that the aircraft were conducting high altitude weather missions. In fact some of the U-2 Jets were labeled as NACA planes to support this narrative. All of the other U-2 planes in Area 51 were labeled as U.S. Air Force planes.

In July 29, 1955, Tony LeVeir was the Chief Test Pilot who was the first to successfully land a U-2 aircraft.

Tony would conduct a total of 19 flights before leaving the U-2 testing program.

In 1960, the real purpose of the high altitude flights was publicly revealed after Francis Gary Powers, whom had trained at Area 51, was flying a U-2 jet over the Soviet Union and was shot down by their anti-air defenses.

Photograph of Francis Gary Powers.

Gary Powers was held hostage by the Soviet Union until his negotiated release.

Francis Gary Powers with a model of the U-2 plane.

Author’s Note:

When Philip Hamilton volunteered at the Vienna Chamber of Commerce he met Francis Gary Powers Junior, the son of the man who trained at Area 51 and was shot down over the Soviet Union during a CIA reconnaissance mission. At the time Gary was the President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and now he has a mobile musuem on the Cold War.