A-12 Spy Plane
These are the pictures that will bring joy and comfort to conspiracy theorists the world over. They are proof that Governments do lie.
The black and white shots are never before seen pictures of a crashed spy plane and another A-12 super secret spy plane being prepared for radar testing taken in an area of America that even today does not officially exist.
For decades Area 51 has been the stuff of legend, a zone in the American desert - and American psyche - shrouded in mystery and mystique. A place where, if conspiracy theorists are to be believed, the moon landings were staged, where aliens landed and flying saucers witnessed speeding through the clear night sky.
Now, thanks to National Geographic magazine, some of the speculation that has swirled around a place that has been described as 'ground zero' for conspiracy theorists can be put to rest.
Area 51 was a top secret military outpost used in the late 1950s, then the height of the Cold War, about 100 miles outside Las Vegas. Even today the government has refused to acknowledge it ever existed.
Area 51 was created so that U.S. Cold Warriors with the highest security clearances could pursue cutting-edge aeronautical projects away from prying eyes. During the 1950s and '60s Area 51's top-secret OXCART program developed the A-12 as the successor to the U-2 spy plane.
Recently declassified photos, due to be aired Saturday night on the National Geographic channel, give a sense of the work scientists and engineers, all officially sworn to secrecy, undertook at this shadowy establishment.
The bulk of the work involved testing the A-12 spy plane, the precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird. It could fly at 2,200 miles an hour at 80000 feet and take pictures of objects little more than a foot long. Little wonder that reports of flying saucers and eerie fast moving lights in the sky formed a crucial part of the mythology surrounding the super secret facility.
Perhaps more interesting though is that in spite of decades of government denials, the rumours about Area 51 have refused to go away. And rightly so. In the face of an official cover - up, the naysayers have stuck to their theories. The news will give succor to the likes of Mohommed Fayed,the billionaire father of Dodi who was killed in a car crash in Paris with his girlfriend Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. He has always contended that there was a cover up and a conspiracy, involving Prince Philip, 90 next week, to murder his son and the princess. Revelations from Area 51 will give heart to everyone who believes the government, any government, is quietly conspiring against its own people.
For while little green men were in short supply in the Nevada desert, men in their green flying suits were all present and correct - in spite of what the government said about Area 51.
Who knows what else was going on at the facility, what weapons and tactics being developed to save the Land of the Free from the Red Menace.
Maybe one day we will find those mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction. Not in Iraq but hidden deep in the Nevada desert.