Nightly News   |  August 16, 2013

CIA lifts veil of secrecy on Area 51

A newly declassified government map reveals there was a super-secret government testing site in a dry lake bed, its exact location long suspected. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the truth is out, and tonight it's a victory for all those conspiracy theorists who thought they knew what's been going on at a sprawling plot of land in the nevada desert known as area 51 . nbc's pete williams has details of a secret that's inspired a lot of speculation.

>> reporter: the movies have been on to it for decades, something weird in the nevada desert .

>> take my word for it. there's no area 51 .

>> that's not entirely accurate.

>> reporter: 8,000 square miles an hour and a half drive north of las vegas , one so secret that people who work there, like radar and missile expert thornton barnes, could not tell their own wives.

>> she had no idea where we were and thought we was in another country.

>> reporter: the movies were right about one thing. it was a super secret government testing site in a dry lakebed, its exact locationing long suspected and now revealed on this newly declassified government map, where the cia developed a cold war spy plane called the u-2.

>> we obviously didn't want the soviet union to know about it and to ensure that, they wanted aa facility where it could be tested away from everybody else .

>> reporter: but the need for test flights soon caused a huge spike in reports of ufos. the declassified cia documents say, as the sun set , commercial planes were flying in the dark while the u-2s 40,000 feet higher would still reflect the sun's rays and appear to be fiery objects.

>> it can't be aircraft. aircraft can't maneuver like that.

>> what else could it be?

>> reporter: in all these newly declassified files there's nothing about aliens or their captured spacecraft.

>> they're here, aren't they?

>> mr. maulder, they've been here for a long, long time.

>> reporter: leaving ufo buffs to wonder what's next to be declassified. pete williams , nbc news, washington.