Area 51 Spy Plane, Intact [PHOTOS]


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ON TV:Area 51 Declassified premieres on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Suspended upside down, a titanium A-12 spy-plane prototype is prepped for radar testing at Area 51 in the late 1950s. After a rash of declassifications, details of Cold War workings at the Nevada base, which to this day does not officially exist, are coming to light—including never before released images of an A-12 crash and its cover-up.

(Also see "Revealed: How Area 51 Hid Secret Craft.")

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.

Nearly undetectable to radar, the A-12 could fly at 2,200 miles an hour (3,540 kilometers an hour)—fast enough to cross the continental U.S. in 70 minutes. From 90,000 feet (27,400 meters), the plane's cameras could capture foot-long (0.3-meter-long) objects on the ground below.

But pushing the limits came with risks—and a catastrophic 1963 crash of an A-12 based out of Area 51.

A rapid government cover-up removed nearly all public traces of the wrecked A-12—pictured publicly for the first time in this gallery, thanks to the CIA's recent declassification of the images.

Source: Exclusive Area 51 Pictures: Secret Plane Crash Revealed


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OK, you have to check this out. National Geographic just published this awesome slideshow documenting the crash site of one of the CIA’s A-12 spy planes operating out of Area 51 in 1963. The image above is from the collection featuring recently declassified photos of the A-12 program. It’s pretty amazing to see the mockup of the Mach-3 jet sitting there above the ancient looking jeep. The airframe is on the big stick so that Lockheed and CIA engineers can test its radar signature.

Below is a teaser of the pics you’ll find on the show. It’s the empennage of the A-12 that crashed in the desert near Wendover Utah after getting into an unrecoverable spin. National Geo does a great job at describing the efforts to cover up the fact that the super secret plane went down, noting how the pilot kept civilians from approaching the wreck by telling them the plane was carrying a nuclear weapon.


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