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  • [spooky music]

  • NARRATOR: Area 51 was built around a dry lake

  • bed known as Groom Lake.

  • It offered obvious advantages.

  • RAY GOUDEY: Well, we needed a good place

  • to land that we could land any direction,

  • depending on where the wind came from.

  • And the round lake served that purpose.

  • It was also protected in the mountain range around it.

  • So it wasn't very visible.

  • MAN: Smooth as glass, just unbelievable.

  • I could take that staff car out there, and as fast as it'd go.

  • And it wouldn't even make a bump.

  • RAY GOUDEY: We had a bunch of trailers for us to live in.

  • And we had a all-purpose building where you eat.

  • Didn't have TV, didn't even have a radio.

  • ED LOVICK: Paradise Ranch was the first name that

  • was given to the establishment.

  • They thought it would soften the blow of the austerity that was

  • attempt to, perhaps, convince people it wasn't

  • quite as bad as it looked.

  • NARRATOR: Area 51 was created for one top secret project

  • called Aquatone.

  • In 1955, men from the CIA, the Air Force,

  • and a secret division of Lockheed came to Paradise Ranch

  • to begin work.

  • TONY BEVACQUA: All they would tell us was we

  • had to go for a pressure suit.

  • So we knew it was going to be high altitude stuff.

  • Your blood boils above 50,000 without having pressurization.

  • So if you were to lose pressurization,

  • just your engine conk out, and you're

  • above 50, that suit saves you.

  • MAN: When pilots fly higher than man has ever flown,

  • equipment changes are necessary.

  • NARRATOR: In this declassified footage,

  • Ray Goudey prepares for a flight inside Area 51.

  • The men look like nothing seen on earth,

  • and rumors about what was going on inside Area 51

  • started to swirl.

  • TONY BEVACQUA: [inaudible] I didn't know

  • what it was until I got there.

  • And wondered what I got myself into.

  • NARRATOR: The men were testing one

  • of the most important tools of the Cold War, the U2 spy plane.

  • TONY BEVACQUA: There was no trainer.

  • There was no two seater.

  • There was no simulator.

  • NARRATOR: The U2 was equipped with high resolution cameras

  • designed to fly at 70,000 feet and take photographs

  • from the edge of the stratosphere.

  • As the Cold War arms race with the Soviet Union intensified,

  • the U2 was America's best hope for tracking their rival's

  • growing nuclear arsenal and it put enormous demands

  • on pilots who had to breathe pure oxygen

  • to survive at such heights.

  • MAN: Pilots find the confines of the helmet and face plate

  • conducive to claustrophobia.

  • A number of pilots have been dropped from the program

  • because of this single factor.

  • NARRATOR: The government's cover story for the U2

  • was that it was being used for weather research.

  • MAN: If not conventional aircraft, then,

  • what did they see?

  • NARRATOR: The U2 cruised at three times the height

  • of regular airliners and would sometimes

  • be glimpsed by civilians.

  • MAN: I can't be sure, but I believe

  • I saw the sun glinting off of windows or observation

  • portholes of a sort.

  • NARRATOR: In the mid 1950s, while both

  • the Cold War and America's interest in UFOs

  • were at their peak.

  • MAN: I think it was from outer space, but friendly.

  • NARRATOR: The silver colored planes

  • sometimes created confusion.

  • TONY BEVACQUA: It was pure aluminum, and we said hey,

  • we look like a bright star up there.

  • NARRATOR: Pilots were told to deny everything,

  • even to aircraft controllers.

  • TONY BEVACQUA: There were stories about seeing

  • something flying way above.

  • They may have called it in.

  • But they'll still get nothing, other than evasive stuff.

  • RAY GOUDEY: If you get up along the Canadian border,

  • the ground controller questioned my altitude.

  • Actually he was pretty accurate.

  • And I said, no, you got to recalibrate your weapon.

  • [laughs] That's not the altitude we were at.

  • NARRATOR: By 1957, unacknowledged U2

  • flights were the source of half of all reported UFO sightings.

  • But they were nothing compared to what would come.

[spooky music]

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Project Aquatone's U-2 Spy Plane | Inside America's Secret Missions

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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