Conspiracy theorists were collectively disappointed on December 29th when the CIA announced on their official Twitter account that the increased UFO sightings in the 1950’s was actually them.
— CIA (@CIA) December 29, 2014
According to a 1998 report on the CIA’s not-so-secret spy plane, U-2, the agency tested a variety of high-altitude reconnaissance missions and test flights between the 1950’s and 60’s. The report goes into specifics on how the plane was created, challenges caused by high-altitudes that had never been encountered before like needing fuel that would not boil or evaporate, how those issues were managed, and all of the processes that went into getting the U-2 established as a fully functional spy plane.
In the report, on page 72, it was noted that the spy plane’s activities were not only being viewed by CIA and military personnel, but also that civilians on the ground were noticing them as well.
High-altitude testing of the U-2 soon led to an unexpected side effect-a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). In the mid-1950’s, most commercial airliners flew at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet and military aircraft like the B-47’s and B-57′ operated at altitudes below 40,000 feet. Consequently, once the U-2s started flying at altitudes above 60,000 feet, air-traffic controllers began receiving increasing numbers of UFO reports.
Further on, it explains that most reports occurred in the evening hours and the U-2’s silver wings would reflect the setting sun’s rays and be visible to nearby commercial airliners as fiery objects. This effect happened during daylight as well and ground-based observers wrote letters to the Air Force unit at Wright Air Development Command in Dayton in charge of investigating such anomalies. At the time no one thought an aircraft could fly at 60,000 feet so the unit attempted to explain the sightings by linking them to natural phenomena. When the UFO reports were matched up to the U-2’s activity logs, a majority of the reports were eliminated.
No further information was released on what the rest of the UFO sightings were, perhaps another classified project, or perhaps not.
Featured Image Credits: Joe Ruff and JDNICE11