“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,” National Geographic said. “During the 1950s and ’60s Area 51′s top-secret OXCART program developed the A-12.”
Developed as a successor to the early U-2 spy plane, the A-12 had the ability to fly at speeds up to 2,200 mph, making it virtually undetectable by radar. Unfortunately such advanced technology didn’t come without risks, and in 1963 one A-12 was involved in a catastrophic crash which the government quickly covered up by removing all public traces of wreckage.
Thanks to the CIA’s recent declassification of the files and the National Geographic’s graciousness in publishing them, we now have the opportunity to see the photos for the first time ever.