WHAT’S IT LIKE TO WORK AT AREA 51?

CASE#7 Work­ing con­di­tions

World of Knowledge (Australia) - - World Events -

Fancy work­ing at a top-se­cret mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tion? For a start, you won’t see any job ads on seek. com.au. Ac­cord­ing to for­mer em­ploy­ees at Area 51, you’ll ei­ther be ap­proached by the CIA di­rectly or by a con­trac­tor work­ing out of the base.

An Area 51 worker re­mem­bers how se­cu­rity con­cerns were the first thing drilled into new starters as soon as they ar­rived at the site in un­marked Boe­ing 737s. “Se­cu­rity there was ab­so­lutely very tight. Being in­formed on what you could talk about and what you couldn’t talk about starts at the very be­gin­ning. You don’t talk about any­thing clas­si­fied.”

Any­one work­ing out of Area 51, whether civil­ian or mil­i­tary, must sign a life­time oath to keep ev­ery­thing they see, hear or read a se­cret. Day-to-day work life at Area 51 may be more ex­cit­ing than the hum­drum of most peo­ple’s jobs, but liv­ing con­di­tions in the desert are said to be harsher than those of a nor­mal mod­ern ex­is­tence. Or at least they were in James Noce’s day.

Noce did se­cu­rity con­tract work at Area 51 dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s. He re­mem­bers liv­ing at the base in a spar­tan one-storey cabin with four other men, all shar­ing a kitchen and bath­room. There were no TVS or ra­dios. Their win­dows were even blacked out so they weren’t privy to what other em­ploy­ees were work­ing on at the base. He was paid de­cently though, US$1,000 a month (about $7,200 in to­day’s money), and the food was ex­cep­tional. “They had these cooks come up from Ve­gas,” says Noce. “They were like reg­u­lar chefs. Day or night, you could get a steak, what­ever you wanted.”

Noce, clearly a man who takes no no­tice of life­long se­crecy oaths, says he was al­ways paid in cash and put a phoney name to the re­ceipt. Other em­ploy­ees re­ceived checks that ap­peared to have come from other com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Pan-am Air­ways.

As for fam­i­lies and loved ones, wives and chil­dren were kept in the dark about the con­fi­den­tial work done at Area 51; it wasn’t un­com­mon for en­tire fam­i­lies to be in­ter­viewed by the CIA to check they could keep a se­cret. But at least wives didn’t have to worry about their hus­bands hav­ing af­fairs – sources say that they only ever saw one woman on the base.

“FOUR MEN SHARED A KITCHEN AND BATH­ROOM. THERE WERE NO TVS AND RA­DIOS. THEIR WIN­DOWS WERE BLACKED OUT”

EYE IN THE SKY A high-altitude satel­lite view of the Area 51 site.

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