WHAT’S IT LIKE TO WORK AT AREA 51?
CASE#7 Working conditions
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”