Even the most sinister of secret black op sites needs a surprising number of independent contractors to keep the place running. Take Area 51, for example. Sure it might be filled to the brim with nameless spooks and technocrats dissecting alien bodies and all that. But there's also a whole cadre of support staff and minor tech support guys who just punch the clock and make a living at the place.
Which poses a problem: You can't have these minor players blabbing about the alien microwave gun the lab boys are using to make crop circles. The conspiracy-minded might suggest eliminating these loose strings. Heck, if we can bump off foreign leaders, we certainly can snuff a cafeteria lady or the random radar operator. Here's the thing though, in the remote locales suitable for secret installations, labor isn't an inexhaustible resource. Not only will you work your way through all the qualified mechanics pretty quickly, but eventually your rep as a place where workers vanish will scare off the rest of the talent pool.
No, as unsexy as it is, better to just swear the little guys to secrecy too.
In Area 51's case, the contractual obligation to secrecy for many minor employees extended 47 years. Which means, for those keeping count, employees who worked the site in the 1950s and '60s are now free to discuss what they witnessed.
Sadly, no aliens.
The Seattle Times interviews are few Area 51 vets, like James Noce, formerly the radar operator at the infamous site. Though Noce has no tales about alien crashes, his recollections about the crash of a A-12 spy plane in 1963 should sound familiar to any UFO fancier.
Noce remembers when "Article 123," as one of the A-12s was called, crashed on May 24, 1963, after the plane stalled near Wendover, Utah. The pilot ejected and survived.
Noce says he was among those who flew to the crash site in a giant cargo plane loaded with several trucks. They loaded everything from the crash into the trucks.
He remembers that a local deputy had either witnessed the crash or had quickly arrived at the scene. There also was a family on a vacation car trip who had taken photos.
"We confiscated the camera, took the film out," says Noce. "We just said we worked for the government."
He says the deputy and the family were told not to talk to anybody about the crash, especially the press.
"We told them there would be dire consequences," Noce says. "You scared them."
As an added incentive, he says, the CIA arrived with a briefcase full of cash.
"I think it was like 25 grand apiece, for the sheriff and the family," says Noce.