After nearly five decades, guys like James Noce finally get to tell their stories about Area 51.
Yes, that Area 51.
The one that gets brought up when people talk about secret Air Force projects, crashed UFOs, alien bodies and, of course, conspiracies.
The secrets, some of them, have been declassified.
Noce, 72, and his fellow Area 51 veterans around the country now are free to talk about doing contract work for the CIA in the 1960s and ’70s at the arid, isolated Southern Nevada government testing site.
Their stories shed some light on a site shrouded in mystery; classified projects still are going on there. It’s not a big leap from warding off the curious 40 or 50 years ago, to warding off the curious who now make the drive to Area 51.
The veterans’ stories provide a glimpse of real-life government covert operations, with their everyday routines and moments of excitement.
Noce didn’t seek out publicity. But when contacted, he was glad to tell what it was like.
“I was sworn to secrecy for 47 years. I couldn’t talk about it,” he says.
In the 1960s, Area 51 was the test site for the A-12 and its successor, the SR-71 Blackbird, a secret spy plane that broke records at documented speeds that still have been unmatched. The CIA says it reached Mach 3.29 (about 2,200 mph) at 90,000 feet.
But after September 2007, when the CIA displayed an A-12 in front of its Langley, Va., headquarters as part of the agency’s 60th birthday, much of the secrecy of those days at Area 51 fell away.