Monday, May 31, 2010

Retired Area 51 Workers Tell Their Stories

A reporter for the Los Angeles Times magazine has interviewed a few men who worked at Area 51 during the Cold War. Veterans of the CIA or the military now in their 70s and 80s,  they relate stories of their time there over lunch, which they're only now being allowed to tell publicly. You can read the entire article HERE.  Here's an excerpt:

"On May 24, 1963, Collins flew out of Area 51's restricted airspace in a top-secret spy plane code-named OXCART, built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. He was flying over Utah when the aircraft pitched, flipped and headed toward a crash. He ejected into a field of weeds.  Almost 46 years later, in late fall of 2008, sitting in a coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley, Collins remembers that day with the kind of clarity the threat of a national security breach evokes: 'Three guys came driving toward me in a pickup. I saw they had the aircraft canopy in the back. They offered to take me to my plane.' Until that moment, no civilian without a top-secret security clearance had ever laid eyes on the airplane Collins was flying. 'I told them not to go near the aircraft. I said it had a nuclear weapon on-board.' The story fit right into the Cold War backdrop of the day, as many atomic tests took place in Nevada. Spooked, the men drove Collins to the local highway patrol. The CIA disguised the accident as involving a generic Air Force plane, the F-105, which is how the event is still listed in official records.

"As for the guys who picked him up, they were tracked down and told to sign national security nondisclosures. As part of Collins' own debriefing, the CIA asked the decorated pilot to take truth serum. 'They wanted to see if there was anything I'd for-gotten about the events leading up to the crash.' The Sodium Pento-thal experience went without a hitch--except for the reaction of his wife, Jane. 'Late Sunday, three CIA agents brought me home. One drove my car; the other two carried me inside and laid me down on the couch. I was loopy from the drugs. They handed Jane the car keys and left without saying a word.' The only conclusion she could draw was that her husband had gone out and gotten drunk. 'Boy, was she mad,' says Collins with a chuckle."

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