For decades, Nevada’s Area 51 Air Force facility has represented the eye of a conspiratorial hurricane that swirls around “evidence” that aliens (and their technology) exist and are hiding behind its walls. Books, TV shows, and even massive online “raids” have tried to glimpse beyond its stark signs warning against trespassers.
While aliens aren’t taking up residence in the compound, what is going on there is just as interesting.
In the middle of the barren Nevada desert, there’s a dusty unmarked road that leads to the front gate of Area 51. It’s protected by little more than a chain link fence, a boom gate, and intimidating trespassing signs.
Beyond the gate, cameras see every angle. On the distant hilltop, there’s a white pickup truck with a tinted windshield peering down on everything below. Locals says the base knows every desert tortoise and jackrabbit that hops the fence. Others claim there are embedded sensors in the approaching road.
What exactly goes on inside of Area 51 has led to decades of wild speculation. There are, of course, the alien conspiracies that galactic visitors are tucked away somewhere inside. One of the more colorful rumors insists the infamous 1947 Roswell crash was actually a Soviet aircraft piloted by mutated midgets and the wreckage remains on the grounds of Area 51. Some even believe that the U.S. government filmed the 1969 moon landing in one of the base’s hangars.
If Facebook event RSVPs mean anything, nearly 1.9 million people will be meeting under the cover of darkness and storming the notoriously secretive Area 51 on Friday, September 20, because sometimes you just need to “see them aliens.” Using the classic “they can’t catch all of us if we all run up at once” tactic, the Facebook event “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” has earned just as many “interested” indications as it has RSVPs. The comments section is filled with theories and memes for how to best storm the seemingly impenetrable government base.
Right now, it’s just a Facebook event created by popular video game streamer SmyleeKun that has received a lot of attention. The Washington Post questioned what would happen if public intrigue were to supersede the obvious joking tone of the post. Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews gave a short but clear answer to the question when she said that they were aware of the Facebook event and that “[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces…The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
Here’s the plan, as per the creator of the event: “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry. If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens.”
“Naruto run” refers to the main character in the eponymous Naruto anime, as seen below. So, that’s it. After decades of mystery, humanity will Naruto run its way to unraveling alien life.]
Area 51 is a highly classified zone around 150 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, a detachment of the famed Edwards Air Force Base. No one really knows what the base is used for, though it’s speculated to be a location for aircraft development, and as such Area 51 has become synonymous with alien conspiracies. The most popular ones involve alien spaceships or aliens themselves, all allegedly housed within the classified zone.
The location reportedly got its name when, in 1951, the remains of the alleged Roswell UFO (said to have crashed in 1947) were brought to the base. In 2013, the CIA issued a 355-page declassified report detailing the birth of Area 51 and the U-2 spy planes developed and tested there.
The Air Force said in a statement to the Washington Post that it discourages people who would try to enter Area 51, an open training range. “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets,” a spokeswoman told the Post.
Business owners in Rachel, Nevada, a town of just 56 people just outside of the base, have made preparations for visitors who want to go to Area 51. Connie West, co-owner of the Little A’Le’Inn restaurant and inn, has had all 13 rooms of the inn booked and plans to open up 30 acres for camping and might create merchandise for the event. Las Vegas businessman George Harris is planning to hire bands to play at an annual festival called “The Swarm”. Matty Roberts has also expressed interest in a music festival to be made outside Area 51. Kosmic Kae, owner of the shop Aliens R Us in Boulder City, says that even though the shop is 170 miles away from Area 51, business has increased due to fascination regarding aliens.
Other businesses around the U.S. have based products and services on this event. A collection of merchandise related to the event from online retailers was launched. Bud Lightplans to release a promotional alien-themed beer label and promised a free beer to “any alien that makes it out” as long as a tweet with the new design gets 51,000 retweets. Fast food restaurant Arby’s has planned to deliver food with a special menu to the event.
In August 2019, Lincoln County officials drafted an emergency declaration and a plan to pool resources with neighboring counties, anticipating the region being overwhelmed by a crowd of 40,000 people. The county has just 184 hotel rooms, and officials expected the local cellphone network to be unable to cope with the additional traffic, as well as expressing concern over crowding at campsites, gas stations and public medical services.
The town of Rachel posted a caution on its website, advising attendees to be “experienced in camping, hiking and surviving in a harsh desert environment and have a vehicle in good shape”. They advised that the town would likely be unable to provide sufficient food, water or gas to visitors, and expected local law enforcement to be “overwhelmed”. The website warned that local residents would be ready to “step up to protect their property”, adding that “It will get ugly.”
The origin of the name “Area 51” is unclear. It is believed to be from an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) numbering grid, although Area 51 is not part of this system; it is adjacent to Area 15. Another explanation is that 51 was used because it was unlikely that the AEC would use the number. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the correct names for the facility are Homey Airport (KXTA) and Groom Lake, though the name Area 51 was used in a CIA document from the Vietnam War. The facility has also been referred to as Dreamland and Paradise Ranch, among other nicknames. The USAF public relations has referred to the facility as “an operating location near Groom Dry Lake”. The special use airspace around the field is referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N).
Lead and silver were discovered in the southern part of the Groom Range in 1864, and the English company Groome Lead Mines Limitedfinanced the Conception Mines in the 1870s, giving the district its name (nearby mines included Maria, Willow, and White Lake). J. B. Osborne and partners acquired the interests in Groom in 1876, and his son acquired the interests in the 1890s. Mining continued until 1918, then resumed after World War II until the early 1950s.
The airfield on the Groom Lake site began service in 1942 as Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field and consisted of two unpaved 5,000-foot runways at 37°16′35″N 115°45′20″W.
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