AFTER more than one million people signalled their interest in a prank even on Facebook to “storm Area 51,” it has been cancelled.
The US Air Force had previously warned people against taking part in an internet joke – but what, and where is Area 51?
Where is Area 51?
Deep in the Nevada desert is the highly secretive base known as Area 51, part of a detachment of the Edwards Air Force Base within the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Located 100 miles north of Las Vegas in Nevada, it is classified as a US military installation.
The patch of fenced off land, measuring six by ten miles, is tucked between a US Air Force base and an abandoned nuclear testing ground.
How Stuff Works says that its location can be found via these coordinates: “37 degrees 14 minutes north latitude, 115 degrees 48 minutes west longitude.
“You can get a great view of it using Google Earth. Just type ‘Area 51’ into the ‘fly to’ field and the map does the rest.”
After decades of government officials refusing to acknowledge Area 51, the CIA released declassified documents in 2013 referring to the 8,000-sq m (20,700-sq km) installation by name and locating it on a map near the dry Groom Lake bed.
It is a popular tourist destination.
What is Area 51 and why is it so secretive?
The base has been a testing ground for a host of top-secret aircraft, including the U-2 in the 1950s and later the B-2 stealth bomber.
For years the US government denied it even existed.
But in 2013 the CIA officially acknowledged its existence and its location was revealed.
Declassified documents say it was originally an area for the Army Air Corp pilots to practise their aerial gunnery.
During the Cold War, experimental aircraft, such as the high altitude U-2 spy plane, and weapons systems were tested there.
Its current use is unknown and remains a top secret.
What is the Storm Area 51 event on Facebook and is it still happening?
More than one million people responded to a satirical Facebook page saying they intend to “storm” Area 51 on September 20, 2019.
Organisers of the prank ‘event’ – with their tongues firmly in their cheeks – created the page “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” calling for people to storm the location between 3am and 6am on the day.
The page adds: “We can move faster then their bullets.”
Organisers of the storming joke they are planning to start a “Naruto run,” as they approach the site, a term which refers to a Japanese anime style of running with the arms thrust backward and the head stretched forward.
The page, in deadpan style, says: “Let’s see them aliens.”
Matty Roberts, who started the event, wrote on the pinned post: “Hello US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan.
“I just thought it would be funny and get me some thumbsy uppies on the internet.
“I’m not responsible if people decide to actually storm area 51.”
The US Air Force though has issued a strong warning to anyone actually thinking of trying to storm the site.
Nellis Air Force Base said in a statement that the Air Force is aware of the Facebook posting and says “any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged”.
Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews has also released a warning to potential trespassers.
She said: “[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces.
“The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
What is Area 51? The top secret US air base steeped in extra-terrestrial intrigue
AREA 51 is a highly classified US air base in the remote Nevada desert.
It is officially known as Homey Airport, but gained its now famous name from CIA documents that referred to it by the codename Area 51.
The exact purpose of the air base is not known publicly, and the area is heavily restricted.
Trespassers can face huge fines and lengthy prison sentences for setting foot in the zone.
Purchased by the US government in 1955, evidence suggests the site is used as a testing area for experimental aircraft and weapons.
But the secrecy surrounding it has led conspiracy theorists to suggest the area is holding extra-terrestrial secrets.
Theories suggest engineers examine crashed spacecrafts — and even hold meetings with aliens from across the galaxy.
The crash of a weather balloon at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 sparked wild theories of an alien ship crash.
Some have suggested Area 51 is still storing parts of the crashed ship — or even its alien inhabitants.
Why was the event cancelled?
The 20-year-old Californian oragniser removed himself from the event over fears of a “humanitarian disaster”.
A message appeared on the Alienstock 2019 website saying the event was off as they didn’t want to be part of “Fyrefest 2.0”.
The statement read: “Due to the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ Alienstock attendees, we decided to pull the plug on the festival.
“The permit holder (Connie West) was given multiple opportunities to provide us with the proof that things expected at this festival were in place.
“In fact, she refused to provide to us, as agreed upon, contracts, proof of deposits or any paper proof of anything.”
An alternative event is now being set up to take place in Downtown Las Vegas, which has been described as a “safe, clean and secure area”.
However, people are still turning up with two Youtubers being arrested for trespassing near the area days before the event.
How is Area 51 connected to aliens?
The mysterious site is part of the vast Nevada Test and Training Range and has become the centre of UFO conspiracy theories.
The so-called Roswell incident is one of the most discussed and controversial UFO theories in history.
In July 1947 the military sensationally announced in a press release it had found the remains of a crashed flying saucer in the desert.
But the following day it retracted the statement, saying it was in fact a damaged US Air Force air balloon.
Yet as reported, Sheriff Jess Slaughter and Deputy Sheriff Charles Fogus were on duty in a patrol car on the night of the alleged incident.
Suddenly they heard reports of a crashed aircraft on their police radio.
In the interview Mr Fogus claims he saw a flying saucer smash into the side of a river bed and that the flying object was “100ft across”.
Describing the scene, he said: “When we got there, the land was covered with soldiers. They were hauling a big, creature.
“The bodies must have been 5 feet tall.
“I saw the legs and feet on some of them. They looked like our feet.”
ALIENS AND UFOS
What are the other Roswell conspiracy theories?
As well as assessing alien technology it is often suggested that it is a place where meetings or joint undertakings with extraterrestrials occur.
Other theories suggest it has served as a research site for a range of exotic weapons and technologies.
This includes the development of time travel or teleportation technology
Another theory is that the much rumoured Aurora stealth plane is being tested here.
The most outlandish idea is that Area 51 is a base for a one world government.