THE US Air Force has warned UFO enthusiasts to stay away from Area 51 as thousands prepare to descend on the infamous military base.
As many as 30,000 people are expected to arrive in the tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko for an event that began as an internet joke.
The US Air Force has warned UFO enthusiasts to stay away from Area 51 as thousands prepare to descend on the secretive base[/caption]
The event began as an internet joke earlier this year but quickly spread[/caption]
Area 51 is a 5,000-square-mile military detachment that many suspect the US government uses to research extraterrestrial life[/caption]
The Storm Area 51 Facebook page was first set up over two months ago, encouraging followers to gather at the base this weekend to “see them aliens”.
The event, whose strapline reads “They can’t stop us all”, quickly went viral, prompting the US Air Force to issue a strongly-worded statement in response.
US Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said she couldn’t elaborate on the procedures in place at the base, but did discourage attendees from attempting a breach.
“[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,” she said.
“The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
Area 51 is a 5,000-square-mile detachment that has been operational for more than 60 years and is officially part of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR).
It is famously secretive and well-fortified, and many believe the US government uses the base to conduct research into the existence of and possible visitations by extraterrestrial life.
Attendees wore joke tin foil hats as well as space suits and alien masks[/caption]
Reports from the early hours of Friday morning said groups of dozens of people had already been gathering round one heavily-guarded entrance, some wearing orange space suits, alien masks, and tin foil hats.
One young woman ducked under a protective gate in an attempt to enter the base, but was detained by authorities before being released.
Jason Strand, 23, said he and eight friends had made the journey from Utah just to take in the scene.
“We came out here to see the dumb people make a run for it,” he said.
Over 7,000 people are currently listed as attending or interested in the event on Facebook, but Eric Holt, the Lincoln County emergency manager overseeing preparations, said he believes authorities could see up to 30,000 arrive over the weekend.
George Harris, the owner of the Alien Research Center souvenir store in Hiko, said entertainment would include music, films, and talks about the extraterrestrial.
But the remoteness and heat of the area has led Matty Roberts, the 20-year-old behind the original joke page, to voice concerns about a “possible humanitarian disaster”.
The town of Rachel, the nearest to the base, has a population of just 54 and no petrol station of grocery store.
In fact, it has only one business, a B&B called Little A’Le’Inn.
As of early Friday, a few hundred tents had been set up outside the inn, whose owners set up a campsite and brought in portable toilets ahead of the event.
Inn co-owner Connie West said: “I’m relieved it’s here.
“It’s happening. There was no stopping it.”
Rachel resident Joerg Arnu, who can see the festival site from his house, said: “Those that know what to expect camping in the desert are going to have a good time.”
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