THE social media frenzy surrounding a Facebook event to “storm Area 51” still saw people show up to the military base despite it getting cancelled.
An alternative event was organised amid various warnings to revellers expecting to storm the base – but what happened?
What happened at the Area 51 raid?
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.”
On the day of the event, 75 people showed up to the military base.
Thousands flocked to the Nevada desert for the Alien-themed events in the area.
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 are people talking about Area 51?
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 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.”
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 still turned up as two Youtubers being arrested for trespassing near the area days before the event.
Satellite view of Area 51 via Google Earth/DigitalGlobe
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.
The base is 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.
ALIENS AND UFOS
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.