The Air Force is politely but firmly suggesting that anyone who was actually planning to storm Area 51 might want to reconsider.
“[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,” warned Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews in a Washington Post interview.
More than a million people have responded to a seemingly satirical Facebook event created in early July about a planned Sept. 20 raid on the mysterious base in southern Nevada known as Area 51. Conspiracy theorists have for years stubbornly insisted the facility, an extension of Edwards Air Force base, is a place where the U.S. government stores secret information about extraterrestrial life.
Those “going” or “interested” in the event, dubbed “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” are supposedly scheduled to meet about an hour from Las Vegas, in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, on the designated date. A diagram of a game plan by Facebook user Jackson Barnes, with 86,000 likes, includes people "Naruto running," referencing the anime ninja Naruto Uzumaki who runs head-forward and arms-back to protect against potential attacks by the U.S. military.
SmyleeKun, a famous video game streamer, chimed in, saying, “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.”
However, Barnes added, “P.S. Hello, US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan.”
But the government isn't amused. “The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets,” McAndrews told the Post. In fact, the perimeter has been patrolled by armed security guards and CCTV and motion-sensor cameras since long before any mention of attempts to cross it.
For years, Americans were told Area 51 didn’t exist. But in 2013, when the CIA confirmed it was real, though only a facility to test aircrafts, conspiracies that the government was hiding dead aliens and UFOs for research inside Area 51 became more believable.
And in 2017, when the Pentagon revealed it spent $22 million in tax dollars for a secret program for analyzing "anomalous aerial vehicles" — UFOs — people became even more convinced aliens existed.
Those intent on raiding the base know it won’t be easy. When a tour bus accidentally entered Area 51 in 2014, despite the warning signs, they were fined $650 and threatened with misdemeanor convictions.
But the online chatter is mostly hype, and perhaps the Air Force would be a little more amused by all the memes popping up in the discussions. Like this:
Cover: A dirt road that leads generally south away from Rachel, Nev., off of Nevada Route 375 leads to the restricted area known as Area 51 on June 27, 2010. The boundary to the area is marked by a series of two gates and fencing that are marked with signs of no trespassing and warnings of arrest and prosecution and fines. Cameras are also mounted high on posts and abut the buildings (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)