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This week, the internet is going crazy with talk of a mass People’s Invasion of Area 51. More than one million people have signed up on Facebook to breach the gates of the most famous top secret government facility in the world. The event, which sprang to life as a joke started by social media shitposters, has now racked up an enormous amount of publicity worldwide, with media outlets taking it utterly seriously and others as the joke it always was. Unless you want to do it for real. In which case, settle in.

The event, Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us, was created by the Facebook group Shitposting cause I’m in shambles. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Despite its humble origins the event has taken on a life of its own, with 1.3 million people having declared they are going to the Nevada desert to participate in the September 20 raid and another one million having expressed interest in the event.

Alleged Area 51 attack plan spread on social media. Disclaimer: author is not participating as part of the Kyle group.
Illustration: Social Media

The American public has long had a fascination with Area 51 and allegations that the secret U.S. government air base is harboring flying saucers, bits of crashed saucers, and actual aliens. Public trust in government remains at historic lows. Just 17 percent of the American people “trust the government in Washington all or most of the time.” Given those factors, it’s not hard to see why “Let’s see them aliens” has become such an appealing rallying cry.

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Interest in Area 51 has also been bolstered recently by New York Times articles reporting sightings U.S. Navy fighter pilots in 2004 and 2015. The U.S. government is also reportedly sitting on metallic alloys and UFO scrap allegedly recovered from “unidentified aerial phenomena.”

What are the alloys? No one can say. They are simply The Alloys.

Say you are actually willing to participate in the raid. The trip will be difficult and conditions not ideal. You will be arrested and sent to federal prison, or possibly shot, all to see things that may not actually exist. Still want to go? Okay.

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The best place to start your federal incarceration is at Las Vegas, Nevada. Event organizers have designed the unofficial Area 51 Visitor’s Center, approximately 1 hour and 22 minutes west of Vegas, as the meetup point. The Visitor’s Center was owned by Nevada brothel magnate Dennis Hof and includes a mini-mart, picnic areas, and the Alien Cathouse, and an ET-themed brothel, which is pretty much everything you need before anyone goes a-raiding. Satellite views of the Visitor’s Center show parking for 200 cars at most, so arrive early or consider catching a Lyft.

The Alamo Fireworks Megastore next door could open their lot to event parking but don’t count on it.

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From the Visitors Center to Area 51, you have two ill-considered routes to choose from.
Illustration: Google Maps

Once you depart from the Visitor’s Center it’s an hour and 52 minute drive north to Area 51, and there are two routes to choose from, the first via Cane Spring Road, or I-95 and then the Mercury Highway. Both merge at “Sugar Bunker,” which is presumably where the government stores the alien food pellets, then proceed north through what looks like a moonscape of gigantic craters. These are the remnants of U.S. nuclear weapons tests and are closed to the public for a very good reason—and not because neither AT&T nor Verizon report cell phone coverage there.

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Like we said, not ideal conditions.

Gun-wielding “camo dudes” in an encounter recorded by the YouTube channel MacADVentures.
Screenshot: MacADVentures (YouTube)

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At a certain point, early invasion participants will be stopped cold by base security. The main security force, known over the years as the “camo dudes,” are civilian contractors that patrol the base perimeter wearing camouflage uniforms and driving pickup trucks.

The “camo dudes” are generally known to UFO watchers as a humorless lot that take their job very seriously. They are quite well armed, and in one case in 2016 drew their firearms on a pair of motorcyclists. It has also been alleged for years that Area 51 is ringed with sensors, including seismic intrusion devices designed to detect the rumble of vehicles, and that explains how the camo dudes often respond so quickly to trespassers.

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He’s waiting for you to free him...or not.
Photo: Justin Norton (AP)

Traditionally, trespassers at Area 51 can expect to be detained by the “camo dudes” for hours on end until a Lincoln County sheriff arrives on the scene, at which time they are issued a $750 ticket for trespassing. That’s a relatively tame response: the base is also ringed with signs citing the Internal Security Act of 1950, and stating “Use of deadly force authorized,” and Section 21 of the act states that

Whoever willfully shall violate any such regulation or order...for the protection or security of military or naval aircraft, airports, airport facilities, vessels, harbors, ports, piers, water-front facilities, bases, forts, posts, laboratories, stations, vehicles, equipment, explosives, or other property or places subject to the jurisdiction, administration, or in the custody of the Department of Defense, any Department or agency of which said Department consists, or any officer or employee of said Department or agency, or of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics or any officer or employee thereof, relating to fire hazards, fire protection, lighting, machinery, guard service, disrepair, disuse or other unsatisfactory conditions thereon, or the ingress thereto or egress or removal of persons therefrom, or otherwise providing for safeguarding the same against destruction, loss, or injury by accident or by enemy action, sabotage or other subversive actions, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be liable to a fine of not to exceed $5,000 or to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

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Deadly force is authorized even for a misdemeanor offense. Maybe that’s bit unusual, but then again, this is Area 51 we’re talking about. A smart defendant in federal court could argue that there is no mention of “alien hospitality suites” in the Internal Security Act, forcing the government to drop the charges-or produce the aliens.

There is also the prospect of federal conspiracy charges, as you have stated your intent on a public Facebook page to conspire to invade a federal military facility. Like any MMO boss the federal government’s legal powers stack, making it a formidable opponent indeed.

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Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

Finally, the U.S. Air Force told USA Today that

The Nevada Test and Training Range (of which Area 51 is a part) is an area where the Air Force tests and trains combat aircraft. Any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous.

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The statement is weirdly ominous, leaving it ambiguous what the source of the “danger” is. Rattlesnakes? Falling rocks? Accidental bombings? It doesn’t say. It’s probably best to never find out.

Once you’re inside the base there’s no telling what you might find. You might find a variety of secret test aircraft, including F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters recently seen sporting “aggressor camouflage”, the legendary and elusive Aurora Mach 6 spyplane, or a Russian fighter jet owned and operated by the U.S. government dogfighting with American planes. And maybe aliens and their UFOs. Bigfoot, too.

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The event already has produced one unexpected result from the U.S. government: indirect confirmation that the base actually exists. As late as 1995 the Feds were perfectly willing to argue that Area 51 did not exist: that abruptly changed around in 2013, but the government rarely addresses the topic. The Air Force’s warning acknowledges that Area 51 is a real facility. That’s quite a feat for a social media shitpost.

Correction: This post originally said the Area 51 Visitor Center is owned by Dennis Hof, but since he passed away in 2018, we should have said it “was” owned by Mr. Hof. The line has been corrected; apologies for the error.