FB event ‘Storm Area 51’ is a fodder for conspiracy theorists

Satellite image of Area 51

Finding ‘virality’ in Internet is unpredictable. One day its #CWCFinals that trends while on other days, its #SareeTwitter! Sometimes, the most absurd and laughable also find traction and eventually become talk of the town (read online). Such was the case when a netizen posted on a Facebook event titled, ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’.

The creators explained: ‘We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry. If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens.’ Over 1.4 million people signed up, planning to assemble at the coveted utopia for conspiracy theorists on 20 September. But what the heck is Area 51?

* Secret
Area 51 is a top secret (not so secret anymore) US Air Force facility at Groom Lake, Nevada. It’s in the middle of nowhere; a hot desert surrounded by rugged mountains. The place is a major source for conspiracy theorists to go crazy on ‘Yes, Aliens do exists!’. It consistently feeds Hollywood filmmakers and science fiction writers with ideas to bring out new films and books.

The legend started when several Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) were spotted near the salt flat lake in as early as the 1950s. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had just initiated plans to build and test out reconnaissance aircrafts. Area 51 turned out to be the perfect place to test flights as the salt lake and secluded zone offered the perfect camouflage. The secret military projects conducted here included flight tests, mock dog fights and development of fighter planes.

* Hi, Aliens!
As several flight tests were carried out over the years, small towns several miles beyond Area 51 started sniffing. Reports emerged on local newspapers of ‘UFOs’ passing over Nevada desert or ‘Strange lights flickering across the skies’. This naturally fueled up ardent sci-fi lovers. People cooked their own ‘Close Encounters of The Third Kind’ stories. The US government however flatly denied of its existence when citizens started speaking to media ‘about secret facility’.

But following the end of the Vietnam war, some documents were made public. One such document had the word ‘Area 51’. This made conspiracy theorists jump up and down in delight. But it was only in 2013 when CIA official released details of the U-2 and OXCART (flight projects), did they accept the existence of Area 51 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

* Do not enter
Till date, very few information has been sourced out by the US government about Area 51. The ones that exist provide very minimal data. Not many are aware of its purpose. Several top secret air force military tests probably continues to this day. Lockheed Martin is known for testing many of its high tech aircrafts including the F117 programme.

When this FB event gained traction, a spokesperson from the US Air Force told New York Times, ‘Any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous’. The place is surrounded by numerous warning boards calling out people, ‘Not to trespass’. Only time will tell if this online craze to raid Area 51 will die in a whimper or if people are ‘seriously considering to enter’.

Mohammed Rayaan