A million and a half people are in on the joke. Matty Roberts says he was just kidding when he suggested in a Facebook post on June 27 that if enough people stormed the secretive Air Force base known as Area 51 in Nevada officials would be so overwhelmed they wouldn’t be able to stop them.
Responses started trickling in, and then the floodgates opened and the numbers are skyrocketing, prompting the U.S. Air Force to implore thrill-seekers to stay away. An Air Force spokesperson said, “…we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American Armed Forces. The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
Area 51 is the stuff of folklore, the place where the government secretly hides everything it has accumulated, discovered and knows about extraterrestrial life. The government had long denied its existence until it was confirmed by the CIA in 2013. And then in 2017 after it was confirmed that the Pentagon has a $22-million line item in its budget for “anomalous aerospace threats.”
No one knows how many people are in on the joke and are responding to the Facebook post as a lark and how many will show up. Tourist attractions in the area, almost all of them space oriented, are gearing up for the possibility of a big turnout, but warning potential vacationers that the only way in and out is a two-lane dirt road in a very remote area. A recent space-alien event attracted 30 cars, which was an almost unmanageable traffic jam.