This is my tribute to the ever-growing facebook event titled ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.’
Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us
Aerial photo of Area 51
|Date||September 20, 2019|
|Location||Lincoln County, Nevada|
|Also known as||Raid Area 51, Storm Area 51|
|Motive||Find extraterrestrial life|
Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us is an American Facebook event currently planned for September 20, 2019 at Area 51, a United States Air Force (USAF) facility within the Nevada Test and Training Range, to raid the site in search for extraterrestrial life. The event was created by Matty Roberts who confirmed it was comedic and disavowed responsibility for any casualties if people actually attempt to raid the military base. Roberts posted the event on June 27, 2019. Over 2 million people have responded “going” and 1.5 million “interested” on the event’s page.
Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said government officials knew about the meme and discouraged people from attempting to enter military property. Nevada law enforcement also warned potential participants in the event against trespassing. The event, although purely comedic, has had an effect on businesses both locally in Nevada and around the United States, which are creating preparations for visitors and products for both those “going” and others who are interested.
Area 51 has been the subject of conspiracy theories regarding aliens since the 1950s, when some individuals reported seeing UFOs at the location of the base, around the time the military started flying CIA U2 spy planes in the area. The CIA declassified documents related to Area 51 and recognized its existence in 2013. Conspiracy theorists believe aliens, UFOs, or secrets related to them are stored at Area 51. In June 2019, The Pentagonprovided a briefing on UFOs encountered by Navy pilots to members of Congress. U.S. president Donald Trump had also been briefed on UFOs.
College student Matty Roberts, the creator of the event, came up with the idea after watching Area 51 conspiracy theorist Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast on June 20, 2019.Lazar claimed to have worked with alien spacecraft when working at an underground facility at Area 51.
Facebook event and Internet meme
Matty Roberts, also known as video game streamer SmyleeKun, created the event on Facebook on June 27 as a joke, not imagining the viral spread the event would receive. The event plans for the raid in Amargosa Valley from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. PDT on September 20, 2019. The Facebook event writes, “If we naruto run [sic], we can move faster than their bullets. Lets [sic] see them aliens”, referring to the unique running style of anime character Naruto Uzumaki and several other characters, who run with their arms stretched behind them, head down and torso tilted forward. Roberts said the event had around 40 signatures 3 days into the event’s listing and then suddenly went viral. The meme possibly spread first on the app TikTok, as well as Reddit and Instagram later. The Facebook page for the event is filled with thousands of satirical posts discussing the best way to break into Area 51. After the viral spread of the meme, Roberts was worried that he would receive a visit from the FBI. The event received 1.6 million “Going” and another 1.2 million “Interested” signatures as of July 18. He has taken the event offline as of July 20.
Copycat events such as plans to storm a genealogical vault of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Loch Ness, and the Bermuda Triangle have also been created. In the Netherlands a left wing meme page known as “Memes for the Masses” created “Storm the Education Implementation Office Headquaters” event as a protest to student loans 
The World Scholar’s Cup, an international academic competition, posted about holding its “Mega-Global Round” at Area 51. Merchandise was also designed and sold at the Global Rounds held in 2019.
On July 10, speaking with The Washington Post, Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said officials were aware of the event, and issued a warning saying: “[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”, adding: “The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets”. A public information officer at Nellis Air Force Base told KNPR that “any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged”. A viral Reddit post showed what it claimed to be an Air Force briefing on the Naruto run.
Effect on businesses
Business owners in Rachel, Nevada, a town of just 56 people just outside of the base, have made preparations for visitors who want to go to Area 51. Connie West, co-owner of the Little A’Le’Inn restaurant and inn, has had all 13 rooms of the inn booked and plans to open up 30 acres for camping and might create merchandise for the event. Las Vegas businessman George Harris is planning to hire bands to play at an annual festival called “The Swarm”. Matty Roberts has also expressed interest in a music festival to be made outside Area 51. Kosmic Kae, owner of the shop Aliens R Us in Boulder City, says that even though the shop is 170 miles away from Area 51, business has increased due to fascination regarding aliens.
Other businesses around the nation have based products and services on this event. A collection of merchandise related to the event from online retailers was launched. Bud Light plans to release a promotional alien-themed beer label and promised a free beer to “any alien that makes it out” as long as a tweet with the new design gets 51,000 retweets. Fast food restaurant Arby’s has planned to deliver food with a special menu to the event. The UFO Store has even released an entire promotional DVD package based upon the event.
Newly declassified documents reveal more detail about past use of the mysterious Nevada test site known as Area 51 and the concern for maintaining secrecy about the work done at the facility.
The recently released papers, which date mostly from the early 1960s into the 1970s, spotlight the U.S. government’s desire for tight security at Area 51, also known as Groom Lake. The area was photographed with American reconnaissance assets to better assess what the Soviet Union’s spy satellites might be able to discern.
The documents also detail the debate over the possible release of a photograph “inadvertently” taken of the secret facility by NASA astronauts aboard the Skylab space station in 1974. [Flying Saucers to Mind Control: 7 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets]
More than 60 declassified documents in an Area 51 file were posted on the Internet by the National Security Archive late last month, compiled and edited by archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson. The archive is located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Those of you hoping for information about captured aliens and flying saucerswill be disappointed.
A number of documents focus on the quest to develop stealth capability in aircraft. Others report on another type of activity at Area 51 — the exploitation of covertly acquired Soviet MiG fighter jets.
American engineers assessed the design, performance and limitations of MiGs in an attempt to learn their vulnerabilities — knowledge that could come in handy during combat situations.
An April 1962 document sourced to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) outlines the rationale for photographing Area 51 by either a high-flying U-2 spy plane or a then-classified CORONA reconnaissance satellite. The idea was viewed as a means of seeing what the Soviet Union might learn from its own satellite images of the facility.
This would provide “a pretty fair idea of what deductions and conclusions could be made by the Soviets should Sputnik 13 have a reconnaissance capability,” explains the memorandum, which was marked “secret.” [Gallery: Declassified US Spy Satellite Photos & Designs]
Also part of the plan, the memo states, was having a U-2 image Area 51: “Without advising the photographic interpreters of what the target is, ask them to determine what type of activity is being conducted at the site photographed,” the memo states.
Also of interest is another document, dated April 11, 1974, from the deputy director of the NRO to the chairman of the director of central intelligence’s Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation. This memorandum discusses what to do about a photograph taken by Skylab astronauts of Area 51, outlining the issues to be considered in deciding whether or not to release the photograph.
The two-page document, marked “Top Secret,” mentions a draft decision paper that focuses on the “relative merits of retaining [deleted in document] as a high-priority secret national security installation versus the merits of the NASA belief that there would be domestic and foreign problems created by withholding the photograph.”
The April 1974 memo also says that the Skylab photograph “in the public domain would almost certainly provide strong stimulus for media questioning and the potential near-term revelation of the missions of the installation.”
A follow-up memorandum from April 19, 1974, marked “Confidential” for then-Director of Central Intelligence William Colby, explains that the recent Skylab mission “inadvertently photographed” Area 51, and that there were “specific instructions not to do this.”
The memo also reports that the Skylab photo is the subject of an interagency review and that Department of Defense officials believed it should be withheld from public release.
At the time, NASA — and, to a large extent, the State Department — took the position that the image should be released. It would be allowed to go into a repository in Sioux Falls, S.D., that contained satellite remote sensing data of the Earth’s land surface and “let nature take its course,” the memo states.
The April 19 memo explains that there are some complicated precedents that should be reviewed before a final decision could be made about the Skylab image. For example, there was a question of whether anything photographed in the U.S. can be classified if the platform from which the image was taken, such as NASA’s Skylab, is unclassified.
In addition, the April 19 memo notes that there are some complex issues in the United Nations concerning U.S. policies about imagery from space. Further, the document raises the question of whether or not the photo would be leaked anyway, even if it were withheld.
The memo also carries handwritten responses by the CIA’s Colby.
Colby expressed some doubts about the need to protect the image, since the Soviet Union had it from their satellites anyway. He further asked, “If exposed, don’t we just say classified USAF [U.S. Air Force] work is done there?”
Hide and seek
Dwayne Day, an American space historian, policy analyst and author, has previously written on Area 51, as well as the 1974 Skylab image flap.
It turns out that the Skylab shot of Area 51 was placed in NASA’s collection of Skylab photographs, Day said, but nobody had noticed. So, in the end, NASA won its argument with the intelligence community over the image, he said.
As for playing Cold War hide-and-seek at Area 51 with the Soviet Union, Day said the Soviets had spy satellitesand that they could certainly see the airfield.
“But, of course, the CIA knew the flight paths of Soviet satellites, and they would avoid having their aircraft in the open when satellites were overhead,” Day told SPACE.com. “The best form of concealment is a big hangar where you can park all your planes.”
Day said that there has been at least one report of an effort at Groom Lake to create a fake heat signature for orbiting satellites to see.
“I have my doubts about that,” Day said. “The timing is wrong — too early for anybody to expect the Soviet Union to be capable of that kind of infrared observation.”
Day said he’s also wondered about a photograph taken at Area 51 showing a line of A-12 OXCART spy planes, probably from 1964. OXCART was the label given to the CIA’s A-12 program, meant to come after the U-2 to perform reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union.
“The Soviets did not always have reconnaissance satellites in orbit,” Day said, “so did the CIA line these planes up for a beauty shot when they knew that they were safe from observation? Or, did they simply not care?”
To dive into the Area 51 files, go to the National Security Archive’s website: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/
Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and co-author of Buzz Aldrin’s new book, “Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration,” published by National Geographic. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.
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