We may never know what's really going on at the legendary U.S. military installation in Nevada known as "Area 51," but we do know the military's still pretty prickly about prying eyes. A British documentary crew recently decided to step past a few of those No Trespassing signs, and what happened next wasn't fun.
The film crew, led by prominent British UFO investigator Darren Perks, was traveling through the Nevada desert back in May, interviewing locals and filming at various sites for a documentary on UFO conspiracy theories. And of course, if you're in Nevada and you're talking UFOs, Area 51 is a must-see. Long rumored to house everything from intact alien spacecraft to alien bodies to living visitors from another planet, it's still among the most mysterious places in America.
Perks and his crew of 11 arrived at the back gate of Area 51 on May 14. It's not much to look at, just a long stretch of road with a guard house off in the distance.
There are conflicting accounts about what happened next, but the one thing everyone agrees on is that the crew decided to venture beyond the gate and into Area 51. According to Perks, they walked "at least 200 yards" past the boundary and began filming material for the documentary. After about half an hour, one member of the crew decided to knock on the door of the guard house. That's when things got intense.
"Eight guards wearing combat fatigues immediately came out with their assault rifles and they grabbed us, forced us to the ground and we were all made to lie facedown in a row on the tarmac with a gun at our back," Perks said.
According to Perks, his crew was made to lie down for hours while military personnel and local law enforcement decided what to do next. Perks said he was puzzled about why it took so long for the guards to respond to their presence at the site, but Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee, who sent officers to the scene, said the guards were well aware of what was going on. This is Area 51. People snoop a lot.
"It's not the kind of place where, if a guard sees you standing by the fence, that he runs out with an M-16. They don't normally approach people, because people drive there often to see what the gate to this facility looks like," Lee said. "They see the well-marked boundary and sometimes decide to go a little farther and test the waters a little too far."
Perks claims that he and his crew were forced to lie on the ground for "a solid three hours," held at gunpoint the entire time. Lee doesn't dispute that the guards put the crew on the ground, something he said his own men would have done in a similar situation, but he does disagree with the timeframe.
"My nearest sub-station is 45 miles away from the base. From the time we got the call to the time we arrived, was approximately 30 minutes. They weren't laying [sic] on the ground for three hours. We don't even take felons out of stolen vehicles and lay them on the ground for three hours -- give me a break."
According to Perks, when things got a little less intense, he tried to ask one of the guards what was going on at the installment, and got a rather threatening answer.
"I asked one of the guards if he'd ever seen any UFOs around here, and he said, 'You know I can't answer that question.' So I said to him, 'But we're at Area 51 and I've seen how you guys operate,' and he said to me, 'Son, we could make you disappear and your body will never be found.'"
But what actually happened to the crew was far less ominous. Lee's officers took them back to the public roadway, interviewed them all, and issued them citations for "Trespass of Military Installation." The crew paid a fine of about $600 and everyone was free to go.
"Come on, it says right on the signs: 'Trespassing Illegal.' Listen, they broke the law, plain and simple," Lee said. "It's a misdemeanor and we have to deal with it just as if they trespassed onto your personal property and you had trespassing signs."
The crew's cameras and sound equipment were confiscated by the Area 51 guards. Everything was returned to them a couple of months later, but Perks claims some sections of the tape were wiped. Still, he'll always have the memories, like this photo he took from the site.
In the end, Perks admits he messed up when he crossed the boundary.
"It was a wrong thing that we did, and there will be a lot of people in the States that don't like it," he said. The thing is, it happened, it wasn't staged or set up. We went there to film and overstepped the mark -- we went a bit too far."
The documentary produced by Perks and his team, titled Conspiracy Road Trip: UFOs, will premiere in the U.K. tonight.
(Via Huffington Post)