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SYFY WIRE Science Behind the Fiction

Science Behind the Fiction: A Guide to Storming Area 51

By Cassidy Ward
Independence Day Area 51

So, you want to storm Area 51? Turns out you're not alone. Almost 1.5 million people have marked themselves as "going" to a Facebook event which, if its hosts are serious, will involve people storming the gates of the most famous not-so-secret government facility.

The base, also known variously as Homey Airport, Groom Lake, Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, and the Nevada Test and Training Range, is located 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas and has long been the most talked-about locale among UFO circles.

The official story is that Area 51 began as the Army Air Corps Gunnery School, a set of two unpaved runways, in 1942. Those runways fell into disuse, but the area was later scooped up in order to develop secret military aircraft in a joint venture between Lockheed and the United States military. Such a program, by its very nature, required a certain element of secrecy in order to proceed. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, who ran the project, went in search of an area that was far enough away from the prying eyes of the public to be undisturbed, but close enough to a city to be supplied. The former Air Corps Gunnery School fit the bill perfectly.

Shortly thereafter, President Eisenhower declared the airspace over Groom Lake restricted. The base operated unimpeded for decades, existing under the proverbial radar, until the late '80s. It was then that Bob Lazar participated in an interview with KLAS in Las Vegas, during which he claimed to have worked on the reverse engineering of alien craft at S-4, a sister site to Area 51.

Lazar's claims were responsible for bringing the existence of Area 51 into the public consciousness and for associating it with extraterrestrials. While his claims, including those of his credentials and education, are dubious, there is no doubt that Lazar forever altered the public conversation and popular culture.

Since that time, Area 51 has been the subject of countless movies, television shows, comic books, and novels. It's practically impossible to discuss extraterrestrials without at least mentioning it. And claims of craft from beyond Earth being observed over the area are only solidified by the fact that the U.S. military has, in fact, developed and tested a series of secret aircraft at Groom Lake, many of which look weird as hell.

The planes known as Oxcart, Blackbird, and Bird of Prey make it seem as if the powers that be took a look at any design they were sent and said, "Can we make it look weirder? There are a bunch of folks in the hills, with binoculars, and it'd be a real shame if we wasted their time."

But, despite the government declassifying documents and delivering official statements as to the goings-on at the facility, the secrecy surrounding Area 51 fuels conspiracy theories and an unquenchable thirst to know what's really going on. And, while Naruto running toward armed guards in an attempt to outrun their bullets and "see them aliens" isn't the best plan ever conceived, it is, at least, a plan. So, if you're one of the more than a million people who might be making their way to Nevada this September, here's what you need to know.

Getting There

According to the Facebook event, "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," the plan is to meet at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction, some 70 miles from Groom Lake, and coordinate entry. We recommend playlists to fill the nearly two-hour drive time. Themes from X-Files, Close Encounters, and Fire in the Sky are mandatory.

From there, a caravan of nearly 1.5 million people and counting will need to make the trip (preferably carpooling, for the sake of traffic and the environment) to the facility. Any attempts at discretion will be for naught as tens of thousands of cars wind their way down US-95, to Lathrop Wells Gate Road, and Lincoln County. If the element of surprise was part of the plan, you can throw that out the window now. Though that is likely a foregone conclusion, as the Air Force is aware of the event and warning against it. Don't forget to fill up before you leave civilization, as there are no services in Rachel, Area 51's nearest town.

It should be relatively easy going, aside from unusually high traffic congestion, until you get to within 15 miles of the facility. That's when you'll run into the front gates.


Before you get anywhere near Area 51, security forces will be tipped off as to your arrival. Sensors along the road make notes of you when you cross the threshold and send data as to your location and speed.

There aren't any fences around the facility, which is surely an advantage to anyone planning to storm the place.

Enthusiasts who have made the trek note that security guards patrol the perimeter and utilize the early warning systems to head off any intruders. Referred to as "Cammo Dudes" owing to the camouflage outfits they often wear, contracted security forces put an end to any attempts to travel beyond designated borders.

The typical response is a call to the local police, and a fine, but there is potential for a more violent outcome. Security forces around Area 51 are authorized to use deadly force in defending the facility.

According to one post in the discussion section of the Facebook event, a tactical plan is laid out in which a wall of "Kyles" hopped up on Monster energy drinks would act as a human shield for the invading forces. While that might work for the usual contingent of Cammo Dudes, it is entirely likely that security will be beefed up in advance of the event. You might need more Kyles than you have access to.

Moreover, military bases are known to be home to military-grade defensive weapons. There is no empirical evidence to inform the outcome of a battle between the full might of the United States military against more than a million meme lords, but it's probably safe to say it would turn out poorly for everyone involved. And all of this is without even considering that the wildest of hypotheses might be true.

Consider the notion that the authorities at Area 51 are, indeed, in possession of reverse-engineered alien technology, and that they might, if pressed, use heretofore unheard of weaponry against a human army armed with little more than taurine and gumption.

Those gathered masses, in the pursuit of truth, might just find it, but at what cost? And when the neuralizers come out, all the wonderful memes this event has borne will be lost. This might just a time when we should ask ourselves if the mystery might be worth more than the truth. However, if you can't be dissuaded...

Getting Past the Guards

If sheer numbers don't work, it might be time to consider a diversion. Commentors on the event's Facebook page have suggested using "Vape Lords" to create an impenetrable cloud beneath which truth-seekers could sneak in undetected.

Smoke pellets are a time honored method of temporarily distracting or blinding a foe. Weaponizing recreational vaporizers seems a natural progression in these trying times. As the eminent sage, Dave Chappelle, once said, modern problems require modern solutions.

If a cotton candy flavored cloud still isn't enough to win you entry, you might consider another effective strategy, that of the famed anti-government hero, Dale Gribble. The well-timed deployment of pocket sand might be just the thing to incapacitate any Cammo Dudes you encounter and get you inside the facility. The same method might also prove useful against any violent aliens you come across once inside.

If we know one thing about beings from beyond our solar system it's that they don't like sand. It's course and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Luckily for the heroes participating in the gate-storming, there is an almost endless supply of sand in the Nevada desert. Stuff your pockets before you get to Extraterrestrial Highway, just to be safe.

Identifying Aliens

Once you're inside, the real work begins. What good is it to go to all the effort of breaking in if you don't, in fact, get to see them aliens?

If conspiracy theorists are correct, you may come upon a labyrinthine network of tunnels and hallways in need of navigating before you get to the good bits. Make sure you've packed flashlights or headlamps as well as a large spool of twine. Or bread crumbs, to mark your path.

The nature of the aliens is entirely unknown. They might disguise themselves as humans. They might even be human-alien hybrids. Identifying the creatures you discover will be of paramount importance. You'll need a DNA scanner. Luckily, a handheld model is available. Weighing in at only one pound, it shouldn't be too cumbersome. That said, you'll have to get a tissue sample and process it in the usual way, which might be difficult considering the guards will probably have waved off the cloud and cleared sand from their eyes.

This MinION device might be more useful. Just extend your hand and offer the credit-card-sized device saying, "Can you hold this for a minute?" Since they're guests on our planet, they'll be obliged to help and then you've got them. Toss the little cutey on your back like a baby chimp and get out of there.

Getting Out

This is the easy part. Everyone knows aliens can make anything fly. Strap them to the hood of your family sedan and glide into the sunset.

No matter what happens when the fateful day arrives, we've already won. The sheer number of people who have joined in on the fun proves one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt, we are not alone. And no amount of government chicanery can take that away from us.