US authorities are increasingly concerned about the possible invasion of alien hunters in Lincoln County in the Nevada desert, an area which harbours the famed Area 51.
As many as 1.9 million people have RSVP’d to attend on 20 September, but an overwhelming majority very likely did so as a joke.
Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said that while he didn't expect many people to show up, even 500 or 1,000 sudden visitors could create traffic and parking issues in a jurisdiction of just 5,200 permanent residents.
"I think this started out as a joke but there may be enough people taking it seriously and it could be a problem," the sheriff told AP. "Someone is going to get hurt and people may go to jail. It's not anything to joke about."
The official did not specify how exactly people could get hurt, but there is at least one deadly scenario.
An Air Force spokeswoman said: “We would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces.”
“The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
A Deadly Intrusion
In January, an unnamed man was killed after driving through the Nevada National Security Site (NSSS), which borders Area 51. The NSSS served as a Cold War-era test site for nuclear devices and is currently used to maintain the safety and security of the ageing US stockpile without nuclear testing.
The intruder was chased for several miles after passing the security gate before he pulled over, exited the car and approached the officers with a “cylindrical object” in hand, the NNSS said in a press release. He did not respond to commands to stop and was shot dead at the scene.
A Mystical Base
Area 51 is a US Air Force facility set up in the 1950s to test secretive aircraft programmes. The government did not acknowledged the existence of the base until 2013, when the CIA declassified it following a Freedom of Information Act request. The agency revealed that Area 51 had been selected to test U-2 spy planes, and later B-2 stealth bombers.
But the general secrecy surrounding the base fuelled wild theories as to what actually is inside it. For decades, the base has been rumoured to keep classified information about alien encounters and UFOs.
Perhaps the biggest alien truther is physicist Bob Lazar. In 1989, he claimed to have worked on reverse-engineering recovered flying saucers at an Area 51 site called S-4, but admitted to having no evidence to prove his claims.