Matty Roberts did not expect his satirical 'Storm Area-51' event to take off and gain international attention, so he was probably anxious when the Feds came to visit him.
"The FBI agents showed up at 10 a.m.," Roberts, 20, from California, told 23ABC News. "They contacted my mom, so she texts me, and she's like 'the FBI is here, answer your phone.'"
He recounted: "I was kind of scared at this point, but they were super cool. They really just wanted to make sure that I wasn't some kind of an actual terrorist making pipe bombs in the living room."
His 'raid' event, scheduled for 20 September, started as an obvious joke but went viral in the past two months and gathered over 2 million RSVPs.
"I never foresaw this happening to me at all, I have never done anything that has reached this scale of attention, and it's completely surreal and really cool," Roberts said.
Although he never intended to storm the closely-guarded installation in the first place, the US Air Force, which operates Area-51, has warned potential raiders against any attempts to break in.
Roberts had earlier maintained that he does not want anyone to get hurt, but still plans to hold a sort of festival in the desert near the facility.
"It's insane! I just created a joke while I was playing video games and it has taken off to this absolutely wild monster. So I've been trying to make this into something that is positive, enjoyable, safe and profitable for the people of rural Nevada too."
Facebook recently briefly removed the event page but later reinstated it. Although a company spokesperson said it had been snubbed by "mistake", Roberts said he could not register sister events either.
"I did get a notice for the original event that said it violated community standards of Facebook without further reason and the other two were just blacklisted," Roberts recalled, adding that he is still thankful for putting the event back up because it would help steer people toward the "safer option".
The Secretive Area
Area-51 is a military installation within the Nevada Test and Training Range, administered by California's Edwards Air Force Base. It was set up in the 1950s to test top-secret aircraft and aviation technologies, such as the U-2 and A-12 spy planes and B02 stealth bombers, but the government officially acknowledged its existence only in 2013 following a Freedom of Information Act request.
Still, planes are not what make Area-51 famous. The base has become an iconic location in American popular culture due to its lingering association with aliens.
Conspiracy theories, suggesting that the military is studying alien technology within the base, began floating around in the wake of reported UFO sightings of the 1950s and gained flesh after a physicist called Bob Lazar famously claimed in 1989 that he had reverse-engineered extraterrestrial spacecraft in S4, a secret underground facility supposedly located south of Area-51.
Lazar, however, failed to back up his claims with any compelling evidence; neither was he able to prove that he had worked for the US military, saying that his records were wiped out by the government.
Lazar, who has since featured in a documentary focused on his claims, advised would-be 'raiders' against storming the base.
"This is a misguided idea," he said. "Area-51 is a classified research base. There are no aliens or alien technology located there. The only place there was ever any alien technology was at Site S4, south of Area-51 proper. That was 30 years ago. S4 may have been moved decades ago, or maybe it's no longer being used for the project."
"I do not support this 'movement'. The last time someone tried to get into Area-51, he was shot," he added. "This is not the way to go about trying to get more information. What is good, is the interest in the subject - the science and technology," he concluded. "That is what would immediately change the world we live in."
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I have to comment on this ‘Storm Area 51’ thing. I do understand it was started as a joke by someone, but there are a number of people who are actually planning on showing up. This is a misguided idea. Area 51 is a classified research base. There are no aliens or alien technology located there. The only place there was ever any alien technology was at Site S4, south of Area 51 proper. That was 30 years ago. S4 may have moved decades ago or it’s possible it’s no longer being used for the project. I do not support this ‘movement’. The last time someone tried to get in to Area 51 he was shot. This is not the way to go about trying to get more information. What is good, is the interest in the subject - the science and technology. That is what would immediately change the world we live in.