Fears thousands of people could “Storm Area 51” in the Nevada desert failed to materialise with just a handful of arrests being made.
Three more people were arrested on Friday on the remote once-secret military base, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said, bringing to five the tally since Thursday of accused trespassers during “Alienstock” and “Area 51 Basecamp” events and festivals in the tiny desert towns of Rachel and Hiko.
Several minor injuries were reported, and one man was treated for dehydration by festival medics in Rachel before returning to the party.
A man reported missing on Friday morning after heading on Thursday from a festival campground in Hiko towards an Area 51 gate was found safe on Friday evening.
Almost 100 people went at 3am on Friday to the best-known “back gate” of the legendary former top-secret US Air Force base, near the tiny town of Rachel, and another 40 made a more difficult trek to a lesser-known gate in Tikaboo Valley.
About 300 went to the Tikaboo gate during daylight, and another 800 people made the dusty 8-mile drive to the Rachel gate during the day.
One, a woman in her 60s from California, was arrested after making it clear to sheriff’s deputies, her husband and everyone around her that she was going to trespass no matter what.
“It was just something she wanted to do,” said the sheriff, who was at the Rachel gate at the time.
Two men were arrested after military security officers found them in the mountains inside the perimeter of the base somewhere between the two gates. Authorities were trying to determine how to tow their vehicle out of the rugged area.
The gates are marked by bright floodlights, watchful cameras and, at the Rachel gate, a bunker building with blackout windows — all surrounded by razor wire.
The sheriff in neighbouring Nye County reported that about 40 people dispersed after “heated warnings” from officers at about 3am on Friday near a base gate not far from a conspicuously green “Area 51 Alien Centre” about 90 minutes’ drive west of Las Vegas.
Matty Roberts, a 20-year-old from Bakersfield, California, who sparked the Area 51 phenomenon with a late-night Facebook post in June, hosted a Thursday evening event at an outdoor venue in downtown Las Vegas — also using the “Alienstock” name.
“Area 51 Basecamp” featured music, speakers and movies on Friday and Saturday at the Alien Research Centre in Hiko.
Business owner George Harris said he expected a crowd of 5,000, but police said the audience and nearby campers appeared to number in the hundreds.