How Many People Died Raiding Area 51?

March 15, 2024

After more than 2.1 million people pledged to storm area 51 on September 20, the event fell apart, and the handful of participants who made it to Rachel’s gate have been treated like a group of tourists, rather than as intruders. The raid’s origins are a case study in the way rumors and memes can spiral out of control online.

Area 51 is the remote section of the Nellis Air Force Base complex that’s home to US government research and testing. It’s also a place where alleged alien encounters are frequently reported, and where US military aircraft are tested, including the U-2, which soared to unprecedented altitudes during Cold War flights. The facility has been shrouded in mystery since it was selected by the CIA in the 1950s to develop the top-secret overhead spy plane that would eventually be known as the U-2.

The secretive nature of the site is why it has become a magnet for conspiracy theories. In recent years, declassified documents re-fueled claims that the CIA was reverse engineering alien technology, and the Pentagon’s admission that it studies UFOs added fuel to the fire. A woman in her 60s from California told sheriff’s deputies that she planned to trespass at the base because it was something she “had to do.” She was arrested, and could face 25 years in prison for destroying or damaging a building. That’s a long time for someone who’s merely bowled over a security guard in a Naruto run.


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