What Would Happen If Thousands of People Really Did “Storm Area 51”?

A recent photo of Area 51/Groom Lake area taken by a pilot flying legally outside restricted airspace with a superimposed crossair clip art. (Photo: anonymous to TheAviationist.com)

The Tongue-In-Cheek Internet Sensation Has Gained Traction, But “What If”?We talked about the crazy “plan” with Deputy Sheriff Murphy of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office near the Area 51 and to Adventure Photo Tours who run regular tours to legal areas of interest outside the Nevada Test and Training Range.

You’ve heard about the sensational internet plan to “Storm Area 51”. The gag originated from a Facebook page called, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us”. While no one is taking the idea seriously, it’s received remarkable media attention. As of Thursday, July 11, 2019, a Google search on “Storm Area 51” produced 174,000,000 results. Nearly “300,000 people” have signed up for the event on its Facebook page.

What would happen if 300,000 people tried to storm the U.S. Air Force’s secure Nevada Test and Training Range? We visited the area in 2017 to learn more about the massive, secretive test range, and today we spoke with local law enforcement and area experts surrounding the Nevada Test Range about the “Storm Area 51” social media trend.

Here is what we learned about trying to “storm” or even get near Area 51.

Donna and Will Tryon operate Adventure Photo Tours in Las Vegas, Nevada. The couple run regular tours to legal areas of interest surrounding the remote area outside the Nevada Test and Training Range. TheAviationist.com spoke to Donna Tryon, one of the owners of Adventure Photo Tours on Thursday after the “Storm Area 51” Facebook group went viral. When we asked Donna Tryon what would happen if an unauthorized person tried to gain entry to Area 51 she told us, “That would be very, very stupid. Area 51 is not a joke. No matter what is going on there, people need to remember, this is a military facility. You wouldn’t get far.”

A screen capture of the “Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All of Us” Facebook event page taken on Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Photo: via Facebook)

Tryon knows. On May 24, 2014, one of Tryon’s company tour operators was momentarily distracted by a tour client’s question as he drove their tour vehicle along the outer perimeter of Area 51. He accidently crossed a restricted area boundary sign. Within seconds, an armed response team stopped the tour company vehicle and made its occupants get out of the vehicle. The Area 51 security team, often called “the camo dudes”, summoned local law enforcement to issue violations to the tourists and the tour guide driver. It was an expensive and potentially dangerous lesson. In the more than 20 years that the Tryons’ company has been legally guiding tourists around the outer perimeter of Area 51, they have been buzzed by aircraft and had targeting lasers appear on a person’s head from out of the desert.

But the “camo dudes”, motion sensors, fences, remote cameras and other surveillance devices that ring the Nevada Test and Training Range are just some of the obstacles a person would face trying to get near the secret facility.

The first real obstacle anyone faces trying to enter the restricted area surrounding the Nevada Test Range is distance. If you start your trip to Area 51’s outer perimeter from Las Vegas and head toward Creech AFB in Clark County, Nevada, you drive about 45 miles on US 95. The last place you’ll be able to buy gas along the route before skirting the massive southwestern perimeter of the Nevada Test and Training Range is across from Creech AFB in Indian Springs. From here, the drive gets serious. “We get calls all the time about people stranded out there,” local law enforcement told us. “They’re in serious trouble. It’s an unforgiving place.”

Interstate 95 between Indian Springs and the next town, Beatty, is 73 miles of the worst driving in the world. The area is remarkably desolate, with no cell service during most of the trip. Daytime temperatures in the summer are almost always above 100-degrees. There is little traffic on the road and nothing on either side of the road but empty desert. When we made the trip between Indian Springs and Beatty along Interstate 95 at night we saw three other vehicles during the entire 73-mile stretch of road. Two of those were government vehicles.

Even the credible Newsweek.com media outlet picked up the “Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All of Us” Facebook event story. (Photo: via Newsweek.com/Google search)

The second obstacle is terrain. The area is remarkably unforgiving. With loose sand, rock, cactus, venomous snakes and a series of desert mountains surrounding the Nevada Test and Training Range, only a well trained and equipped person experienced in desert travel could cover the distance from the outer perimeter to get anywhere near Groom Lake where Area 51 is located.

There is also the issue of fitness.

Most people untrained in desert travel would have difficulty crossing even a single mile on foot during the day in the open desert, let alone the 26 miles from Highway 95 near Goldfield to the classified airfield at Area 51. Navigation in the desert, the heat, and especially the terrain would tax even the best athlete in this environment. Most people have a tough time walking a few miles in the Midwest on a mild day if their car breaks down. In the open Nevada desert, they probably wouldn’t survive the experience.

Finally, there is the issue of logistics. Every town surrounding the Nevada Test and Training Range is very small, most with either one or two small stores stocking water and food with public bathroom facilities. There are very few hotels in the area since there is little to see and such oppressive security. The few convenience stores around the outer perimeter of the area likely only have a few hundred bottles of water in stock, nowhere near enough food and water to support a crowd of more than 50 people at a time. So, if you plan to be one of the several hundred thousand people “storming Area 51”, be sure to bring your own snacks and a cooler. And ice. Plenty of ice.

We spoke to Deputy Sheriff Murphy of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office near the Area 51/ Nevada Test and Training Range about the internet sensation to storm Area 51. “We take every threat seriously,” Deputy Sheriff Murphy told TheAviationist.com. “Security for that area is handled by the military, with our agency providing support if ever needed”. Deputy Sheriff Murphy said his agency became aware of the social media trend around midnight Wednesday, and that members of his agency were not authorized to discuss specific plans and contingencies regarding potential security threats to the Nevada Test and Training Range. “People should respect those boundaries. They are there for a reason, and part of that is for public safety,” Deputy Sheriff Murphy told TheAviationist.com.

Another good reason to avoid travel in the area, especially away from roads, is the environment. The desert environment is extremely fragile, and any human intrusion into the desert has the potential for negative impact on the region. A large number of people in the open desert would create an environmental calamity for the fragile region, its plants and animals. When we visited the area in 2017, we saw many interesting species of desert animals including wild donkeys, desert fox, snakes, lizards, predatory birds and even wild dogs.

The environment surrounding the Nevada Test and Training Range is extremely fragile and includes many species who would be negatively impacted by too many visitors. We spotted these wild donkeys crossing the road while driving out of Beatty, Nevada next to the restricted area. (Photo: Tom Demerly / TheAviationist.com)

Lastly, there probably isn’t much to see in the Area 51/Nevada Test Range area unless you are an aviation enthusiast. Donna Tryon told TheAviationist.com that, “We know for a fact that they are doing development out there, that is what the place is for.” But added that not even locals know the specifics of what the military is working on inside the vast restricted area. Recent sightings of exotic aircraft in the area have included an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, thought to be retired from Air Force service in 2008. In 2017, TheAviationist.com spotted an F-117 being moved on a flatbed truck on November 14 along the southwest perimeter of the Nevada Test and Training Range.

But aside from extremely determined aircraft spotters or alien conspiracy theorists there is not much reason to join the group planning to storm Area 51. In our experience, there truly is “nothing to see here” around the area.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.