- The FAA temporarily closed airspace near Area 51 in advance of the viral "Storm Area 51" event on September 20.
- The airspace will be closed to everything including news helicopters, drones, private planes, and even police and emergency medical flights.
- The US Air Force has warned people to stay away from the facility, and an outdoor music festival planned near the site will take place in Las Vegas instead.
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Airspace around the fabled Area 51 facility in Nevada will be closed to all air traffic this week in advance of the upcoming " Storm Area 51 " event.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted two temporary flight restrictions (TFR) on Monday, closing airspace to news helicopters, drones, private pilots, and anyone else above two areas near the facility from Wednesday, September 18 at 7 a.m. Pacific time, to Sunday, September 22 at 8 p.m. Pacific time.
The Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) outlining the restrictions specify that only aircraft "working in support of the Department of Energy (DOE) Mission are allowed to enter the TFR." The DOE controls Area 51 along with the Department of Defense.
Notably, even emergency service aircraft are prohibited from flying within the TFR. From the NOTAM:
ALL EMERGENCY/LIFE SAVING FLIGHT (MEDICAL/LAW ENFORCEMENT/FIREFIGHTING) OPERATIONS MUST COORDINATE WITH DOE PRIOR TO THEIR ENTRY INTO THE TFR AT 702-295-0311 TO AVOID POTENTIAL DELAYS.
The first TFR covers the northwest edge of restricted airspace above the actual Area 51 facilities, creating an additional buffer surrounding some of the " most restricted airspace in the world ." The second TFR is along the southern edge of the Nevada Test and Training Range, according to The Drive .
The FAA did not immediately return a request for comment.
"They can't stop all of us"
The Facebook event, "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," was created as a joke by Matty Roberts. The event posting went viral, leading to a visit from the FBI, a statement from the Air Force warning people to stay away, and became a meme, with rapper Lil Nas X referencing the raid in a music video for an "Old Town Road" remix.
The event eventually morphed into a more conventional and legal event called Alienstock, an outdoor concert and festival. However, the event was cancelled last week, anticipating a Fyre Festival-esque issue with thousands of people venturing to a relatively remote area that did not have the necessary infrastructure. Roberts described pulling out of the event as "a fantastic relief" in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Alienstock is now planned as a music festival in Las Vegas. However, there are concerns that some people may show up to Area 51 anyway, despite the warnings. The Air Force told the Washington Post this summer that Area 51 "is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets."
Area 51 is a small part of the larger Nevada Test and Training Range. The area has been the subject of conspiracy theories for generations that suggested that the US government was holding proof of extraterrestrial life at the facility, although evidence suggests the site is instead connected with nuclear weapons.
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