Area 51 and Alien Hysteria


Ellie Hood

It all started with a joke. Two million people agreed to storm Area 51, a top secret Air Force facility in Nevada, to find a variety of things including aliens, bigfoot, and words that rhyme with orange.

Despite government threats and pleas from the guy who started it all to stay away from Area 51, around 200 people actually showed up to the front gates while 1,500 others celebrated the raid elsewhere. While no one actually made it in, there were two arrests made, one for indecent exposure and one for alcohol. 

While the raid turned out to be a bust, it will still go down in history as one of the biggest internet jokes ever made. 

Mass hysteria about aliens is no new development. In 1948, the U.S. government launched Project Blue Book, a program designed to investigate UFO sightings. In total, the program investigated 12,618 reported UFO sightings, leaving 701 still as unidentified. To the dismay of extraterrestrial enthusiasts, the program was shut down in 1969 because of money issues. Additionally, the Air Force concluded that none of the almost 13,000 reported UFO sightings were a threat to national security. 

In 1947, a supposed flying disc crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico. While the press confirmed that it was a weather balloon, many witnesses claim that they saw the military collect alien bodies during their cleanup. Roswell now houses the Roswell UFO Museum, a bucket-list tourist destination for alien enthusiasts looking to confirm their beliefs. 

In 1997, the Phoenix Lights Incident reignited hysteria. Residents of a small Arizona town just outside Phoenix claimed to have seen a large, delta-shaped craft fitted with enormous lights flying silently over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix. The Air Force claimed that it was merely a high-altitude flare, but the witnesses of the Phoenix Lights were not happy with this explanation. 

The Phoenix Lights

Whether you side with the government or extraterrestrial-enthusiasts, there is still no good, hard evidence to prove or disprove the existence of aliens. Do you believe in aliens? Let us know in our newest poll. 


Photo Credit: Reuters (

Levenson, Eric. “Aliens, Abductions and Sightings — Oh My! A Short History of UFOs in 

America.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Sept. 2019.