Before crowds descend on rural Nevada for the alien-inspired festival, the FAA is locking down the heavens above.
As rural Nevada prepares for Alienstock -- a music festival born of a joke Facebook event to storm Area 51 -- the Federal Aviation Administration is closing down airspace above the classified area where some believe the government is hiding evidence of extraterrestrial life.
Friday and Monday, the FAA issued "temporary flight restrictions for special security reasons," banning aircraft in the vicinity. The coordinates given are for areas south and west of Rachel, Nevada, including the the US Air Force's Nevada Test and Training Range. One ban runs Sept. 18-23, and other runs Sept. 19-23.
"This particular TFR was requested to assist with public safety for the planned events of this weekend and to ensure the safety of flight for emergency/life-saving flights, including medical, law enforcement, and firefighting aircraft," Nellis Air Force Base spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Sukach said in a statement Wednesday regarding the temporary flight restriction over the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Area 51 has long fascinated those who think the government knows more about alien life than it's letting on. The bans come just days before a crowd of unknown size will descend on the nearby town of Rachel, situated on what's been dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway, with roughly 50 residents, no gas station and no street lights.
Alienstock stems from a Facebook event intended to be a meme page, urging folks to meet up in Rachel and storm Area 51 to "see them aliens." After racking up more than 2 million RSVPs, the organizers have been working to turn it into an actual event, that's now scheduled for Sept. 20-22.
Originally published Sept. 17, 7:30 a.m. PT.
Update, Sept. 18: Adds comments from Nellis Air Force Base.