The problems wouldn’t end there: People would run out of gas, and the closest pump is around 50 miles away. Campers would get too cold at night, too hot during the day, and too dehydrated all the time, unprepared for the extremes of desert living. There wouldn’t be enough food or toilets. People might pick pockets or break into the homes of part-time residents. Also, in a gathering that would likely attract at least a few unhinged attendees, Arnu worried about the potential for violence.
The council heard his complaints but gave the A’le’Inn a permit anyway. And although the Facebook creator pulled out (worried about the potential of a Fyre Festival 2.0), the A’le’Inn is still welcoming guests. And even if it weren’t, people would still show up. It is, after all, a free country. “It’s like the beast that once you create it you can’t kill it,” says Arnu. “People will come. People will come to Rachel.”
Arnu understands the appeal better than most. He first came to Area 51 on a day trip in 1998, driving out from Las Vegas. He’d been reading what he could about the place—this isolated swath of nothing-land that existed first as a development and testing hideaway for the U-2 spy plane, then for the A-12 Oxcart, its successor, and for experimental winged projects ever since. Though he’d heard strange stuff, he had only a bare idea of what went on there. “There was nothing really reliable on the internet that you could really read up on, so everybody had their own speculations, and I just had to see for myself,” says Arnu. “Instead of my curiosity being satisfied, it was really amplified.”
He knew, though, that other people were probably having the same online experience he was: There wasn’t much Area 51 info out there. He wanted to make his findings, unlike pretty much everything else about Area 51, public. “What’s the point of knowledge if you don’t share it?” he says. “It’s pointless. I couldn’t imagine just keeping it to myself.”