So there’s a UFO problem in the United States. The New York Times outlined it again this week. Between summer 2014 and March 2015, the Times reports, a strange object appeared daily in high skies over the East Coast.
But what remains unclear is whether these UFOs are actually aliens or possibly just super-secret Elon Musk experiments. And what exactly does Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, now an in-demand UFO specialist, have to do with all of this?
The History Channel is here to address these questions and pose about 10,000 more in their new docuseries Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation, which premieres Friday night.
The series follows former military operative Luis Elizondo’s efforts to solidify public concern and outline government (in)action in response to the threat of UFOs. In 2017, Elizondo walked away from his 20-year Department of Defense career, including a stint running the Pentagon’s discreet Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, to independently investigate UFO claims.
“I ultimately left the Department of Defense because of my loyalty to the department and to the secretary, not disloyalty,” Elizondo pointedly says early on in the premiere episode.
It’s made routinely apparent throughout the episode that he left because “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” However, the AATIP program he ran, which launched in 2007, was shut down in 2012 due to a shortage of funds.
While Unidentified refuses to explicitly state that UFOs equal aliens, many of its talking heads put all the dots in place. “These aircrafts seem to defy all of the known aerodynamic properties that we’re familiar with,” says Politico’s National Security Correspondent Bryan Bender. Minutes later, Christopher Cooke, a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marines says, “I have no idea what that thing is, and it’s not acting like a... It’s not acting like anything I’ve ever seen.”
He’s talking about the UFO seen on Nov. 14, 2004 by retired Navy commander David Fravor and an anonymous female wingman pilot. The two pilots were running fighter jet drills off the coast of San Diego when they unexpectedly received direction from a U.S.S. Princeton radio operator to investigate a very real incident taking place 100 miles out in the Pacific. “It looked like a giant Tic Tac,” the anonymous pilot says in Unidentified. She characterizes the UFO as possibly 40 feet long. “Large enough to scare the shit out of me.”
In 2017, the New York Times reported on the event; pilots were so shaken by what they saw that they filed an official report. They also reported that the Princeton tracked this mysterious aircraft for two weeks. “Not saying it’s from outer space, but not saying it’s from here either,” Fravor says in the docuseries.
In addition to recreating the event—this is a History Channel series after all—Unidentified also features three recently declassified U.S. Department of Defense videos, including one in which the bright white “Tic Tac” zooms through the sky at a speed that does recall cinematic alien aircraft.
It’d be easy to dismiss Unidentified as another scandalous cable true-crime series, with the “crime” this time being accusations of government inaction and secret-keeping. But the caliber of talking heads the History Channel snagged for the series suggests something else.
Former counselor to President Obama and Chief of Staff to President Clinton John Podesta says the U.S. needs to be more “serious” about their UFO investigations. He’s so serious, in fact, he took many secret meetings with former Blink-182 bandmate Tom DeLonge—which was made public in the 2016 WikiLeaks hack of Podesta’s emails.
In 2015, DeLonge left Blink-182 over binding contract disputes, released his debut solo album To the Stars...Demos, Odds and Ends and founded the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, an organization studying UFOs and the mysteries of the universe.
The musician is a producer on the series and receives ample screen time in the premiere episode’s second half. His narrative is framed around walking away from Blink-182 to spend more time with his daughter and pursue his other passion: UFO investigations.
The first episode ends with Elizondo speaking at a conference by UFO investigation nonprofit Mutual UFO Network in 2018. Asked what the worst-case scenario is surrounding UFOs in Earth airspace, he responds, “It’s too late cause it’s here. We have a choice. We can live with our heads buried in the sand and hope it goes away, or we can take our head out of the sand and try to figure out how it works.”
But there’s a third choice—and one he’d most likely prefer—tune into the second episode for more sensationally serious UFO tales.