In December of 2017, the New York Times revealed that the United States Defense Department had been secretly funding investigations into reports made by military personnel of unidentified flying objects, or unidentified aerial phenomena as they’re sometimes called. Although funding had been cut in 2012, the investigations continued under the supervision of Luis Elizondo, who resigned from his role in protest a few months prior to the publishing of a groundbreaking report, citing the Pentagon’s resistance to adequately addressing what he perceived to be legitimate threats to national security.
In the months that followed, a flurry of unusual stories emerged that were tied to the program, dubbed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP. That rapid flow of newly revealed information established a number of interesting parallels between the subjects of interest to the Defense Department and topics commonly relegated to conspiracy-oriented sub-Reddits and online forums, further muddying the waters between what AATIP was really doing and what believers and skeptics have asserted the program was up to.
In fact, there’s even a great deal of debate as to what the program was actually called, with some contending that it was really the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program (AAWSAP), and others contending that the AAWSAP was a part of, or evolved into, AATIP. That discussion, however, can’t progress without addressing the billionaire elephant in the room, Robert Bigelow. His company was contracted through AATIP to conduct a number of investigations pertaining to the seemingly paranormal. He was also the owner of what many UFO researchers tend to call “Skinwalker Ranch” during this time, potentially lending credence to some of the unusual stories to emerge from that remote stretch of Utah territory.
But billionaire believers, Pentagon lines of accounting, and even Native American legends aren’t the end of where this story gets strange—they’re just the beginning. Soon after it became public that Elizondo had departed his role as the Pentagon’s reigning UFO investigator, it was announced that he’d signed on with an unusual outfit called To the Stars Academy: a group dedicated to revealing what they call “exotic science and technologies” that, they would contend, ties their work directly to the UFO phenomena.
Elizondo joined a number of other former defense and intelligence officials at To the Stars, including former senior CIA intelligence officer Jim Semivan, former head of Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works” Steve Justice, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Chis Mellon. But it’s the organization’s president who tends to draw the most sideways glances: former Blink 182 guitarist Tom Delonge.
Although most may know Delonge from his rock-and-roll exploits, he has cultivated a following in the UFO community for years thanks to his willingness to invest in and pursue the subject of unexplained aerial phenomena. Now, it would seem, the History Channel plans to give Delonge a platform to share his views and those of the former officials within his organization in a new mini-series entitled “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.”
The show, which will reportedly heavily feature Elizondo discussing his experiences in AATIP, is being marketed with a synopsis that reads, “Former government officials disclose new information in an effort to change government policy about the potential threats UFOs pose to U.S. national security.”
“With this show, the real conversation can finally begin,” said DeLonge. “I’m thankful to ‘History’ for giving the To The Stars Academy team of world-class scientists, engineers, and intelligence experts the opportunity to tell the story in a comprehensive and compelling way. I think everyone that watches the show will walk away with questions answered and a feeling of, ‘wow, I get it now.'”
History, many would contend, has not garnered a particularly positive reputation in recent years, with programs that tend to lean into conspiracy rather than evidence. Shows like “Ancient Aliens” have proven immensely popular despite often presenting fairly one-sided perspectives on historical oddities. Other shows, like 2017’s embarrassing “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” have been proven to be based on what was, at best, a flawed premise and, at worst, an outright hoax.
But History officials have pointed out that their intent with this new program is not to chase lights in the sky, but rather to engage with the audience with Delonge and company’s message.
“This is not a UFO-hunting show, but a series that will hopefully provoke a cultural conversation about unexplained phenomena and allow our viewers to ultimately draw their own conclusions,” said Eli Lehrer, executive vice president and head of programming at History. “Tom’s curiosity and passion for this subject matter, combined with his team, are the perfect partners to deliver this breakthrough series.”
Watch the teaser for “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation” below and decide for yourself.
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