“Unidentified” – The Good and Not-So-Good. An In-Depth Review of Episode 1

1 Jun , 2019  

By Joe Murgia – @ufojoe11 on Twitter

In mid-August of 2018, a former colleague of mine in the TV business told me that he was working on creating a show featuring a famous UFO personality. I told him he would have to compete with Tom DeLonge, who was pitching his own UFO series. My friend responded by telling me that DeLonge had sold his show to History Channel. What? Nobody knew this. I had a scoop! I wrote up an article for my blog and ran it by him. He proceeded to tell me that what he had told me was off the record and I couldn’t repeat it. I was disappointed.

If I wanted to talk about this scoop, I needed to find other sources who had heard the same thing. So I sought out the help of my friend, filmmaker, Dave Beaty, who has a lot of contacts in the TV world due to his voluminous experience working on and producing, various shows over the years. Dave told me he had heard a rumor that it was History. And a few hours later, he found a few other folks who had heard the same thing. All just rumors. I started tweeting about it but left out why I was so confident.

It’s been a nine and half months since I first heard the news but it was well worth the wait. “Unidentified” is here. By now, I hope everybody has seen the first episode. Below are my thoughts, which include major spoilers. For those who haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give you every detail because I want everybody to have a few surprises as you watch.


The show begins with the Tic Tac video. Next, a narrator details the paradigm-shifting New York Times article about AATIP: the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, also known as the Pentagon’s UFO program. A news clip about that revelation is shown and then the Gimbal video appears on the screen with the audio of the exasperated pilots.

Luis Elizondo

The former head of AATIP, Luis Elizondo, is introduced and he explains that “time and time again, we were coming up with these mystery objects, performing in a way that defies logic!”

Narrator: “Frustrated by what he says is a cover-up, Elizondo quit, and joined forces with an elite group of former goverment insiders.”

I’ve never heard Elizondo use the word “cover-up.” I’ve heard him say he was frustrated that the information AATIP collected wasn’t making its way up the chain of command and to the Secretary of Defense at the time, General James Mattis. But nothing about a cover-up. If he feels that way, I’d like to hear the details and reasons why.

Next, we’re shown those government insiders who are also the other members of To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science. They include Hal Puthoff, Steve Justice, Christopher Mellon and Tom DeLonge.

Christopher Mellon quotes Carl Sagan. Or tries to. “Carl Sagan once famously said, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.’ He was absolutely right. But now we have the proof.”  Well, the last word of that famous quote is not “proof.” It’s “evidence.” Fact checkers, History Channel! And yes, we have the proof that UFOs are real and evidence to suggest that we may not be alone. Aliens? Inter-dimensional beings. Humans from the future? Earth-based civilization that preceded humans? Secret military technology? We don’t know.

Elizondo Interviews Wingman Pilot

We move on to an interview with an important eyewitness to the 2004 Tic Tac case. Elizondo tells us that, “This particular pilot has never given an interview about this incident, ever.” That’s not totally accurate. To read an in-depth interview with her from September 7th, 2017, go here and read what “Source” had to say. That’s her. On “Unidentified,” she gives her first on-camera interview, which Elizondo correctly says later on.

In February of 2018, Dave Beaty contacted me and said that after re-reading the first article about the Tic Tac by Paco Chierici, he thought the pilot of the other F/A-18 was a female. Other researchers privately insisted he was wrong and that the wingman was Jim Slaight, was who featured in a New York Times article with Commander David Fravor. We then discussed it on Twitter.

Now we all know that Dave was right. She was Fravor’s wingman pilot. And at the time, compared to the the veteran aviator Fravor, she was inexperienced. Jim Slaight was Fravor’s wingman WSO or Weapon Systems Officer. And when this wingman pilot, who is still on active duty, speaks on camera – in silhouette because she wants to remain anonymous – you’ll see that it was well worth the wait. Even with anonymity, she commands a presence and is very impressive. She describes what happened on that day in a calm, straight forward, matter-of-fact, way. And it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen. Her interview alone make this episode an A+ for me.

Bryan Bender of Politico

The inclusion of Bryan Bender was a big surprise for me. Bender, a national security correspondent for “Politico,” is interviewed and featured throughout this episode. He wrote one of the better articles on the AATIP program that was published right after the NYT published their story that day. Bender reminds us that, “These are not crazy people that are reporting this stuff. These are the people that we entrust our security to.” Bender brings a ton of credibility to “Unidentified.”

The anonymous, female fighter pilot goes on to describe in great detail what she experienced on November 14th, 2004. She says the Tic Tac, “was large enough to scare the **** out of me. It was so unnerving.” Fifteen years later and the fear in her voice is still evident and clearly on display as she recounts that day.

To learn more about the entire event, check out the transcript of David Fravor from his appearance on The Fighter Pilot Podcast. Fravor is the pilot who chased the Tic Tac UFO and got to within a half mile of it.

You should also watch the riveting documentary, “The Nimitz Encounters” by filmmaker Dave Beaty. In my opinion, his depiction/animation of the Tic Tac and the encounter is much better than what History Channel did. And Dave had a budget of ZERO. He also interviewed more witnesses from USS Nimitz and USS Princeton who had different stories to share.

The narrator recounts Elizondo’s history in the intelligence community and ends with, “In 2009, Elizondo took over the $22 million, Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Or AATIP.”

From Elizondo’s own words in an interview played at the 2018 UFO Congress: “…in 2010…I was asked to take over the [AATIP] program formally as the director.” Not sure how that mistake was made since History had access to Elizondo and could have double checked to make sure the date was correct.

“We were made aware of many, many, many, many incidents…Those numbers are increasing on a regular and routine basis. Some of these incidents are very, very recent. And very compelling.”

~Luis Elizondo

Narration picks up again: “The nuclear powered USS Nimitz, was the lead vessel of a Carrier Strike Group that included the destroyers, USS Higgins and Chafee, the attack submarine USS Louisville, and the radar-equipped missile cruiser, USS Princeton.

I heard rumblings on Facebook that this wasn’t 100% accurate. To clarify, I reached out to Dave Beaty and Kevin Day, who was a Senior Chief Petty Officer and radar operator on the USS Princeton when the Tic Tac encounter took place. Day told me that the “Higgins and Chafee were not there physically. Higgins was in port in San Diego and Chafee was much farther away at sea, heading towards San Diego.”

Beaty concurred and said, “I did the FOIAs. Those show the locations of the Higgins and Chaffee. They were not with Nimitz. Higgins was in port and Chaffee was en route from Hawaii at sea.

Elizondo Travels To Fravor’s Home

“Unidentified” returns to the Tic Tac incident as David Fravor, impressive in his own right with his 18-years of experience as a U.S. Navy pilot, describes what happened on that day. His interview is intercut with the female wingman pilot’s account. It’s a powerful presentation from two very credible professionals and I think people new to this case and UFOs in general are going to start asking a lot of questions after watching them speak. Once again, to get one of the most in depth accounts of what Fravor experienced, listen to his interview on The Fighter Pilot Podcast, which I transcribed here. And then watch, “The Nimitz Encounters.

Elizondo takes two leading aviation experts (retired Lt. Colonel Chris Cooke, a top gun pilot and Ross Aimer, who flew commercial aircraft for more than four decades and who now works as a consultant for the NTSB) and shows them the Tic Tac FLIR video. They dissect it and both appear impressed with what they see. “No idea what that thing is and it’s not acting like anything I’ve ever seen,” says Cooke. He adds, “If there are vehicles out there – aircraft that are doing things aerodynamically that we’ve never even thought of – then I think we potentially could have real trouble down the road.”

My view…if we can figure out how their propulsion system works and replicate it, we could have fantastic, beneficial changes to this planet down the road.

“Here are things that are able to, seemingly, effortlessly defy Earth’s gravitational force and maneuver in ways that are in complete contrary to anything that we would presume, should be able to fly.”

~Luis Elizondo

Elizondo considers these five observables, AATIP’s breakthrough discoveries:

  1. Anti-gravity
  2. Instantaneous Acceleration
  3. Hypersonic Velocity – Speeds Over 3700 mph
  4. Low Observability – Capacity to Cloak or Conceal
  5. Trans-Medium Travel – Ability to Move Through Space, Air & Water

Elizondo tells us that a craft having any one of these capabilities would be a strategic game-changer for any adversary. These objects have all five. Bender of Politico states that nobody that he knows is aware of any breakthrough in technology that could allow these craft to reportedly do what they’re doing. And adds, “These aircraft seem to defy all of the known aerodynamic properties that we’re familiar with.”

The “To The Stars” team: Hal Puthoff, Chris Mellon and Steve Justice, are briefed by Elizondo. Bender says, “If you were trying to come up with the A-Team of former, high-level government officials who would come forward on this issue, you can’t really think of a better team. Lue Elizondo, Chris Mellon…these are guys who still have security clearances, still have networks in Washington, still are in the business, if you will.”

Finally. Tom DeLonge, founder and former lead singer and guitarist of Blink 182, is introduced and he explains how he was able to get government insiders to speak with him. He says he asked for help and received it. One of those who offered to help was General William McCasland and former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton and senior advisor to President Barack Obama, John Podesta. Podesta has spoken about his interest in UFOs and declassifying documents on many occasions:

Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the of the UFO files. cc: @NYTimesDowd

~John Podesta

John Podesta

Podesta is interviewed briefly and says, “We oughta be serious about investigating what’s going on. Other countries have done that. Other countries have declassified the information they’ve had.”

Tom DeLonge

“He’s of the most tenacious individuals I’ve ever met. He got to the highest levels of the U.S. government to include Podesta.”

~Luis Elizondo speaking about Tom DeLonge

DeLonge’s advisors wanted to remain in the shadows. “The one rule they had, is we will help ya but don’t go out and tell anybody who we are. That’s the only f**king rule,” said DeLonge.

General William McCasland

And then WikiLeaks happened. Podesta’s email account was included in the hack and one of the emails from DeLonge to Podesta from January of 2016, was all about McCasland:

[McCasland] mentioned he’s a “skeptic,” he’s not. I’ve been working with him for four months. I just got done giving him a four-hour presentation on the entire project a few weeks ago.

Trust me, the advice is already been happening on how to do all this. He just has to say that out loud, but he is very, very aware- as he was in charge of all of the stuff. When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago.

He not only knows what I’m trying to achieve, he helped assemble my advisory team. He’s a very important man.

We get to hear from Investigative Journalist, George Knapp, one of the most important and respected voices when it comes to the study of UFOs.

George Knapp

Knapp: “I think that a lot of people thought that Tom DeLonge was being used…was being used as a tool. They’ll tell him some stuff that’s not true and it will be a diversion. And we’ll fool the Russians or fool the Chinese.”

Off Camera Voice: “I’m just gonna ask you point blank: Is Tom DeLonge being controlled by a small group of powerful insiders?”

Knapp: “No. No, I think Tom DeLonge has plotted out his own course. He’s got some really good advisors who are not part of the government. All off these events that have happened are because Tom DeLonge used shoe leather, knocked on doors, made phone calls. What Tom has started in the last year is unprecedented, I think in the history of the study of this field.”

TTSA Launch

We see footage of and narration about, the October 11th, 2017 launch of “To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science” with DeLonge’s team (Chris Mellon, Luis Elizondo, Steve Justice, Hal Puthoff and Jim Semivan) on stage with him.

Narration covers Elizondo retiring from the DoD out of frustration and then joining up with TTSA and DeLonge.

“It was Luis Elizondo. It was the guy that I wasn’t supposed to know his name, ever. It was the guy that worked at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. And they said, ‘But there’s one other thing: There’s the first three videos of UFOs, [that] are going to be declassified for the first time in U.S. history.'”

~Tom DeLonge

And then a small portion of the “Go Fast” video is played along with the audio of the pilots: “Oh my gosh, dude! Wow! What is that, man?”

Footage of the aftermath of 9/11 is shown and we learn that on that day, Chris Mellon was “one of the highest ranking officials inside the Pentagon.”

“What is really motivating me right now is the Nimitz case. We had multiple Navy aviators and what they saw in broad daylight, over an extended period of time, was corroborated by the most sophisticated sensor systems…air defense systems on Earth. Any reasonable person would have to conclude [that it] defies present understanding of what aircraft are capable of doing. It was clearly something beyond the pale.”

~Chris Mellon

Mellon’s background and the history of his powerful family are discussed. We learn that while he was on the Senate Arms Services Committee, he was sent to find out what happened to a missing, nuclear warhead.

“Back when I was a junior person in the Department of Defense, we all knew who Christopher Mellon was. This was a man who had all the secrets.”

~Luis Elizondo 

Christopher Mellon

“I was at Area 51, talking to some guys there….working some programs. And I said, ‘You guys ever see anything really strange?’ I was almost embarrassed to even ask about it because of the stigma surrounding the topic. And much to my surprise, these guys said, ‘Yeah, we’ve seen really strange stuff here at night.'”

~Chris Mellon

Bender adds, “Here’s a guy (Mellon) who presumably would know, or be able to find out if these sightings were related for some very secret military program that these Nimitz pilots were not aware of. And clearly, Chris doesn’t seem to think that these instances were military aircraft being tested in secret. He feels so strongly about it that he came out of the shadows, when it’s not really in his DNA to do that.”

Narrator says that the Pentagon’s secret UFO unit, AATIP, was established by a small group of Senators: Former Astronaut John Glenn, World War II veterans, Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens, and former Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. But once again, from what I have read and heard from folks like George Knapp, this is not totally accurate. These men established AAWSAP, (Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Application Program) not AATIP, and did so to study all kinds of anomalous/paranormal events at Skinwalker Ranch and elsewhere. Not just UFOs. AATIP came later.

Mellon comments on how amazing it is that Reid, a powerful Senator in the twilight of his career, chose to highlight UFOs with so many other important pressing needs in our country at that time in 2007.

The 2009 Reid letter to Defense Secretary of Defense, William Lynn, is covered.  Reid asked that the program be given the highest level of secrecy as a Special-Access-Program, or SAP, because the strategic implications were so great. That request was denied. But the narrator correctly notes that this was the birth of AATIP.

Project Blue Book is next and some classic news footage is shown. This is good for people new to the subject of UFOs.

“The government, behind the scenes, concluded that they needed to discredit this phenomenon.”

~Chris Mellon

Back to the female, wingman pilot, who shares this with is: “If I had been a single seat pilot and I had encountered it by myself, I probably wouldn’t have said anything. I wouldn’t want to risk my security clearance. I wouldn’t want to risk people thinking I was a freak or crazy.”

We’re told that Mellon and Elizondo have been working behind the scenes to organize a meeting between the two pilots (David Fravor and his female wingman pilot) and members of Congress.

Cut to Elizondo driving across the country as Fravor calls him to let him know that he and his wingman pilot had just met in secret with members of Congress responsible for national security. The press was not informed and the meeting is not found on any official schedule.

“Well congratulations. You just made history, brother. Again. For the first time in history, U.S. Senators were briefed, for the record, on UFOs effecting U.S. military aircraft and operations.”

According to researchers Ryan Sprague and Mike Damante, in an earlier version of this episode, Elizondo stated that “three powerful Senators” were briefed. Why the change in the final cut is unknown.

Robert Salas was an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Launch Officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in 1967 when a UFO apparently shut down all ten nuclear missiles. He says he was ordered to never talk about it. Thanks to his FOIA requests, Salas discovered that 20 missiles had been shut down over a period of 8 days at two different bases as UFOs hovered above. On his Facebook page, Salas had these thoughts about the “historical” briefing:

Elizondo told one pilot on the show that his interview with a couple of congressmen was the first time Congress had taken it seriously. That is not correct. There was a Congressional Hearing in 1968 (Stanton Friedman, among others testified) also there have been many Congressmen and Senators through the years that have officially requested information about the subject. The phenomenon has, in the past, been recognized by the USAF, Navy and other government agencies only to be discounted, covered up or ridiculed. The media too has given it the same runaround since the 1940’s. They have run hot and cold on the subject since then.

~Robert Salas

Female wingman pilot speculated about what they saw:

I have no idea who it was or what it was. Maybe it’s Elon Musk or somebody out there coming up with, you know, some disruptive technology that’s gonna change our lives like an Iphone. You know, if you showed me an iPhone when I was in high school, I would have thought it was voodoo magic. 

And her interview clip ends with this…

“I hope it ends peacefully.”

That’s followed by Fravor…

“You have to ask yourself: Is it ET or Independence Day? You know, what’s the intent? And right now, we-don’t-know.”

For the most part, TTSA has gone out of their way to avoid coming to any conclusions as to what these objects represent. But here, we’re given three choices: Secret Tech, Bad ET or Good ET. And the final thought is to hope for a peaceful ending. I wouldn’t be surprised if History insisted that be included in the show to build up drama. But to me, it’s creating unnecessary fear. Especially for people who are new to the subject. We just don’t know who or what we’re dealing with here. At least I don’t. Of course, there could be various people who work for our government and elsewhere who do know more and are holding back that information.

I think the public is closer to understanding the UFO mystery at any time in my lifetime. It’s astonishing! And yeah, it’s a little bit scary.

~George Knapp

Elizondo at MUFON Symposium

Footage from Elizondo’s lecture at the July 2018 MUFON International Symposium is shown.

Question from audience: “What’s worst case scenario? Have you thought about it?”

Elizondo: “I’ve thought about it. I would tell you already…it’s too late. Cause it’s here. So, we have a choice. We can live with our heard in the sand and hope it goes away. Or we can our head out of the sand and try to figure out how it works. But it doesn’t really care what we think in this room cause it’s here.”

Former Senator Harry Reid

The last thing shown during the preview of upcoming episodes is an interview with the former Senator Majority Leader…

“Thousands of people experience unidentified flying objects. Its time to look into it. You can’t ignore facts.”

~Senator Harry Reid

Overall, I really enjoyed this first episode. It’s looks cinematic and has a good pace. I know they’re limited with only six episodes in total but in the future, I hope we get to hear the long version of how Senator Reid helped spearhead the creation of AAWSAP and the important role Skinwalker Ranch played in that. Plus, why did AAWSAP end and morph into AATIP? If you want to know the answer to that and don’t want to wait, check out this excellent article by Alejandro Rojas.

And hopefully, History does a better job of fact checking in future episodes. Getting the date wrong on when Elizondo took over AATIP is inexcusable. Especially when there are people out there ready to pounce on any mistake and accuse these former government insiders of being part of a disinformation campaign.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this episode an 8. And I can’t wait to see more!

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6 Responses

  1. Dave Haith says:

    Excellent fine tooth combed review Joe – shame about the fact checking.
    They should take you on as consultant!

  2. Mark says:

    I believe that it was Marcello Truzzi that said: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Carl Sagan changed it, slightly. I also believe that Marcello Truzzi lived to regret ever having said it.

  3. Fin says:

    Great summary. Thanks Joe

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