This Unidentified review contains no spoilers.
The first episode of Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation on History Channel uses a familiar format to deliver an unprecedented investigation. UFO reality shows have come and gone, but what makes Unidentified unique is the credibility of the show’s investigators and witnesses. From a former career intelligence officer, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and multiple jet fighter pilots, it becomes clear that research into what the hell UFOs are is more legit than ever.
Unidentified follows the ongoing UFO investigations of Luis Elizondo and To The Stars Academy (TTSA). Elizondo is a former intelligence officer who resigned in October 2017. That same month, former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge announced the creation of TTSA, an organization focused on researching the unknown with an impressive list of members. Elizondo was on that list. During the press conference announcing TTSA, Elizondo claimed he left his job at the Pentagon because one of his posts entailed researching military UFO cases and he felt the Department of Defense (DoD) was not taking the subject seriously enough.
The following December, the New York Times, followed by Politico and The Washington Post, published articles providing more insight into Elizondo’s former UFO program, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). The story garnered headlines around the world and created public interests into the nature of the secretive Pentagon project. History’s Unidentified intends to provide insight into AATIP investigations and TTSA’s more recent discoveries.
Unidentified will be a six-part series. The first episode introduces us to the TTSA team members and covers a fantastic UFO encounter as told by the witness, all of whom were on active duty with the Navy when the contacts took place.
The New York Times article that broke the AATIP story also included details about one of the most exciting AATIP cases. Over several days in November of 2004, the Nimitz Aircraft Carrier Strike Group captured objects on radar that performed unusual maneuvers. During a training exercise, several F-18 jet fighters were diverted to get a closer look at one of the objects. Commander David Fravor got the best view. He describes seeing an object that looked like a 40-foot-long white Tic Tac that performed remarkable maneuvers. This case, also covered by Den of Geek, is reviewed in detail in the first episode of Unidentified.
Major news networks have been interviewing Fravor, from CNN to Fox News. However, his wingmate, a pilot who wished to remain anonymous, has not spoken publicly. She finally tells her story in Unidentified. She gives her testimony in low light with a dark shadow over her face so she can remain anonymous. Fravor and his former wingmate do a great job conveying the excitement and trepidation of bearing down on an apparent UFO with a jet fighter.
The details of what the jets encountered in 2004 are mind-blowing. Perhaps just as amazing is the credentials of some of the other TTSA team members we also get to know in the show. Two of those individuals are Chris Mellon and Steve Justice. Chris Mellon is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in the Clinton and Bush Administrations. He is also a member of the famous Mellon family dynasty.
Steve Justice is a former Program Director for Advanced Systems from Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs, also known as Skunk Works. Skunk Works is famous for creating some of the most advanced aircraft known to humankind, including the SR-71 Blackbird and other stealth aircraft. Skunk Works was also the organization hired by the CIA to scout out a location for and oversee the development of the super secret Area 51 base.
Now Elizondo, Mellon, Justice, and DeLonge, along with other colleagues, are searching for answers to the mystery posed by objects with indiscernible propulsions systems that Navy fighter pilots claim outperform our most advanced aircraft. And we get to watch them do this groundbreaking work in Unidentified.
Unidentified has a similar feel as other investigation focused reality shows, but instead of the wild speculation we have come to expect or leaps in logic that strain credulity, Unidentified offers a more grounded perspective on a topic that the general public typically regarded as “out of this world.”
As for what we can hope to look forward to in future episodes, members of TTSA have claimed they had a role to play in the Navy’s recent announcement that they will be rolling new UFO reporting procedures. According to Investigative Journalist and Unidentified Executive Producer Anthony Lappe, we will see some of this in future episodes.
“Both Chris Mellon and Lou Elizondo are closely involved with what’s going on inside the Pentagon over the course of this last year,” Lappe told Den of Geek. “They consider that Navy announcement to be a huge victory for sort of everything they’ve been doing behind the scenes and we were able to chronicle that.”
The teaser also indicates they will be looking into a military UFO case from 1980 that included several military witnesses on a U.S Air Force base on lease from the British government bordering the Rendlesham Forest. According to Elizondo, we will also see more astounding cases from the AATIP files that have not yet been made public.
Given the speculative, and some may argue, dubious, nature of many of the topics covered on Ancient Aliens, some UFO enthusiasts have expressed fears on social media that a series that is sensationalized or overly speculative could damage TTSA’s credibility. I had those same concerns. However, after watching the first episode, my fears were laid to rest and replaced by excitement for what, so far, is a credible look at the enigmatic mystery posed by UFOs. If the entire series maintains the credibility of the first episode, we are in for one hell of a ride.
Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation premieres on Friday, May 31 at 10 p.m. ET on History.