Most regular readers know that I’m not terribly interested in the modern UFO phenomenon except where it intersects with ancient astronauts, folklore, and modern science fiction and/or horror. Nevertheless, I decided to subject myself to H2’s newest excuse for a “documentary,” called Hangar 1: The UFO Files, a program that claims to be an investigation into the files of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) but which is in reality a badly acting piece of fiction, composed of talking heads who say things they know to be untrue, historical reenactments that depict events that never occurred, and fabricated documents that the show apparently mocked up themselves using Microsoft Word and are attempting to pass off as historical artifacts. Lies, misdirection, and fraud? Why it must be an H2 “history” show!
Seriously: This is the absolute worst H2 “documentary” I have yet seen. It actually makes America Unearthed look responsible and Ancient Aliens seem accurate.
Hangar 1 S01E01 “Presidential Encounters” opens with a note that the “following incidents are taken from real case files.” This reminds me of the opening the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which claimed to be based on true events; however, I have no doubt that “these are actual UFO investigations” as the next slide informs us. That doesn’t make them true, of course. I have in my “case files” and email from a delusional and disturbed person who claimed that a UFO led him to discover Atlantis beneath the lava of an active volcano. It should be obvious that though this file exists, the story cannot be true.
The dateline is February 20, 1954: Palm Springs, California. Dwight Eisenhower vacations in Palm Springs “for no reason,” according to MUFON official John Ventre. Apparently MUFON official is this show’s version of “ancient astronaut theorist” on Ancient Aliens. A UFO historian tells us that Eisenhower “disappeared” for twelve hours during which time he allegedly met with aliens at Edwards Air Force Base. Dwight Equitz does not believe the official story, given out the next morning, that the president had emergency dental surgery even though the dentist himself made an appearance. Equitz has a self-satisfied smirk when he reports that the Air Force base was shut down to outsiders during Eisenhower’s trip to Palm Springs. He does not present the obvious: that it was shut down because of the President’s trip, perhaps as a secure retreat zone for the presidential party, or to house the presidential aircraft. Instead, he insinuates that the shutdown was to allow for aliens to land. Richard Dolan shows up next, and this saddens me. I thought he was supposed to have turned himself over to investigating the “truth” behind horror movies for the Chiller channel. I guess it depends on who’s paying for his time.
It seems, too, that this show has its own catchphrase: “MUFON files suggest…” This is almost as good as “ancient astronaut theorists believe…” from Ancient Aliens, but not quite. OK, well I have secret U.S. government alien files, too. So does that mean that I can say “Jason Colavito’s secret government files suggest…”?
I would like to see the text of this alleged Eisenhower “policy” of “absolute secrecy” about extraterrestrials that they talk about. They show a document on screen labeled “MANDATE 0463” from 1 March 1954, but I can find no record that this paper actually exists outside of the show. When I paused the video, I also noticed spelling errors in the document, such as “United State” for “United States,” and the language used in the letter matches no other DOD documents. I can’t even find a record for the supposed “Military Council” that created it. I am also pretty sure that on “1 March 1954” (a date system not used in memos of the time, which followed the March 1, 1954 format in the 1950s), documents weren’t written by computer in Times New Roman but by typewriter. Of course, it turns out I’m right: The memo isn’t just a computer-generated fake for illustration on this show; it’s also using language from the MAJESTIC-12 hoax to generate the fake memo without acknowledging this.
Here’s the MAJESTIC-12 language attributed to “Chapter 5: Extraterrestrial Biological Entities” of the Group Special Operations Manual dated April 1954, reformatted on this show to fabricate a “1 March 1954” memo, by computer, in Times New Roman. I quote from Stanton Friedman’s Top Secret/Majic, an unimpeachably pro-UFO source: “Any encounter with entities known to be of extraterrestrial origin is to be considered to be a matter of national security and therefore classified TOP SECRET. Under no circumstances is the general public or public press to learn of the existence of these entities. The official government policy is that such creatures do not exist, and that no agency of the federal government is now engaged in any study of extraterrestrials or their artifacts. Any deviation from this stated policy is absolutely forbidden.” This is the same text Hangar 1 uses, but they excerpt only some sentences from the MJ-12 manual in crafting their own fake memo.
The whole thing we see on screen appears to be a complete fabrication from this passage of the fictional MJ-12 documents, and no one on this show acknowledges or addresses the deception involved in creating this fake document as an “illustration.” I’m sure as far as the show is concerned, it’s just another “reconstruction” like reenactments featured during the show, but they present it as though it were true, quote from the fake document as real, and give a fake date not supported by the “actual” files in the MUFON archive.
Seven minutes into the show, and I’m ready to bail because it has already tried to deceive me and showed a blatant disregard for truth and disrespect for the audience.
Following this, we get another review of the Roswell Incident and the claim that Harry Truman was the first president to “publicly” deal with UFOs. The incident never reached his desk because no one involved ever though it was an alien spacecraft, and a crashed balloon or disc simply did not warrant presidential involvement. It’s a bit funny to hear the show claim that Truman decided to “keep this incident from the public” when the military put the story in the newspapers. Dolan has no doubt that the Roswell aliens were real and that Truman was hiding the truth. Truman’s “public” handling of UFOs came in 1952, during the so-called Washington UFO Flap. When asked if he had discussed flying saucers with the Joint Chiefs, Truman replied that he had: “They never were able to make me a concrete report on them.” A wire service called the International News Service put out a story that Truman ordered the Air Force to shoot down the UFOs, but no documents exist to confirm any such order. The Air Force held a press conference after the stories ran to explain that the UFOs were not material objects and therefore did not pose a threat to national security.
Contrary to the show’s claims, the panel chaired by Howard Percy Robertson was not a top secret meeting to discuss UFO strategy. Instead, the group concluded that there was no evidence UFOs were alien spacecraft, that aerial phenomena posed no threat, and that hysterical media accounts (like, ahem, the one we’re watching) “does, in these parlous times, result in a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic.” They felt UFOs should be stripped of their aura of mystery and discussed as common aerial phenomena. Dolan calls this “justification” for suppressing the truth about aliens.
Along the way, another fake computer-generated memo is given as “illustration.”
And this was just the first ten minutes.
After the break I decide to pay less attention to the show. It will take me too long to review this if I try caring about all of it. The show states that JFK was assassinated because he was going to reveal UFO secrets and that future presidents keep UFOs secret to avoid being assassinated. It also claims that Americans were concerned that aliens could unwittingly create a nuclear war if the Soviets mistook a UFO for an American plane. Not surprisingly, after telling us that the Soviets and Kennedy discussed UFOs, the show then backpedals and tells us that we have no idea if they actually did any of the things the show just finished telling us they did. Then we see a typewritten National Security Memorandum about US-Soviet space cooperation, which for once is absolutely genuine. Of course it makes no mention of UFOs, but Richard Dolan is fairly convinced that Kennedy is a martyr to UFO disclosure.
So, just to be clear: H2 is telling us that the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy, that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone assassin, and that the Cigarette-Smoking Man from the X-Files actually did kill Kennedy because of aliens.
The show claims that the Accident Measures Agreement of 1971 discusses “unidentified objects” and that these are UFOs. You can see from the full text that this is not referring to spacecraft but to any object that sets off early warning detection systems before it is identified—bird, vimana, wheel of Ezekiel, model rocket, guy in a chair with 1,000 helium balloons attached—anything. There’s no evidence this referred to UFOs.
After the break, we hear claims that Richard Nixon shared America’s UFO secrets with Jackie Gleason, from The Honeymooners, taking him—alone, without Secret Service!—to a Florida Air Force Base, where he saw aliens. How do I even try to dignify this claim? It comes from the National Enquirer, back when it published fake stories later given to the Weekly World News. The story ran in August of 1983, and the story entered UFO lore thanks to the sloppy research of…wait for it…MUFON itself, which never checked the source!
Then Richard Dolan tells us that Bill Clinton’s aide Webster Hubbell was stonewalled part of an effort to keep Clinton from learning UFO secrets. We hear a secondhand account that Bill and Hillary Clinton saw UFOs and that Bill found UFOs interesting, but no one asks either for a statement because this show is to journalism what cheese food product is to cheese. The show concludes that Clinton’s effort to release information about the Roswell Incident “fail[ed]” because it turned up no aliens. One might more fairly conclude, since the Roswell: Case Closed report did expose an actual cover-up—of an advanced balloon—that this might be a success, unless you’re desperate for aliens
After the break we are only halfway through this giant turd. We hear about the time Jimmy Carter mistook the planet Venus for a UFO in 1969. He did not believe it was a spacecraft, but somehow the show concludes anyway that this was a defining moment in his life and drove him to obsess on UFO disclosure. Dolan and Grant Cameron assert that George H. W. Bush, then CIA director, prevented Carter from learning about UFOs. Cameron smugly said that Bush told the president that he was not on a need-to-know basis with the CIA’s UFO division. This is ridiculous, of course, since the CIA is an executive department and the president could dismiss any CIA director who refused direct orders. The pompous jerks on this show seem to think they know things they couldn’t know, along with the secrets that presidents somehow were forbidden.
Did California governor Ronald Reagan see a UFO in 1974? Do I care? The show implies that Reagan believes in UFOs and was “profoundly influenced” by the UFO experience, thus resulting in his selection of Bush as running mate. Um, no. Even a moment’s check of the facts would show that Bush had no love for Reagan before his selection as running mate. All of the pundits, however, agree that Bush is America’s “gatekeeper” of UFO secrets and masterminded the secret plot to suppress alien truth. Cameron calls him a member of Majestic-12, the nonexistent UFO government agency. I am disturbed that this yet another H2 show promoting the idea that the U.S. government is actively working against the American citizenry, contributing to the paranoia we see in society today. They slip dangerously close to the wide-ranging Bush family conspiracy theories bubbling through the left wing conspiracy zone.
The show makes much of an alleged “slip” in 1988 when Bush said that “Yes I know some; I know a lot” in response to a question about whether as CIA director he had access to UFO files. The show interprets this as the smoking gun that Bush knew of aliens, but it much more likely refers to Bush knowing that the UFO phenomenon was a bunch of hot air and Cold War propaganda created to hide CIA spy planes and their Soviet counterparts, as actual CIA and NSA documents have repeatedly shown—and as I’ve discussed before and repeatedly.
The narrator then asks if Barack Obama will reveal UFO secrets. After the final break they answer the question: No. The MUFON team are very disappointed that Obama did not bring hope and change to UFO research. Ventre is upset that the White House said that there is no evidence of alien life. “How can they make that statement?” Ventre asks, citing MUFON documents and alien abductees as evidence of alien life.
The narrator concludes from this that presidents “adhere to a policy of UFO secrecy.”
Here’s the thing: Dolan says he has a “well-placed” government source who told him about secret government UFO briefings. I don’t usually like to play this card, but I know a lot of people who know people, and I went to school with a current U.S. senate staffer, and his uncle, whom I have also met, is a high ranking official in the Obama administration. I can’t share his name because I don’t want to bring the wrath of UFO nuts down on him, but suffice it to say that he has been in government for two decades and has a top security clearance, as well as a job that involves working with intelligence agencies. I asked him point blank about this a long time ago, in the U.S. Capitol no less, and he laughed at the very idea. He told me that, no, there just isn’t any of this imaginary UFO evidence. Now, you may say that he was lying to me or that he was part of the conspiracy, but why would he lie to me (is his nephew in on it, too?) while some secondhand source went on to tell Dolan the truth decades after the fact? What makes Dolan’s source better than mine? Secondhand oral statements aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
The show concludes that the government is hiding things from us and that only the dedicated team of MUFON officials and UFO historians can be trusted to give us the truth that the government is hiding—by sitting on their asses in front of a camera blathering about secondhand statements from people they’ve never met.
Frankly, I expected this show to be more investigative, perhaps involving fieldwork or interviews with actual witnesses and informants. I should have known better! This is H2, and that kind of crap is expensive! Instead, we go the worst of all possible worlds: Ancient Aliens: The Next Generation.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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