HANGER 1: THE UFO FILES on The History Channel


Pros: Well-made; more credible than some similar shows; fascinating, thought-provoking information

Cons: Lack of hard evidence; conspiracy theories galore!

Considering the almost absurd number of UFO and alien-related shows on television in general and The History Channel in particular, the channel’s 2014 series Hangar 1: The UFO Files would need some element to not only give it some credibility but also distinction from the crowd. This show’s producers found just that when they set up the entire series as an expose type of program that revolved around an investigation of certain files from the archives of the , or MUFON. MUFON was founded in 1969 (precisely the time when the Air Force’s official inquiry into the UFO phenomenon, the much-maligned , was ending), and has over the years compiled some 70,000 case files relating to encounters with unknown craft and/or extraterrestrials. Each hour-long episode of Hangar 1 focuses on a specific facet of the UFO argument, with files pulled from the MUFON archives used to further illustrate and examine the topics. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to make the program stand out all that much from the dozens of vaguely similar shows, though I’d have to say that Hangar 1 would be about the perfect show for UFO and alien conspiracists.

The actual, shadowy MUFON archives, or just a creepy-looking set – you decide.

Season one of Hangar 1 (eight episodes in length) would be an ideal “introductory course” in modern ufology and also could be taken as a excellent “refresher course” for those already interested in the subject and related theories. Episodes during this initial season dealt with such subjects as space weaponry being designed by government-sponsored deep black programs, the notion that the examination and “reverse engineering” of crashed flying saucers could yield new human technology, and the existence of deep underground military bases which could be used both to hide that sort of technology or even disguise extraterrestrial settlements on earth. The entirety of the first season of episodes ties back to the premiere which dealt with presidential encounters with UFOs and government policy relating to the subject. Ever since the late 1940s, there have been rumors about government involvement in hiding the existence of extraterrestrial life from the general public, and numerous presidents appear to not only have some knowledge about the existence of these beings but a few even have had their own first-hand encounters with aliens. I suppose you could say that the government UFO conspiracy is the “glue” that holds this show together – although this is hardly a revelation in the world of UFO-related television shows.

the start
Where everything started…

Hangar 1 is generally set-up like dozens of vaguely or explicitly similar shows. This program basically provides specific examples of human contact with unknown craft and/or beings which are based on actual reports provided for and investigated by MUFON. Various experts including scientists, MUFON researchers, and journalists discuss these incidents and the larger picture issues involved in the examination of UFOs and aliens. During the course of this examination, various scenarios are reenacted for the camera, and statements from the individuals involved are recited. Technically speaking, the program is well made, with a constantly interesting visual scheme that mixes up dramatizations with interview footage and a typically cryptic collage of declassified government documents, archival photographs, and eyewitness sketches.

What would any conspiracy program be without a segment devoted to the ?

Given the number of similar shows out there (many of which air on the very channel this program is broadcast on), the main thing I was looking for here would be the presentation of incidents and evidence that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. In this regard, Hangar 1 is a mixed bag: this show’s presentation of material is well-organized and obviously well-researched, but I have heard most of these stories before, either in other television programs or during the course of research I’ve done on my own. The program then might seem to many viewers like (another) rehash of information that’s been revealed other places; despite the fact that we’re told MUFON is “opening up its file archive for the first time,” I highly doubt that this is actually the case. All that said, the show certainly does cover some of the more fascinating UFO cases I’ve ever heard about, including quite a few which aren’t exactly common knowledge. For instance, segments that deal with a in which Iranian military aircraft encountered an apparently hostile UFO or one which focuses on former government contractor who claimed to be attacked by aliens when he accidentally entered into their underground base – and had horrific scars as proof of his encounter – aren’t featured in too many UFO shows.

Phil Schneider – the man who supposedly confronted aliens in an underground bunker…then died under mysterious circumstances after he went public with his claim. Notice extensive hand injuries reportedly sustained in the firefight.

On the downside, this show gives plenty of credence to various conspiracy theories and almost assumes a viewer would be willing to do the same. Additionally, I detected a bit of “fear-mongering” going on in the show during a few segments: to me, this seemed cheap and completely out of place in a program of this nature. Finally, and perhaps most damningly, even if many of the incidents discussed in the program are at the very least intriguing, I was genuinely shocked by the lack first-hand evidence. There are relatively few images of alien craft (at least ones directly related to the subject of the episodes) and virtually no eyewitness interviews; most all the information here is presented either by the narration or the third-party commentators. Thus, Hangar 1 seems mostly to be made up of hearsay: a programmed designed to be viewed by those who already believe in the existence of UFOs and alien life. The program does make a pretty good case for its claims (at least if one is inclined or able to follow the string of sometimes vague “evidence” referenced in the narration and believe the endless “accounts” related to the camera), but I don’t think a skeptic would be at all convinced by the arguments put forth in this program simply due to the fact that there’s very little hard proof provided.

Yeah…I’m not sure this kind of “proof” is really going to cut it…

This, of course, is the problem with almost every UFO-related program, crypto-reality and/or “monster hunt” show, and generally, most things on TV: without seeing the evidence for oneself, it’s difficult for anyone to believe extraordinary claims. Granted, many people anymore subscribe to the whole X-Files “” thing – and many of today’s more speculative documentaries certainly play into that sort of mindset. I’d probably compare Hangar 1 favorably to a more level-headed program of the Unexplained Files variety rather than to the increasingly goofy monster hunt shows out there; if nothing else, Hangar 1 would provide an open-minded viewer with plenty of food for thought. In my mind, this is the best thing about shows like Ancient Aliens – though I can’t buy every argument put forth in these programs since they very obviously have their own agendas, they definitely get a viewer thinking, which is commendable even if the programs overall are not. UFO enthusiasts would probably enjoy Hangar 1: The UFO Files quite a bit: it’s a well-produced and perhaps more credible companion piece to some of History Channel’s other speculative programming. It’s not the best UFO program I’ve ever seen, but it’s not the worst either; in the end, I’d give the series a moderate recommendation.

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