What is this film about?
In a clear November sky the craft appeared, floating, silently hovering miles above the ocean 30 thousand feet below, the hazy horizon painted like a steak without a break. They glided together 3, no 5, 8 now. They hung in the still air, drifting. Suddenly, A steel gray shape slices the air with a flash of sun. Miles away. One, then two contrails are piercing the blue, threatening, aggressive and moments away…Immediately they react like prey. They drop one by one from the sky. Not through air or space but in some non-Newtonian space that allows no for physical mass, no friction, no inertia, just the now. They are at the sea in less than 1 sec and then below it, deeper and deeper. 100, 200, 500 feet below they plunge, escaping the intruders until they are gone. A cloaked memory of something seen as a glint. A radar blip, a mirage, a ghost, a UFO.
So begins the odyssey of the USS Nimitz rendezvous with unexplained craft that have forever haunted the US Navy shipmates that were there that day. Whether those Navy men and women were fortunate or not has yet to be determined. But for those that saw those craft, this is what they witnessed. They say it was as real as the sun, sea and sky. They know they were out there. They want vindication.
It’s 2019 and I’m walking along the Colorado River near Bullhead City, Arizona with Senior Chief Petty officer Kevin Day. He was one of the first navy vets I met that saw the objects on radar. He had over 17 years in the Navy, pretty much his whole career. He agreed to meet up with me to give me his take on the events and he’s frustrated, “Our goal when standing watch in CIC is to identify everything that’s in the sky. We failed utterly to identify these things. It didn’t meet any of the parameters for anything that was known. I asked Captain Smith about it, the Air Defense Commander on USS Princeton, and he was baffled too. He said, “well maybe they’re ice crystals.” And I kinda’ had to laugh at that ‘cause, I thought it was ludicrous. They were not ice crystals.” Kevin wants to take his concerns to Washington, DC. He believes there should be training for all service members. Back then Kevin and his men had deal with it with it on their own. He may get his wish. In 2020 the DoD formed the UAP Task Force to officially study UFO’s. The first time since Project Blue Book in the 1960s.
I never intended to get involved in some far-flung story about physics-defying craft, punk rock stars and conspiracy advocates. I didn’t seek it out by any means. I guess you could say it sought me out. That’s the short end of it. Just how I ended up leading a panel of US Navy veterans, all heroes of the gulf wars, in front of the stage at a UFO conference, and how they have inspired me and inspired other vets to come to terms with it themselves, is something for another story. Yet it happened, as unlikely as it sounds. I’m not going to rehash all the details of the Nimitz sighting, as you have undoubtedly already read or heard about it before. I’m a video producer. That means I make videos for commercial production – my day job. I’ve always had an interest from a young age, no doubt from my parents who were academics and always traveling and sharing ideas on alternate ancient history and the latest books on mysteries and unexplained events. My college education in the 80’s mainly focused on music, electronic art, media and the academic courses I was obliged to take. Fast Forward. October 2017. Facebook.
Some friends knew I still had an interest and shared a presentation by the group To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences led, as you know, by Blink 182 vocalist Tom Delonge, with his rag tag gang of senior aerospace, CIA, and defense leaders, all talking about the US Government’s ongoing study of UFO’s. Their mission was to facilitate the release of this information to the world community through their public benefit company and through direct public involvement and an entertainment division. Not only that, they would begin work on a zero point energy aerospace vehicle and begin sending laser-launched “Cube Sats” into orbit as soon as possible.
Well, you can imagine I watched it, and watched it again. I kept looking at the credentials of these guys. I was also Googling them, right? Are they for real? What the hell? Are these guys legit ? I admit it, I’m still an 80’s rocker. I like Pink Floyd and to me Tom Delonge’s stuff was like my 20 something daughter’s music… “No way!”, she retorts, “he’s old!”. Anyway, these guys are comprised of a Deputy Secretary of Defense, A US Army Counter Intelligence officer, A Lockheed Martin Skunkworker, A CIA Operative and a CIA physicist. What is going on here? Then on the live stage, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Chris Mellon is showing slides and talking about an event off the coast of the United States, one hundred miles off San Diego California. He solemnly states, “the craft defied efforts to identify them”… despite the efforts of our highly trained fighter squadrons. Former DoD Counterintelligence officer Luis Elizondo explained the UFO program he ran for nearly a decade in the Pentagon was still ongoing. Delonge mentioned a transparent collaboration of global citizens targeting the mysteries of the universe.
It wasn’t until two months later when the slow fuse on this bombshell cooked off. There on the front cover of one of the world’s most respected newspapers in America, was the story of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was in black and white. It was true. A side bar article on Navy Commander David Fravor’s encounter with the UFO’s over the pacific was also in the paper that Saturday. And timed with this story the release of two short segments of Navy FLIR video, of unidentified aerial objects. In fact, one of the videos was from this same incident described by Cmdr. Fravor of objects that looked like the candy mints called Tic Tacs. The videos were released on the New York Times website and on the To The Stars Academy website, labeled as FLIR1 and Gimbal.
Ten days later I create a new Facebook group, called The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Group. I had to change the name from Aerospace to Aviation a few times as press around the world seemed unclear on what it was actually called. In a few months I had a core group of enthusiasts, bloggers, scientists, researchers and ufologists from around the world. I suddenly found myself surrounded by some of the best minds in the field. And the debates began. Not all heated, mind you, we were rationally hashing out the cases presented by this AATIP program and running down leads. Then in 2020 I had to change the name again. The new UAP Task force group continues to provide informed and reasoned commentary on the subject,
It was during this early period that Paco Chierici’s article in Fightersweep, a military fighter aviation trade publication was first located. This time the story was told by the pilots to other pilots with detailed descriptions not seen anywhere else: like how US Marine pilot Lt. Col Douglas “Cheeks” Kurth first heard the radio intercept calls from guided missile cruiser USS Princeton that day in Nov 2004, and how he vectored his F/A-18C to the area only to encounter a strange disturbance on the oceans surface. It was “50-100 meters in diameter”, he said, and looked like what he described as “whitewater” or if a “shoal or sinking ship” were just below the water. It described how Cmdr. Dave “Sex” Fravor and Lt. Cmdr. Jim “Clean” Slaight soon arrived on scene and they too observed the water disturbance. Fravor detailed how it looked like the shape of a “737, 10 feet below the surface”, or a “sea mount” with water “frothing” over it. This is where the Tic Tac sighting comes in as this craft appeared above the white water. “It had no wings…it had no control surfaces…” he later told To The Stars, it’s aerodynamic performance displayed flight envelopes vastly superior to any known spacecraft or airframe in our inventory. “It wasn’t a helicopter”!
As I read those descriptions my mind formed images of porcelain-white capsules tumbling through the sky as sleek fighter jets blasted by, pilot’s necks craning, radio shouts crackling through their oxygen masks, radar screens blinking, the commanders at their consoles issuing radio vectors pointing, brows creased with concern. This was edge of your seat material, hair-raising material. Good material for a movie. I wanted to see that movie.
I would suppose that was the spark of inspiration for me. This was all from Chierici’s article in Fightersweep. Over the ensuing days, I would think about that movie. How could one make a movie like that? This is an example of my inner dialog as I considered it: “How can I re-create the encounter? I do have 3D graphics and editing skills. Right…. but am I good enough to make believable 3D jets? What about Turbosquid? (a place to buy 3D models) That may work if I can afford it. What about the Navy ships how can I show them? Wait, remember the Defense Visual Information Library… It’s public domain Navy video. What if my friends did the voice? What if I did the music?..this just may work indeed”. So that’s how a 10-month whirlwind movie was made. I asked no one’s permission. I had no sponsor, no producer or money. Everything would be the exact reflection of that vision.
My Facebook group is a vastly supportive crowd of individuals and when I announced my plans and began sharing some preview renders of the Tic Tacs and the ocean disturbance they were all very encouraging. And soon things began to fall in place. The first thing was to get the story right, especially the details about the first pilots to see the Tic Tacs. Who were they? If I was going to do the documentary it had to be accurate for history, at least as accurate as it could be. One thing kept nagging at me. Why did he say she? Didn’t he say she? Going back over Paco’s article I checked again. Yep, he wrote, “Dave put FASTEAGLE 02 into high cover passing through about 15K and she and her WSO witnessed the events from a perfect vantage point.” Until that moment, every newspaper, every newscast had listed Cmdr. Jim Slaight as Cmdr. Dave Fravor’s wingman. I began to pester my group. Listen, “the other plane, Fravor’s wing, it was piloted by a girl”, I’d say. “Nah! no way, It was Slaight, they just nicknamed their jets with female genders Dave.” But I persisted. In the redacted Pilot’s Report, found on the TTSA website, there were more clues. This pilot makes the statement, “At this point I was frightened due to the fact that we were being asked if we had any weapons available.” To me, the A-type fighter pilot community are pretty much hard-charging, ego-fueled thrill seekers, but just the way the phrase was used, “I was frightened” to me I could not imagine a male fighter pilot admitting that. So how do I find out? I had, at this point, been trying to contact all the pilots. While being respectful of their privacy, I emailed them explaining I was a filmmaker & researcher, wanting to create a historical re-creation of the event. I eventually reached Cmdr. Slaight on LinkedIn. He was cordial and offered to answer any questions I may have. I explained to the Cmdr., that I was doing a documentary film and wanted to make sure the facts were as accurate as I could make them, I mentioned my idea that a woman was piloting his jet. His reply was “I was the wingman of Cmdr. Fravor.” That was the last question he ever answered. Eventually he closed the conversation saying he was “busy working on contracts”.
The term “wingman” is accurate for both of the aircrew in the second jet in the two-seater F/A-18F. So who was in the front seat? I was pretty sure Paco Cherici knew. I asked him and he replied, “All I can tell you Dave, is that the other pilot was a female and the two WSOs were males.” I nearly fell out of my seat. “But she is wigged out by the whole thing.” This was one of the best UFO cases ever, and I just broke a major unreported part of it. She does not want her name used, which I respect. These are our national heroes of the Gulf wars. They deserve privacy.
Over the ensuing months I worked nights, evenings and time off rendering my jets, my Tic Tacs, and searching down Navy leads and footage of the USS Princeton, USS Nimitz, VFA-41 Black Aces and VAW-117 Wallbangers Squadrons. I sent in FOIA requests for documents relating to the vessels and deck logs. I created music tracks, wrote the script and worked on radio comms. Then in May 2018 Chief Kevin Day appeared in my world. Kevin had emerged on his Facebook as the Top Gun trained Senior Chief Petty Officer and Operations Specialist on USS Princeton during the event. He had written about the experiences on the website Above Top Secret under the pseudonym “The Seer” in 2009 and even penned an eBook called “Sailor’s Anthology”. Soon he was in my group and we were chatting. He began adding members to the group, including his shipmates from the USS Princeton. Gary Voorhis was a Petty Officer Fire Controlman who served with Kevin that day in the Combat Information Center. Soon he and I struck up a conversation as well. I needed accurate radio brevity comms in my movie and I enlisted these two gents to review my work and even play the voices of “Charlie” and “Banger” in the movie as heard today.
As the fall of 2018 approached, I knew the movie would be done in November and what better a day than the 13th anniversary of the Tic Tac encounters on November 14th. So with little fanfare it debuted for free on YouTube on the night of Nov 14th 2018. Three months later it had 1.5 million views.
In the movie I asked for military service members who have seen unexplained objects to contact me anonymously. Petty Officer Patrick Hughes and Petty Officer Jason Turned emailed me. Patrick was an aviation tech aboard USS Nimitz. He explained his friend was aboard the E2 Hawkeye when the Tic Tacs appeared. His buddy, who I’ll call “Roger” and I were soon exchanging emails. Roger explained, “I was acting Radar Officer (I was an E-5/AT2 In Flight Technician at the time) in the E-2 at the time of the event. Although I was required to sign a waiver and NDA with the Navy over this I can tell you a couple of things. First off I did see something that transited very quickly by our E-2, and I cannot honestly say I’ve seen anything like it. The “object” joined up with us briefly and all onboard had a view. Upon arrival back to the Nimitz we were told to follow an individual down for a debriefing. We made our way to a secure area on the ship where the events were discussed individually then we were told, “It did not happen”.
It’s March 2019 in the desert of southern Nevada. I’m walking in a dry canyon with Navy vet Jason Turner. He keeps spotting rocks, specimens and putting them in his pocket, an amateur rock hound. On his forearm is a tattoo “We The People” which reveals his patriotism. Jason was a Petty Officer aboard the USS Princeton. He held a secret clearance and while in the Ships Signal Exploitation Space, he saw a remarkable video. Today we’re here, surrounded by huge boulders and Indian petroglyphs to talk about that FLIR video. Later we’ll be on stage in front of a crowd of UFO enthusiasts. “So Jason, this thing on the video you saw, what did you think, can you describe it?” He replies with his southern drawl, “The jets were like trying to trail this thing and it would just run off and leave them… It was just gone… and then it would come back and then you would see it. And then it, I mean, it .. it made a maneuver, like they were chasing it straight on. It was going with them. This thing stopped turning, it was just gone. I mean it, that’s the only way to describe what it looked like… The video you see now, that’s just a small snippet in the beginning of the whole video.”
More troubling, both Patrick Hughes and Gary Voorhis had official US Gov personnel arrive that day via helicopter and confiscate their classified data tapes and drives from the mission. Gary told me the entire secret CEC system, a combined radar display, was erased on orders of these men and the entire operating system had to be reinstalled back in port. “Roger” was told to never speak of this event again and Patrick had US Air Force Officers enter his work area to confiscate E2 data from his secure safe. Obviously some people in very high places had a keen interest in these intercepts and recordings. Yet the official report is nothing happened that day. These men from USS Princeton have never been officially interviewed as part of any Naval investigation. A mission report (MISREP) was sent to 3rd Fleet headquarters, yet no official inquiry was ever launched and apparently there was no interest from the higher US Navy command. It remains a mystery to this day.
2004, Back on Princeton, as the sun sinks low on the horizon, Petty Officer Voorhis and Chief Day climb the rusty metal catwalks to the top of superstructure and out into the salt air on the windy high bridge wing. There they take bearing and range and swing the big eye pedestal mounted binoculars onto the chosen vector. Gary first, then Kevin look, squinting, to the horizon and the sky bobs into the view and then it come into focus, just there, a white object, floating slowly in the sky and then it’s gone. An enigma and an unexplained object.
Dave C Beaty
Here are some of the documents I used to cross reference: Fightersweep X Files Edition – There I Was by Paco Chierici, To The Stars Academy’s Community of Interest’s Pilot’s Report, a detailed account told by one of the pilots in the fighters, and later the Executive Summary of the events produced by the AATIP, I presume, first released by George Knapp of KLAS. In addition I listened to every news and podcast I could get my hands on, including Giuliano Marinkovic’s Omnitalkradio news archive of The Pentagon UFO Study and interviews with Cmdr. Fravor conducted by Jeremy Corbell, Linda Moulton Howe and George Knapp as well as Cmdr. Fravor’s interviews on CNN, Fox, Nightline and CBS.