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Hangar 18, the CIA, and the Mormon Church

By Robbie Graham 1980 saw the release of what was arguably Hollywoods first true UFO conspiracy movie one that incorporated into its plot many aspects of the real-life UFO enigma, as well as specific details featured in allegedly authentic Top Secret UFO-related government documentation.

It is not only Hangar 18s content that continues to provoke discussion among UFO researchers, but also the fact that the film was released in 1980. It was in this year that details of the Roswell incident began to enter the popular consciousness with the publication in The National Enquirer of an interview with now legendary Roswell witness Major Jesse Marcel, and also the publication of Charles Berlitz and William Moores The Roswell Incident the first book on the Roswell subject. Equally significant in 1980 and undoubtedly connected to the aforementioned developments regarding Roswell was the quiet insertion into the UFO community of the term MJ-Twelve. Thirty-two years later the term, along with its variant Majestic Twelve, has now assumed permanent residency in our popular culture, having featured in films, TV shows, comic books and video games.

Hanger Contents
The plot for Hangar 18 begins in Earth orbit as NASA under the watchful eye of the US military is preparing to launch a satellite. Just as the satellite is launched from the space shuttle, however, it collides with a UFO, killing a NASA astronaut in the launch bay. This is witnessed by the other crew in the shuttle our heroes Bancroft and Price (played by Gary Collins and James Hampton). Upon their return to Earth, Price and Bancroft seek answers but soon realize their government has instigated a cover-up, and that they, too, are being kept in the dark. We learn that, following the collision in orbit, the UFO made a controlled landing in the Arizona desert, where it was captured by the US military. The craft is soon transported to the Top Secret Hangar 18 where it is studied by NASA scientists (lead by Darren McGavin). Onboard the craft, the scientists make a series of startling discoveries (spoilers ahead): ~ The alien pilots, although dead, are physically undamaged and are almost exactly human in appearance. The scientists conclude that the aliens visited Earth in ancient times; that they were seen as Gods, and that they interbred with Earth women and jump-started human life as we know it today. ~ A human woman is also onboard the craft in stasis. When removed by doctors, the woman awakens in a state of terror. We assume she is an abductee. ~ In the ships data files, the scientists find glyphs similar those used by ancient Earth civilizations. The scientists also discover extensive aerial surveillance footage of Earths power plants, military bases and major cities. The aliens, it seems, have been taking an active interest in our technological capabilities. Meanwhile, Bancroft and Price are dogged in their pursuit of the truth and are targeted by the government for assassination. Price is killed, but Bancroft survives and eventually finds his way to Hangar 18 and aboard the alien spacecraft. Around this point, the NASA scientists finally decipher the alien glyphs, which indicate that the beings were planning to return to Earth en masse in the near future. Before any of this Earth-shattering information has chance to sink-in, government agents fly a remote-controlled jet filled with explosives into the Hangar 18 the goal being to kill all involved in the cover-up, thereby permanently burying the secret. But, unbeknownst to the government hit squad, several of the NASA scientists, as well as Bancroft, are inside the alien craft when the hanger is hit with explosives. The craft, it turns out, is invincible, and the survivors inside decide to let the truth be known. The film ends with UFO Disclosure.

Ancient Astronauts and Christianity

The films depiction of human-looking extraterrestrials is particularly interesting, as is the idea that these beings jump-started the human race: these very same details were to appear three years later in a secret Air Force report shown to Linda Moulton Howe as part of the EmmyAward winning filmmaker and journalists preparation for a documentary on UFOs.

On April 9th, 1983, during a meeting at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Air Force Office of Special Investigations officer Richard Doty presented Howe with a document, the front cover of which read: BRIEFING PAPER FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON THE SUBJECT OF UNIDENTIFIED AREIAL VEHICLES (UAVs) Doty told Howe that she was to read the document at the request of his superiors, but stressed that she was forbidden from taking the document with her and from taking notes of any kind. The weighty document detailed many aspects of the UFO phenomenon and included a list of crash/retrievals of UFOs (or rather UACs). The list included two separate incidents near the Roswell region in 1947, and another in 1949, which resulted in the capture of a live extraterrestrial that was taken to Los Alamos National Laboratories. Apparently, the being was held captive before it died of unknown causes in 1952. Other crashes listed in the document included Aztec, NM, Kingman, AZ, and Loredo, TX. Most shocking to Howe was a paragraph that said the extraterrestrials had manipulated DNA in an evolving primate species to create Homo sapiens. Elsewhere in the document it was noted that the ETs had created a being on Earth whose purpose was to teach Homo sapiens about love and non-violence. Howe was astonished: We are talking about Jesus Christ, she said to Doty, who said nothing in response, but who looked deeply uncomfortable. The author and researcher Mike Clelland has pointed out that the parallels between the content of Hangar 18 and the report shown to Linda Moulton Howe are so striking that The document that Howe saw could very well have been written by Darren McGavin from what he learned in the movie. Clelland observes: We have a reporter [LMH] being shown a secret document by the Air Force in 1983, the conclusion is that they [officialdom] wanted this information floated out to the public. Three years earlier we have the movie Hangar 18 floating out the same information in the guise of an action film. Another intriguing aspect to Hangar 18 is that the production received assistance from NASA. This is odd, notes Clelland, because this low budget movie is sort of dopey and it certainly paints NASA and the Air Force as a sinister bunch of secret keepers. Moreover, and as researcher and author Christopher Knowles has observed with regard to Hangar 18, NASA is usually extremely picky about which entertainment products it will lend its support to. Indeed, just four years earlier, in 1976, NASA rejected the chance to cooperate with director Steven Spielberg for his UFO epic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) on the grounds that the film was dangerous in that it could spark an epidemic of UFO reports.

Obviously, then, in the mid-to-late 70s, NASA viewed UFOs as a strict no-no in films to which the space agency lent its name. By 1980, however, evidently this policy had changed perhaps in line with what many researchers now consider to have been an aggressive, interagency UFO perception-management campaign that began in the late-1970s and took shape throughout the 1980s and beyond. This campaign included the waging of a psychological war against Paul Bennewitz beginning in 1980; the Majestic 12 documents, which were leaked throughout the decade; and, in the form of 1988s UFO Cover-up? Live, at least one major UFO-themed TV project specifically designed by US military-intelligence to mix UFO fact with fantasy, thereby sowing confusion in the minds of the masses.

The Missing Puzzle Piece?

The predictive weirdness (as Clelland describes it) of Hangar 18s plot and NASAs seemingly inexplicable decision to support the film begin to make sense when the name Patrick J. Frawley Jr. is added to the equation. Frawley was an extremely wealthy business man who funded many ultra-Right organisations throughout the Cold War, including the American Security Council (ASC) a powerful lobby for the Military-Industrial-Complex. Frawley was a proud member of the ASC along with the likes of Nathan Twining (alleged Majestic 12 member), General Douglas MacArthur (who made seemingly bizarre statements about interplanetary wars and is thought to have been involved in the US Armys mysterious Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit) and James Jesus Angleton (the CIAs Counterintelligence chief from 1954 to 1975, also thought to have been connected to Majestic 12).

Frawley was also a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) an ancient Roman Catholic order long known to have been intricately intertwined with the CIA. Many senior Agency officials have been Malta Knights, including former CIA directors William Casey and John McCone, former Deputy Director of the CIA under DCI George Bush, Vernon Walters, and the legendary head of the OSS (precursor of the CIA) Bill Donovan. The Knights were/are useful to the CIA insomuch they can travel freely between countries without hindrance, the SMOM having full powers of statehood, including the authority to issue its own diplomatic passports. The SMOM has also acted as a CIA funding conduit and money-laundry and has been referred to as the Vaticans intelligence arm. Not incidentally, Roswell whistleblower Lt. Col. Philip Corso was himself a Shickshinny Knight of Malta. Part of a breakaway group from the Rome-based SMOM, the Shickshinnys are similarly characterized by an extreme Right-wing paranoiac ideology. Notably, Corso claimed that the production of flying saucer movies was secretly encouraged by governmentled UFO study groups in the 1950s. The goal was to acclimate the public to UFO reality while simultaneously manipulating perceptions of the phenomenon. Corso referred to this alleged strategy as camouflage through limited disclosure.

But back to Patrick J. Frawley. Clearly this was a man of considerable political influence who kept close company with the military and intelligence elite. Without doubt, he was one of the boys.

Rising Sunn
In 1971, the Schick Razor company (which had long been owned by Frawley) established an independent film studio Sunn Classic Pictures which soon started to produce and distribute feature films and documentaries about UFOs (with an emphasis on Ancient Astronauts) and other paranormal/psychic phenomena. Titles included: The Outer Space Connection (1975), a documentary examining the idea that aliens have visited Earth in ancient times and will return at a future date; The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena (1976), The Bermuda Triangle (1979), based on Charles Berlitzs non-fiction book linking UFOs to the disappearance of ships and aircraft; Beyond Deaths Door (1979) about life after death; and, in 1980, Hangar 18.

Sunn Classic Pictures also had a strong focus on religious documentaries, with titles including: In Search of Noahs Ark (1976), In Search of Historic Jesus (1979), and a TV series that ran from 1978 to 1979 called Greatest Heroes of the Bible.

The theory being propounded here, then, is that, beyond its obvious function as a commercial enterprise, Sunn Classic Pictures was established as an ideological tool for the purpose of influencing public opinion on subjects of great significance to the CIA, the MilitaryIndustrial-Complex and the Knights of Malta i.e. UFOs and Christianity. But this theory stands or falls on whether or not Patrick J. Frawley was in charge of Sunns parent company, Schick Razors, at the time of the studios conception. Note that I stress conception, rather than formation. Heres why... Frawley sold Schick Razors to Warner Lambert in 1970, but it wasn't until the following year in 1971 that Sunn Classic Pictures was formally established, by which time Frawley would have been out of the picture. However, what remains unknown at this point is precisely when the conceptualization process for Sunn Classic Pictures began. Needless to say, more often than not, decision-making within a large corporate structure is a complex process that can move through numerous stages over a considerable amount of time. Schick Razors formation of Sunn Classic Pictures would not have happened overnight, nor, indeed, could Schicks decision to establish (of all things) a film studio have been made on a whim. For any large corporation, the establishment or purchase of a new subsidiary is almost always a long and drawn-out process. It is therefore entirely logical to assume that Schicks decision to establish a film studio would have been made well in advance of Sunn Classic Pictures official formation in 1971 probably even several years in advance. In other words, it is extremely likely almost certain, in fact that the Sunn deal was arranged by Schick under the leadership of Patrick J. Frawley before Schick was sold to Warner Lambert in 1970 and that Warner Lambert simply inherited a deal that was already signed off on. I have made concerted efforts to get confirmation from Sunns current executives that the studio was conceptualized prior to 1971 while Frawley was still calling the shots at Schick. My emails on this subject to the current Chairman, President and CEO of Sunn classic Pictures, Lang Elliott, have received no response. I also emailed Hugh Kelley, the studios Senior Executive, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer, whose reply to me stated that Lang

Elliott would be the only person he knew who would be able to answer all of my questions. Unfortunately, wrote Kelley, he [Elliott] is actively travelling internationally on business and doesn't have the time to answer your inquiries. I suggest you collect information from the Internet and simply connect A to B.

The Mormon Connection

There is another line of enquiry to this investigation yet to be discussed here, but which is equally important perhaps even more so than the possible Frawley connection. Sunn Classic Pictures was established in Utah as a Mormon-run company with Raylan Jensen as its first President. Many of the studios writers, producers and directors also were Mormons, including Robert Starling (writer of the aforementioned In Search of Historic Jesus, and who, in later life, would make an educational documentary about the Mormon Church), and Charles E. Sellier Jr., one of Sunns most successful writer/producers and also a co-founder of the studio with Raylan Jensen. Sellier was born a Cajun Catholic but later converted to Mormonism. As a producer he would only make family-friendly G-rated films out of Mormon conviction. His credits for Sunn Classic Pictures notably included The Bermuda Triangle and Hangar 18. In 1997, Sellier wrote UFO, a non-fiction book examining the UFO enigma in the context of a government cover-up. It makes sense that a Mormon-run film studio should exhibit an interest in UFOs. Mormon cosmology holds that the Earth is not unique, but just one of many inhabited planets, each one created by Jesus for the purpose of bringing about immortality and eternal life. Mormon leaders have taught that the inhabitants of these planets are almost identical in appearance to humans just as the alien beings Hangar 18 are extremely human-like (a point dwelt upon in the films plot). Also worthy of mention in this discussion is Kolob a heavenly body described in Mormon scripture as a star, but which is generally regarded by Mormons as a planet. It is said to be the closest place in the universe to the throne of God. In the context of science-fiction, the popular TV series Battlestar Galactica (the original and remake) incorporates many Mormon cosmological beliefs into its overarching narrative. This is because the creator of the show, Glen Larson, was himself a Mormon. In the TV series, the planet Kobol (as opposed to Kolob) is the birth place of the human race where the Lords of Kobol are held sacred.

An LDS Educational Agenda?

In the Mormon text Doctrines of Salvation (1:62), tenth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Joseph Fielding Smith, states: We are not the only people that the Lord has created. We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in his image, for they are also his offspring. Smith began his LDS Presidency in 1970 the year prior to the establishment of Sunn Classic Pictures. Also significant is a quote by LDS Apostle Neal A. Maxwell. In his book A Wonderful Flood of Light (p.25), Maxwell wrote: We do not know how many inhabited worlds there are, or where they are. But certainly we are not alone. Between 1970 and 1974 the formative years of Sunn Classic Pictures Maxwell served as the LDS Commissioner of Church Education, which is responsible for providing religious and secular education for people of all ages, both LDS and non-LDS.

Did Mormon leaders such as Smith and Maxwell merely believe in the reality extraterrestrial life, or were their statements based on something more tangible? In a 2005 interview, Dr Steven Greer of the Disclosure Project said: The Mormon corporate empire has an enormous interest in this subject; they have much more power than the White house or the Pentagon over this issue. I emailed Greer asking him if could elaborate on this statement or provide me with some sources to follow up on, but I have yet to receive reply.

The Question Is...

The key question with regard to Sunn Classic Pictures is this: was the studios alien-themed output simply a reflection of Mormon ideals and beliefs held by the studios core writers/producers/directors (as well as an attempt on their part to cash in on the ever-popular subject of UFOs); or, was it a more lofty strategy on the part of Mormon Church itself to subtly educate the public about an aspect of the Mormon faith which, in the Century of the UFO, was becoming both increasingly taboo and increasingly relevant (i.e. life on other planets and its possible links to humanity)? The above Mormon UFO education theory would, on the face of it, cast doubt on the idea that Sunn was the brainchild of Patrick J. Frawley and was established as a conduit for military-intelligence disinformation about UFOs; Frawley was, after all, a member of the Knights of Malta a Catholic organisation. Catholics and Mormons historically have not seen eye-to-eye. But then, when it comes to the idea of extraterrestrial life, Catholicism and Mormonism do find common ground. The Vatican has stated repeatedly in recent years that Man is surely not alone in the universe and in November 2009 even went so far as to hold a

five-day conference exploring the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its scientific and religious implications. The possible involvement of Frawley in Sunn Classic Pictures, therefore, does not necessarily negate the possibility of an educational agenda on the part of the Mormon Church. Moreover, it is notable that there would have been no Mormon/Catholic conflict with regard to Sunns religious output, which never focused on Mormonism explicitly, but which dealt broadly with Jesus Christ and other shared Catholic/Mormon Biblical figures.

This is an ongoing research project. At this stage, all we can say with certainty is that, in its early years, Sunn Classic Pictures produced and released a number of notable films and TV shows that reflected a strong interest in Jesus and other Biblical figures, as well in extraterrestrial visitation. We know that the studio itself was Mormon-run and also appears to have been linked directly to Patrick J. Frawley a man with close ties to the CIA and the US defense establishment. How we choose to interpret all of this information ultimately comes down to the individuals world view. Do you live in a world where chance and coincidence shape history, or you live in a world where powerful interests frequently work together behind closed doors to serve mutual agendas? Objectively, there is currently insufficient evidence to prove conclusively that there was a high political or religious agenda behind Sunn Classic Pictures and films such as Hangar 18, but there are enough intriguing puzzle pieces currently on the table to warrant further investigation. Before signing off here, it is worth noting another curious twist in this tale... In July 1980 the month of Hangar 18s theatrical release in the US Schick sold Sunn Classic Pictures (along with its UFO related output) to Taft Broadcasting, a company that, according to its website, designed, installed and operated the first CCTV and broadcastinterface systems at Johnson Space Center (the first images from the moon went through a Taft-operated switcher on their way to the major television networks). Taft went on to provide television support services to NASA for thirty years, both at Johnson and Edwards AFB, California with a staff reaching 125 people. And just one last thing for those readers familiar with their occult/Elite symbolism: The Sunn Classic Pictures logo as it appears today...


About the author:

Robbie Graham an independent scholar whose work emphasises the industrial, cultural and political processes by which Hollywoods UFO movie content is shaped, as well the impact of these movies on popular perceptions of the UFO phenomenon. He holds a Masters degree with Distinction in Cinema Studies from the University of Bristol and a First Class Honours degree in Film, Television and Radio Studies from Staffordshire University. Robbie has been interviewed about UFOs and the politics of Hollywood for BBC Radio, Coast to Coast AM,, Canal+ TV and Vanity Fair, among others. His articles have appeared in a variety of publications including The Guardian, New Statesman, Filmfax, Fortean Times, Paranormal Magazine, Adbusters and the peer-reviewed journal of North American Studies, 49th Parallel. Robbie is currently writing a book on the subject of UFOs & Hollywood, titled: Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywoods UFO Movies. Read more of Robbies work at