Shortly after being launched from a space shuttle, a satellite collides with a UFO which then crashes to Earth in the Arizona desert. One of the shuttle astronauts is decapitated in the collision.
The US government recovers the alien craft and takes it to a location known as “Hangar 18” at a remote disused military airbase for analysis. They also do their best to conceal the event because POTUS is in the midst of his election campaign and any leak about aliens in the Arizona desert could apparently really hurt his chances of re-election.
Unfortunately, the president’s Chief of Staff, Gordon Cain (Robert Vaughn) also thinks it is a good idea to blame the death of the third astronaut on the remaining members of the shuttle crew. Naturally, astronauts Steve Bancroft (Gary Collins) and Lew Price (James Hampton) take offence at this and go on the run to discover the truth about Hangar 18 and clear their names – all the time pursued by government agents.
Meanwhile, a group of NASA scientists and technicians – under NASA head honcho Harry Forbes (Darren McGavin) – set about investigating the UFO and make some surprising discoveries via deciphering the alien hieroglyphs on the ship. It turns out these aliens (a couple of fat bald guys) actually created the human race tens of thousands of years ago.
Stuart Pankin supplies hilarious unintentional comic relief as excitable local yokel Sam Tate.
The script is just silly and the screenplay, filming and lighting are poor (and it’s certainly not Capricorn One), but it’s an entertaining watch if you like a good conspiracy theory – or have a collection of tinfoil hats – and it probably would have made a great made-for-TV-movie.
Betty Ann Carr
James L Conway