Tom DeLonge helped ring the alarm about those things, as part of his new business venture. At the turn of the millennium, Blink-182 was everywhere. On the cover of the pop-punk band’s smash album, “Enema of the State,” a busty nurse with a lustful grin snapped on a latex glove. At MTV beach concerts, sunburned masses moshed to the No. 1 hit “All the Small Things.” But frontman Tom DeLonge – the one with the angsty, adolescent singing voice – had been nurturing an offstage hobby that was decidedly out of the mainstream.
With his first record-deal payout as a fledgling teenage rock star, DeLonge had bought a computer to research the prospect of intelligent life beyond Earth. And after Blink-182 made him a fortune, he further indulged his fascination with the paranormal.
He co-wrote a 700-page novel about UFOs.
He brainstormed a film about skateboarders who become paranormal detectives.
He produced websites buzzing with stories about Bigfoot and disintegrating mummies.
Now in his early 40s, with his music career cooled but his financial resources apparently intact, DeLonge has channeled those bizarre passions into his next act.
You’ve seen it without knowing it. Remember that wild news in December about a secret Pentagon UFO program? And those grainy military videos showing radar images of unexplained phenomena – white, Tic-Tac-shaped objects that appear to fly at remarkable speeds, at impossible angles, without wings or exhaust?
Tom DeLonge helped ring the alarm about those things, as part of his new business venture: To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science. For his advisory board, DeLonge recruited physicists, aerospace experts and former Department of Defense officials, who have been talking publicly about UFOs and arguing that the government has failed to fully investigate them.
In the past six months, DeLonge’s associates have appeared on CNN and Fox News, written for The Washington Post and been cited in the New York Times – usually in the context of those eerie videos.
“What the f— is that thing?” a Navy pilot says in a video released by To The Stars in March, but perhaps the more pertinent question is: How the f— did the guy from Blink-182 get wrapped up in it?
Rich men have the luxury of looking to the stars for investment and wish fulfillment. SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wants to make interplanetary travel cheap and routine. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, envisions moving industry off Earth and shipping products down from space.
Tom DeLonge says he wants to build “a perpetual funding machine” to investigate UFOs and thereby advance our own species.
At a launch event for To The Stars Academy in Seattle last fall, he explained that he was expanding his small entertainment venture – which has mostly published his graphic novels and books about UFOs and the paranormal – into a far more ambitious scientific operation, to explore “the most controversial secret on Earth.”
DeLonge, who declined to comment for this article, explained at the launch that he had used his fame to meet with the keepers of that secret, in “clandestine encounters” in “desert airports” and “vacant buildings deep within Washington D.C.”
Some of those people sat behind DeLonge onstage, including former intelligence officer Luis Elizondo, the former director of a hush-hush UFO program at the Pentagon.
“The phenomenon is indeed real,” Elizondo said when it was his turn to speak. Just days before, the 22-year Defense Department veteran had submitted a resignation letter to the Pentagon, citing its disregard of “overwhelming evidence” that unexplained phenomena have been interfering with the U.S. military.
Elizondo had overseen the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, quietly created in 2007 by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., with the encouragement of a reclusive Nevada billionaire named Robert Bigelow. Like DeLonge, Bigelow made his fortune through earthly pursuits (real estate) but was fascinated by the otherworldly; he had funded research into crop and cattle mutilations. After he got Reid’s attention, Bigelow’s aerospace company then won the $22 million contract to run the Pentagon’s secret program, as first reported by the New York Times late last year. (Reid and Bigelow did not respond to requests for comment.)
Despite its peculiar mandate, Bigelow Aerospace’s output was typical of federal bureaucracy: It produced paper. There was a 490-page report on alleged UFO sightings, and a series of studies on experimental physics. One study written for the Defense Intelligence Agency (“Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy”) urged federal research into interstellar travel and was illustrated with a childish drawing of a dinosaur greeting Albert Einstein through a hole in the space-time continuum.
But the secret program’s collection of weird military videos was what made headlines, starting with the December New York Times article. Whatever is in the videos “isn’t human, it’s not natural, it’s under artificial control,” says …