Alex E-S makes a quick return to Friday with an imaginative "no clue" puzzle. Each theme fill is a type of flying machine. Thus, each one becomes an Unidentified Flying Object as they are flying objects not identified in a clue. This approach requires the solver to get the down fill to get at least one of the theme filled. Because of the difficulty of seeing the theme, the puzzle doe have lots of doable, short fill. He did squeeze in OOMPAHS, CARLS JR., BUTT PACK and HER HONOR. The flying machines are diverse, but otherwise I see no other common element.
18A. No Clue : HELICOPTER (10).
23A. No Clue : GOODYEAR BLIMP (13).
38A. No Clue : BIPLANE (7).
53A. No Clue : HOT AIR BALLOON (13).
61A. No Clue : HANG GLIDER (10).
70A. Area 51 phenomena ... or what five puzzle answers are? : UFOS (4). In the purest sense and not relating to aliens. So how did we get the grid filled.....
1. Outdo : BEST.
5. So far : TO DATE.
11. "Happy Valley" airer : BBC. I never saw or heard of this SHOW which generated such wonderful reviews.
14. Joie de vivre : ELAN. Interesting as this positive sounding approach to life, can lead to one becoming...
15. Ethically indifferent : AMORAL.
16. Spat ending : ULA. Don't flip over this bizarre clue/fill. Spatula.
17. Dart : FLIT.
20. Friction reducer : OIL.
21. Benin neighbor : TOGO. Not to be confused with 64A. When repeated, an "Animal House" chant : TOGA.
22. Most Rwandans : HUTUS. Some of the HISTORY.
27. Snowboard feature : STRAP. No idea; my Colorado son snowboards. I used to ski.
28. Brass band sounds : OOMPAHS. Tuba or not tuba, that is the question.
33. Free org. for law students : ABA. They figure if you join in law school, you stay and pay once you are out in the world.
34. Rob Roy, for one : SCOT. I was fixated on the DRINK for a while, then the book and MOVIE until I left it and came back. The LINK.
35. "Whatevs" : MEH. A regular Corner comment.
41. Poet inspired by the Battle of Baltimore : KEY. Francis Scott, and the Star Spangled Banner. When I saw poet, three letter fill and Baltimore, my mind went to Mr. Poe. Or did it?.
42. Trapezoid measure : AREA.
44. Brooklyn pro : NET. The current worst team in Basketball.
45. Droop : SAG. No chance I will say anything here.
47. Home of the "All-Natural Burger" : CARL'S JR. This West Coast Hamburger CHAIN is famous for its raunchy COMMERCIALS.
49. Bobby who lost to Billie Jean in the Battle of the Sexes : RIGGS. Bobby was an aged star who defeated Margaret Court in the first battle of the Tennis Sexes.
57. Riksbank currency : KRONA. The currency of Sweden's central bank.
59. Flower from the Greek for "rainbow" : IRIS.
60. "Lenore" poet : POE. And guess who appeared! Not a poem I know well.
65. Latin trio word : AMO, amas amat.
66. Epoch when modern mammals emerged : EOCENE. LEARN.
67. Swindle : ROOK.
68. Its debut Apr. 1971 broadcast covered Senate hearings on the Vietnam War : NPR. Imagine, this started in our lifetime.
69. Periods of growth : SPURTS. I am still waiting for mine.
1. Muddles : BEFOGS.
2. Family name in Jane Austen's "Persuasion" : ELLIOT. Her final NOVEL. You can read it online for free.
3. Hand : SAILOR.
4. Explosive stuff : TNT.
5. Lake straddling a Western border : TAHOE. One of the most beautiful places on earth.
6. Tag Heuer competitor : OMEGA. Watches.
7. Sorrow : DOLOR. Latin.
8. "Entourage" agent Gold : ARI. I did not hear much about the MOVIE.
9. Sea follower? : TAC. The airport, Sea-tac. - Seattle Tacoma.
10. Hebrew G-d : ELOHIM. Transliteration is so hard.
11. Infantry equipment carrier : BUTT PACK. LINK.
12. Color on le drapeau français : BLEU. The blue on the flag of France.
13. Animated film primarily set in Radiator Springs : CARS. WATCH.
19. Some heels : PUMPS. Love the clue/fill.
21. Laid-back : TYPE B.
24. V-J __ : DAY.
25. Taiwanese tea drink : BOBA. We are more used to it being called Bubble tea - Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Taichung in the 1980s. Most bubble tea recipes contain a tea base mixed/shaken with fruit or milk, to which chewy tapioca balls and fruit jelly are often added. It has been embraced by most Asian restaurants.Various sources and personal experience.
26. Quicken product : LOANS. They started out with accounting software, but are major player in the mortgage field.
29. Plot device? : HOE. Getting it reading for planting, not a prostitute movie..
30. Bachelor pad, perhaps : STY. Men tend to be messy when left alone.
32. Raphael or Leonardo, in fiction : NINJA. Of the hard shelled kind.
33. __-rock music : ALTernative.
35. Cheese go-with : MAC.
36. Dead-ball __: early baseball period : ERA. Before Babe Ruth.
37. Judge's address : HER HONOR.I am sure this caught all the sexists.
39. Prefix with scope : PERI.
40. Sandwich and Salisbury VIPs : EARLS. Or Grantham.
43. As company : ALONG.
46. Jazz pianist Evans : GIL. The letters were easy, but I never knew of this somewhat TRAGIC man.
48. Play grounds? : STAGES. Very nice misdirection.
50. Disappear : GO POOF. Good thing he added the F.
51. Bit of baby talk : GOO GOO. Ga Ga?
52. Tiptoes, say : SNEAKS.
54. Backseat driver, e.g. : RIDER. meh.
55. Spiner of "Star Trek: T.N.G." : BRENT. He played the android - DATA - and also appears in both Independence Day movies. ODD.
56. Buenos __ : AIRES.
57. Mongol sovereign : KHAN.
58. Increase, with "up" : RAMP.
62. Hack : LOP.
63. "ER" setting : ICU. The TV show often had the doctors and patients in ICU.
64. Play about Capote : TRU. He died young, a month short of his 60th birthday.
Well golly, we are the end already. Too many short fill to be difficult but there are some challenging fill. It was very hard if you did not understand the gimmick. Alex is showing off his versatility and I expect to see him often this year. I also expect you all to let me know your thoughts. I am off to another new doctor. Will catch up with you after that.