According to two former US Air Force officers—Lieutenant Bob Jacobs and Major Florenze Mansmann—a USAF photographic team based at Vandenberg AFB, California, tasked with filming missile test launches, inadvertently captured the image of a domed, disc-shaped UFO as it circled and then disabled—with four flashes of an intense beam of light—a dummy nuclear warhead flying downrange over the Pacific Ocean. Jacobs had been in charge of the telescopic photography site located at Big Sur, California, and Mansmann was Vandenberg’s chief photographic imagery analyst.
The date of the dramatic incident was September 15, 1964. Two days later, a highly-restricted screening of the spectacular footage took place at the base—attended by Jacobs, Mansmann, and two CIA officers who immediately classified the event Top Secret. The film was then confiscated by the pair and flown “back East” for analysis and storage, according to Major Mansmann. The destination was undoubtedly the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) which, it is now known, had already engaged in UFO photo analysis for years.
By the early 1980s, Jacobs felt that enough time had passed following the stunning UFO encounter to allow him to discuss it publicly. He has explained that, at the time of the 1964 film screening at Vandenberg, Major Mansmann had only ordered him “not to talk about” the unexpected filming of the UFO with anyone, pointedly saying that it had “never happened”. No mention was made of its Top Secret classification, for reasons that remain unclear to the former Lieutenant. Furthermore, because the two officers lost touch with each other after leaving the Air Force, 19 years passed before Mansmann was able confirm to Jacobs that the two mysterious men in civilian clothes at the screening were in fact CIA personnel.
In any case, in 1982, Jacobs wrote an article about the extraordinary event which, unfortunately, was published in the sensationalistic National Enquirer tabloid, after OMNI magazine had rejected it. Shortly after the story appeared, Dr. Jacobs—by then a university professor specializing in Communications—began getting death threats from unidentified persons who repeatedly harassed him over the telephone. He also received intimidating letters from certain well-known UFO “skeptics” who attempted to get Jacobs to retract the story. The suspicious, unpublicized connections those individuals had with the US Government will be discussed in Part 2 of this article.
I first interviewed Jacobs in 1986, in conjunction with my long-term research into UFO-related activity at nuclear weapons sites, as summarized in my book, UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. In 2021, Luis “Lue” Elizondo, the former director of a previously-secret UFO project at the Pentagon—the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP)—confirmed in a podcast that his group had utilized the book as a resource when conducting its own research into UFO incursions at nuclear weapon sites. Said Elizondo, “There was a lot of information we didn’t have access to that, it turned out, Robert Hastings did … We were able to validate and substantiate exactly what he was saying.”
In February 2023, a US Senate investigator—who has asked to remain anonymous—told me that Elizondo had privately confirmed having been given access to the Big Sur UFO film while with AATIP, and that it showed exactly what Dr. Jacobs has maintained over the years: A UFO actually interfered with an Atlas missile in flight, as it carried a dummy nuclear warhead aloft. The official Air Force video of the encounter captures the moment the unknown object appears to engage the warhead with a luminous beam—which turned on and off four times—as it travelled downrange at several thousand miles-per-hour over the Pacific Ocean.
The Senate investigator, knowing of my research, had previously arranged a teleconference between Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick—then the head of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO)—and myself, to coordinate the scheduling of interviews by AARO staffers of several of my sources, all former/retired USAF personnel who had worked with or guarded nuclear missiles. Those interviews began in January 2023, as noted in an earlier article of mine.
Regarding Elizondo’s admission about having watched the Big Sur UFO video—it was on a DVD—the Senate investigator, while accompanying Elizondo to and from AARO, said Elizondo’s interview was conducted by Dr. Kirkpatrick himself, on February 2, 2023. During that briefing, the former AATIP director confirmed the existence of the video, the details regarding what it showed, and the location of a copy of it in AATIP’s workspaces.
The Senate investigator subsequently wrote to me on April 27, 2023, saying,
Robert – Sean has told me that [when he searched] for the Big Sur video in the safe drawer where Lue told him to look, [it] was “empty”. He also claimed to me that there is an explanation for this event – namely, a test of an ABM missile (like Nike?) that day. I told Lue about this and he practically screamed “bullshit”. Thought you should know that we are nowhere on this issue with AARO. Finding a copy of that video is really important.
It is also important to note that the Pentagon has previously admitted it destroyed all of Elizondo’s files and emails after he resigned his position in protest, in the fall of 2017. This highly unusual move by the Pentagon is in direct violation of a legal Preservation Order that was mandated based on Elizondo’s other duties at the time. The order requires all of Elizondo’s electronic and hard copy files to be preserved indefinitely, including email and correspondence.
Significantly, additional confirmation exists regarding Elizondo’s admission about having seen the video of the original film while with AATIP. On November 10, 2023, a highly-reliable source—who I am not at liberty to identify—told me that UAP whistleblower David Grusch has privately confirmed that Elizondo also told him about having screened the Big Sur film, and that it did indeed capture an amazing, UFO-related, dummy warhead-interference event.
While assigned to the UAP Taskforce, from 2019-21, Grusch apparently went so far as to have a colleague search one Department of Defense archive, the Defense Technical Information Center, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in an effort to find out whether any corroborating evidence—other than the film itself—existed.
According to my very credible source, a now-declassified, but as yet unreleased radar data record of the September 15, 1964 missile launch was discovered, which confirmed the tracking of an unidentified aerial object near the dummy warhead at the time of the incident.
Analysis contained in the radar summary apparently considered the possibility that the “object” was actually debris of some kind. Jacobs has stated that when the warhead separated from the missile booster, it had been surrounded by a field of metallic chaff—in conjunction with the test being conducted—that was still visible in the camera frame at the time of the UFO’s appearance. The Air Force wanted to know whether embedding airborne warheads in chaff, during an actual war, would prevent the Soviets from identifying the warheads’ exact positions on their own radars.
So, perhaps the mysterious target tracked on radar near the warhead was merely the chaff. On the other hand, it may have indeed been the actual UFO, whose presence the author of the radar data report would probably not have known about, given the incident’s Top Secret status.
Regardless, in one 1980s-era letter written by Dr. Florenze Mansmann—who was by then a part-time biomedical engineering researcher at Stanford University—he confirmed that his frame-by-frame analysis of the film with a Loupe magnifier, conducted shortly after the missile warhead test, revealed the UFO to be “[a] classic disc, the center seemed to be a raised bubble … the entire lower saucer shape was glowing and seemed to be rotating slowly. At the point of beam release … the object turned like an object required to be in a position to fire from a platform … but again this could be my own assumption from being in aerial combat.” Mansmann’s contemporary evaluation of the UFO’s origin was explicit: “… the assumption was, at that time, extraterrestrial.”
The Big Sur UFO Incident is arguably the most dramatic case on record of apparent UFO interference with one of our nuclear weapon systems. As such, its importance cannot be overstated. While the actual motivation underlying what Jacobs has referred to as ”the shooting down” of the dummy warhead remains unknown—he has speculated that it was designed to convey someone’s displeasure over our possession of nuclear weapons—the act itself was nevertheless unmistakably provocative and, from a technological perspective, absolutely astounding.
Part 2 of this article to be posted soon.