One of these launches would inspire an official government cover-up and provoke an investigation and search for the filmed record which goes on to this day. Here is what happened.

To the best of my recollection and based on sketchy records – the date of the event was most probably either September 2nd, 3rd, or 15th, 1964. The launch was of an Atlas missile.

It was an Atlas-F as I recall strongly, but it may possibly have been an Atlas.D. The flight was in support of the Nike-Zeus objectives. Nike Zeus was one of the United States’ projects to develop an anti-missile missile.

This particular mission was part of a test of an enemy radar-defeating system. The whole program in hindsight seems very primitive, possibly futile and even a bit silly. Nearly a quarter of a century ago in 1964 it was deadly serious business.

At the Big Sur tracking site we were ready to go as the countdown from Vandenberg progressed loud and clear on our radio. At the call of “ignition…. liftoff” all cameras rolled and scanned to the southeast for something to photograph.

“There it is!”, I shouted out as the Atlas leaped through the snow-white coastal fog blanket and both tracking mounts homed-in on the majestic “bird” in flight. The big Atlas could not have been more clean, clear and majestic We were “Go” for the operation.

The magnification of the B.U. was truly impressive. The exhaust nozzles and lower third of the Atlas missile literally filled the frame at this distance of over 100 nautical miles. With one tracking mount operator on azimuth and one on elevation working completely manually, it was not easy to keep the image centered in the early stages of flight.

As the nosecone package approached T + 400 seconds, sufficient angle of view had been established that we were literally locked down with the whole inflight package centered in the frame. No one on the site was watching the screen by this point.

Our mission to provide the engineers with a side look at three stages of powered flight had been accomplished and we were a very happy bunch, congratulating each other and letting the film run out in the 35mm motion picture camera focused on the Kinescope.

I took the cans of exposed film and headed down the coast to Vandenberg and our laboratory. Processing of the film would occur that night and the results would be ready for viewing the next day.


I was back at my desk enjoying the feeling of accomplishment from the Big Stir expedition when I was called by Major Mansmann, who asked me to come right away to his office at the Headquarters building. When I arrived, I found a movie projector set up in the office and a group of people waiting.

Among these I recall two men in plain grey suits who spoke little and watched me intently as the lights were dimmed and the film played on a bright screen. (Mansmann has since stated that there were actually three men present.)

It was a surprise and a delight for me to be seeing the kinescope recording from Big Sur after all the months of planning and weeks of work. I was quite amazed and very pleased with the quality, especially at the distance involved as we could make out quite plainly the separated nosecone, the radar experiment and the dummy warhead all sailing along beautifully about 60 miles straight up from planet Earth and some 300 to 500 nautical miles down range.

As we neared the end of the camera run, Mansmann said, “Watch carefully now, Lieutenant ant Jacobs.”

At that point the most remarkable vision of my life came on the screen. Another object flew into the frame from left to right. It approached the warhead package and maneuvered around it. That is, this … “thing”…flew a relative polar orbit around our warhead package which was itself heading toward the South Pacific at some 18 thousand miles an hour!

As the new object circumnavigated our hardware, it emitted four distinct bright flashes of light at approximately the 4 cardinal compass points of its orbit. These flashes were so intense that each “strike” caused the I.O. tube to “boom” or form a halo around the spot.

Following this remarkable aerial display the object departed the frame in the same direction direction from which it had come. The shape of the object was that of a classic “flying saucer.” In the middle of the top half of the object was a dome. From that dome, or just beneath it, seemed to issue a beam of light or which caused the flashes described.

Subsequently the warhead malfunctioned and tumbled out of suborbit hundreds of miles short of its target. This … unidentified flying … “thing” had apparently “shot down” an American dummy atomic warhead!

The lights came on and Major Mansmann said, “Lieutenant Jacobs, were you or any of your people fooling around up there at Big Sur?

“No sir,” I answered honestly. I was shaking with excitement.

“Then tell me … what the Hell was that?”

I looked Major Mansmann straight in the eye. “It looks to me like we got a UFO,” I said.

There was a stifling silence among the men in grey, civilian suits who continued to stare at me. Major Mansmann gave them what I can only describe as a “let me handle this” look.


“Well,” he smiled cordially, “let’s just say it never happened. You are to say nothing about this footage to anyone. As far as you and I are concerned, this never took place, you understand?”

I looked at the men in the grey suits. They were not smiling. I felt hot and anxious. I was sweating badly. I think I just sat for a minute looking blankly at Major Mansmann. I had just seen the most fantastic event of my life.

It etched a path in my memory as deep as the one put there almost a year earlier when President John F. Kennedy had been shot to death in Dallas. I wanted more than anything to see it again, to study it under a magnifier, to analyze the pictures frame by frame.

Major Mansmann did smile, nicely. “I don’t need to remind you of the seriousness of a security breach, do I Lieutenant?”, he asked.

“No, sir,” I replied.

“Good,” he said, motioning for me to stand.

I stood.

He walked me to the door, speaking confidentially. “What you just saw did not take place,” he repeated. “It never happened.”

I looked at him once more. Something flickered way back deep in his eyes as he again looked at the men in grey then back to me.

“But … if at some time in the future,” Florenz Mansmann said finally, “you are pressed by someone about this and you can’t get out of answering, just tell them … tell them it was flashes from laser tracking, O.K.?”

And with that, I was ushered out the door and into over a decade of silence on the subject. Never mind that in 1964 we did not have laser tracking, nor did we or any other power on Earth have spacecraft capable of flying circles around a suborbital capsule. I tried to sublimate the whole incident out of loyally and respect for Florenz Mansmann whom I liked a great deal. While I did not talk about the event with anyone.

I did begin a period of intense research into the UFO phenomena.

My research interest in the field continues to the present. Of particular fascination is the relationship of the press to the UFO. This great Liberal bastion of free enquiry, this body of muckrakers which prides itself so highly on prodding and upsetting political figures, has played very prettily into the hands of those same government minions who wish to obfuscate the whole field of discovery, discussion and debate about the most perplexing and possibly most important scientific conundrum in the history of our species.

While chasing after Pulitzer Prizes for such relatively petty mischief as political dirty tricks at Watergate, or poor old Gary Hart and his happy harlots or the hapless Dan Quayle and his colorless, but merely mediocre background, The Press has persistently missed one of the really imperative stories of our time.


I told my small portion of it first, tentatively, on a late night talk show which I hosted in Eureka, California in 1973 on station KFMl-FM. The response I got to my revelation was almost as astonishing as had been the event itself.

My program director, Richard Van Pelt, came forth to tell his own tale of a CE3K which happened to him while he was an Air Force Security NCO in Iceland 20 years earlier.

A university physics professor at California State University, Humboldt who had worked on the H-bomb project came forth to tell about his firm belief in the extraterrestrial nature of UFOs. Since then I have met a number of other people whom I respect, whom I know not to be “fringies” or cranks or crackpots, but who share common experiences with UFO sightings and encounters.

And, finally, in 1982, 1 decided that my story needed to be aired to a broader audience. Eighteen years had gone by. I could not get it out of my mind after all that time.

Then, first in the trade journals, later in the popular press, there were hints of a new weapon system in the offing. It was some kind of satellite-smasher we were told.

Soon we would hear President Reagan himself disrobe the rumors and give us Star Wars (SDI). There were the rumors of aircraft being built which were invisible to radar (some said to the human eye, as well!) “Stealth,” they were called.

It is significant to recall that until very recently, the Air Force denied that they existed, too!

There were persistent stories of something called Project Snowbird where American pilots were being shown how to operate captured (or donated) alien space craft Something about the Big Sur film seemed to be part of the overall pattern.

I held back writing my story because of the Security angle until the truth occurred to me.

There was no “security breach” in this story. The damn thing had never been “Classified SECRET’ or anything else. I had been told simply that it “NEVER HAPPENED”! Therefore, I was free to tell the story to whomever I pleased since it was about a non event officially.

I wrote my article. I shopped it around. In the end The National Enquirer published it. And as now retired Major Florenz J. Mansmann put it, “Jacobs opened Pandora’s Box.”

I was contacted by a variety of investigators, buffs, cranks, proponents and detractors alike. James Oberg, a frequent “mouthpiece” for certain NASA projects and self-styled UFO Debunker wrote to disparage my story and to ask provocatively, “Since you obviously feel free to discuss top secret UFO data, what would you be willing to say about other top secret aspects of the Atlas warhead which you alluded to briefly …?”

I told Mr. Oberg where to put his misplaced cynicism.

Mansmann, now a Ph.D. research consultant at Stanford and a farmer near Fresno, California was besieged with requests for information, and for his version of what happened. My respect and admiration for him was vindicated as he categorically verified my account.

CONCLUSIONS: Academicians first gather data, then postulate conclusions based on what they find. From what I have gathered first hand, (primary evidence), pieced together from Mansmann, from a fine researcher named Lee M. Graham), from contemplation, discussion and debate of the material, as well as from the Air Force position on this and other related matters, I have come to the following conclusions:

(1) What we photographed that September day in 1964 was a solid, three-dimensional, intelligently controlled flying device.

(2) It emitted a beam of energy, possibly a plasma beam, at our dummy warhead and caused a malfunction.

(3) This “craft” was not anything of which our science and technology in 1964 was capable. The most probable explanation of the device, therefore, is that it was of extraterrestrial origin.

(4) The flashing strikes of light we recorded on film were not from laser tracking devices. Such devices did not exist then aside from small scale, laboratory models.

(5) Most probably the B.U. Tele scope was brought out to California specifically to photograph this event which had been prearranged. That is, we had been setup to record an event which someone in our Government knew was going to happen in advance.

(6) What we photographed that day was the first terrestrial demonstration of what has come to be called S.D.I. or “Star Wars.” The demonstration was put on for our benefit for some reason by extraterrestrials.

It is this aspect of the event, not merely the recording of another “flying Saucer” which caused such consternation both on the part of Major Mansmann when he told me “it never happened” and on behalf of the government in its two and one half decade cover-up of the event and the record we made of it.

It is this defense-oriented aspect of the case which has caused investigators to run into stone walls in trying to track down my story. The Air Force has alternately denied that I was ever an officer, that I was ever stationed at Vandenberg, that I was OIC of Photo-optical Instrumentation in the 1369th Photographic Squadron, that there was a tracking site at or near Big Sur, California, that an Atlas-F, or for that matter, any other missile was launched on or about the date or dates I reported. NOTE: The above image is CGI.