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Un OVNI filmé par l'US Air Force à Big Sur, 1964:

Voici un article concernant un film d'un OVNI et sa dissimulation ultérieure par le gouvernement des Etats-Unis. L'OVNI a gêné l'observation d'une ogive atomique factice en 1964 au-dessus de l'océan Pacifique au large de la base de l'Armée de l'Air de Vandenberg en Californie. C'est un compte rendu de première main de l'événement. Avant de traiter de l'observation elle-même, l'auteur exprime la faible opinion qu'il a du traitement du phénomène OVNI par les média.


UNE DISSIMULATION DELIBEREE:

Date: Septembre 1964.
Lieu: Océan Pacifique au large de la Californie.

ANALYSE CRITIQUE:

Une analyse critique des événements troublants à la base de l'USAF de Vandenberg.

Par Bob Jacobs, Ph.D.

C'est un fait regrettable et curieux qu'une grande partie de la couverture de presse des phénomènes OVNI paraisse dans des journaux fortement sensationalistes. Cette forme de journalisme d'idiot à maintenant ses entrées dans la télévision avec des Geraldo Rivera, Morton Downey, Jr. et un nombre de plus en plus important d'autres négociants de boue. En raison des préjugés envers ce genre de journalisme partagé par des intellectuels, académiciens et les célébrités qui décrivent fréquemment être victimes des tabloids, une telle exposition a tendu à désensibiliser le public américain au potentiel de sérieux du problème des ovnis. Puisque des tabloids semblent être écrits stylistiquement par et pour les marginaux et les esprits faibles, alors les ovnis sont considérés comme un sujet réservé aux fous exclusivement.

Si on voulait délibérément denigrer un problème, pour la reléguer au tas de détritus de la sous-culture, on ne pourrait pas du tout faire mieux que de faire en sorte que le problème tombe dans les mains du National Enquirer ou du Star ou de Geraldo Rivera. Peut-être pourrait-on réaliser une démonstration de comment les preuves des OVNIS ont été livrée au journaux à scandales exprès, comme méthode de dénigrement.

Nous savons, par exemple, qu'au début de sa participation au sujet des OVNIS, feu le dr. J. Allen Hynek, plus tard Président du Departement d'Astronomie à la Northwestern University, avait été employé par l'Armée de l'Air des Etats-Unis au sein du projet Blue Book pour "débunker" toutes les observations de "soucoupes volantes." Sa fameuse conclusion sur le "gas des marais" est entrée dans l'histoire populaire et y reste longtemps après que le bon docteur l'ait effectivement prononcée. Et, malgré une partie de la popularisation générale du sujet en des films comme Rencontres rapprochées du Troisième Type et l'aimable E.T., Johnny Carson, David Letterman et toute autre animateur héros de show télévisés, font toujours des tonnes d'allusions comique à propos des enquêteurs sur les OVNIS, les "gaz de marais" et les ahuris qui prétendent se promener en vaisseaux spatiaux ou avoir leur résidence secondaire sur Vénus. Si les tabloids n'étaient pas payés pour raconter autant de tromperies, de récits bizarres sur les OVNIS et de racontars de la frange la plus ahurie possible de l'ufologie, en faisant toujours ces contes semblent être au sujet de quelque idiot de voillage du fin fond de la campagne, alors ils auraient pu tout aussi bien l'avoir été.

Escroquerie délibérée, conspiration machiavélique, coincidence ou tout simplement hasard, quelqu'en soient les raisons, le "facteur boue" des tabloïds est un handicap pour tout ceux qui désirent étudier sérieusement un sujet fascinant digne de recherches approfondies.

Je suis un chercheur, j'ai un Ph.D., je suis également un professeur d'université dans un départmement de Journalisme. Quelques années auparavant j'étais un Officier de l'US Air Force, le premier officier dans le domaine de la photographie, soit dit en passant, à recevoir l'insigne honorifique de l'"Air Force Guided Missile", le "Missile Badge."

Ce sont là des faits. Un autre fait est que j'ai été un participant à la dissimulation officielle des OVNIS par le Gouvernement des Etats-Unis. Certains de mes collègues dans le milieu universitaire se sont moqués de moi parce qu'en 1982 j'ai écrit un article concernant cette dissimulation et il est paru dans le National Enquirer. Il n'était pas mon intention de devenir un auteur de tabloid ni alors ni maintenant. L'Enquirer s'est avéré être la seule publication que je puisse trouver qui était intéressée à imprimer l'article. Les journaux académiques et traditionnels et les périodiques l'ont ignoré pendant une période de presque un an pendant lequel je l'ai soumis et ai resoumis. Rédacteur après rédacteur, on m'a dit que les histoires d'OVNIS n'étaient pas "publiables." Je pensais que l'histoire était importante. C'est pourquoi j'ai laissé un tabloïd la publier. Je pense toujours que c'est important. C'est pourquoi j'ai répondu à l'invitation de l'écrire pour ce journal.

Voilà pour mon préambule concernant la presse.

LE CONTEXTE DU CAS DE BIG SUR:

Six années après qu'il ait été publié la première fois, voici mon rapport sur ce que nous avons photographié à Big Sur et certaines choses qui se sont passées depuis 1982 dans une présentation plate, non-sensationelle, non-expurgée et non-tabloidized l'anglais.

I earned the "Missile Badge" for making a "significant contribution to America's Missile and Space Program" so the citation read, while I was Officer-in-Charge of Photo-optical Instrumentation in the 1369th Photographic Squadron at Vandenherg Air Force Base, California from May, 1963 to May, 1966. My work in establishing a long range tracking site at Big Star, California in large part is what convinced the Air Force to give me that cherished award. The circumstances that took me to the "Missile Badge" ceremony as well as to that lovely and mysterious bulge of California coastline known as the Big Star ended up changing my mind about a number of things, including the nature of our government, the nature of my personal belief systems and the nature of the universe.

It began with a man named Kingston A. George. "King" George had the title of Operations Analyst for Headquarters, 1st Strategic Aerospace Division. The engineers, civilian and military, whose job it was to evaluate the instrumentation photography which we provided on every missile launch down the Western Test Range, were unhappy, he said. Shooting tracking footage from Vandenberg only provided a look up the "tailpipe" of the missile. What George said they wanted was a side look at all stages of powered flight. This side-look was not possible from anyplace on the base. Because of the tortured California coastline, such a view was possible from one spot. Big Star.

Topographically, Big Sur is both north and west of Vandenberg. We reasoned that we might get the shot the engineers wanted if we could get high enough to provide both a line-of-sight to the base and to put us well above the offshore fog bank which blankets the California shoreline much of the year. Because of the 124 mile distance from Vandenberg to Big Sur, the final things needed were a lens with a very long focal length, a recording device capable of enhancing the image and a tracking system on which to mount them.

According to George, such a device was built and ready to go. It was the Boston University telescope, owned by the Air Force Eastern Test Range (AFETR) at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida and under the direction of Mr. Walter Manning in the Aerospace Sciences Division at AFETR. The optical segment of the device was a folded Gregorian telescope with a 24- inch diameter objective mirror and a 240-inch focal length. The lens apparatus was sealed from the air and insulated against heat and cold. A set of Barlow extenders could yield effective focal lengths of  from 480 to 2,400 inches. (The normal focal length lens for a 35mm camera is about two inches!)

The light sensing element of the instrument was an image orthocon (television) tube. The I.O. could enhance the optical image, convert it to a series of electrical signals and display on a Kinescope where it was photographed with 35mm motion picture film. Because the I.O. had remarkable low noise, the gain could be "cranked quite high to record very low light level objects. Such a device could record sources of light emission or reflection which were tens of times too weak for detection by other photographic methods.

The B.U., as it was called, was ideal for the purpose. One of the primary goals of our mission, according to George, was to provide information on the "minute events folIowing propellant depletion - at distance of from 300 to 800 nautical miles. (italics mine)

If we could find a level place accessible to the B.U. (not easy, considering that the scope with its tracker was just a little smaller than a conventional moving van and had be hauled by a heavy duty, cross- country type diesel truck) and see the missile through the haze well enough to lock in on it with the tracking mount, we still had one problem left. Engineering sequential photograph is of little use to the viewer without the addition of timing marks on th film. This time code received from Wheeling, West Virginia tagged each individual frame of film with a reference point in real time to the moment of engine ignition and launch. The coded pips of light were recorded on the sound track area of the film by an exciter lamp driven by the signal from WWV. On the base, timing signals were sent to the cameras by hardlines from the blockhouse. Running a line to Big Sur with the necessary amplifiers would have been to costly, particularly for what was only a feasibility test. We had to try some thing else. The solution was really very simple.

On June 10,1964 I lead a group of people to the area I had discovered earlier near Anderson Peak at an elevation of  3,400 feet on a Forest Service fire trail, 9 miles into the woods and uphill from Highway 1 in Big Sur. With me on that sunny summer day were my NCOIC, Chief Master Sergeant Ike N. Davis, Jr., NCOIC of my Tracking Section, Staff Sergeant Jules Devine, Kingston A. George, with a Technical Sergeant Porter from 1st STRATAD and a Mr. Paulson from Patrick Air Force Base at Cape Kennedy. All of us agreed that the truck could certainly pull the B.U. up to this site with no trouble. Could we now get timing pips to it?

We had with us that day a portable radio transceiver which we used at Vandenberg to communicate from my office to the mobile vehicles and our tracking sites on base. At Vandenberg I had Airman First Class Joseph Williams standing by. He had wired the output of one of the timing signals to an identical transceiver to the to the one I had. At my command he activated the radio and transmitted flawless timing signals to us at Big Sur, just as we had in a test weeks earlier. All that was necessary with the B.U. would be to patch-in our receiver to its timing signal input on the 35mm motion picture camera. Timing was no problem. There was happiness on the site and my "Missile Badge" was assured rhat day.

On August 28,1964, I lead a convoy up the Pacific Coast Highway through Pismo Beach, past Hearst Castle at San Simeon and into what would be history. Technical Sergeant Thomas Dodd was my NCOIC for the remote site. He would operate our standard M-45 tracking mount with conventional 35mm Mitchell film cameras to compare with the results of the B.U. Telescope. A1C Joseph Williams was along to handle communications and timing. A1C Daryl Winters was also along. As a sad sideline, Winters would become the first and only Air Force photo man to be killed in action in Vietiian a little over two years later. Our Air Force troop camped at the preselected fire trail turnout near the summit of Anderson Peak, set up our M-45 and waited.

On August 31, 1964 the B.U. Telescope arrived on site with its truck and its caravan of people for a 30-day test period. Walt Manning was with it along with a crew of three operators and one supervisor. We were also joined by two people from Vandenberg: Chief Warrant Officer Guy M. Spooner from the Operations Section of the 1369th and Major Florenz J. Mansmann from 1st STRATAD. With a celebratory air, the B.U. was set in place and made ready to perform. Mansmann and Spooner went back to Vandenberg. The rest of us settled in to prepare for the first of what could be a total of 11 launches from the base during the 30 day test. Nine of these would be photographed through a major portion of powered flight by both the B.U. Telescope operating with effective focal lengths ranging from 1200 inches to an average of 720 inches, and with the conventional cameras and shorter lenses of the 1369th's M-45 mount.

L'INCIDENT:

One of these launches would inspire an official government coverup 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 fhe 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.

LES HOMMES EN GRIS:

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 maneuuered 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.

COVER-UP:

"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 said1 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 intercst 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.

GOES PUBLIC:

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 inforrnation, 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 coverup 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.

DOCUMENTATION:

We have been able to verify through FOIA requests and my military records everything except the specific launch and the fact of its having been filmed We have been told first that there were no launches, then that there were launches but no malfunctions. Herewith, for the first time I present the documentation for a mission malfunction in an official unclassified Air Force document which has finally surfaced in my collection of aging papers and books.

It was prepared by Kingston A George, dated 13 Oct. 1964 and entitled,

OPERATIONS ANALYSIS
STAFF STUDY
PRELIMINARY REPORT ON
IMAGE ORTHICON PHOTOGRAPHY
FROM BIG SUR

In this document, "King" George gives us a quick sketch of the whole Big Sur project, tells us that "Over the period of 30 days, from 31 August to 30 September, during which the Boston University telescope was ready to film launches, eleven flights were made from Vandenberg," that "a final report will be forthcoming in a few weeks with a complete description of the system and the operations over the past several weeks," that "a documentary film of about 30 minutes length containing several minutes of selected film clips will be assembled" and that one powered flight anomaly was observed (italics mine), and the coverage of the flights has produced enough data to show that Big Sur photography could be an important adjunct to other instrumentation."

It is not clear whether or not Kingston George was privy to the screenings of the Big Sur film which recorded the UFO. My suspicion is that he was one of those to whom Mansmann has admitted showing the film. His document, however, states clearly that a missile malfunctioned during the B.U. test period, now putting the final lie to the Air Force denials.

That is my story. It is from my own experiences, recollections, records, and hands. You are free to interpret it as you like. As a footnote I need to comment, I suppose, on the coverup. I do not believe that anyone is going to succeed in getting the film on an F.O.I.A. request. I have been asked to make such a request myself and refuse to do so. Eric Mishara, Lee Graham, T. Scott Crain, Jr. and others have done so and have run into the wall of futility. I don't believe that anyone can succeed in getting the film because the fact of its existence will have been completely expunged from the records by now.

Investigators who encounter negative replies from the Air Force, from representatives who are at Vandenberg now are not necessarily being deceived deliberately. Nearly 25 years have passed and no one presently at the base has any personal recollection of the event, much less any official record of it. Consider the very limited number of people who saw the film in the first place and you will comprehend how simple it was to make it disappear.

Finally, if the government did officially "classify" the film either back then or subsequently, then perhaps there were/are compelling reasons for it to have done so. As the B-2 "Stealth" Bomber has now been unveiled publicly at last, we can contemplate the rationale for having kept it "classified" for so long. At some point, when no harm can come from the information, perhaps the film for which I was responsible that long ago September day in the cool, clear mountains of Big Sur will be made public, along with the possibly awe some technological power which the images recorded on it represented.

One significant fact remains. The experimental tracking site which I installed near Anderson Peak became a permanent location for missile tracking on the Western Test Range. Moved nearer the peak geographically and magnitudes better technically, it is there today. You see footage from it everytime a Space Shuttle reenters for a landing at Edwards Air Force Base. What else it records or has recorded and its ultimate purpose for being there is a matter for history, hopefully, to reveal.

Bob Jacobs,
Reprinted from the MUFON UFO Journal, Issue No. 249.

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Cette page a été mise à jour le 20 avril 2001.