Past UFO Festival Speakers

2017 Speakers:

Robert L. Hastings

Robert L. Hastings was born May 6, 1950, in Albuquerque, NM, at Sandia Base, where atomic weapons were engineered. His father, Robert E. Hastings, was career U.S. Air Force, retiring in 1967 with the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. In 1966–67, the Hastings family was stationed at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, during one peak period of UFO activity at nearby Minuteman nuclear missile sites. In March 1967, Hastings witnessed five UFOs being tracked on radar at the base air traffic control tower. He later learned that these “unknown targets” had been maneuvering near intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) sites located southeast of the base. This experience ultimately led to his decades-long research into the UFO-nukes connection.

Hastings received a BFA in photography at Ohio University in 1972, and worked as a photographic technician at Northern Illinois University for eight years. In 1981, after conducting numerous interviews with former and retired U.S. Air Force personnel regarding their knowledge of nuclear weapons-related UFO incidents, Hastings ventured out on the college lecture circuit to speak about the U.S. government’s cover-up on UFOs. To date, he has appeared at more than 500 colleges and universities in the U.S. as well as Oxford University in England.

In 1986–88, Hastings retrained in Electron Microscopy at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA, and received a certificate in Materials Science Applications. Between 1988 and 2002, he was employed as a laboratory analyst by Philips Semiconductors in Albuquerque, NM, but continued lecturing at colleges in his spare time. Now retired, he continues to promote public awareness of the reality of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites.

Hastings’ recent documentary, UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed (2016), rigorously examines the officially still-hidden history of UFO activity at nuclear weapons laboratories, test areas, storage depots and missile sites—using authenticated files and the testimony of vetted military eyewitnesses.


UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites (2008)

UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed (2016)

Melanie Young

Melanie Young, co-founder of the Starchild Project and a former neonatal nurse, hopes that a strange 900-year-old skull holds the secret to treating some of the conditions that keep many babies from surviving and thriving. Young, a registered nurse (RN), worked in the neonatal unit of a busy hospital for more than 10 years before she was given a strange gift that changed her life.

“I opened the box and there were two skulls inside. One was a normal human, but the other was so strange, I just took one look at it and thought, how did you survive?” The thin and light bone of the skull and its strange shape were different from any deformity she had ever seen in practice or in text books. She suspected that, if it was a human, it had survived a level of deformity that had never been seen before. Young explains, “You can have any sort of deformity created by genes getting confused, but mostly whatever goes wrong is so severe that it kills the baby either before it can be born, or shortly afterwards; but this skull lived long enough to grow teeth and to grind them down with years of use. I saw those worn teeth and immediately wanted to know what made it so special that it could survive what no one else could, and I wanted to know if there was some way for that miracle element to be isolated and engineered into a treatment to help other babies survive.”

The strange skull in question was found in Mexico in the 1930s, but was kept in private collections until it was gifted to Young in 1998. The skull quickly gained new-found attention in 1999 when UFO enthusiasts noticed that it looked like a skull of the so-called “grey alien,” and it became known as the “Starchild Skull.” Young claims to be open to the possibility that it is an alien, but reiterates that her goal is to explore any medial or scientific benefits of the skull first and only then to worry about where it fits — if at all—on the human family tree.

In 1999 a volunteer organization known as the “Starchild Project” began seeking experts to examine the skull, and contracting independent labs to conduct donation-funded testing ranging from simple X-Rays to Scanning Electron Microscopy and even DNA testing. They have published all of the results and reports directly on the website, and although some experts remain skeptical, many have gone on the record with their conclusions that it is not human.

Dr. Ted Robinson, a now retired physician who studied the unusual skull for more than a year, has been particularly vocal in his expectation that it will eventually be named a new species. “In 40 years as a craniofacial plastic surgeon I have never seen anything like it. It is not hydrocephaly, it is not progeria, it is not a deformity. It is not human.”

Neanderthals, currently believed to be the closest genetic relative of humans but with elongated skulls. Neanderthals though became extinct about 20,000 years ago, yet the apparent new species represented by the Starchild skull, was alive within the last 1000 years, and appears to have cohabited peacefully with modern humans. If it is accepted as a new species, that Starchild Skull would represent a radical departure for the conventional timeline for human and pre-human life on Earth.

Despite the potentially history-changing nature of the skull, Young takes it all in her stride, saying, “It has never been about proving aliens exist or finding a new species. That would be cool, but it’s not why I started this. The thing that has driven me to keep working on this is knowing that, if we could find out what made this a viable birth, then we could develop ways to help other babies with birth defects survive and live a productive life. There is nothing sadder than watching a little life get cut short, and I know if I can stop that happening even one time because of this skull it will all be worth it.”

The Starchild Project is currently working with a US based genetics lab to complete the DNA testing that will either prove that this skull belongs to a previously undiscovered species, or find the genetic differences that may have enabled a human to survive such comprehensive deformity.

For her presentation at the UFO Festival, Melanie Young will be sharing new results and information about the skull that have never been made public.


Dr. Robert Jacobs

Dr. Robert Jacobs, a professor at Bradley University with a PhD in dramatic art from University of California Santa Barbara, started in television and film while still in college. Like many other USC students at the time, he worked at the major studios, including Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, MGM, and as a contract player for 20th Century Fox, where he had a speaking role in the award-winning film South Pacific (1958). After graduation, he worked for Disney as a cameraman/unit director on the quasi-documentary “true-life adventure” television  series.

Just as his career was blooming, he was drafted into the armed forces, where he became a motion picture officer in the U.S. Air Force. He served five and a half years as a lieutenant, during which time he was involved in what is today known as the Big Sur UFO case. Early one morning in September 1964, an Atlas D Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was launched from Vandenberg AFB, California, carrying an experimental enemy radar-defeating system and dummy nuclear warhead. As the warhead sped toward a targeted splash-down in the Pacific Ocean, it was approached by a disc-shaped UFO. The saucer chased and then circled the warhead; four bright flashes of light emanated from the craft whereupon the warhead fell into the ocean hundreds of miles short of its intended target.

Then Lt. (now Dr.) Robert Jacobs asserted that the entire encounter was captured on motion picture film. According to Jacobs, while the UFO’s maneuvers were readily discernable, minute details such as the craft’s shape were only discovered during an in-depth analysis conducted at Vandenberg. Dr. Jacob’s account of the Big Sur incident has been verified by other military personnel.

After his military service, Dr. Jacobs returned to Hollywood and worked as a writer, director, cameraman and editor on a number of small films, television programs and commercials. He has also produced three full-length feature films, and directed two of them and has written dozens of magazine and newspaper articles and stories, two trade books about television producing and one published novel. Among his collection of over twenty national and international awards for his work, he has one Emmy Award and seven Emmy nominations. Dr. Jacobs is currently working on his second and third novels.


David Schindele

Retired Air Force Captain David Schindele previously served as an ICBM Launch Control Officer for both the Atlas and Minuteman weapon systems, which were part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent force during the Cold War. Minuteman missiles still surround outlying areas around Minot AFB in North Dakota where he served, and they are still “on-alert” and ready to launch with an appropriate order. In 1966, he was involved in a UFO incident that took ten of those missiles “off alert,” causing them to become unlaunchable. This was a highly significant event, but not the only one that occurred during this time. Captain Schindele was sternly instructed, “As far as you are concerned, it never happened.”

For decades after his unearthly experience at Minot, he maintained the secret of his experience as instructed, but that changed in 2001 after learning that retired Air Force Captain Robert Salas had an almost identical experience. Shindele was contacted in 2010 by UFO researcher Robert Hastings, and in May 2013, he and Robert Salas spoke at The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure in Washington, D.C., where they testified before six former members of Congress. Schindele is also featured in Hastings’ documentary UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed.

Schindele grew up in Seattle, WA, and attended Washington State University where he received a B.S. in physical science in 1963. He then entered the Air Force, attended Officer Training School, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in February 1964. He was stationed at Fairchild AFB in Washington State and assigned to the 567th Strategic Missile Squadron as an Atlas E Launch Control Officer. He was on duty at Site 7 when the last Atlas missile was taken off alert status in June 1965. He was transferred to Minot AFB and assigned to the 742nd Strategic Missile Squadron with the Minuteman system.

In May 1968, Schindele was hired by Hamilton Standard in Connecticut as a senior experimental engineer on a project to develop an environmental system for the Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory, which the government later cancelled. He then worked briefly on final development of astronaut back packs that astronauts subsequently wore on the moon. Schindele then settled into a 32-year career as a computer systems analyst, retiring in 2002.


Yvonne Smith

YvonneSmith-webYvonne Smith is a hypnotherapist and one of the leading researchers of alien abduction for decades. She began researching the UFO phenomenon in the late 1980s. After two years of studies and 1000 hours of internship at the California Hypnosis Motivation Institute, the only accredited hypnosis college in the United States, she received her hypnotherapy certification in 1990, specializing in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. Her patients include doctors, university professors, military, engineers, lawyers, domestic and foreign pilots and other professionals.

In UFO circles, whenever there is a reported “sighting” investigators emphasize and evaluate whether the experiencer’s description supports (or doesn’t support) the reality of a UFO contact. When Smith observed that many of the PTSD cases being referred to her involved subjects describing similar patterns of UFO abduction, she founded Close Encounters Resource Organization [CERO] as a support group in 1992.

After 22 years of working with hundreds of abductees, the only thing that surprises Smith is how unsurprised she is. She tells clients not to hold back, that she’s been doing this a long time. But their stories have a strange kind of consistency: the blue light, the round rooms, the surgical procedures, the instruments, even the babies in the tanks. “These are people who do not know each other, who come from different parts of the country and the world.”

In 2008, Smith wrote her first book, CHOSEN: Recollections of UFO Abductions Through Hypnotherapy, which exposes, with dramatic regressive hypnotherapy transcripts, the hidden memory trauma reality suffered by abductees.

Smith has traveled extensively, presenting lectures in the United States at M.I.T. and several other universities, and many American UFO conferences. Smith has made hundreds of television and radio appearances, including on The History, Discovery, and Biography channels and on programs like The Montel Williams ShowIntruders, MSNBC, Encounters and Sightings.

Smith’s regressive hypnotherapy was featured in the Biography channel’s Alien Intent, which was co-produced and narrated by prize-winning author Whitley Strieber and also featured well-known surgeon and former UFO Festival guest Dr. Roger Leir.

Yvonne has also been a frequent radio program guest on such shows as Coast to Coast with George Noory (a former festival guest), an interviewed with Art Bell, Paul Harvey and many others.

As the foremost female hypnotherapist in this field, Smith in the 1990s, traveled on a lecture tour with hypnotherapy colleagues David Jacobs, PhD. and the late Dr. John Mack and Budd Hopkins. Since then she has continued to be in demand on the worldwide lecture circuit with colleagues, UFO researchers, writers and speakers such as Whitley Strieber, George Noory, Dr. Roger Leir, nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, Jesse Marcel, Jr., M.D., Paola Harris, John Carpenter, Maj. Robert Dean, ret., Jaime Maussan, Don Schmitt, Tom Carey, Steve Bassett, Linda Howe, Michael Lindemann, Travis Walton, Derrel Sims and others.


James Clarkson

James Clarkson has been a career professional investigator – He is a former police officer who worked as a patrol sergeant, a detective sergeant, fatal accident team supervisor and training officer. After 20 years’ service, he became a child abuse detective and he worked 10 years as a fraud investigator for a state agency. Parallel to working on criminal investigations, James has had a lifelong curiosity about UFOs. In the last 30 years he has investigated over 700 UFO Reports for the Mutual UFO Network.

In 1986 he joined the Mutual UFO Network. Applying the same passion for solving crimes to the world of High Strangeness, James Clarkson serves as the Washington State Director of MUFON and on the MUFON Special Assignments Team. He has lectured at many UFO events across the country from Roswell, NM to McMinnville, OR and in 2010 in Paris as well as appearances on radio and TV. He is the author of TELL MY STORY- June Crain, the Air Force & UFOs as well as the Westport UFO Crash Retrieval Event.

Peter Davenport

We welcome back Peter Davenport, who has been director of the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994. Davenport reports UFO sighting cases regularly on the Jeff Rense Radio Show and presents lectures on specific UFO cases, most notably the Phoenix Lights sighting. Davenport has served as the director of investigations for the Washington Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network. Davenport is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Washington, and will be the featured emcee at this year’s UFO Festival.


Here are just a few of our UFO Festival speakers from previous years:

Dr. Lynne Kitei – The leading authority of the Phoenix Lights case and an eyewitness to the event

Jonathan Dover – Veteran law enforcement office and Navajo Nation Ranger.

Stanley Milford Jr. – Ranger Sergeant with the Navajo Nation Rangers headquartered in Window Rock, Arizona.

Clyde Lewis – a powerful voice in the field of paranormal news and parapolitical commentary.

Frances Barwood – Councilwoman during the Phoenix Lights case

Sue Watson – witness to the Phoenix Lights and author of I Know What I Saw

Budd Hopkins – world-renowned author and pioneer UFO abduction researcher

Dr. Bruce Maccabee – U. S. Navy Research Physicist and author of The UFO/FBI Connection: The Secret History of the Government’s Cover-Up

George Noory – host of nationally syndicated radio program, “Coast to Coast AM”

David Marler – author of Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation

Kewaunee Lapseritis – authority on the Bigfoot / Sasquatch phenomenon

Grant Cameron – Charlie Red Star witness and UFO researcher

Peter Davenport – director of the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994

Stanton T. Friedman – Nuclear physicist, UFO researcher and lecturer

Peter Robbins – best-selling author and noted UFO researcher

Dr. Roger Leir – alien implant removal specialist

Peter Davenport – director of the National UFO Reporting Center

Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr. – the only individual acknowledged by the U.S. government to have handled Roswell wreckage

Dr. David M. Jacobs – noted alien abduction expert and professor at Temple University

Terry Halstead – director of the Trent Case Documentary

Richard Dolan – author of UFOs and the National Security State

Robert Nichol – award-winning director, producer and filmmaker of Star Dreams

Linda Moulton Howe – reporter/editor for and investigative reporter for “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory”

Kathleen Marden – UFO researcher and co-author with Stanton Friedman of Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World’s First Documented Alien Abduction (2007)

James Clarkson – well-known UFO investigator

Colin Andrews – U.K. crop circle expert

Travis Walton – UFO witness and abductee on whom the book and Hollywood film Fire in the Sky were based

Robert Salas – UFO sightings at nuclear weapons facilities

Stan Gordon – the nexus between UFO and Bigfoot sightings as well as the 1965 Kecksburg, Pa., crash

Paola Leopizzi Harris – the 12 Protocols of Exopolitics (i.e., rules for intergalactic policies) as well as the 1945 San Antonio UFO crash

Donald R. Schmitt — former co-director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies and Roswell crash site archaeologist

Yvonne R. Smith — UFO abduction researcher specializing in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder

Tom Reed — part of a well-documented multigenerational alien abduction case that dates back to 1954

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