Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Original Cash-Landrum Case File, 3/4/81: Transcript & Analysis



The Cash-Landrum UFO incident, December 29, 1980. That’s the name and date for the events near Huffman, Texas reported by Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and her young grandson Colby Landrum. The case is amongst the most famous of UFO events, chiefly due to the man who primarily investigated it, John F. Schuessler.
John Schuessler, Betty Cash, Vickie & Colby Landrum
from a scene in The UFO Experience. 
He was a contractor for NASA, working on the Space Shuttle program, and having a reputable scientist investigating the case gave its credibility a boost. However his involvement in the case stemmed not from his profession, but from his hobby. Schuessler was the deputy director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and a member of several other UFO organizations, including leading his own, Project VISIT (for Vehicle Internal Systems Investigative Team). VISIT sought to examine the propulsion engineering of “Unidentified Space Vehicles,” with “a secondary interest in the physiology of the beings which occupy these vehicles.” The initial report filed by Schuessler on March 4, 1981 laid the foundation for the investigation of the Cash-Landrum UFO case.

Below is the table of contents for the original report, a link to the PDF of it, and a transcript of it.
After that, my analysis of the report and the interviews within.
 

Cash-Landrum Original Case File: Table of Contents

Original Case Report (35 pages) by John F. Schuessler unless otherwise noted.

1 - 2 MUFON form: “UFO Sighting Questionnaire- General Cases (Form 1)” with location, sketches of UFO and event data. Name of Investigator, “John F. Schuessler,” “Witness: Vicky Landrum.” Dated March 3, 1981 (“4-3-81”). 2 pages.

3 - 13 Cash/Landrum Case “On-Site Investigation Report, Date: 28 Feb 1981,” Interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 11 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

14 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Vicky Landrum”
(Basic information on location of sighting and witness data.)

15 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Betty Cash.”

16 -23  Report of meeting and interview with Betty Cash dated 22 Feb. 1981. Handwritten, 8 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

24 - 27 Alan Holt, report of (2/28/81) interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 4 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)

28 Al Holt memo: “Conversation with Bill English,” undated. (English of APRO was the first investigator to speak to Vickie Landrum.) Handwritten, 1 page. (On VISIT letterhead.)

29 - 30 Al Holt: “Helicopter Investigation,” 3/10/81. Handwritten, 2 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)

31 - 33  21 Feb. 1981, 1 pm: “Betty Cash called collect from Dayton, TX” (Phone interview: first witness contact.) Typed, 3 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

34 - 35 1st MUFON Cash-Landrum case contact: 20 February 1981,  by phone from reporter Cathy Gordon. “Caller: Kathy Gordon, Conroe Daily Courier...” Typed, 2 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)





Link to file (PDF)

Schuessler’s case photos are not contained in this file, but we know he took pictures during the witness interviews: shots of Betty Cash’s hair loss, of Vickie and Colby Landrum, and also the roadway described in the report. Some of these photos were published for cover of the April 1981 MUFON Journal.

Link to transcript (handy mostly for being searchable by text).
http://www.blueblurrylines.com/p/original-cash-landrum-case-report-dated.html

The report is almost exclusively from Schuessler’s point of view and based on his understanding of what the witnesses said. There are some errors, but it is difficult to tell if it came from the witnesses’ mistakes or from him misunderstanding what he was told. 

The case file was not arranged by date, but for a forensic examination of the testimony and investigation, we’ll look at the interviews in chronological order. The focus in this examination is not on the familiar details of the case, but rather the deviations from it. In order to examine details in the report, it was compared with other contemporary witness interviews as documented in the three following sources:

1) Bergstrom Air Force Base interview of Betty Cash, Vickie and Colby Landrum, August 17, 1981, Transcribed in two parts at the CUFON site: 
Part 2: http://www.cufon.org/cufon/cashlani2.htm

2) Hendry, Allan, 1981, “A Preliminary Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry for the Fund for UFO Research” (PDF) 

3) Schuessler, John F., 1998, The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, LaPorte, Texas: Author. 

FM 1485
It’s worth noting that there’s a history of the Cash-Landrum case before the MUFON investigation.

Twelve Times before MUFON

By the time John Schuessler became involved, eight weeks had passed since the incident. Based on the witnesses’ account, they must have told their story at least a dozen times before Schuessler heard it from them.

BC told Wilma Emert (& 2 kids) Betty’s son, Toby the night of the incident, 12/29/80.
VL told her husband Earnest 4 days later, supposedly when BC went to the hospital.
VL told Dr. Wilson, who did not want to get involved with in a UFO injury case. 
CL, VL & BC told Dr. Shenoy, then other doctors attending at Parkway Hospital.
VL told Dayton police chief, Tommy Waring (Vickie’s neighbor)
VL told Bob Gribble of NUFORC, making her first UFO report, Feb. 2.
VL told wild Bill English of APRO who contacted the tabloid news.
BC & VL recorded a tape for Bill English, forwarded to Weekly World News.
BC’s Parkway Hospital written statement. Feb. 7, 1981
BC, VL & CL told Weekly World News reporter and contract photographer.
VL made calls to news and law enforcement and a 2nd call to NUFORC on Feb. 17.
VL & BC told Cathy Gordon reporter for The Conroe Courier Texas newspaper. 

Finally, John Schuessler heard Betty’s story second-hand from Cathy Gordon.



A Chronological Examination of the First UFO Report

Cathy Gordon (Phone Call) 
February 20, 1981 (Report pages 34 - 35)

John Schuessler first heard about Betty Cash first from local newspaper reporter Cathy Gordon who had written a story for the Conroe, Texas Courier. (Although in his correspondence with Coral Lorenzen of APRO and his book, he claims Dr. Howard Sussman had given him UFO injury story without disclosing Betty’s name - to avoid a violation of medical ethics). The chief reason John Schuessler became involved in the case was due to location. He worked at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center near Houston, Texas. Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum lived in Dayton, about 30 miles from Houston. 

There is no mention of what is later termed the witnesses’ “secrecy oath,” just a sparse summary of the UFO story as reported in Gordon’s story. The information came in bits, out of sequence, and Schuessler would later learn that at the end of January 1981, once the UFO story had been revealed to Betty’s doctors, Vickie Landrum reported the story to her neighbor, Dayton Police Chief Tommy Waring. It took Waring two or three days to locate the number for the the National UFO Reporting Center  (NUFORC) in Seattle, Washington. Vickie reported the sighting on Feb. 2 to Robert Gribble, who passed the information on to APRO. All Schuessler knew at the time came from Cathy Gordon who told him:
“APRO’s Bill English had assigned the investigation to Dick Donavon of the Weekly World News when first notified of it.”  



Betty Cash (Phone Call) 
February 21, 1981 (Report pages 31 - 33)

Betty Cash placed a collect call to John Schuessler the next day, February 21, 1981.
(Cathy Gordon had suggested Betty call NASA, who in turn gave her JS’s number.)

This call by Betty Cash initiated Schuessler’s investigation. In the conversation, she recounted the story of the UFO encounter, her health problems and emphasized the expense of her hospital stay and treatment, “She said it has cost her about $10,000...”
Schuessler wrote, “Betty has been out of work since the incident... She had been operating a truck stop restaurant and grocery store. She worked the night shift... she has had to close her business.” 

This early claim is worth examining. Betty worked the night shift, and had other employees including a cook and Vickie Landrum, so why did she close her business?
In some accounts, it’s said that Betty had already closed the truck stop and was in the process of moving it to reopen in a new location. However, when Betty was given an interview on 8/17/81 at Bergstrom Air Force Base, she said something else entirely. She was asked if she worked at the time of the incident, and she said, “No, no I wasn't... (that’s) the reason we was just out tooling around.” Betty told the officers that she’d received the business in the divorce from her husband, James Cash, and had only operated it a few months before she “Closed it up... couldn't make no money.” (Betty also mentioned that she had Medicare, but did not say what portion of her expenses were covered by it.)

Another very interesting item is about Betty’s automobile. Schuessler’s report states: 
“When the group met the UFO they stopped the car - it did not fail on its own.” Later, he gives the the first claim of the UFO producing EMF effects: “Her car now runs very rough - the engine misses. It was given a tune up just 4 months ago.”

Regarding the car stopping and the later claims of the engine dying.
Allan Hendry interview FUFOR 4/2/1981 talking about the motor stalling
BC: “It just quit on its own...”

Hendry made Schuessler aware of the discrepancy. In the undated interview quoted in The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, pg 61, Betty was asked, “when did you realize the engine was not running?” She replied, “When I got back in the car and as soon as that thing lifted up, I was going to start the car up. I put on the gas and everything and it wouldn't move.” 

Betty elaborated further in her Bergstrom AFB interview 8/17/1981:
"I had not killed the motor on the car, I had put it park. The radio was
playing on low, but the car completely went dead. I mean, it was like somebody
had turned a switch off on it."

This discrepancy was not addressed in Schuessler's reports, but he deftly sidestepped the issue in his 1982 magazine article on the case:

“It is not clear whether Betty turned the car engine off, or whether it just died."
The Unexplained (UK) Orbis Publishing Limited, Vol 9, Issue 107

The description of the UFO incident itself in the report is fairly sparse, but seemingly consistent with later retellings. Betty described the sights, sounds, and sensations associated with the experience, but makes no mention of Vickie’s handprints left in the dashboard of the car.

An interesting statement that vanishes from later accounts:
“She went back just last week to the sighting location but could not detect anything significant. Several trees were dead, but the reason was not obvious.”

This is at odds with Schuessler’s later accounts in his book that she’d first revisited the scene with him to identify the location, and another claim that she hadn’t been back there until a recreation for a television show. Betty’s statement should serve to discredit one of the conspiracy theories about the case, that the road was torn up and repaved immediately  following the incident. The road, FM 1485, was in bad shape before the incident. It was repaved, but not so mysteriously and much later, in 1982.

JS reports Betty saying of Vickie  Landrum: 
Now she has lost sight in one eye and a little of her hair is falling out...”

The part about Vickie’s vision was exaggerated, and similar claims had been made elsewhere, with Omni magazine stating that she was blind in one eye. It was untrue, but Vickie did complain about her eyes and had been prescribed eyeglasses. Betty’s comment about the hair loss was more realistic, but wasn’t a medical diagnosis. Except for her optometrist, Vickie was not examined or treated by a physician.

In the interview (as summarized by Schuessler) Betty did not describe Chinooks, just standard helicopters:“She said they could see each helicopter and she counted 23. Each had little lights and a big rotor on top and a small one on the rear. She thought they were military but didn't actually see military markings.” 

As Schuessler homogenized the varying accounts of the witnesses’ story into a single narrative, some of the early details like this were rewritten, and in time the witnesses used his version instead of their own. However, they were not always consistent. In the Bergstrom interview, for some reason Betty changed her story. When asked if the helicopters had markings, she said:
 “Yes, they sure did.” Asked to describe them, she said, “They had ‘United States Air Force’.”

The first hint of the “secrecy pact” comes in Betty Cash’s discussion of her cardiologist, Dr. Shenoy: “She didn't tell him about the object when she went in for the first time. He just thought she had a burn of some kind, perhaps chemical. On a later visit, Vicky told him of the cause.”

Schuessler was interested in learning more, and arranged to meet with Betty in person the next day at her brother’s apartment in Houston for an interview.



Betty Cash (Meeting) 
22 February 1981 (Report pages 16 - 23)

Betty told Schuessler the story again, with some further details emerging. She mentioned the trio searching for a bingo game, then describing the sighting, Betty says she was the first to see the UFO as a bright light in the sky, but in some later versions, it is Colby who spots it first.

Betty describes the UFO’s fiery discharge: “ Flames periodically shot downward from a point on the bottom of the glowing mass.” The description is lacking on precise details, like the proximity of the UFO to the witnesses: “ They stopped the car in the road a short distance from the bright thing.”

As to the UFO itself, “ Because the light was so bright Betty couldn't see details of the object.”
She was better able to describe the associated sounds and sights, the beeping noise and,  Flames showered downward. Each time it happened they could hear a swoosh – swoosh like a flame thrower. The whole area had a great sound – a roar.”

The UFO was described as lighting up the whole sky:
Betty thinks air controllers at Houston Intercontinental Airport must have seen the bright thing – also all the helicopters.” At the Bergstrom AFB interview she insisted that the brilliance had been witnessed, but didn’t say by just who: “it was seen as far as fifty miles away from where we were.”)

Betty describes the trip home and onset of symptoms.

Schuessler reports that Betty said “the day after the incident” Vickie reported the incident to “Mr. Ward, a Dayton Policeman.” 
Vickie gave the same name of Ward later (conference 3/15/81), but she had it wrong. It was actually Dayton Police Chief Tommy Waring, and it’s odd that both Vickie and Betty would mistake the of one of the most prominent public figures in their small town. The other big error was in stating that the UFO was reported the next day, but we can’t tell if that was Betty’s mistake or from Schuessler misunderstanding her. It’s documented that Vickie told Chief Waring about the incident at the end of January, a full month after the incident, a day or so after Dr. Shenoy was first told about the UFO.

 Betty gave general information about her hospital stay, care and tests, her prescriptions, and her mother’s address in Alabama where she’d be moving. Schuessler noted her appearance and took photographs. “Betty is constantly tired, has a continuous headache, and cannot work. Her hair still remains patchy, but appears it will grow back.” There was no mention of Schuessler examining the car or having Betty act out the sighting in these notes (as stated in his book). All that’s mentioned is that: Betty's car is a 1980 Cutlass Supreme lic. no. VAS-217 (Texas)”

The report ends with an odd fact, another that was dropped from later accounts. Upon her release, Betty’s cardiologist, Dr. Shenoy urged her to see the UFO movie, Hangar 18. “All she got out of the movie was the government conspiracy aspect.”

After the interview with Betty, Schuessler called Vickie Landrum and set up an appointment to meet her at her residence the next week.

It’s worth noting here that shortly after this interview with Schuessler, Betty Cash permanently moved back to Alabama. Despite her health problems she frequently returned to Texas for during the early 1980s, and other than on those occasions, follow up interviews were conducted by telephone. Vickie Landrum continued to live in Dayton, and as a result he developed a closer relationship with her. Consequently, Schuessler relied more heavily on Vickie's version of the events.



Vickie and Colby Landrum (Meeting & site visit) 
Feb. 28, 1981 (Report pages 3 - 13)

John Schuessler and fellow MUFON and Project VISIT member Alan Holt met Vickie and Colby Landrum, then traveled with them to the FM 1485 in search of the sighting location.

The report records Vickie’s description of the restaurant stop in New Caney, however, there’s no mention of them searching for a bingo game.

Schuessler’s description of the sighting area has a passing reference to the interview of a potential witness:
“ The site of the incident is near the lake, so there are businesses, trailers, cabins, etc. periodically throughout the area, however it is sparsely settled. Near the incident site is an occupied trailer home, but the lady living there said they were in bed by 8 PM, about an hour before the sighting.”

That non-witness testimony is perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of evidence in the case. The couple were not disturbed by the UFO lighting up the whole sky or the noise from it and the roar of the overflight of twenty or more military helicopters.  

“As the object hung above the road Vicky could hear a roar ‘like a hurricane.’ Then when the flames would belch out the noise would be a woosh.” 

The report contains a drawing of Vickie’s fingernails labeled:
“Vicky's fingernails, left hand only are damaged. That hand was on top of the car...
Each nail has an indentation, line-like, across from side to side – now partially grown out.”  Supposedly, these were photographed, later fell off and were sent off for analysis, but none of that evidence is contained in the files or subsequent case literature. The fingernails were once considered by Dr. Peter Rank to be the strongest evidence to show that Vickie had been exposed to ionizing radiation, but nothing came of it.

There was some disharmony over the number of helicopters and when they first arrived: 
“Vicky and Betty only saw object during the close encounter – no helicopters. As it rose and flew away there were more than 20 helicopters, although Vicky admitted that they moved around a lot and a few might have gotten more than once. Even so, she is positive that there were 10–12 or more – no doubt about it.” 

“Colby says he saw helicopters all during the event, even when the object was low over the road. He is quite sure of that.”

Vickie described the helicopters, among them Chinooks (CH-47s):
“Vicky says there were two kinds of helicopters involved – maybe more. One kind was large and smooth running with a very large rotor on top. Another had two rotors on top, but one was above the other slightly.” (Illustration: Sketch of overlapping rotors.)

Vickie’s description of the sighting indicates that the flock of helicopters must have flown over the entire town of Huffman:
“They could still hear the roar of helicopters at 4 (the stop sign on the far edge of Huffman, by FM 1960).

There’s mention of another fiery UFO in the area:
Vicky truly feels that this was not anything unnatural. She believes the U.S. government was transporting and escorting something dangerous through the area. (Her son mentioned a similar incident near the lake about 6 months earlier where a fiery object landed and burned 300 ft of grass).”

The report does not definitely state they found the exact sighting location:
“The location of the close encounter was on Huffman New Caney road near the Inland road intersection. We parked along the road and walked as a group to the spot where Vicky believed they stopped their car on 29 Dec 80.”

There’s no mention of any landmarks at the scene like a UFO burn to the road, a claim that would later surface in 1982 as part of the legend of road being repaved to destroy evidence.

Schuessler drew a map based on the spot she chose, measuring the driving distance from it to the edge of Huffman at FM 1960, where they last counted the helicopters at the stop sign. The total distance was over seven miles.


Alan Holt: Notes on Vickie & Colby Landrum 
Feb. 28, 1981 (Report pages 24 - 27)

Alan Holt filed a separate set of handwritten notes about the interview, but he recorded many of the some points, but also some that Schuessler had missed or omitted. 

Holt also noted that Vickie: 
“Had the impression that the ‘helicopters were transporting something’."
This phrase is very interesting, as it mirrors something said to Betty by Dr. Shenoy.
From Allan Hendry’s report: “Oddly, he told Betty a story about the government working on ‘something’ in North or South Carolina that is being transported across the U.S.”

There’s an interesting bit of trivia regarding the aftermath:
“Colby had a dream about a little spaceman, ‘man inside it, little bitty, 2 ft. tall’”

Holt also noted the claim of an earlier UFO and provides further details:
“Near Sire Lake 6 months ago a UFO sighting occurred- grass was burned off.”

Holt briefly described the visit to the sighting locations. Again, there’s no mention of a UFO burn to the road:
Visited 3 sites where object was sighted.
– nothing observed as far as evidence. 
– road well traveled in daytime.”

A later addition to Holt’s report was a memo describing his undated “Conversation with Bill English” of APRO who claimed to have located the story of 3 other witnesses to the UFO in a Liberty newspaper. However the name of the paper English gave did not exist, and the story was not located. 

There’s also the notation, “Vickie Landrum's doctor refused to treat her.”
That makes little sense in context, but in Allan Hendry’s report, Vickie told him that while searching for a doctor to help Betty, “She told a Dr. Wilson about the UFO and claims the doctor didn’t want to deal with her... presumably, she feels because of the UFO aspect.” That’s interesting, because if true, has Vickie violating the “secrecy pact” within days of agreeing to it.


Lt. Col. Sarran's note of Schuessler's remarks.
Holt’s other addendum was “Helicopter Investigation,” dated 3/10/81.
He called military bases within range, but none had flights of copters during the date of the sighting. The most interesting comment came from Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. They did have Chinooks, but less than 20, and were not flying during the holiday period between Christmas and New Year’s. The representative told him about the only time they’d have that many helicopter flying, which was during scheduled massive field exercises. Holt jotted down:
“Robert Gray Field – exercise in the local area where 100 helicopters come in from the field all at one time ‘for effect’.”
This quote would later surface, famously twisted into evidence the military had admitted, then denied a helicopter operation the night of the incident. In 1982, John Schuessler told Lt. Col. Sarran about the “100 helicopters” during a phone conversation briefing him for the DAIG investigation into the incident. Sarran’s documents of the investigation later surfaced in a FOIA response, and among his notes from the Schuessler conversation were the words, 
“- 100 helicopters- Robert Grey airfield, came in, for effect.” 
It was the smoking gun that never was. (More details on this red herring at:


The case file shows that the basic story of the UFO encounter remained fairly consistent over the years. The stop by the fishing bridge and the sighting during the drive through Huffman may have been de-emphasized from later versions, possibly to avoid questions about why people in these more populated areas didn't report the light or sounds from the UFO and helicopters. It was only the claims about the hospital stay and injuries that seemed to be exaggerated over time. That, and associated other rumors like the road being hauled away and repaved in the dark of night. What always stayed the same was the story of what they saw over the road that night.

The Rest is History

After the initial report, Schuessler continued investigating the case and took on a role as an advocate for the witnesses, and also helped them publicize their story in the news media, appearing with them on television shows like Good Morning America and That’s Incredible! Schuessler also used their media appearances to appeal to the public to come forward with information about the case, and several new witnesses to the UFO or the helicopters were recruited in this way. The National Enquirer helped fund the first hypnosis session of Vickie Landrum, from which new details were produced that Schuessler considered genuine, like the odor of “lighter fluid” imagined to be helicopter fuel, and “little blue lights,” which became attached to the UFO description.



Most of the other leads produced in the case came from the news media reporters covering the story, or in military sources during the Pentagon-directed DAIG investigation. Some of the most significant developments came from the witnesses themselves, by taking the initiative to write their Senators and to travel to Bergstrom Air Force base to pursue answers and resolution. That led to the legal effort, and although it failed, the resulting publicity presented the chance that it would prompt someone to come forward with tangible evidence. 


Schuessler continued to report on the case, but none of the information that surfaced in the years that followed matched the substance of what was contained in the original 1981 report of the sighting by Betty Cash, Colby and Vickie Landrum.


For more documents on the Cash-Landrum UFO case, see
http://www.blueblurrylines.com/2013/07/resource-guide-for-cash-landrum-ufo-case.html

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

UFOs, the Media, the Military & Dreams of Discovery


All That Glitters



What does the disclosure of the UFO Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program really mean? It’s done something positive, managed to capture the interest of mainstream media and brought the topic of UFOs into general public discussion again. The Dec. 16, 2017 New York Times article by Helen Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program,” presented some compelling information, at least at first glance.

The reaction has been interesting, a bit of a Rorschach test. Some have dismissed the UFO program as a waste of money, or even a politician’s favor for a billionaire contributor; however most readers seem to have found the story interesting, and they were left with the conclusion that there is compelling evidence to suggest “that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.”

An enthusiastic segment of UFO proponents see this as “Disclosure,” the formal acknowledgement of the extraterrestrial presence by the US Government- or a big step towards it. One UFO commercial enterprise is using the slogan, “Now they know we were not crazy, we were RIGHT!”

It’s worth taking a closer look at what was actually said in the NYT piece, by whom, and if they have a vested interest in promoting anything. There's been some interesting UFO video evidence and associated testimony surface due to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) story breaking. However, there's been no provenance shown and little transparency to the investigation. Almost everything that's been said about the Pentagon UFO program comes from people connected to the promotion of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy. They've succeeded in using the popularity of the video evidence to package and market their product, and many in the press and the public have not distinguished the claims made from the few facts that have been verified.

TTSA: Tom DeLonge, Chris Mellon, Luis Elizondo, Steve Justice, Dr. Harold E. Puthoff, Jim Semivan

Tom DeLonge’s October 2017 launch of To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTSA) failed to receive the desired publicity. TTSA is a company with an existing entertainment branch that has produced UFO books, with plans to launch television, movie projects and associated merchandise. TTSA also announced plans to launch an aerospace division, and are soliciting investors to buy shares of the company in support of this enterprise. The team members of TTSA were introduced at the press conference, and the star attraction was supposed to have been Luis Elizondo, who claimed to have run the a Department of Defense’s “sensitive aerospace threat identification program focusing on unidentified aerial technologies.” However, most of the resulting coverage focused on Tom DeLonge’s involvement, his outlandish UFO claims and discussion of the financial structure of the company, including the pitfalls of investing in it.

Damage control came by way of UFO advocate Leslie Kean, who pitched the AATIP story to Ralph Blumenthal, who she’d worked with before on a big UFO story in the past. “UFO Caught On Tape Over Santiago Air Base” features many similarities to the new piece, a military study of UFOs, the appeal for a scientific study of the subject, and the presentation of video of UFOs interacting with military aircraft. Despite the reporters’ enthusiasm, the evidence did not hold up to study, and the “truly unexplainable unidentified flying objects” were revealed to be nothing but insects flying close to the camera. Kean defiantly rejected the explanation, but months later released a story saying that independent analysis produced “conflicting results” and concluded the piece with what seemed like an appeal to the reader’s faith, just short of asking us to clap your hands if you believe.
“It’s not clear what these videos show. At this point, each of us can form our own opinions about something that science cannot determine, or we can simply accept that we will likely never know.”
Leslie Kean’s approach in pitching the NYT UFO story was to minimize Tom DeLonge and his new TTSA UFO franchise, focusing on the newsworthy elements; the fact that there had been a secretive government $22 million study of UFOs, and to emphasize the involvement of the senators who supported it in order to portray the topic as serious and legitimate. The NYT piece also tied the story to a UFO video they credited “By Courtesy of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE." However, the video and the majority of the information in the story came from Luis Elizondo and his partners in DeLonge’s UFO franchise.

The other key ingredient was the participation of the NYT’s Pentagon reporter Helene Cooper, who was able to complete the package and present the story in the military and political context that would grab readers. However, in an interview on “The Daily” podcast from the NYT, Cooper made an interesting characterization in describing the AATIP: “The program is secret, and the people operating it tend to be true believers...”

The AATIP = Robert Bigelow

What's strange in all this is the involvement of Las Vegas billionaire Robert Bigelow from before the beginning. The AATIP is the first known instance of the US government funding a study conducted by ufologists. Merriam-Webster defines ufology as “the study of unidentified flying objects.” While “Ufologist” is a loosely defined term, and not a designation of accreditation, it’s generally taken to mean a researcher investigating the topic and pursuing the origins of UFOs. Robert Bigelow is more of an extraterrestrial visitation proponent, “absolutely convinced” in the belief that some of the UFOs are alien spacecraft from other worlds. His investigation into the so-called Skinwalker ranch and his funding of the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) project are important to understanding the minds involved in the Pentagon's AATIP, as many of the same players were involved, and some are now partners or participants in the TTSA franchise.




Robert Bigelow’s interest in flying saucers began in his childhood, and as an adult he created NIDS in 1995. The mission statement of the organization’s (now defunct) website described them as “a privately funded science institute engaged in research of aerial phenomena, animal mutilations, and other related anomalous phenomena.” Bigelow was the president, Dr. Harold Puthoff was the chairman of the board and Dr. Colm Kelleher was the administrator. Shortly afterwards, the creation of Bigelow Aerospace in 1999 was undoubtedly making demands on his time and energy. NIDS published a number of reports on its site, but failed to live up to the high expectations of a UFO/paranormal study backed by a committed billionaire. In 2004, Bigelow closed the institute, citing the lack of cases worthy of investigation:
“We have labored long and hard, coming to the conclusion to place NIDS in an inactive status. ... It is unfortunate that there isn't more activity, as there was in the past, that warrants investigation. ...Should substantial activity occur with a need for investigation then NIDS will be reactivated with new personnel.” NIDS site, archived Oct. 8, 2007

Senator Harry Reid and the book that launched the AATIP 

In 2005, Hunt for the Skinwalker was released, written by NIDS’ Colm Kelleher and George Knapp, a book about the Uintah County, Utah ranch that’s supposedly a hotbed of paranormal activity. Apparently, Nevada Senator Harry Reid became interested in the topic after Knapp gave him a copy of the book. Reid was friends with Bigelow and that led to the UFO study. The NYT story reports that: “Contracts obtained by The Times show a congressional appropriation of just under $22 million beginning in late 2008 through 2011. The money... went to Mr. Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, which hired subcontractors and solicited research for the program.” We're told that somehow the Skinwalker ranch owner Robert Bigelow submitted the best contract to study phenomena at his own property, along with the subject of his life-long fascination (or obsession), extraterrestrials and UFOs. Bigelow created a division of Bigelow Aerospace to deal with NIDS unfinished business in UFO research:
Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), a sister company to Bigelow Aerospace, is a newly formed research organization that focuses on the identification, evaluation, and acquisition of novel and emerging future technologies worldwide as they specifically relate to spacecraft. Bigelow Aerospace.com Careers archived Aug. 8, 2009

Senator Reid has justified the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program as a national security issue, making sure the USA was not vulnerable to superior technological aircraft. George Knapp reports that, “At its peak, the study had 46 scientists working at the Nevada facility, writing reports and analyzing data that came in from the military. Rapid response teams were dispatched to the scene of UFO events.”

In 2009, Bigelow attempted to outsource that rapid response team, using field investigators he subcontracted from MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network. The program was called STAR Team for “Strike Team Area Research,” and it was celebrated at the 2009 MUFON Symposium in Denver, Colorado. Canadian UFO researcher, Chris Rutkowski was there as a guest.
At the 2009 MUFON Benefactors' reception: (l to r) Clifford Clift; Tom Whitmore; Robert Bigelow; 
Nick Roesler; John Ventre; Chris Rutkowski; Robert Wood; Rob Swiatek. 
Inset: James Carrion presenting an award to Robert Bigelow. Photos courtesy Chris Rutkowski.
“Late in the afternoon, I was asked to show up at the benefactors' reception. I knew very few people in the crowd that was composed mostly of longtime MUFON members. However, Stan (Friedman) introduced me to billionaire Robert Bigelow, the aerospace developer who is now underwriting the STAR team of MUFON investigators. Seemed like a nice guy. He later showed up at my table and talked with me briefly.” Ufology Research, Aug. 7, 2009
Bigelow’s interest during the AAPIT contract reached beyond the US borders. I asked Chris about meeting Bigelow and what he recalled of their conversation: “he wanted to talk with me, so we found a quiet part of the hallway and talked a bit. Bigelow never offered me any kind of contract for participation in his UFO-related venture. It was a verbal agreement to share with him details of ‘really good’ Canadian reports as they came in, and he would send his team in to investigate. I recall that he wanted to be ‘first on the scene.’ After our initial meeting, at MUFON 2009, I dealt with one of his assistants whose name I don't recall. They called me from time to time asking about Canadian cases. The trouble was that during those next several years, no Canadian cases of substance or with associated evidence were reported, so nothing really fell within his criteria and I didn't pass along any tips at all.”

Bigelow had another tactic to collect Canadian UFO reports. Brian Vike, writing about the HBCC (Houston British Columbia Canada) UFO Research site: "I did own and operate it at one time, but I sold my 5 domain names to Bigelow Aerospace back I believe in June of 2009." The site is no longer active, but here's an archive HBCC UFO Research from 2010, under BAASS management.

This seems to indicate Bigelow as a contractor deviated from the program's national security mission, and his involvement was a continuation of his life-long interest in UFOs as aliens in space ships.

(For more on the history of Robert Bigelow’s interaction with MUFON and ufology, see “UFO-Pentagon Story Reflects Fundamental Problems” by Jack Brewer.)

Robert Bigelow's Hangar 18? 

Ending UFO Secrecy

It's interesting and commendable that there was enough scientific curiosity by government officials to initiate a UFO program. But why was it necessary? Many UFO proponents have long believed the US government already had the UFO answers- along with hidden concrete evidence. If there was a Hangar 18 with ET bodies or a MJ-12-type UFO control organization, there would have been no need for another program to be created in 2007.

The disclosure of the rise and fall of the AATIP seems a confirmation that the government didn't know much, and after $22 million and 5 years of the AATIP, they couldn't find out much more than researchers in the private sector. According to the less flattering Politico story, their AATIP inside source told them they “compiled ‘reams of paperwork’” but little else.”And it may have actually made things worse.

Bigelow previously had participants of his own NIDS UFO/paranormal studies sign nondisclosure agreements, and was already secretive before this government project. Bigelow’s contracted work may also be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests, allowing documentation of the investigation to remain sealed. The result may be that the UFO data that was secretly collected during the AATIP years was prevented from reaching the public, now harder to obtain than if there had been no government study.

It's puzzling why Bigelow's company would have been awarded the contract, given his prejudice of the ET verdict for UFOs. It's a bit like having a contract to evaluate the benefits of air strikes go to a munitions manufacturer. The fact that the US government conducted a study of UFOs is interesting, but there’s ample evidence to show it was seriously flawed.


The Reporting and The Evidence

To the Stars Academy has a commercial agenda that is founded on exploiting the public's interest in the notion of interplanetary spacecraft visiting the Earth. TTSA is attempting to capitalize on the reputation of the Pentagon study, but is any of the new evidence or documents produced from the AATIP any better than what we've already seen from the last 70 years? I don't think so. They are just pitching more straw on the haystack.

In the NYT article the authors present the AATIP as if it were credible, but in effect it was a continuation or renovation of Bigelow's NIDS project, with some of the same players, some of whom are in TTSA now. If team Bigelow was in charge of evaluating evidence, then the likelihood of it having been as an objective scientific study are remote. Bigelow has clearly demonstrated his pro-ET agenda in the past and more recently directly (and defiantly) stated it on a nationally televised interview, saying, “There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence.”

The sensational Pentagon disclosures were not. In essence, all the Pentagon disclosed was that yes, we used to have a program that studied unidentified aircraft. All the exciting stuff was said by Luis Elizondo or other TTSA players, not active US Government sources. The videos seem to have come from Elizondo, too, and they may be legitimate. The media is bundling all this together in a way to make everything seem credible based on the sensation of the videos and the perceived Pentagon pedigree. Whether intentional or due to a lack of understanding, this confusion produces something akin to a stage magic act, an illusion sold by misdirection, persuasion and the power of suggestion.

The story states,
“Working with Mr. Bigelow’s Las Vegas-based company, the program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift.”

That’s worth reading a few times, just to try finding anything verifiable. My interpretation: Under contract, Bigelow supplied the AATIP with reports of sightings similar to hundreds of flying saucers seen since 1947.

UFO "metal alloys and other materials" rain on Maury Island.
Shaver Mystery Magazine Vol.2 No. 1, 1948 

The TTSA Tease?

If there was a scientific method and discipline behind the AAPIT study, or a system of checks and balances, it's not been disclosed. We know that there's been the claim of recovered exotic materials, but it's all so vague. The NYT story reported that, “Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.”

That is an indirect statement, hearsay at best, and relies on the opinion of Elizondo and Bigelow “program contractors.” They say they have something somewhere, from something, but it’s secret. The UAP non-description could mean anything from meteorites to flying saucers. It's also hauntingly familiar, dating back to the famous 1947 flying saucer hoax, the mysterious molten metal recovered from Maury Island, revealed to be nothing but slag. Many UFO hardware claims have been made in the years since, and all have been as disappointing. This new exciting claim from TTSA’s Director of Global Security & Special Programs seems like a teaser, or a cliffhanger, part of a campaign to get the customers to return for another exciting chapter.

Conclusions belong at the End

There are valid UFO cases to study - genuine mysteries. Having the AATIP or TTSA claim to have documents, videos or testimony doesn’t mean much, and chances are it’s not superior to the other evidence we’ve seen so far. Elizondo's excitement over “I don't know where it's from” doesn’t make any of it extraterrestrial. That’s just insufficient data. Computer programmers coined a term for bad input leading to bad results; GIGO - for garbage in, garbage out. But that’s not the only cause of poor outcomes. The cancelled AATIP, in effect, had a bad processor, Robert Bigelow.
Robert Bigelow and Dr. Edward Condon

Long before the the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program there was another Government-contracted UFO study conducted by civilians, and it had some similarities to Bigelow’s involvement in this recent one. It was the 1966-68 University of Colorado study directed by Professor E. U. Condon. Both studies were led by biased men who set out to prove their forgone conclusions about the nature of UFOs. Researchers have found that once you get past the introductory anti-UFO summary by Condon himself, there is much of value in the Colorado study itself. Perhaps the same will prove true of team Bigelow's and the AATIP’s findings, if we are ever allowed to see them.

The Pursuit of Dreams

The response to the NYT’s story has been huge, and shows there’s still an interest in UFO mysteries, especially if packaged with some Government intrigue. The topics of extraterrestrial life and UFOs are exciting, and more exciting still if it turns that they are proven to belong in the same discussion.

Through the ages, some explorers chasing dreams have managed to discover - or invent - wonderful new things to change our understanding of the world around us. Stories of such wondrous discoveries outnumber the genuine achievements, but the real ones have made history - and few of them required you buy a ticket or shares in the franchise before the goods were delivered.

We should continue to study the skies and whatever lies beyond them. We must be prepared to put aside our expectations and follow wherever the evidence takes us.


. . .


Leftovers: Related Thoughts and Scraps

STAR Team footnote
The closest direct comparison to Bigelow’s use of MUFON’s STAR Team is when the University of Colorado's Government-funded study lead by Professor E. U. Condon contacted the Early Warning Network which drew on the volunteer manpower of UFO groups APRO and NICAP to investigate sighting reports. Bigelow arranged for something similar with MUFON, having a rapid response team STAR. The similarities seem to end there, since Bigelow and his team were responsible for analyzing the data.

“To supplement Air Force reporting, we set up our own Early Warning Network, a group of about 60 active volunteer field reporters, most of whom were connected with APRO or NICAP. They telephoned or telegraphed to us intelligence of UFO sightings in their own territory and conducted some preliminary investigation for us while our team was en route. Some of this cooperation was quite valuable. Scientific Study Of Unidentified Flying Objects (1969) by Dr. Edward U. Condon & Walter Sullivan, page 33.

Sidebar on Botched Mainstream UFO News

The last UFO story to get this kind of major media attention was in 2011, Annie Jacobsen's account in Area 51 of the Roswell incident being a Soviet propaganda attack, a fake space invasion with the crash of a Nazi “flying saucer” piloted by “a crew of grotesque child-size aviators for Stalin.”

Other less spectacular and equally inaccurate stories were in 2015,with the announcement that the UFO files of Project Blue Book had been released “for the first time,” but the files had been out on microfilm for decades and online since 2005. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/01/23/what-was-fake-on-the-internet-this-week-40-pound-babies-topless-willow-smith-and-a-double-dose-of-ufos/?utm_term=.0490d2b5603a

In Jan. 2016, the CIA recycled some of their UFO files, labelling it “Take a Peek Into Our ‘X-Files,’” with the result that the mainstream media erroneously reported it as a new declassification of UFO documents. A bit closer to the truth was a year later in Jan. 2017 when new documents were released, but the bulk of those were on the CIA’s psychic research, not UFOs- although many of the same players were involved. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38663522

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and their UFO Report

December 29 is the anniversary of the Cash-Landrum UFO case, also sadly of the death of Betty Cash. At the end of each year, we take a moment to remember the witnesses and their story.

Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum

After their lawsuit against the US government was dismissed in 1986 without going to trial, UFO witnesses Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum were left without much hope. A new opportunity arose when they were invited to appear on the October 14, 1988 television special, UFO Cover-Up? Live to tell the story of their experience. Afterward, Betty began a crusade for a Congressional hearing prompted by the show's phone poll for a new government exploration of the UFO topic.  The Times Daily (Alabama) on Feb. 18, 1989 reported that, “She said that Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala began working to obtain a congressional hearing after calls of support came in during an October television special that featured her and others claiming to have been hurt by UFOs.”

The petition failed to produce results, and there's scarcely any mention of it found today, but it seemed to renew Betty and Vickie's efforts. They became more involved with the UFO community, and they even explored another attempt to sue the US government for the health problems they associated with their UFO sighting. 

Betty Cash's daughter Mickey Geisinger got involved in the cause, writing to Jenny Randles, in a letter published in UFO Times, published by BUFORA, the British UFO Research Association, in their May 1990 issue.
http://bufora.org.uk/documents/UFOTimesNo.7May1990.pdf

It was during this time, Betty and Vickie attended the MUFON Symposium held in July of 1990, "UFOs: The Impact of E.T. Contact Upon Society," held in Pensacola, Florida. This was during the heyday of the publicity around Ed Walter's Gulf Breeze UFO sightings. Thanks to Michael Christol for sharing a photograph.
MUFON director Walt Andrus, Jeanne Andrus, Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum
at the 1990 MUFON Symposium in Pensacola Florida.

Betty Cash's Newspaper Obituary

Betty Cash's death was reported in the Alabama newspaper, The Anniston Star, Anniston, on Wednesday, December 30, 1998, on page 5A. An interesting point is that Betty's occupation was listed, "She worked for many years as a private nurse." However, according to John Schuessler's 1998 book on the Cash-Landrum story, Betty "never worked a single day since the encounter because of poor health."  

The obituary mentions Betty's children, but her daughter's name, Geisinger is misspelled. Betty's son, Toby was supposedly the first person to examine her physical problems after the UFO encounter, but after that, he vanishes from the story. Here, his name was given as Bill Howard, and he lived in Oxford, Alabama, as did Betty in her final days.

Below is a clipping of the article, followed by a reproduction of the text.

The Anniston Star, Wed. Dec. 30, 1998

           Cash
 

 OXFORD - Graveside services for Betty Cash, 69, of 2311 Nancy Drive will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at Oxford Memorial Park Cemetery with Douglas Wells officiating. The family will receive friends Thursday from 9 a.m. until time of services at Miller Funeral Home. Mrs. Cash died Tuesday at Regional Medical Center. 
Survivors include a daughter, Mickey Giesinger of Irving, Texas; a son, Bill Howard of Oxford; three sisters, Lois Green of Lincoln, Shirley McNair of Fort Worth, Texas, and Midge Helms of Birmingham; a brother, Charles Collins of Kansas City, Mo.; and three grandchildren. 
Pallbearers will be LeFair Willingham, Sonny Gunnells, Robert Eden, Joey Giesinger and Richard Green. 
Mrs. Cash, a native of Birmingham, had lived in Oxford for the past six years. She worked for many years as a private nurse.
Vickie Landrum passed away on September 12, 2007. Please see the previous BBL article,   Remembering Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum  for more on her and Betty's final resting places.

Sharing the Story


Betty and Vickie fought hard to have their story told. Strangely, the UFO files on their case have not been made available. Here's the case file, a PDF of the original 35-page report to MUFON by John Schuessler and Project VISIT, dated March 4, 1981.  

There are plenty of things to say about the content, but the analysis will be covered separately in a later BBL piece. My index of the report:

Cash-Landrum Original Case Report (35 pages) by John F. Schuessler, unless noted otherwise.

1 - 2 MUFON form: “UFO Sighting Questionnaire- General Cases (Form 1)” with location, sketches of UFO and event data. Name of Investigator, “John F. Schuessler,” “Witness: Vicky Landrum.” Dated March 3, 1981 (“4-3-81”). 2 pages.

3 - 13 Cash/Landrum Case “On-Site Investigation Report, Date: 28 Feb 1981,” Interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 11 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

14 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Vicky Landrum”
(Basic information on location of sighting and witness data).

15 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Betty Cash.”

16 -23  Report of meeting and interview with Betty Cash dated 22 Feb. 1981. Handwritten, 8 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

24 - 27 Alan Holt, report of (2/28/81) interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 4 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)

28 Al Holt memo: “Conversation with Bill English,” undated. (English of APRO was the first investigator to speak to Vickie Landrum.) Handwritten, 1 page. (On VISIT letterhead.)

29 - 30 Al Holt: “Helicopter Investigation,” 3/10/81. Handwritten, 2 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)

31 - 33  21 Feb. 1981, 1 pm: “Betty Cash called collect from Dayton, TX” (Phone interview: first witness contact.) Typed, 3 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)


34 - 35 1st MUFON Cash-Landrum case contact: 20 February 1981,  by phone from reporter Cathy Gordon. “Caller: Kathy Gordon, Conroe Daily Courier...” Typed, 2 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)


The link again:


 The original 35-page report to MUFON by John Schuessler and Project VISIT, dated March 4, 1981.


Update:
The analysis and transcript of the original case report has since been published: