Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Military Secrecy: Black Ops Modus Operandi

Topic: Operational Security and how the reality may differ from the super-spy movie version.

While there is no evidence to support it, the best real world suspect for military involvement in the Cash-Landrum UFO case seems to be Operation Honey Badger.  The hardware, techniques and mission are intriguingly similar to the helicopters witnessed in the UFO encounter.

While training for Honey Badger their operation was nearly exposed, but first it's necessary to provide some context on the mission and location. We'll be going South...

OH-6 Little Birds Go Black

The Black Ops mission of Honey Badger consisted of " the helicopters of Task Force 158, which included OH-6 Little Birds, UH-60 Black Hawks, and cargo-carrying and cargo-carrying Chinooks…" They were gathered to train for long range night missions using new night vision equipment, armament and extended-range fuel tanks.

In 1980, as part of Operation Honey Badger (an aborted 2nd mission to rescue American hostages held in Iran), OH-6 (Little Bird) Bell helicopters were secretly armed and modiifedArmy 160th SOAR History: "OH-6A scout helicopters (Little Birds) were chosen for the light assault role because of their small size and ease of transport. The Little Birds could carry only three soldiers and a single pilot, but they could land in the most restrictive locations." 


Personnel at Fort Rucker, AL developed, tested and created armed AH-6 Little Bird gunships, and they were then transported to Gulfport, Mississippi for training flights, classified program called “Nine-Whiskey-Whiskey." 

Dressed to kill

This was a priority mission and was given "White House Special Clearance" and superseded all normal orders and procedures. All participants had to be cleared by the FBI, security was tight. The pilots selected to fly the OH-6A helicopters came from the 229th Attack Helicopter Battalion and were sent to the Mississippi Army National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) at Gulfport, Mississippi, for two weeks of qualification training in the aircraft. The Gulfport operation was led by Jim Burns, director of the MS AVCRAD (Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot).

Security is Threatened

Snowbird/Honey Badger directive: Avoid exposure by the Media

Charlie Something from Such & Such News

Colonel John J. Stanko describes an incident in Gulfport about how operational security was in danger of exposure by the local media:
    So about two days into this [special project] Jim Burns calls and says, “Hey Colonel, there's this guy down here—Charlie Smith (or something) from such and such a newspaper… He's a newspaper reporter and he's out in the parking lot and he's checking every car, every car tag, looking over the fence, trying to see what's going on. And he's gotten word from somebody in Washington, DC that something's going on at the  Mississippi AVCRAD. He wants to take a look at it.”
      “How the hell that got out so quick, I don't know.”      
      "So Jim Burns tells me—he walks out to the parking lot and says, 
“Hey, 'Charlie Reporter,' how ya doing? Come on in here. Let me tell you what's going on here". 
     And so Jim Burns takes him by the arm and walks him waaaay up the parking ramp there to an OV-1 Mohawk airplane. Jim says to the reporter, “See that? That's a Mohawk.” And he starts describing the Mohawk to him and says, “See this is a rare airplane and it does intelligence and surveillance. That airplane is from the Georgia Army National Guard and when they can't fix that airplane, they send it down here to Mississippi and we fix it and we do the maintenance and we test fly it. Jim talks real, real slow and goes into a lot of detail regarding the nomenclature, horsepower, radios, blade lengths, etc about each of the aircraft he had shown the reporter.      
     Later that afternoon, the reporter goes back and writes up his story, convinced that maintenance is the real story and sends it in.

Jim Burns, using counterintelligence techniques learned from Huckleberry Hound and Foghorn Leghorn, was able to baffle the reporter and protect the secrecy of mission from the media. 

Speak slow… but do some fast talking!

Epilogue: Dark Desert Testing

When the Gulfport pilot training was completed, C-141 aircraft transported the aircraft and crews to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, for two weeks of mission training. The mission training consisted of loading onto C-130 transport aircraft which would then transport them to forward staging areas over night routes as long as 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km). The armed OH-6 Little Birds aircraft from Fort Rucker joined the training program in the fall of 1980. Records indicate that there was little activity late  in the year as the mission was on hold.

Operation Honey Badger was canceled after the hostages were released on 20 January 1981, but the team was not dissolved. They became the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), better known as the "Night Stalkers."

Additional sources 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UFO Debunking 1953: Review of Flying Saucers by Donald H. Menzel

Here's a review of one of the earliest books on UFOs, Flying Saucers, a skeptical look at the topic by a prominent astronomer. It's an interesting look into the state of things while the field was barely its infancy.

Discovery: The magazine of Scientific Progress 
November 1953, Mr. William E. Dick, editor

Flying Saucers by Donald H. Menzel (London, Putnam & Co., 1953 , 319 pp., 21s.) 
 The 'flying saucerscare of 1947 was not the first of its kindbut no previous epidemic of this type of mass hallucination ever spread so far; 1947 provided a proof that modern mass media of communication can spread rumours as fast as they can spread true facts. Another reason for the difference was that in 1947 few scientists gave public utterance to what they knew to be the true facts of the case. In addition, the general public seemed to be rather more gullible in 1947 than on previous occasions; their their smattering of knowledge about aeronautical progress seems to have been associated with an attitude of mind which provided fertile ground for the pseudo-scientific belief in space travel, and even for the remote idea that the saucers were interplanetary space ships. Culmination of the affair was the report — a complete hoax which, however, many found quite plausible — that a wrecked saucer made of some unearthly metal had been found, and that this contained bodies of dwarf astronauts from Venus— described as "midgets wearing 1890 clothes" made of some untearable fabric!
There were, of course, some real flying saucers that gave rise to the fantastic rumours. As the author of this book says, these were as real as rainbows.

Dr. Menzel, astrophysics professor at Harvard, here provides full explanations of the different types of optical tricks which the atmosphere and its contents can play on human eyes and describes the optical phenomena which account for the flying saucers of 1947.  His account of these matters is excellent though he is far more entertaining when he is disposing of the various fanciful interpretations which people gave of those phenomena  He shoots to pieces the American book Behind the Flying Saucers [by Frank Scully] which was serialised in Britain and which did so much to propagate the hoax about the midgets from Venus.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

UFO Case Review presents: the Cash-Landrum Incident, 1980

UFO Case Review has been releasing a series of Youtube videos presenting excellent entry-level mini-documentaries on famous UFO events. Recently the creator discussed covering the Cash-Landrum case, and now it's finished it ready for viewing. As he posted online:

"I'm very proud to be keeping up with my goal of releasing one video every month, and uploading my review of the Cash-Landrum Case of 1980. Big thanks to ufologist Curtis Collins for reviewing my script and ensuring it was as accurate as could be!"
From the video description:
"Too often, the UFO phenomenon is dismissed for its supposed exclusive reliance on eyewitness testimony. However, there are numerous examples of UFO encounters that have left tangible traces of their presence in the physical environment, or on the witnesses themselves. The so-called Cash-Landrum Case of 1980 is a notable example of the latter, having left all three of its witnesses with symptoms of severe radiation poisoning following a late-night encounter with an unidentified object. It is one case, at least, that cannot possibly be dismissed as a fabrication, a misidentification, or a hallucination, and one that points to a possible connection between the UFO phenomenon and the U.S. government."

The video does a very good job of sticking to the original details of the case, and provides just the kind of background needed to draw attention to it and promote further study.

Be sure to check out the videos on other cases and share them with others- a great educational resource: