Friday, July 12, 2019

Ufology's Legacy from Loch Ness



Last year, my friend Claude Falkstrom gave a high recommendation for a book on the Loch Ness Monster. Although it sounded interesting, I took no action, mostly due to feeling that I knew the story already. Recently he virtually forced a copy on me, and I found I’d been wrong. There was more in it new to me than not, and I found the book to be brilliant. As Claude had told me, it also indirectly had much of value pertaining to the study of UFOs. 

The book is A Monstrous Commotion: The Mysteries of Loch Ness by Gareth Williams, 2015. 

The press release for the book provides some biographical data on the author:
“Gareth Williams is Emeritus Professor and former Dean of Medicine at Bristol University. An internationally recognised authority in diabetes and obesity research, he has written 200 scientific papers and authored or edited over 20 medical books…”

With that background, one might fairly expect a scientific evaluation of the evidence, but this is something different, a detailed look at the history of Loch Ness sightings and of the people who pursued the study of the alleged Monster. The book is also heavily illustrated, with pictures of the key figures, maps, and photographs taken by the witnesses.

A Monstrous Commotion's central figure, naturalist Sir Peter Scott,
The Loch Ness Monster story really took off in 1933, getting over a decade’s head start on the flying saucer story, but they are close enough together in time and character to almost be twins when it comes to the matter of pursuing the respective mysteries. Williams shows how the story began in the press, but unlike Kenneth Arnold’s flying saucers, the Loch Ness Monster was slow at the start. Once it emerged, it seemed almost equally contagious, and many other sightings followed the first. Unlike saucers, which could be seen anywhere, the Monster could only be seen  at the Loch. In time, a flood of visitors came to try to catch a glimpse as the legend grew over the decades.

As UFO authors would later do, reporters and investigators dug through historical records for matching reports. Indeed, old reports of mysterious events in the Loch were found, from myths and legends to newspaper stories. Though many of them differed in substantial details, it formed a database of sorts, driven by witness testimony. Some of those witnesses had multiple sightings, “repeaters,” with too much of a good thing. In time, there were a few photographs of varying quality, and a famous one came to be known as “the Surgeon’s Photograph.” It showed the definite form of an animal, taken by a witness, a professional man of unquestionable reputation. 

There were hoaxes, however; phony tracks, monsters and photos, frequent frauds that confused the issue and poisoned the topic in the minds of scientists. The fakes damaged the efforts of those who were pushing for a scientific inquiry. That takes us to another familiar element from ufology we find in the book, the clash between proponents and skeptics. Williams says of the supporters:

“Hoaxers might have taken the Monster’s name in vain, but they had little impact on the rapidly increasing numbers of believers around the world. ”

Regarding the opponents, even in the face of credible witness testimony and quality photographs:

“The vast majority of mainstream zoologists… were still unpersuaded that the Monster was real. They were entrenched in their scepticism, just as the scientific establishment had been since the 1930s. To them, the Monster was not the greatest zoological coup of the century, but a preposterous insult to the intelligence of anyone who understood the basic rules of science.”

Williams’ book is not a dry history, and one of its greatest strengths is making the figures discussed come to life, particularly Sir Peter Scott, the painter and conservationist who was persuaded to become an advocate for the scientific study of the Loch Ness Monster. With Scott’s reputation supporting the effort over the decades, the topic was given an air of respectability.

Illustrations from the book, an alleged photograph and some of the many scientific endeavors.
It was a struggle to have the studies taken seriously, and the scientific establishment seemed fiercely opposed to any effort by the advocates to have the Monster classified as a real animal. As a result, some reputations were damaged. A Monstrous Commotion chronicles at least one scientist who lost his job due to his support of the animal’s reality.

Nessie’s supporters scored several victories in the 1970s, most notably when an underwater photo was taken of the creature’s flipper and placed on the cover of the prestigious Nature magazine. This was an enormous boost for the hypothesis that Nessie was a surviving aquatic dinosaur species, and it encouraged other scientific attempts to investigate.

The book’s finale wraps the story up nicely by revealing some of the parts of the story that were hidden in the early days, the identities of some of the players reporting the news, making sighting claims, and in one instance, taking photographs. In another nice touch, Williams includes a chapter, "The human factor," that tells what became of the key people involved in the story of the Monster. Over the years, not all evidence was presented honestly, and some of the players involved seemed to have covered up some inconvenient facts. In his final chapter, he notes, “Almost all of us want the Monster to exist, whether or not we believe in it.”

William's book provides a perfect case for ufologists to study; to step away from their saucers and to look at how belief and media promotion can give something a mythological life of its own, quite independently of whether or not the underlying subject matter is of substance or not.

A Monstrous Commotion: The Mysteries of Loch Ness by Gareth Williams can be previewed on Google Books, and you’ll find several options there for getting the book in print.



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Documenting Luis Elizondo's Leadership of the Pentagon's UFO Program


When To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science burst on the scene, the feather in it's cap was the revelation that the US government had a secret UFO investigation, and that the program's former director was now a key member in their company, TTSA.

The news was really made by the article in the  New York Times from Dec. 16, 2017, by Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean. Luis Elizondo was presented as the former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). It was revealed that Senator Harry Reid was the architect of AATIP's creation, and it referred to a letter by him that had been presented to journalists to establish the bona fides of AATIP and Elizondo.
By 2009, Mr. Reid decided that the program had made such extraordinary discoveries that he argued for heightened security to protect it. “Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings,” Mr. Reid said in a letter to William Lynn III, a deputy defense secretary at the time, requesting that it be designated a “restricted special access program” limited to a few listed officials.

Senator Reid's letter proposed the establishment of AATIP as a Special Access Program (SAP) with black budget funding. It was dated June 24, 2009, and addressed to "Honorable William Lynn III, Deputy Secretary of Defense." The effort was unsuccessful, and AATIP remained a small, part-time project. As Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell, a UFO and paranormal documentary film journalist, described it, “AATIP was more of an assignment than a program."

George Knapp, KLAS-TV news reporter and TTSA proponent, published a copy of the Reid letter on July 25, 2018, in the article Exclusive: I-Team obtains some key documents related to Pentagon UFO study, however, Knapp redacted some of the players' names, supposedly to protect the identities of the persons involved.



See this article by Keth Basterfield for an examination of the Reid AATIP letter:
The 2009 Senator Reid AATIP letter revisited

Controversy arose after Keith Kloor's scathing June 1, 2019, Intercept article, "The Media Loves This UFO Expert Who Says He Worked for an Obscure Pentagon Program. Did He?" The DoD denied Luis Elizondo's role in AATIP. Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood stated:
 “Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP program while he worked in OUSDI [the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence], up until the time he resigned effective 10/4/2017.”
Elizondo's supporters insisted the Pentagon statement by Sherwood was deceitful or incorrect, and cited the Dec. 16, 2017, Politico story by Bryan Bender that stated:
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed to POLITICO that the program existed and was run by Elizondo. But she could not say how long he was in charge of it and declined to answer detailed questions about the office or its work, citing concerns about the closely held nature of the program.
Bender did not provide a direct quote from White, and she's no longer in that job, therefore in no position to provide clarification. For the record, there was another attempt to verify Elizondo's AATIP role at the time. Sarah Scoles of Wired repeatedly questioned Pentagon spokesperson Audricia Harris about  AATIP matters. From her Feb. 17, 2019 article, “What Is Up With Those Pentagon UFO Videos?”
"WIRED was unable to verify that Elizondo worked on AATIP, but Harris does confirm that he worked for the Defense Department."
Before the flap raised about Elizondo by the Intercept article was started, researcher Roger Glassel was pursuing verification on something different, a sensational AATIP-related story in a tabloid. The May 22, 2019, New York Post, contained partial quotes from a Pentagon spokesperson, and on June 4, Glassel obtained the complete original Pentagon statement it was based on. What Glassel received contained an identical statement about Elizondo from the Pentagon's Christopher Sherwood, showing the NY Post author had the information about the denial of Elizondo's role in AATIP back in May, but omitted any mention of it. At that point, the Pentagon had provided the same statement to at least three journalists, and it contradicted the AATIP leadership claims made by Luis Elizondo.

In response to the controversy, George Knapp put up a photo of a less redacted version of the final page of the Senator Reid letter on Twitter June 4, 2019, stating:
"Lue Elizondo and Hal Puthoff were two recipients of June 2009 AATIP letter from Sen. Reid."

In a follow-up message, he tweeted:
"I will send out a cleaner version in a little bit. This was my own crude handiwork. Redacting the names was a condition from the source of the letter. (Some are still active in govt. Others do not want to be subjected to what Lue. E, is enduring.)"
Later the same day, Knapp tweeted a third redacted version of the list.
"Cleaner version of AATIP letter from Sen. Harry Reid :"  

George Knapp didn't explain the differences in the appearances of the three versions he's shown, but it's clear that his original copy contains more information than he chooses to share. We can see enough in it to indicate that the number of government personnel involved in the working end of AATIP was no more than a handful, eight at the most.

The particular significance of Luis Elizondo's name in the letter is that he's among the people Senator Reid refers to in this passage.:
"Due to the expertise required to carry out the objectives of this program, we will require  a small, specialized group of DoD personnel, who are dedicated to performing the SAP-related functions and executing programmatic requirements within the program. It is essential that the Government & military personnel who are already involved with this program are assigned to further support this program in a Restricted SAP capacity (See Attachment 1). These individuals all currently possess the appropriate security clearances and are already providing unique support to AATIP."
Although the Reid letter is unsourced, it has been referenced by Pentagon spokesperson, so it  appears to be genuine, and seems to indeed establish Elizondo's association with AATIP. However, there's nothing in the letter to indicate his role. The letter is dated June 24, 2009; Elizondo states he was formally named director of AATIP when his predecessor resigned in 2010.

Reporter Bryan Bender of Politico has become involved in the story, and appears in the TTSA mini-series on History, Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation. On June 7, Bender made a statement about AATIP and Elizondo on Twitter:
"This was not an office but a 'program' and then a portfolio among a series of responsibilities he and others had -- first in DIA and then in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. And I have documentation he was in charge of the portfolio."
As of June 13, 2019, no further documentation has been produced by To The Stars or any of its associated promoters to verify provide clarification as to Luis Elizondo's role in AATIP.

If AATIP was comprised only of the handful of people listed in the Reid letter, and it was indeed an assignment or study,  - a side project - rather than a genuine Pentagon program, then, AATIP may not have had a formal director. Whatever the case, despite all the press about AATIP, the journalists driving the story have yet to answer the fundamental questions about it.

. . .

Update (6/14/2019)

Former Senator Harry Reid was interviewed on June 13, 2019 on KNPR’s State of Nevada radio program. The show was titled, Harry Reid: UFOs, The Military And Impeachment.
Part of the conversation covered the UFO topic and Reid’s involvement in the AATIP story. One particular question addressed the controversy surrounding the recent Pentagon statement about Luis Elizondo’s role in AATIP. Reid’s response was only a partial answer. He vouches for Elizondo's character and confirms the previously-established fact that he worked for the Defense Department, but does not specifically mention his role in AATIP.

Here's the transcription of the question and answer:

(At 15:28)
Interviewer: In this History Channel report, the guy who is interviewing people is Luis Elizondo, he was in charge of the Pentagon’s - it was called the AATIP program, that’s an acronym for something, I’m not sure, but it’s basically the program set up with at 22 million dollars, and online now there are people saying he never actually had this Pentagon job of looking into UFO sightings. So, can you verify that he is the guy - Can - Have you met him - Can you verify that he is who he says he is?

(At 15:56)
Reid: Oh, yes - Oh, I’ve talked to Luis on many - several times, met him here in Las Vegas recently. So here’s one thing that - what we have to understand with this: First of all, I believe in science, and that’s what we should be dealing with, but there are some people who wanted for many years to have kind of um, they’re kind of conspiratorial issues, kind of weirdness, and when they are challenged with real science, they don’t like it. So, that’s the problem we have with this. And then you have people who are just coming aboard, and they want to also report, ‘I saw a flying saucer,’ and all this stuff, and some of which is true, most of it, of course, isn’t.
So, I know Elizondo is a real guy. People are out there – a few people are trying to punch holes in what he is saying and what he does, but he was part of the Defense Department, no question about it, and a man of, I think, veracity.

. . .

Update #2 (6/14/2019)

John Greenewald posted a new article at his site The Black Vault:
Pentagon Reinforces Mr. Luis Elizondo Had “No Responsibilities” on AATIP; Senator Harry Reid’s 2009 Memo Changes Nothing

Greenewald contacted Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough to ask her about Luis Elizondo's name being listed in connection with AATIP in the Harry Reid letter. Greenwald reports that Gough replied on June 23, saying:
“I can confirm that the memo you’re referring to is authentic. DOD received it and responded to Sen. Reid,” Ms. Gough said. She then explains that her office is unable to provide The Black Vault a full copy of the response, since the Public Affairs office does not release Congressional correspondence, but she adds, “It makes no change to previous statements. Mr. Elizondo had no assigned responsibilities for AATIP while he was in OUSD(I). DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] administered AATIP, and Elizondo was never assigned to DIA. Elizondo did interact with the DIA office managing the program while the program was still ongoing, but he did not lead it.”
Greenewald also received a comment from Hal Puthoff, former AAWSAP/AATIP contractor, ow a partner in TTSA along with Elizondo, an endorsement of his leadership of the program, which we'll shorten here as:
"I have no problem asserting... Elizondo’s leadership and responsibility for maintaining continuity of the Program..." 

For the full context and other related information, be sure to read the complete article.

With this new statement from yet another Pentagon spokesperson, the denial of Elizondo's role in AATIP can no longer be regarded as merely some kind of an error by Christopher Sherwood. More information is clearly needed, and documentation to back it up.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The US Government’s Cash-Landrum UFO Investigations, Part Two


In part one, we saw how the Cash-Landrum case had been investigated by the US government in 1981 by officials from Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas, in 1982 in by the Department of the Army Inspector General, and in 1983 by the nation’s defense team responding to the UFO-related lawsuit. In the conclusion, we’ll look at the subsequent secret investigation and how it relates to other agencies that may be covertly studying UFOs today.


ATP, The Advanced Theoretical Physics Working Group

John B. Alexander has had a long involvement in the UFO and paranormal, and participated in the DAIG investigation mentioned earlier. Dr. Alexander’s publisher notes his lengthy interest and research into exotic studies: “life after death, mind over matter, UFOs, remote viewing, telepathic communications with animals, and more…” Chiefly known for his work in non-lethal weapons research, Alexander retired from the US Army in 1988 as a colonel, and along the way earned his Ph.D. in Thanatology at Walden University in 1980.

Dr. Alexander developed a network of friends and associates with similar interests, many of whom were also in the military, doing contract work for the government, the Intelligence Community, or professionals in private industry. One of those friends was Dr. Paul E. Tyler (1930 - 2013), a Captain in the US Navy, and medical consultant on the government’s remote viewing program. This circle of associates was valuable when Alexander put together the Advanced Theoretical Physics Working Group. The primary purpose of the group was to determine if there was a hidden UFO government agency, but their findings were negative. The team also studied a few UFOs cases, and the Cash Landrum incident was one of particular interest. 

Dr. Harold E. Puthoff was a key member of ATP, and he kept his colleague Jacques Vallee informed of the group’s activities. Vallee’s journals record several entries on ATP, which he called "the Secret Onion." From Forbidden Science - Volume III (2016), by Jacques Vallee:
Hyde Street. Wednesday 24 July 1985. (page 199)
"Hal (Puthoff) and I had a lot to talk about… There was a meeting on frontier subjects in Washington recently. When Hal arrived he discovered the topic was UFOs, and the overall project was structured in multiple layers, like an onion. The meeting was classified above top secret, under a codeword. Fifteen attendees reviewed cases like Kirtland AFB, Cash-Landrum and Tehran. They included Howell McConnell and John Tyler. Kit (Green) had been invited but couldn't attend.
Two aspects of the meeting were ironic, Hal said. First, attendees were there because they ran programs that were impacted by unidentified signals but they were not necessarily interested in the UFO phenomenon itself.
Second irony: they came to the conclusion there must be a secret UFO project, somewhere else!"
ATP members included Ed Dames, Jack Houck, Bob Wood, Hal Puthoff and John Alexander.
Vallee provided a more detailed description of Alexander’s ATP in the endnotes:
"Notes and References" section for Part Eleven: Dark Science (pages 480-481)
"It has become known that the key meetings took place under DoE supervision on May 20-25, 1985 in the secure facility of the BDM Corporation in McLean, Virginia. The group called itself the 'Advanced Theoretical Physics Conference' or ATP. Alleged participants were Samuel Finch, Oke Shannon and John Kink of Los Alamos National Laboratory; Bill Wilkinson from CIA; Howell McConnell from NSA (whom I had met in October 1972); Hal Puthoff and Jack Houck; Ed Speakman of INSCOM (Army Intelligence); Bill Souder and Bob Wood of McDonnell Douglas; Jake Stewart of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Bert Stubblebine of BDM; Ron Blackburn, Milt Janzen and Don Keuble of Lockheed; Ralph Freeman, Gary Bright, radiologist Paul Tyler, Ed Dames and Lt. Col. Mike Neery. Ron Pandolfi of CIA also claims to have been involved."
In Jacques Vallee’s entries on the ATP over the years, it is clear that the project never received funding or became an official government program. Dr. Kit Green “"refused to take part in the meetings as long as no budget had been allocated to give it an official status.” (Forbidden Science Volume III, 18 May 1986. P. 243)

John Alexander described ATP in June 2018, EdgeScience #34, "The Department of Defense and UFOs Redux," comparing his 1980s group with the AATIP effort from 2007:
"(AATIP) was just another in a series… of inadequate efforts to investigate one of the most perplexing issues to ever confront humanity… from 1984 through 1988, long before Senator Harry Reid was able to earmark funding for the DIA project, I ran a similar, albeit unfunded, effort... the name we employed for this project was Advanced Theoretical Physics (ATP)."
Dr. Alexander briefly discussed the group’s interest in the C-L incident:
"One disturbing case ATP looked into became known as Cash-Landrum, named for the victims, two women and a boy, who were inexplicably exposed to high levels of radiation. The source was an unidentified craft that appeared to be in trouble above a desolate country road just north of Houston. We explored the Cash-Landrum case in depth because of lawsuits initiated against the U.S. Government under the assumption that the incident was caused by an experimental craft of ours that had caused the serious injuries. The case was later dismissed."
We have no record of the extent of the ATP’s study of the Cash-Landrum case, but we can get a hint of it by reading the comments on it by Dr. Alexander and his colleague, Dr. Paul Tyler. 

In a 1993 lecture at MUFON’s Albuquerque, New Mexico, group, Dr. Tyler discussed his work with the ATP. The NM MUFON News # 12 (Jan. 1994) featured an article summarizing his talk: 
Dr. Tyler was a consultant for the CIA and other agencies. “There were always people who were unofficially interested in UFOs... Was someone really looking at this? No one knew.”Dr. Tyler has a degree in radiology and was head of Aerospace Medicine for the Bureau of Medicine Surgery. He ran the program on electromagnetic radiation. He personally investigated the Cash-Landrum case in which UFO witnesses were burned by some kind of radiation. He studied the hospital records and concluded that it wasn't microwaves but had to be some sort of ionizing radiation. What was it? “Nothing that we have or had at the time.” Also, the reported helicopters didn't “fit into the military pattern.” There were not enough helicopters in Houston at the time nor people there to pilot them (it was Christmas week) -­ it wasn't a military operation. How does Dr. Tyler explain this case? “UFOs can do things we can't. Maybe they use holograms. If they want to confuse us they could put holograms into systems that we have.”
Dr. Tyler’s conclusions on the Cash-Landrum incident were in sync with what Alexander presented in UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities, where he said it was “a very solid case, in which the observations and facts just don't make sense or support any prosaic hypothesis.” Alexander also speculated the helicopters were not physical, in a discussion of his precognitive sentient phenomena hypothesis, or PSP:
“One possibility would be that the UFO could employ holographic technology to create the UFOs. Another alternative is that the UFO was able to project that imagery directly into the brains of the observers, thus actually manipulating their perception of reality. It is interesting to note that the phenomenon would allow substantial physical injuries to the observers. Based on this case, and a number of others in which physical injuries have occurred, the PSP must not be mistaken as benign.”
Dr. Alexander’s ATP dissolved in 1988 after finding that no agency wanted to fund the project as an official government project. However, that didn’t exactly mean the end, as Alexander and many of the members remained interested in the UFO topic and moved on to other things.  


Dr. Alexander and Dr. Hal Puthoff went to become a player in Robert Bigelow’s National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS). In 2004, NIDS was closed, but later replaced by Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), with Puthoff and some of the team remaining. In 2007, AATIP contracted BAASS, with Puthoff directing the scientific studies. In 2018 Puthoff and Colm Kelleher of BAASS went on to join Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy (TTSA). 


The CIA? Remote Viewing, 1988


Before ATP, Dr. Hal Puthoff was one of the original SRI (Stanford Research Institute) team members and creators of the Remote Viewing program, which takes us to a final bit of trivia. The Cash-Landrum case was the subject of a remote viewing exercise documented in CIA files. In his article, Remote Viewing & UFOs at ATS, researcher Isaac Koi noted:  
As some of you know, the CIA released over 92,000 pages of material relating to "Star Gate" (and various other official remote viewing projects in the USA, such as "Gondola wish", "Grill flame", "Center Lane" and "Sun Streak") in around 2004… it should of course be recognised that most of the documents in the Stargate archive do not relate to UFOs.  
However, a few did, and one of the remote viewing documents recorded a session on 26 January 1988 looking into the “"Cash-Landrum Object,” where the remote viewer was “GP,” Gabrielle Pettingell, and the interviewer was “ED,” Ed Dames, who was part of Alexander’s ATP.

Link to Isaac Koi’s description of the Cash-Landrum Object session:
Remote Viewing & UFOs: Section F2: Cash-Landrum sighting

Link to complete 16-page session file:


Peeling the Onion


The “Secret Onion” nickname used by Jacques Vallee for ATP referred to the metaphor “peeling the onion,” which means getting a deeper understanding of something by examining it layer by layer. The irony is that the only thing behind the layers is more onion. John Alexander’s ATP group found no evidence that there was still a secret UFO investigation. His colleague Dr. Paul Tyler revealed in his 1993 Albuquerque, NM, lecture that the ATP searched, but, "In every agency, I ran into people interested in UFOs. But it wasn't their job and there was no money to look into it, so tidbits got filed into personal file cabinets!"

The government was not interested in fielding reports from civilians, just in sightings that could be military or national security matters. They shut down Blue Book, and what seems to have happened since is that any UFO incidents have been handled by the agency involved, from NORAD to the CIA. Whatever the US government may be doing in regards to UFOs, they are not interested in duplicating the public relations disaster problem of the Air Force’s Project Blue Book. 

The Cash-Landrum UFO case is unique in that it has involved the US government at several levels, from Congressmen to the Federal Court, and official investigations by two military branches, as well as an informal study involving the Intelligence Community. Unfortunately, the investigations shed no light on UFOs, but there’s much that can be learned about the Government’s response to the case. It harkens back to the early days of confusion about flying saucer sightings. The military branches assumed the UFOs were something real, and were asking each other, “"It wasn’t us, but is this something you guys are up to?”
. . .


For further reading on the ATP UFO study, see the collection of information at Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - scientific research by Keith Basterfield, where he's interlaced data from sources such as John Alexander’s UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities and Jacques Vallee’s Forbidden Science Volume III, Jacques Vallee and the 'Secret Onion'.


The US Government’s Cash-Landrum UFO Investigations



The 2017 disclosure of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP)  renewed interest in the US government’s post-Project Blue Book investigations of UFOs. The Cash-Landrum incident of December 29, 1980, occurred about ten years after the Air Force study of UFOs came to an official close. Documents prove that there was an official interest in the Cash-Landrum case, so it provides a perfect subject to use in a search for evidence of further UFO investigations by government agencies. 

There were several known official inquiries into the Cash-Landrum case, from the local level to the federal government. Some are well-known, while there are others that are virtually unheard of. We’ll look at them all, and provide sources for further information.


Local Police… NASA?

The Cash-Landrum case was not reported promptly, but when Vickie Landrum did notify the local law a month later, but they did not investigate; Chief Waring referred her to NUFORC, the National UFO Reporting Center. After Vickie called NUFORC, the case was passed on to UFO groups, which eventually led to its investigation almost three months after the incident. For those needing a recap of the Cash-Landrum encounter, see Vickie Landrum's Phone Call to Report a UFO Encounter: The Call that Started it All

The UFO investigation was led by John F. Schuessler, an employee of McDonnell Douglas, a contractor working on the Space Shuttle project at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Schuessler was deputy director of the Mutual UFO Network, and also ran Project VISIT, his own elite organization of UFO hobbyists. Some of the people they interviewed for the C-L case were under the impression that NASA was investigating the sighting, due to the way the group introduced themselves. Project VISIT’s UFO Hotline cards stated they were “composed of NASA Aerospace Engineers.” Many people heard “NASA,” but ignored the part about them being a civilian and unofficial organization.
See Project VISIT takes a case for further details on Schuessler’s organization. 


Bergstrom AFB Inquiry, Aug. 1981


Betty Cash wrote to Texas senators, Lloyd Bentsen and John Tower describing her sighting and asking for help. The replies she received suggested that she go to the nearest Air Force base to file a damage claims form for her complaint of injuries related to the UFO incident. As a result, on August 17, 1981, Betty Cash, Vickie and Colby Landrum traveled to Bergstrom Air Force Base near Austin, Texas. They were interviewed by Captain John Camp, Acting Staff Judge Advocate, Captain Terry Davis, Claims Officer, and Miss Pat Wolfe, Assistant Claims Officer. The interview provides the best publicly available testimony directly from the witnesses, the closest we have to them being interrogated as if in a courtroom. The meeting was taped, and later transcribed. For more details on Bergstrom interview, see From their own lips: Betty, Colby & Vickie tell their stor

Captain John Camp told them that since Project Blue Book was defunct, there wasn’t much they could do for them. He said:
"My intentions are to hear what you had to say this morning and to try to get it into an agency of the Air Force or portion of the Air Force that could help you. I must be frank with you and tell you that I know of no such part of the Air Force that today investigates these complaints, but on your behalf, I will forward it on... we're an agency that has not investigated UFO sightings in almost eleven years. And then we were, in effect, told by the Congress and the President that we would not be doing that anymore."
Capt. Camp gave the witnesses their damage claim forms and suggested they get legal counsel. There was a brief Air Force investigation, but it was conducted by Camp and Captain Davison themselves following up on the interview. Their associate, Captain James H. Marburger wrote a report dated Aug. 20, 1981, with negative findings: 
"The sighting occurred approximately 13 miles from (Houston Intercontinental) airport… surveillance radar from the airport  would most likely have ‘seen’ the helicopters operating in the UFO sighting  area… the area would be easily observed by pilots arriving or departing... pilots would have seen and reported the incident since it lasted 15 to 20 minutes, and since the 9PM time of the UFO sighting is a fairly heavy commercial airline traffic period."
There were no such reports; nothing on radar, no sighting from pilots, from personnel in the air traffic control tower, or anyone else. The investigation found nothing to confirm the UFO report by Cash and the Landrums, but gathered and filed the information for Air Force files, and later shared with the Army.


Journalist Billy Cox submitted a FOIA on the resulting Cash-Landrum records, and on Aug. 22, 1983 it produced a lengthy file on documents relating both to the Bergstrom AFB visit and investigation (and the Army’s DAIG report which will be discussed below). The contents of that file show a different picture of the military’s involvement with the case than is typically portrayed in UFO literature. Instead of a cover-up, there were numerous instances of government officials expressing interest in the case, and of military personnel cooperating and sharing information. The case documents are found in pages 46 - 81 in the linked PDF below:  


The Texas Department of Health, Sept. 1981


During the trip to Bergstrom AFB, Cash and the Landrums made another stop that led to a government investigation at the state level. The Texas Department of Health assigned their Radiation Control Board after Vickie Landrum visited the office of Representative Larry Browder. Browder ordered an investigation of the event and incident location, and Charles Russ Meyer headed the investigation. On Sept. 16, 1981 Meyer examined the roadway, took soil samples, and the subsequent laboratory analysis showed no residual traces of radiation. They did, however, extend an offer to have TDH doctors examine the witnesses and their medical records, an offer that was not accepted. The TDH files record no further contact, but they did continue to collect some subsequent news clippings about the case.

For further details and the The Texas Department of Health documents, see:


DAIG Investigation, March - May 1982


The Army’s inquiry has been previously discussed on BBL in John B. Alexander on the DAIG Investigation of the Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, but we’ll provide a brief recap.

As a result of the media attention given the case (the TV episode of That’s Incredible! in particular), Representative Ron Wyden from Oregon asked for an investigation into the US government’s alleged role in the C-L incident. Virginia Lampley was given the task at the Air Force, but after determining the helicopters in question were used primarily by another branch of military service, the job was passed on to the Department of the Army Inspector General (DAIG). Lt. Col. George Sarran was given the job, and his specific mission was to determine whether Army helicopters were involved in the incident, not investigate the UFO report. However, to prepare for his investigation, Sarran contacted several ufologists, John F. Schuessler, the primary investigator, his former colleague Capt. Richard C. Niemtzow, M.D., USAF, and Dr. Peter Rank, Radiologist.

John B. Alexander was not named in any of Sarran’s documents, but in his 2011 book, UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities, Alexander described how he and his friend Dr. Paul Tyler were part of the investigation:
"George visited all the units that had similar helicopters... even checked with the U.S. Marine Corps... Being thorough, George made connections with the helicopter fleets of the oil companies that fly crews to the offshore rigs. The bottom line is that no helicopters could be located that could have been involved that evening.
George carried the investigation a step further asking for consultation from me, and two military medical doctors, U.S. Navy Captain Paul Tyler and Air Force Major Richard Niemtzow, both of whom specialized in radiation. Paul and I had worked together for several years in my interagency projects at INSCOM while Richard had prior experience with French UFO cases. Based on the physical evidence available, our conclusion was that the victims were telling the truth and had been exposed to high levels of radiation. However, this case simply defied any conventional explanation."
When I asked Dr. Alexander about the case in a 2013 email, he explained the problems with ionizing radiation from earthly technology as the cause of Betty Cash’s reported injuries, saying that such an exposure would have been lethal:   
“As far as I know, we had nothing that would produce the kind of radiation illness that followed.  My view was that given speed of onset and severity of symptoms, they should have been at LD 100 (at least the two women) from any radiation source that we had.”
Lt. Col. George Sarran’s mission was to investigate the helicopters, not the UFO, but he had taken an interest in it. He found no answers, but of the witnesses, Sarran’s report stated:
 “Ms. Landrum and Ms. Cash were credible. The DAIG investigator felt...,” but the following three and a half lines of his statement were redacted in the copy released by FOIA. A year later, Sarran was interviewed by Billy Cox for the Florida newspaper, Today December 6, 1983, and gave a statement that was probably very close to those redacted lines:
“I have no reason to believe that Vickie or the young man (Colby) or the policeman or John Schuessler or anybody else was lying to me. I didn’t get that impression from anybody or that they were crazy or mentally off balance or something.” 
Lt. Col. Sarran conducted a thorough investigation, and his DAIG report concluded that there was no involvement in the incident by any helicopters; not from any US military branch, government agency, or anyone else.


The Lawsuit Investigations, 1983 - 1984


The original legal move in the Cash-Landrum case was for a damage complaint filed in Dec. 1982 against the Air Force. They were seeking $10,000,000 for Betty Cash, $5,000,000 each for Colby and Vickie Landrum. As a result, there was some kind of investigation by the US government by the Air Force in its defense, but we don’t have the records to indicate the scope of their inquiry. 

The case was rejected, but the attorney Peter Gersten file an appeal. The response come on September 2, 1983, from Charles M. Stewart, Colonel, USAF, Director of Civil Law, Office of the Advocate General in Washington D.C.  The claim for damages was again rejected, and 
Col. Stewart stated, "Our investigation has revealed no evidence of involvement by any military personnel, equipment or aircraft in this alleged incident."

When a civil suit was attempted instead, there was apparently another the inquiry or investigation by the government. All we know is that in 1984 it produced statements from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and also the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The legal documents contain signed statements from each of these officials:
  • Colonel William E. Krebbs, USAF, Chief, Tactical Aeronautical Systems Division, DSC Systems, Air Force Systems Command.
  • Richard L. Ballard, Acting Chief, Aviation Systems Division, ODCSRDA (Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition), United States Army.
  • Vice Admiral Robert F. Schoultz, United States Navy.
  • Robert W. Sommer, Deputy Director Aircraft Management Office, NASA.

The statements indicated that each agency had no aircraft that resembled the description of the UFO. Maybe there’s some undiscovered documentation on the investigation. Each of these agencies may have some scrap of paper in relation to the C-L case, probably a request for the statements, but little else. The legal battle ended when the court case was dismissed for the final time in 1986.

We now know that members of some of the agencies denying knowledge of the Cash-Landrum event had members in a secret organization that was unofficially studying it and other UFO cases.

In part two, we conclude with the Cash-Landrum investigations by the Advanced Theoretical Physics Working Group, and how it relates to other UFO organizations and to the Pentagon’s AATIP.

Continue reading at:

The US Government’s Cash-Landrum UFO Investigations, Part Two


Friday, February 8, 2019

Philip Klass on the Cash-Landrum UFO case


Philip J. Klass (1919 – 2005) needs no introduction to most buffs, as he was the most prominent debunker of the UFO topic. Klass was an engineer by profession who went on to become the senior avionics editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. In the mid-1960s Klass became interested in UFOs from a skeptical point of view, and in 1976 was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, known today as CSI, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Klass became actively involved in the UFO topic, he attended conferences, was frequently quoted in the media, and wrote seven books on the subject. However he thought ufology was mostly filled with the gullible and frauds, promoters of pseudoscience.

In the early 1980s, the Cash-Landrum story was the biggest UFO case, so naturally it caught the interest of Klass. The American Philosophical Society was the beneficiary of Klass' files and it includes over 200 pages of his correspondence and news clippings and on the case. Klass wrote to investigator John F. Schuessler who considered the inquiries to be accusations, allegations, and harassment, so he seldom responded. However, the documentation shows Klass asked logical questions, no more invasive than if the case had been taken to court, just as Schuessler and the witnesses desired. Klass had a more mutually cordial relationship with other people involved, such as Lt. Col. George C. Sarran, who conducted the investigation for the DAIG and Peter A. Gersten, the "UFO Lawyer" in charge of the legal case for Cash and the Landrums.

Klass briefly discussed the Cash-Landrum case in his 1983 book, UFOs: The Public Deceived. He quoted how the editor of the MUFON Journal who had stated that “As a general principle, the more sensational the content of a UFO report is, the closer critical scrutiny it should receive.” Klass did not think that principle had been applied in this incident, and that John Schuessler’s investigation and MUFON’s reporting of it were derelict in not considering the possibility of it being a hoax:
The distinguishing feature of the Cash-Landrum case was the alleged physical after-effects, which should prompt a UFO investigator to begin by talking to the family physicians of the principals to determine if they had shown any of the symptoms... prior to the alleged incident... Although Schuessler has written several articles on the case over a two-year period, he has never included any details on the health of the two women prior to the alleged incident.
Klass was more direct about his opinion of the case in the 1985 HBO documentary, UFOs: What’s Going On?:

"I believe the story is a hoax. There is absolutely no evidence. The women’s story is supported only by the claim of Betty Cash that she had serious health problems after the alleged incident."

Shortly after the show aired, Christian Lambright interviewed witness Vickie Landrum at her home in Dayton Texas. She offered a rebuttal, "Phil Klass makes me sick."

A Conversation With Philip J. Klass

Klass continued to express his doubts about the case over the years. The following is the Cash-Landrum portion of a 1995 interview with him by Gayle Newsom. The AFU (Archives for the Unexplained) hosts the online collection of Houston Sky, “A Bimonthly Newsletter for Houston-Area MUFON Members and Others.” The entire interview can be found in Houston Sky No. 6, Aug./Sept. 1995.

Houston Sky No. 6, Aug./Sept. 1995


































A Conversation With Philip J. Klass
Mutual UFO Network 26th Annual Symposium, Seattle, July 7 and 8, 1995 
by Gayle Nesom

GN: What do you think happened in the Cash-Landrum incident?

PK: Well, shortly after it happened, I wrote John Schuessler to ask when we could see a statement of the ladies’ doctors about their medical conditions before the incident. His response was, "Read my next MUFON paper." When the next MUFON paper came out, there was nothing about their previous health conditions. So I wrote him again, and then he replied that they considered that very personal and an invasion of privacy. I said, wait a minute... If their health was excellent before and they are willing to discuss their ill health now... If it had been the reverse and you said, well, here is a report on their health condition before, which shows they were in perfect health for their age, but it's an invasion of privacy to ask about their health now - that I could understand. So until such time as John Schuessler and the people involved agree to release the medical records of their condition before the incident, I just can't waste time with it. That's my position.

GN: But that's skirting the issue.

PK: Supposing I was to charge that after this interview with you I came down with AIDS, or excess cholesterol, and sued you. Would your lawyer ask to see my medical records before our meeting to find out if I had high cholesterol or AIDS previously? Wouldn't that be rational?

GN: I still think you are skirting the issue because you can discuss aspects of the case without knowing all about these women. And they weren't the only ones who saw the object. There were other reports...

PK: I even saw the UFO from Washington, D.C. I was out that night, and I could see it way down in Texas.

GN: Okay, next question.

PK: No, that is a fundamental. If their health condition was excellent, then there is absolutely no reason I can see not to release the records. But, number two: 15 years have gone by. If these ladies were irradiated, I would presume they died of leukemia long ago. Are they still alive?

GN: They are, but neither one has worked since. And Betty Cash has had breast and skin cancer.

PK: Betty Cash had complained about hair falling out. If she had taken chemotherapy before the incident, that could well be explained.

GN: What you're saying is that she may have had chemotherapy a month or week before the incident - or six months before? One of the problems I have is that you try to undermine witnesses without addressing other aspects of the case.

PK: Let me ask a personal question. Have you ever told a lie in your entire life?

GN: Sure.

PK: Do you know anyone who could honestly say they have never told a lie?

GN: Probably not.

PK: So how can you explain that Richard Nixon did not know anything about the Watergate break-in and the Republican involvement until a year afterward? At least, that's what he first said. Now, if you had asked me to explain how the President could not know - well it turned out he was not telling the truth. So, anyone who believes that human beings never­ - or almost never - tell falsehoods... But let's come back to the 22 helicopters. Under those circumstances, if the story of the incident happened as they described, I would very much doubt that anyone would take the time to count the number of the copters. Number two and I am a bit foggy on details - it has been 15 years but in one of their early appearances, Betty Cash or Vickie Landrum reported seeing Jesus Christ.*

GN: Betty Cash was a fundamentalist Christian. That was her only explanation of what it could have been.

PK: Was that what she said she saw, or not?

GN: That's the way she perceived it, and that's what she reported.

PK: So maybe Jesus was flying a flying saucer. Are you going to start saying, "Well, we've got to interpret, we've got to change what they said? so, if these people were irradiated from 10,000 yards, then the crew of the helicopters must have died of radiation long ago. They were much closer. And if 22 helicopters, each with a pilot and co-pilot - to say nothing of other crew - if four people from a helicopter squadron all died, surely we'd have heard of it.

I don't dismiss the possibility that there is intelligent life elsewhere and that they may have nuclear bombs. But if this is true and the government knows, then as of 1980, I would have expected all-out government effort to develop defenses against UFOs, especially in the form of some high-energy lasers. But I know from having followed such programs that there was no such effort. I can only assume that if this was an extraterrestrial nuclear weapon and if the government knew, then we have many, many derelict officials of that government and every government.

(End of excerpt.)
. . .

Vickie & Colby Landrum in a re-enactment, The UFO Experience, 1983 
*Phil Klass was wrong about Betty or Vickie "seeing Jesus Christ." The witnesses claimed they thought they were experiencing the Biblical Judgment Day. What Vickie Landrum actually reported was that when comforting young Colby, who was frightened by the UFO, "I got back in the car and took him in my arms. I told him it might be Jesus coming after us. If he saw a Man not to be afraid, He would be coming to carry us to a better place."

There were no claims of an actual Jesus sighting, and at no time did the ladies characterize the object as a "flying saucer." According to their story, once they saw the helicopters pursuing the UFO, they rationalized the object as a military aircraft project. Aside from that, the rest of Klass' concerns and criticism of the Cash-Landrum case remains valid.

There was certainly a lack of transparency in the Cash-Landrum case, and part of that was explained by Schuessler as the need to guard evidence that would be presented in the legal trial. The case was dismissed in 1986 due to lack of evidence and no trial was ever held. Even after that the case information was withheld from independent review, which has done much to preserve the mystery and controversy surrounding the case.
. . .

For more information on the incident, the investigation and its documentation, visit our page:

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Cash-Landrum-McDonald UFO Incident of 1980



The Cash-Landrum case of December 29, 1980 is one of the best-known UFO stories, 
made famous in the media for the alleged radiation injuries to witnesses Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and her grandson Colby. Shortly after the story became public, another UFO witness from that night came forward, but his testimony has been largely ignored. Jerry McDonald of Dayton, Texas, witnessed a low-flying triangle-shaped object, but earlier the same evening and miles away. All these years later, Jerry feels his story has not been told, so he contacted BBL to share his experience and his thoughts on the UFO’s origin. 

Before hearing his modern perspective, let’s first examine how his story surfaced in 1981.

The Original Interview

John Schuessler, then the deputy director of the Mutual UFO Network, also ran a Houston-area group, Project VISIT (for Vehicle Internal Systems Investigative Team), which began investigating the Cash-Landrum case Feb. 21, 1981 after getting a call from Betty Cash, then by visiting the sighting location a week later with Vickie and Colby Landrum.

Other than getting the witnesses’ story, the VISIT investigation produced nothing, so they turned to the power of the media. John Schuessler’s memo of March 20, 1981 states:
“Metro News Service carried a plea for witnesses to come forth. Jerry heard the plea on KIKK radio.” That was Jerry McDonald, and on March 23, David Kissinger of VISIT went to Dayton to interview him.

Jerry was an oil field worker, 23 years old at the time, and lived in Dayton in a house trailer with his wife Glenda and their baby girl. It was early Monday night, and Jerry was outside repairing the water line when he heard a rumbling noise. He looked up, maybe expecting to see the Goodyear blimp, but instead saw a strange triangular object flying above the 40-foot tall trees nearby. Jerry described and sketched the object as triangular, flying point first, the opposite side with white and blue lights near the corners, and two flaring lights that looked like the flame of an acetylene torch near the middle. In the center of the triangle, it had a brilliant red light. Jerry watched it for two or three minutes, estimating its size as 40 feet wide, its altitude at 130 feet, and it’s speed as 3 miles per hour.    
Drawing by Kissinger based on McDonalds's report.
Two days later, Jerry came down with the flu. Glenda hadn’t gone outside to see it, but she got sick too, but not their daughter. Two weeks later, on Feb. 14, Jerry was hospitalized for an air pocket in his lung which was treated by medication. An interesting detail surfaced during the interview. Glenda McDonald had also seen a UFO - two of them, but much later on the night of Feb. 14, and hers were a bit smaller, kite-shaped with lights at each corner. Kissinger closed his report by suggesting that they advertise on radio and TV to find other witnesses, and to notify the authorities about the public health hazard from the UFO. 

The problems making Jerry McDonald’s UFO with the Cash-Landrum case are numerous. He wasn’t able to pinpoint the time of his sighting, initially saying between 8 and 9 p.m., then between 7 and 8 p.m. to VISIT investigators. The Cash-Landrum sighting time is estimated at shortly after 9 p.m., so if the earlier time is correct, that’s a long while for a UFO to be prowling the Texas skies between Dayton and New Caney. Jerry reported the noise of  the UFO as a rumble that got made him look up, whereas Vickie Landrum described her object producing a roar like a hurricane. The most notable feature to Jerry was the lights on the UFO, particularly the single bright red on at its center, but Betty and Vickie described the object they saw as blindingly brilliant with no discernible features. Another big difference was the shape. Jerry’s UFO was a triangular flat wing about 40 ft wide, the Cash-Landrum object said to be a huge diamond-shaped object, more like a football shooting flame from the bottom pointed end. It’s difficult to believe they were describing the same object, but they were both UFOs, and that’s close enough for flying saucer science. 

In an undated follow-up, VISIT attempted to reconcile the different characteristics in the three UFO sightings described by Vickie and Colby Landrum, Jerry, and in his wife’s Feb. sighting. The letter included several pictures, suggesting the Jerry’s triangular pyramid UFO had really been a diamond-shaped craft viewed from below. 
The descriptions of the various witnesses have been reviewed. One of the possible configurations that fits all descriptions is given below. Please provide discussion of why and why it does not fit the object you saw.
VISIT sketch: "possible configurations"
 In other words, the investigators were trying to shape the testimony to fit the hypothesis that the UFO from all three sightings were the same object. The documents related to the McDonald interview are collected in a pdf: Project VISIT file on Jerry McDonald

Jerry’s sighting, along with Glenda’s and any other allegedly related UFO reports, were not given individual case files by VISIT or MUFON, just included within the Cash-Landrum material. Comparing that to a police investigation, it’s like dropping every crime in a city into a single folder and hoping for one solution for everything. Glenda’s sighting was completely dropped, but Jerry’s sometimes appeared in UFO literature, but just in an attempt to corroborate the original Cash-Landrum case. That's caused the McDonald sighting to be ignored, and missed by researchers investigating "black triangle" UFOs.

The Original Media Coverage

The most accurate reporting of Jerry’s sighting was the earliest one published, in The Houston Chronicle, p.1A., Sept 25, 1981, “State, private agencies probing claims of UFO encounter” by Cindy Horswell.

Jerry McDonald, 24, an oilfield roughneck, also witnessed something strange that night from his home in Dayton. “I heard a sound like a rumble, and I thought it was the Goodyear  blimp,” he said. “It was kind of triangular or diamond-shaped and had two twin torches that were shooting brilliant blue flames out of the back.” He said it also had two bright lights on it and a red light in the center as it  passed about 150 feet above him.”
In The Unexplained: Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time,  vol 9, Issue 107, 1982,
Orbis Publishing Limited (UK), “Blind Terror in Texas,” John Schuessler edited Jerry’s quote to remove the “triangular” description:
Oilfield laborer Jerry McDonald was in his back garden in Dayton when he witnessed a huge UFO flying overhead. At first he thought it was the Goodyear airship, but he quickly realized it was some unidentified object. "It was kind of diamond-shaped and had two twin torches that were shooting brilliant blue flames out the back", he said. 
It took The X-Files in the 1990s to get the media interested in UFOs again. “UFO Sightings” by Marty Racine was the cover story for the Houston Chronicle’s Texas Magazine, Nov. 11, 1996. It featured coverage of the Cash-Landrum case, including an interview with Jerry McDonald about his sighting, and printed his sketch of the triangle-shaped UFO.  
Fort the entire excerpt covering the Cash-Landrum story, see:
Houston Chronicle’s Texas Magazine, Nov. 11, 1996
The same evening about 15 miles away in Dayton, Jerry McDonald, an oilfield roughneck, was fixing a water main outside his trailer when a huge black triangular craft sporting a brilliant red light and belching twin flames passed 130 feet overhead."It was there, buddy, it was there. Blew my mind, it was going so low and slow. This was no blimp. This was something out of this world. I saw something that scared the death out of me."
Later in the article, it presented Jerry’s thoughts on the origin of the object:
McDonald now thinks his UFO was a Stealth Bomber, which was developed in the late '70s. ‘I think (the military) just got caught with their pants down."

In John Schuessler’s 1998 book, The Cash-Landrum Incident, the appendix includes copies of Kissinger’s interviews of the McDonalds, and on page 78 he gives a summary of Jerry’s sighting, portraying it as a closer match the C-L UFO. 
Jerry McDonald was working in his yard between 7 and 9 p.m. when he saw an object as large as the Goodyear blimp overhead... It continued on over the vacant football field and out of sight to the west, in the direction of Huffman.

The Cash-Landrum case was examined in UFO Hunters “Alien Fallout” episode from Jan. 14, 2009. It featured a short interview with Jerry McDonald and showed him making a sketch of the object he'd seen, a clip just intended to show that someone else had seen a UFO.

Jerry McDonald Speaks Out

Those brief appearances are about the extent of the coverage of Jerry’s sighting in the media, but 
Dec. 8, 2016, BBL published the piece, Cash-Landrum UFO Case Updates: Witness Reports,” which closed with a call for new witnesses to come forward. That evening I received an email:
My name is Jerry McDonald I am the silent witness that has was not named in the lawsuit... I believe I know what I saw that night now, and I need to tell somebody.
When I called Jerry, he said that he was the “silent witness” of the lawsuit, that he had been asked to be part of it but declined, otherwise it would have been known as the Cash-Landrum-McDonald case. He said at the time he was young and a bit scared - unwilling to miss work to testify - and afraid of reprisals by the government. Jerry said Dayton Dayton police detective Lamar Walker, whom he described as a good friend, was someone who the attorney had intended to call as a witness. He mentioned that Walker had seen the helicopters, but not the UFO, which was just the opposite of Jerry’s sighting. Jerry said the lawsuit was thrown out due to lack of evidence, which is accurate. 

In reviewing his sighting, McDonald described the location, saying that there's now a Walgreen’s where his trailer was located in 1980. When he was filmed for the UFO Hunters segment, they went to an adjacent property to represent the location. He pointed out that UFO literature is in error when they say he was out in his “garden.” Instead, he was outside at the time to repair a broken PVC water pipe to his trailer, and was covered in mud. McDonald described his UFO sighting, saying that the object was triangular, about 100 - 150 feet in the air and it sounded like a blimp and he imitated the sound that it made, a humming or rumbling noise. He mentioned how the Goodyear Blimp was frequently seen at Christmastime, and that they had Santa Claus’ sled and the reindeers displayed on the side (animated by its lights). His description of the experience was consistent with his original testimony, but I tried to get a sense of the kind of impression it made on him. When I asked him about its size, he said that it was not all that big, and that it was flying low and slow (so low, he said he could have shot it down.) 

Two of examples McDonald sent of UAVs resembling his UFO. 
The main reason McDonald wanted to reach me was to  express his present day thoughts on the origin of the UFO. He has come to believe that what he witnessed was an early flight test of an unmanned aerial vehicle being test flown in Texas. He told me he had found a picture online, a Lockheed Martin UAV on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, a triangular-shaped drone that resembled the object that he had seen in 1980.  “This is a prototype of unmanned drones that you will never find - the government has covered this paperwork up because of the lawsuit. These ladies are dead of their injuries and never got compensated for it, and I know exactly what I saw I know exactly what it looked like.” He is convinced the same object he saw was the Cash-Landrum UFO, and went on to say it was “jammed full of radar” and that's what had caused the “radiation burns”in the witnesses. 

The NBC show, That's Incredible!, filming in Dayton, Texas, July 1981.
In the left photo, Jerry McDonald, center, on the right, Colby Landrum at the camera.
In returning to some of the points he had made earlier in the conversation, I asked him about knowing the witnesses. He said that he and Colby Landrum still talk, and that he had seen him recently at funerals. Colby is mad and blames the Government, his phrase was, “mad they killed his grandmother.” He mentioned that when in 1981 when ABC's That's Incredible! came to Dayton film, he’d taken pictures of the crew with Colby. McDonald was also supposed to be interviewed for the show, but he got too nervous and his part was canceled. Jerry has tried to talk to Colby about his idea that the UFO was a drone prototype, but Colby is mad about the situation the entire experience, and that he wants no part of it. 

McDonald feels that he's not had the opportunity to be heard, even locally, that they “will not let the story get out." Jerry thought that UFO Hunters might have been taken off the air, because "they were getting too close." He mentioned that the show had taken core samples on Farm-to-Market Road, but wasn't sure what the results of the analysis revealed (nothing but repaving over the decades). Regarding secrecy in the Cash-Landrum case, he said that the helicopters had been out there, and that it had been covered it up in the middle of the night. 

Today and Beyond

We’ve had intermittent contact since, and Jerry recently sent me several articles and photos on UAVs that resemble the aircraft he saw that night. I asked Jerry about the color of the craft, but he was unsure of it, the lighted portions of it were most prominent in the night sky. The drawing from his initial interview lists the body as black, but can’t be sure.  Jerry thinks it could have been a joint program between that Lockheed Martin and NASA conducted from the Johnson Space Center. The published history of the development of UAV’s does not agree with Jerry’s prototype scenario, but it’s worth considering. What I feel is most import about Jerry’s story is his description of what he witnessed, a very unusual aircraft. He makes no fantastic claims about what he saw, but his testimony is just as important as that of any UFO witness. His description of the event remains unchanged, and when he sent me the copy of his 1996 triangle illustration, he said,  This is my original drawing and I stand by it.”

Jerry remains convinced that the UFO was really a US military UAV prototype, and that by investigating it, the truth about the Cash-Landrum incident might be revealed. “My resolve is strong, now I have clarity and that’s what they were experimenting with that night and got caught with their pants down... I’m telling you brother they think these people are dead and gone and not coming back from the grave, but I’m still alive to tell about it. This was truly a government cover-up.”