“They were far away but yet they were low enough and we set there and watched them 'till they got over the car because I wanted to make sure if it was airplanes or if it was helicopters, which it was helicopters. I counted 23 of them. I don't know what color they were, I can't say. But I do know that they had a double deal on the top, propeller-like thing. And I could hear 'em just as plain as if they were right ready to land…"
Betty Cash, from a taped statement made at Parkway Hospital, Feb. 1981Witnesses, Betty Cash, Vickie and Colby Landrum described large helicopters with two rotors on top, which they assumed to be military. Later they were shown photos by investigators and identified the CH-47 as a match. Identifying the type of helicopters seemed to be a big break, since the CH-47 was primarily used by the US Army. Here's a look at some CH-47 data from helis.com (helicopter history site) https://www.helis.com/60s/CH-47-Chinook.php.
The Boeing Chinook is a tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter that meets tactical and combat support mission requirements for military forces around the world. The Chinook is one of the world’s most reliable and efficient transport helicopter, capable of handling loads up to 28,000 lbs with a maximum gross weight of 54,000 lbs. (24,494 kg), greater than its own empty weight. Its tandem rotor configuration also provides exceptional handling qualities that enable the CH-47 to operate in climatic, altitude and crosswind conditions that typically keep other helicopters from flying.
The first fully equipped U.S. Army Chinook designated the CH-47A first flight Sep 21th 1961 and entered service in August 1962 with a gross weight of 33,000 lbs. (14,969 kg).
|First flight:||Sept. 21, 1961|
|Model number:||Vertol 114|
|Gross weight:||33,000 pounds|
|Top speed:||150 mph|
|Maximum payload:||More than 7 tons|
|Power:||2,220-shaft-horsepower Twin Lycoming T55-L-5 turboshaft engines, two 3-bladed rotors|
|Accommodation:||3 crew, 33 troops or 24 litter patients and attendants|
The article at Global Security discusses the modifications made in 1980:
“Prior to the introduction of the MH-47D and MH-47E, US Army special operations aviation units had used 12 CH-47Cs modified to allow for the use of night vision goggles (NVGs). These aircraft, assigned to Task Force 158, the predecessor to the 160th Aviation Battalion (which subsequently evolved into the 160th Aviation Regiment), came from the 101st Airborne Division in 1980 and entered active service in 1981. Their primary mission was to provide forward-area refueling operations in austere environments. Upon assignment to TF 158, the 12 aircraft received modifications that included radar altimeters (specifically added for safety during night-vision-goggle flights); long-range navigation and communication equipment; and 4 metal internal auxiliary fuel tanks (taken from M49C 2 1/2-ton fuel trucks).” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/mh-47.htmWith the extra fuel tanks, CH-47s could fly 330 miles without refueling. But the problem was always: Where did they come from, and where did they go? Part of the popularity of the C-L case in the 1980s was the mystery of the helicopters, since choppers were part of the emerging cattle mutilation lore, overlapping with "black helicopters" in sinister Government conspiracy theories of all persuasions.
The Choppers - and the Choppers: Mystery Helicopters and Animal Mutilations by Tom Adams
An Expert Opinion on the Cash-Landrum CoptersIn 2014, I interviewed a veteran helicopter pilot, Russ Hunter, who was a Senior Instructor pilot, in Task Force 160 at Fort Campbell Kentucky. He joined a few years after the Cash-Landrum incident, but served alongside original members of the team and flew the same helicopters said to be involved in the UFO story. Russ assumed the witness testimony was genuine, but found many problems accepting the details of the story. The reported helicopter activity didn't match with the way the actual equipment used even in emergency situations. He tried to make the details fit by assuming the number of 23 helicopters was exaggerated, but even twelve CH-47s would have been detectable on radar and produced enough noise to have disturbed people for many miles around the Huffman area.
Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry
Part of the problem was the incident took place during the period between Christmas and New Year's Day, which would leave any military base understaffed for a massive helicopter operation. In early 1981, the Fund for UFO Research contracted Allan Hendry of the Center for UFO Studies to conduct an investigation into the origin of the helicopters in the Cash-Landrum case. His report was completed in April 1981 and delivered to FUFOR. Hendry’s turned up a lot of valuable information on the case, but he found no evidence to support the helicopters reported in the case:
"In closing, the claim made by all three witnesses in the Cash/Landrum group implicitly implicates a large number of helicopters. This claim cannot be 'objectified' independently." At the time of Hendry's report, there were no additional witnesses to the helicopters, but following media attention, others were produced.
A link to a file containing Hendry's FUFOR report can be found at this link:
The DAIG Investigation of the Cash-Landrum UFO Incident
Due to the publicity from television coverage of the case, (That’s Incredible!), Oregon Representative Ron Wyden launched an inquiry as to whether U.S. helicopters were involved in the incident. This resulted in the investigation by the Department of the Army's Inspector General’s office, conducted by Lt. Col. George C. Sarran. Concluding his report, Sarran stated,
"Through the course of inquiry the DAIG investigating officer tried to concentrate on any reason or anyone in or organization which might have been flying helicopters that particular evening in the general area. There was no evidence presented that would indicate that Army, National Guard, or Army Reserve helicopters were involved."Sarran stated in an interview with Florida Today reporter, Billy Cox, that he also had investigated possible classified operations, but found negative results. Col. John B. Alexander participated in the DAIG investigation in an advisory role and confirmed that no Government helicopters were involved.
MUFON's John Schuessler held on to the secret helicopter hypothesis, suggesting that they were temporarily based on an aircraft carrier, the USS New Orleans. An imaginative solution, but once again investigation proved it implausible
If Not Helicopters?
Despite many efforts from UFO investigator, journalists law enforcement and the US government, there was nothing tangible to support the presence of helicopters of any kind. UFO researchers found the witnesses credible, but faced with the evidence, some of them turned to some unconventional ideas. Dr. J. Allen Hynek was interviewed in the February 1985 OMNI magazine, and he considered some paranormal possibilities:
"Let us suppose that a very, very advanced civilization has, as a part of its everyday technology, the ability to project a thought form that, like a holographic image, temporarily assumes three-dimensional reality."Referring to the Cash-Landrum case in particular he said,
"Where would twenty-three helicopters come from? First of all, it was Christmas week, and people at the bases said they would never conduct military exercises at a time like that... But perhaps Cash and the Landrums saw a holographic image of the helicopters. I could buy that more than I buy twenty-three solid, physical helicopters from some unknown base, when no baseman will admit seeing so many helicopters of that particular kind."
An alien projection? It's unlikely, but Hynek conceded that the helicopters were not real. Since the helicopters were reported initially only by the witnesses, and did not interact with the environment, Hynek's notion of a projected holographic image becoming three-dimensional reality is not necessary. It could be more like mental projection, with the advanced civilization transmitting the images telepathically. The helicopters may have been in the witnesses' minds.
The helicopter trial goes nowhere, but the UFO case remains. John B. Alexander states, "I am 100 percent sure it happened. However, it defies explanation..."