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