Showing posts with label Cash-Landrum UFO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cash-Landrum UFO. Show all posts

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Cash-Landrum UFO Encounter of 1980

This definitive unembellished overview of the saga of the witnesses in the Cash-Landrum UFO encounter was written by Curt Collins, and originally appeared in American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore (Vol I) edited by Christopher R. Fee and Jeffrey B. Webb, published by ABC-CLIO, 2016. 

It's a good introduction to the facts in the Cash-Landrum case for those who don't know the story — or for those who think they do.

Art by Chris Lambright. See: The Cash-Landrum UFO: The True Picture

The 1980 Cash-Landrum UFO encounter near Huffman, Texas, is one of the best-known, most thoroughly documented cases in UFO history. The witnesses sought restitution in court for injuries caused by a UFO, for which they held the U.S. government liable. However, once the legal case failed, the story of the witnesses was absorbed into the body of UFO lore and transformed into a parable about the evils of a coverup by the U.S. government.

It was in January 1981, during Betty Cash’s second hospital stay for a mysterious illness, that the story of the UFO encounter began to circulate. Weeks earlier on December 29, 1980, Betty (age fifty-two), along with her friend Vickie Landrum (age fifty-seven) and Vickie’s grandson Colby (age nearly seven), were driving back home to Dayton, Texas, after an evening out. They were on FM 1485, a lonely country road, when they spotted a bright object in the sky in the distance through the trees. Driving on they rounded a curve and found a massive, brilliant flaming object hovering over the road ahead of them. Betty stopped the car and got out to investigate, but Vickie returned to the car to comfort her terrified grandson. Betty remained outside for several minutes, trying to observe the object in detail, which they later described as larger than a water tower tank, making loud beeps and a mechanical whooshing sound it intermittently produced a brilliant flame-like jet of light and heat as it hovered over the road above the treetops.

In Betty Cash’s earliest recorded testimony from February 1981, she said, “We could not get up close enough to detect what the figure was. Or I couldn’t at least, the lights were too bright in my eyesight.” She later added, “. . . this bright object that made the sky just split up and it looked like the world was coming to an end. It was a very bright red. . . . (Vickie) looked out the glass but she said the light was too bright for her to see very much” (Schuessler 1998, 39, 253).

Sketch by Colby and Vickie Landrum, March 1981.

Soon after Betty retreated to her car, the object slowly rose and moved away. As it did so, they saw that it was accompanied or pursued by a number of smaller aircraft. Once Betty’s eyes had adjusted, she started the car, and they continued their journey home. They kept the car’s air conditioner going, startled by the amount of heat the object overhead was producing. Further along the road, they encountered the mysterious object again, but this time they approached more cautiously and stopped a greater distance away. They were able to see the pursuing aircraft more clearly. There were more than twenty military helicopters, which they believed had been sent on a mission to pursue the mysterious object. Once it passed again, they continued their drive home, occasionally glimpsing the object and helicopters in the distance. The experience had badly frightened them, and they decided to tell no one of it: it was just too strange to be believed.

They continued to feel hot afterward and also began to feel ill. Vickie and Colby reported having flu-like symptoms with burning eyes and reddened skin over the next few days. Betty, who had been outside the car, had even more severe problems. She too thought she had the flu but, as the night went on, developed further symptoms: a severe headache, skin lesions, swelling and blisters on the face and scalp. When Vickie discovered how sick Betty was, she moved her into her home but saw no improvement. At this point, they did not connect their ailments with the UFO, and Vickie suspected that Betty was having complications connected with her prior heart surgery. Vickie checked Betty into Parkway Hospital in Houston, but the doctors were perplexed at Betty’s condition. The tests they ran failed to determine a cause for her problems, so she was treated for her symptoms, and after she showed improvement, they released her after about two weeks. 

Betty Cash with hair loss after 2nd hospital stay.

She continued to have health problems, however, and returned to the hospital a few days later. The tissue problems were mending, but the headaches, nausea, and diarrhea persisted, and a new symptom was noted upon readmission: patches of hair loss. This caused the doctors to consider the possibility of exposure to radiation, but results were negative. It was early in Betty’s second hospital stay that the story of the UFO encounter finally was told.

Once the story was out, they were encouraged to report it. Vickie made calls, desperately trying to get some help and get an answer for what the object was, how it had injured them, and who was responsible for it. The helicopters convinced them that it was some kind of military operation, and that the U.S. government would have knowledge of the incident. The first real response to their inquiries came from the tabloid press, giving their story national exposure. About the same time, Betty contacted John F. Schuessler, an engineer for McDonnell Douglas at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in nearby Houston. He was also an investigator for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and in that capacity he began an intensive investigation into the event as a UFO case. The witnesses respected Schuessler’s authority and placed their trust in him, sometimes quoting his analysis and speculation about the event rather than their own memories.

John Schuessler, 1988

Over the next several months the media attention continued to build and formed a strange relationship with the case. The media seemed to take the lead in the production of new information and developments. Pleas in the news coverage for any additional witnesses to come forward yielded a few results: respondents claimed to see either a UFO or some helicopters. The story’s coverage by the television program That’s Incredible! generated publicity that led to an investigation by the Department of the Army’s inspector general as to whether U.S. Army helicopters were involved in the incident. In the spring of 1982 Lt. Col. George C. Sarran spent several months checking the possibilities and also traveled to Texas where he met with Schuessler, examined the cold leads, and interviewed the available witnesses. Sarran’s report stated that the witnesses were credible, but he found no evidence to suggest any U.S. military involvement.

The witnesses still felt that the government was not being fully open with them regarding their involvement, and they were convinced that the UFO was a military project of some kind. Schuessler seemed to feel the same way, but he thought that the unknown craft indicated extraterrestrial involvement.

In the summer of 1981, the witnesses had written to their congressmen, who replied urging them to travel to Bergstrom Air Force Base to meet with base officials to file damage claim forms. They did so, but it wasn’t until late 1982 that Peter Gersten, the flamboyant “UFO Lawyer,” filed claims for a total of $20,000,000 on behalf of the witnesses. When the claims were denied, they attempted to file a civil suit against the United States government, a contentious process that went on for the next several years. This course of action failed as well, as there was never enough evidence to satisfy a court. In August 1986, much to the disappointment of the witnesses, the case was dismissed without ever going to trial. Media coverage of the case faded away until it was revived in a 1991 Unsolved Mysteries episode. In the show, the story was simplified and compressed with rumors and supposition mixed along with the facts.

The Cash-Landrum UFO as depicted by ufologists and the media.

Almost from the start, UFO believers and antigovernment conspiracy theorists transformed the story into a fable, teaching precautionary lessons about the dangers of military secrecy, nuclear energy, or of what happens to those who challenge the government’s UFO cover-ups. Throughout this transformation, the core of the story remained unchanged but details were embellished. Some versions claimed that the roadway was secretly dug up and replaced overnight at the scene of the incident, that the witnesses had been threatened by the government, and that the investigator in the case had described their indefinable brilliant object as a colossal diamond-shaped alien spacecraft ringed with blue lights. In the 1980s UFO lore focused on darker elements such as abductions, mutilations, and sinister treaties between aliens and the U.S. government. In such an environment, the Cash-Landrum case was often folded into that mix, which later became the source material for the 1990s X-Files television series. Beneath the legends there seems to be a genuine event at the core of the Cash-Landrum sighting, but separating it from the layers of myth that have become attached to it at an almost molecular level seems to be impossible.

The witnesses continued to fight for their story to be heard, and the two ladies stuck to their claims until the end. Betty had poor health the remainder of her life, which she attributed to the UFO. She died in 1998, but Vickie survived until 2007, dying at the age of 83. Today, only Colby Landrum remains. 

. . .

For Further Study


Friday, October 27, 2023

The Cash-Jamaica UFO Incident


The late musician Johnny Cash spent a lot of time in Jamaica. In 1974 he bought the historic house Cinnamon Hill and owned it the rest of his life

In the 2003 book, Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash (with Patrick Carr), he wrote about how Cinnamon Hill was haunted: 

“There are ghosts, I think. Many of the mysteries reported by guests and visitors to our house, and many that we ourselves experience can be explained… But there have been incidents that defy conventional wisdom. Mysterious figures have been seen - a woman a young boy - at times by various people over the years.” He went on to say, “We've never had any trouble with these souls. They mean us no harm, I believe, and we're certainly not scared of them; they just don't produce that kind of emotion.” 

Cash believed, but he had another paranormal experience that didn’t make it into the book. Dick Kleiner, a syndicated gossip columnist reported on Johnny Cash’s report of seeing an unidentified flying object.

Johnny Cash sees UFO in Jamaica

Abilene Reporter-News, February 17, 1981

Victoria Advocate, February 22, 1981

Cash Tells Of UFO Encounter

Hollywood - Add to your file of stars who have seen UFOs the name of Johnny Cash. Here is his story: I was on the island of Jamaica and there were a bunch of us outside, it was such a nice night. Somebody said they saw a shooting star, so I was looking up at the sky. And I saw this object whiz by. It made a strange noise - a noise I really can't describe - and I think the shape was oval. And the color was new to me, purple or rose, I'm just not sure. It was gone before I could even point it out to my friends.

I don't know what it was. All I know is that I saw it, and it was unearthly."

 As sighting reports go, this lacks a lot of important details. Just to be clear, Cash had missed the shooting star and while looking for another one, he spotted this glowing object flying by at high speed while making a peculiar sound. 

Coincidence, Synchronicity… or Fate? 

Consider the similarities between country music’s man in black and a famous UFO witness from the 1980 Cash-Landrum incident. The witnesses’ names are similar: Betty J. Cash, John R. Cash.

Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, on February 26, 1932.

Betty J Cash was born in Birmingham, Alabama on February 10, 1929.

Johnny Cash played country music on stage.

Betty Cash played country music on her car radio. 

Time and Location:

The story of Johnny Cash’s UFO sighting appeared in Victoria Advocate on Feb. 22, 1981. The story of Betty Cash’s UFO sighting was first told to John Schuessler on Feb. 22, 1981.

When the Cash-Landrum UFO flew away, it was headed towards the Gulf of Mexico. Johnny Cash’s UFO was in Jamaica, by the Caribbean Sea, SE of the Gulf of Mexico.

The date of Johnny Cash’s sighting was not stated, and it’s possible it had happened late the year before. Is it possible it was on the same night as Betty Cash’s UFO, the night of Dec. 29, 1980?

In honor of Halloween, here’s the closest thing to a Johnny Cash UFO song, the man in black performing Ghost Riders in the Sky onstage in 1987.

In memory of Johnny Cash, 1932 – 2003.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

An Impressive New Book on UFO Witness Testimony

The Reliability of UFO Witness Testimony is a new book edited by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos and Richard W. Heiden, "the first major book to comprehensively focus on the discussion and current views on problems and challenges posed by the reliability of UFO testimonies."

A portion of table of contents.

"This is a cross-disciplinary compendium of papers by 60 authors from 14 different countries. They are specialists in social, physical, and biological sciences, including psychology (predominantly) as well as psychiatry, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, folklore, religion, journalism, engineering, computing, medicine, education, analysts with experience in the critical study of UFO perceivers, and other professionals. This volume shares thematically convergent ideas about the plausibility of alternate explanations for an alleged close-range UFO phenomenon. 

The 57 chapters in this book are divided into seven section headings: Case Studies, Psychological Perspectives, On Witness Testimony, Empirical Research, Anthropological Approach, Metrics and Scaling, and Epistemological Issues. " 

Of particular interest to readers here: Chapter 12 by Dr. Gary P. Posner, "The Legendary Cash-Landrum Case: Radiation Sickness from a Close Encounter?" Dr. Posner became interested in the medical aspects of the Cash-Landrum case in late 1981 and conducted his own research from a skeptical point of view. His 14-page examination focuses on the case from the book's perspective, witness reliability.

This 711-page book has been released online in the portal, from where it can be downloaded for free as a PDF: The Reliability of UFO Witness Testimony

Simultaneously, UPIAR Publishing House (Turin, Italy) has published two softcover, A4 format print editions, one in black & white, another in full color (ISBN: 9791281441002). The book can be purchased through this link: UPIAR Store

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Cash-Landrum UFO Case Document Collection

The following is a list of important documents, reports, correspondence, news and magazine articles relating to the investigation of the December 29, 1980 UFO encounter reported by Betty Cash, Colby and Vickie Landrum.

When possible, links are included to the material hosted on the Internet.
As new items become available, this page will be updated.

Who's Who in the Cash-Landrum UFO Case

Vickie Landrum's initial UFO incident report to NUFORC (the National UFO Reporting Center), from 2/2/1981. The recording of the historic telephone call that launched the investigation.
Vickie Landrum's UFO report to NUFORC,  Feb. 2, 1981

Betty Cash & Vickie Landrum Tape Recording Made At Parkway Hospital in early February 1981 transcribed and published in The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident by John F. Schuessler

Betty Cash’s hand written statement for the records of Parkway Hospital, 2/7/81

The First Newspaper article
The Conroe Courier printed the first mainstream press on the case, 
Cathy Gordon's 2-part story: 
"Two women share terror of mysterious encounter" Feb. 22, 1981
"Investigators eye ‘close encounter’" Feb. 23, 1981
Photocopies of the articles are located within the PDF of the Texas Department of Health files:

Weekly World News March 24, 1981 
(published early to mid March) "3 SURVIVE UFO ATTACK"

Preliminary Cash-Landrum report by John Schuessler and Project VISIT, March 4, 1981 
John F. Schuessler’s report on interviewing the witnesses and visiting the sighting location.
Index to the Cash-Landrum Original Case Report 
(All by John F. Schuessler, unless noted otherwise.)
1 - 2 MUFON form: “UFO Sighting Questionnaire- General Cases (Form 1)” with location, sketches of UFO and event data. Name of Investigator, “John F. Schuessler,” “Witness: Vicky Landrum.” Dated March 3, 1981 (“4-3-81”). 2 pages.
3 - 13 Cash/Landrum Case “On-Site Investigation Report, Date: 28 Feb 1981,” Interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 11 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)
14 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Vicky Landrum”(Basic information on location of sighting and witness data).
15 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Betty Cash.”
16 -23  Report of meeting and interview with Betty Cash dated 22 Feb. 1981. Handwritten, 8 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)
24 - 27 Alan Holt, report of (2/28/81) interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 4 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)
28 Al Holt memo: “Conversation with Bill English,” undated. (English of APRO was the first investigator to speak to Vickie Landrum.) Handwritten, 1 page. (On VISIT letterhead.)
29 - 30 Al Holt: “Helicopter Investigation,” 3/10/81. Handwritten, 2 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)
31 - 33  21 Feb. 1981, 1 pm: “Betty Cash called collect from Dayton, TX” (Phone interview: first witness contact.) Typed, 3 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)
34 - 35 1st MUFON Cash-Landrum case contact: 20 February 1981,  by phone from reporter Cathy Gordon. “Caller: Kathy Gordon, Conroe Daily Courier...” Typed, 2 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)
Illustration from the 3/4/81 report.

A Preliminary Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry of CUFOS. (Undated, April 1981.) Pages 8-11 of PDF

MUFON Cash-Landrum Case Files (1981 - 1999)
Table of Contents and 9 files, documents totaling 708 pages scanned by MUFON.
Includes case reports, correspondence, legal documents and news clippings.

MUFON UFO Journal Number 158, April 1981
"Radiation Injuries from UFO"
Brief summary of the Project VISIT report written by Richard Hall

Analysis of Betty Cash's Medical Records, Peter Rank, M.D. letter to John Schuessler  
("complete summary report" of medical data) 4/29/1981 (5 pages). PDF pages 3-7

Injuries from chemical agents? VISIT memo: R. Niemetzow called J. Schuessler 7/5/1981 (1 page) PDF page 1

Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle: Cash-Landrum files and Correspondence
Sprinkle hypnotized Vickie Landrum in July 1981, then later for a TV program. Files also contain correspondence from Dr. Peter Rank discussing Betty Cash's medical records and condition.
File 1: (PDF 28 pages)
File 2: (PDF 21 pages)

BERGSTROM Air  Force Base Interview Oof Betty Cash, Vickie & Colby Landrum, August 17, 1981 (unpublished until CUFON circa 1994) Lengthy statements by the witnesses discussing case details with Air force officers. First step in legal case.
Legal Counseling VISIT memo: Bill Shead & John Schuessler met with Betty Cash & Vickie Landrum 8/23/1981 (1page) PDF page 2

National Enquirer August 5, 1981 
"UFO Terrorizes and Burns Three in Car" PDF pages 19-20. This story documents Vickie Landrum's first hypnosis session and the surfacing of the detail of the UFOs' "little blue lights."

John F Schuessler's first C-L case presentation at the CUFOS Symposium

The Spectrum of UFO Research, J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, Mimi Hynek, ed. (1988)
John Schuessler's first lecture on the Cash-Landrum case from Sept. 1981 is presented, and it serves as as an excellent introduction to the case, telling the story of the events, and discussing the early months of the investigation. The narrative of the encounter is followed by speculation about the injuries and their source. Includes photographs, the Q & A session that followed Schuessler's lecture, and his 1988 update on the case.

(Reprinted in UFO Report Winter 1981)

Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Radiation investigation report by Russ Meyer. Investigated scene Sept 16, 1981. 
(Discloses sighting location unknown, medical help refused.)

APRO Bulletin Vo. 29 No. 8 Sept. 1981 Coral Lorenzen, editor

MUFON UFO Journal November 1981
"Cash-Landrum Radiation Case" by John F. Schuessler
MUFON UFO Symposium 1982 (July 2, 3, 4) Toronto, Canada
“Radiation Sickness Caused by UFOs" by John F. Schuessler, M.S.
MUFON UFO Journal January 1983 pg 14,15

APRO Bulletin Vol. 30 No. 6 August 1982 Coral Lorenzen, editor
"Rumors Permeate Cash-Landrum Case" by Coral Lorenzen

APRO Bulletin Vo. 30 No. 9 September 1982 Coral Lorenzen, editor
"The Cash Landrum Case Analysis" by Coral E. Lorenzen

The Unexplained Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time
(UK) Orbis Publishing Limited, Vol 9, Issue 107, 1982.
"Blind Terror in Texas" by John F. Schuessler

DAIG investigation, U.S. Army Inspector General's Office, Washington, D.C., Report by Lt. Col. George C. Sarran
Includes some handwritten case notes.

John F. Schuessler’s VISIT 5/9/1982 report on Sarran’s investigation 
(11 pages w/ cover): PDF pages 21-31 

Helicopter Witness appears: VISIT Investigator's Notes Summary: Interview with John Plaster, Huffman Helicopter witness  9/25/1982 (4 pages w/ cover.) PDF pages 32-35

MUFON UFO Journal October 1982 pg. 3
"Pentagon Investigates Cash-Landrum Case" by John F. Schuessler

APRO Bulletin Vo. 30 No. 10 October 1982 Coral  Lorenzen, editor
"More on Cash Landrum" by Coral E. Lorenzen

MUFON UFO Journal December 1982 pg 8
"Technical Review of Radiation in  Cash-Landrum Case" by Paul Stowe (MUFON Research Specialist in Nuclear Technology)
Followed by comments from Dr. Peter Rank

MUFON UFO Journal September 1983 pg 3
"Cash-Landrum Case Investigation of Helicopter Activity" by John F. Schuessler

John F. Schuessler File: the Cash- Landrum Radiation Case
 The AFU (Archives for the Unexplained) in Sweden hosts an incredible collection of UFO documents, including this batch of newspaper clippings and case files.

Dr. Gary Posner: The Cash-Landrum UFO-Radiation Case
Dr. Gary Posner became interested in the medical aspects of the Cash-Landrum case in late 1981 and conducted his own research, and his site hosts a page presenting his correspondence with people involved, including the previously mentioned radiologist, Dr. Peter Rank. 
Gary P. Posner, M.D.: The 1980 Cash-Landrum UFO-Radiation Case

Radiation UFO Injuries by Richard C. Niemtzow, M.D.
also published in Flying Saucer Review vol 29, no. 3, 1984

MUFON UFO Journal November 1983 pg 12 
"UFOs and Hot Rings" by James McCampbell

MUFON UFO Journal January 1984 pg 3 
"Estimate of the Situation 1984 the (sad?) State of UFOlogy" by John F. Schuessler
discusses APRO’s criticism, claims of USG UFO

MUFON UFO Journal February 1984 pg 7 15 
"UFOS Seen Over East Texas" by John F. Schuessler
(Vickie Landrum provides a tip on another UFO case)

Legal Documents: From the Damage Claims Form to the Attempted Civil Lawsuit
Quest Publication: The Cash-Landrum File: Civil Action No. H84 348
CUFON (Computer UFO Network) also hosts a collection of documents connected to the legal case.
(Note: The Defense conducted an investigation about if the UFO was a US military device. No documents from this investigation have surfaced.)

MUFON UFO Symposium July 1984
"Cash-Landrum Case: Speculation About the Medical Effects" by John F. Schuessler. 

Pursuit: Science is the Pursuit of the Unexplained
First Quarter 1985, pg.18-21
"Diamond Fire- A Close Encounter of the Military Kind" by Harry Lebelson 

MUFON UFO Symposium Saint Louis, Missouri, June 28, 29 & 30 1985
"The Medical Evidence in UFO Cases" by John F. Schuessler.
"Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" by Peter A. Gersten (link to cover and table of contents only)
MUFON 1986 UFO Symposium
"Cash-Landrum UFO Case File: The Issue of Government Responsibility" by John F. Schuessler. 

MUFON UFO Journal June 1986 pg 16 
Letter from Steuart Campbell, Response from Betty Cash.

MUFON UFO Journal July 1986 pg 10
"Cash-Landrum Case Hampered" by John F. Schuessler

MUFON UFO Journal  October 1986 pg 12
"Cash-Landrum Case Closed?" by John F. Schuessler

CIA File: Remote Viewing Session, Jan. 26, 1988
An attempt by remote viewer Gabrielle Pettingell, and the interviewer Ed Dames to identify the object in the Cash -Landrum case. Link to complete 16-page session file:

"The Medical and Scientific Evidence" by John F. Schuessler

(Sturrock Panel) Physical Evidence Related to UFO Reports:
The Proceedings of a Workshop Held at the Pocantico Conference Center, Tarrytown, New York, September 29 - October 4,1997

The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident 
Three Texans Are Injured During an Encounter with a UFO and Military Helicopters 
by John F. Schuessler (1998 LaPorte, Texas Geo Graphics Printing Co) out of print

Peter Gersten's notice of Betty’s death, including an obituary written by John Schuessler. 

Vickie Landrum Obituary
Big Thicket Messenger, Sept. 23, 2007:

AATIP document: Clinical Medical Acute & Subacute Field Effects On Human Dermal & Neurological Tissues by Dr. Christopher (Kit) Green
The Cash-Landrum case is referenced in one of the 38 Defense Intelligence Reference Documents (DIRD), products of the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP), a 53 page paper, dated 2009, authored by Dr. Kit Green.

Television Coverage: See this article for a collection of television reports on the case:

If you know of major omissions, please report them to

C. 2013 Curtis L. Collins