Showing posts with label MUFON. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MUFON. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

UFO Advocate: Betty Cash


Betty Cash, UFO Advocacy, and Show Business

A mammoth fiery UFO was pursued by helicopters was seen on the night of December 29, 1980, near Huffman, Texas, according to Betty Cash (51), her friend Vickie Landrum (57) and her grandson Colby Landrum (7). The witnesses did not report the incident until four weeks later, prompted by Betty Cash’s lingering medical problems which they speculated caused her illness. Once it was out, the story became a media sensation, and in time, a classic UFO case. 

They alleged that the presence of military helicopters during the sighting proved the U.S. government was involved, and therefore responsible for their physical ailments. The suspense generated by their pending lawsuit kept the story in the news, but the case was dismissed without a trial in 1986. As far as the media was concerned, the story was over. Betty Cash was deeply disappointed. Since the story broke, she had participated in mainstream television interviews, but other than cooperating with investigator John Schuessler, she was not involved with the UFO scene and its subculture. There were a couple of documented exceptions, though.

Betty Cash’s car was shown in “UFOs: What's Going On?,” the 1985 HBO documentary America Undercover episode. Since her experience, she’d added a bumper sticker to the auto: “U.F.O.’S Are Real... The Air Force Doesn’t Exist!” Also, Betty responded to Steuart Campbell’s skeptical letter about the C-L story in the MUFON UFO Journal, June 1986.

Something changed around 1988. Betty Cash took an proactive role in ufology, speaking as an advocate on UFO radio shows, attending conferences, and even petitioning the U.S. government. 

Whatever It Takes

OMNI magazine October 1988 featured an article by Dennis Stacy and Kevin McKinney, a collection of strange events titled, “Lee County’s Lizard Man and other Unsolved Mysteries.” Half a page was devoted to the Cash-Landrum story and legal effort, “The Case of the Fiery Diamond,” and included quotes from Betty Cash:

"Even if the government didn't know what the object was then, it does now," she says. "Those helicopters were there, and for the judge to throw the case out, not even hearing us, is a sad decision," She adds that she'll "do whatever it takes" to bring attention to the dismissed case. "I'll fight until they lay me in my grave," she says. "I want people to know how our federal judicial system works."

Betty’s first step in her battle may have been her appearance on an infamous UFO television special.

UFO Cover-Up?... Live was broadcast on Oct. 14, 1988, from Washington, DC, a 2-hour live syndicated television special from Seligman Productions. It was built around taped footage from Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera of two alleged government UFO insiders, “Falcon” and “Condor” who claimed to reveal big secrets about MJ-12, crashed saucers at Area 51, aliens dining and entertainment favorites, and so on. The bulk of the show was live interviews with ufologists and witnesses, but the producer chose to have everything scripted. The participants read their lines from cue cards, and most of their performances came off as clumsy and artificial. There were segments on both historical cases and current events such as segment on the Gulf Breeze UFO story in Florida.

Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum appeared to tell their story and Betty said, “I'm mad, I'm mad as hell and disappointed with the government of our United States.” While they listened a pre-taped statement of Richard Doty in silhouette as “Falcon,” was played, where he claimed that the UFO they had seen was a joint venture between aliens and the US military.

“The Cash-Landrum incident - the craft that was observed was an alien craft piloted by military aircraft pilots. Although they had been trained and were somewhat familiar with the craft, they found that the aircraft did not respond to certain controls. They radioed that they thought the craft was going to crash — standard procedures for the military in any situation where an aircraft was going to crash — the military would send up search-and- rescue helicopters. The helicopters were following the craft. The craft experienced severe problems. It was thought that the craft was going to crash. However, this craft did not crash.”

Betty Cash nodded approving as Doty mentioned the helicopters, as if to say, “I told you so!”

The tabloid National Examiner Feb. 14, 1989, ran a story quoting Betty from UFO Cover-Up?... Live.

Ufologists were optimistic that the TV special would lead to greater public awareness and have a positive impact. The day after the show, the Fund For UFO Research sponsored a brunch meeting to discuss how to move forward. Betty Cash attended and said the medical field needed to be educated on the UFO subject.

UFO Cover-Up?... Live
had featured a phone poll for a Congressional hearing on the UFO topic. Betty Cash was excited by the prospect, and she petitioned for government involvement. 

UFO Brigantia, March 1989

In early 1989, advertisements debuted for The UFO Phenomenon book from the 33-volume series on the paranormal from Time-Life, “Mysteries of the Unknown.” The ads appeared widely in newspapers and magazines through 1989 to 1990 prominently featuring an illustration of the Cash-Landrum case. 

“Was it just an illusion? Or did Betty Cash see a UFO. In December of I980, Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and Vickie's small grandson sighted a blazing diamond-shaped object hovering above a Texas road.”  

The book opened with the Cash-Landrum story, two pages summarizing the case followed a 2-page color illustration of the sighting.

C-L illustration by Alfred T. Kamajian

In February, UFO sightings in Fyffe, Alabama, made news and Betty contacted the witnesses to offer her support. This led to Betty being interviewed again about her own story. 

Birmingham Post-Herald, Feb. 18, 1989

An Associated Press story in the Times Daily (Alabama) Feb. 18, 1989, reported, “She said that Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala began working to obtain a congressional hearing after calls of support came in during an October television special…”

The Birmingham News, Feb. 29, 1989, also published a story on Betty, a telephone interview stating, “Mrs. Cash's experience has become one of the most celebrated and sensationalized UFO sighting in the recent years. She said it has left her in poor health, in debt and questioning credibility of the U.S. government.”

The Birmingham Post-Herald, March 15, 1989 ran an interview that provided some rare details of Betty’s personal life. “Divorced from her first husband in 1979, Mrs. Cash married again several years ago and moved into the mobile home by [Logan Martin Lake].” That was partly inaccurate. Betty’s first husband was (Earl?) Howard and they had two kids, Bill (Toby) and Mickey Joyce. After their divorce, Betty was married to James F. Cash from 1958 to 1980. Despite the legend that she was disabled, around the time of this article, Betty “worked for many years as a private nurse.”

There was a paranormal talk show in Montgomery, Alabama, “In Touch,” hosted by Chris Stevens on WACV Talk Radio. Betty was a frequent guest on the show talking about her own experiences and other UFO events like the Fyffe sightings.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Oct. 16, 1989

Betty Cash at Gulf Breeze

Jumping ahead a bit, “O.H. Krill” made crackpot claims about a lot of things including the Cash-Landrum UFO case:

“Bill Moore says it was the U.S. flying an alien craft. One of the women involved thinks that the aliens are Satanic and said so recently in a full-page ad in the Gulf Breeze, Fla. Sentinel.” 

It sounds outrageous, but it may be a distortion of actual events. Betty Cash was visiting Florida for UFO conferences and making UFO business contacts there. One of them was Michael R. Wales, Director of Radar Evidence, UFO, IAC Center. (IAC was an abbreviation for Identified Alien Craft.) In a March 1989 advertisement in the Gulf Breeze Sentinel, Wales referred to himself as Michael of  the "Free Confederation of Planets in service of the Infinite Creator."

The Sentinel, March 16, 1989

Wales is quoted as proclaiming: 

"Certain highly enlightened Starseed Angelic Forces have been simultaneously contacting Gulf Breeze ... and Fyffe, Ala., to battle the serpents and awaken the population of the world. It is high time to inform yourselves and demand an end to the governmental cover-up regarding both the angelic and demonic extraterrestrial activities." 

Wales said the UFOs are visiting Gulf Breeze because the U.S. government won't release information on alien visits. He said they are taking their case to the people.

"They don't want to force themselves on a planet against its wishes. If enough people on a planet want to know about them they may be able to make contact in a more open way," Wales said.

Wales’ ad and position may have been confused by “Krill” as being connected to the Cash-Landrum case. There was a connection, though. Mike Wales knew Betty Cash and presented her at a UFO conference. Pensacola News Journal, March 11, 1990, “Observers: Seeing is believing,” by Bill DiPaolo and Craig Myers.

Betty Cash was one of the guests at Mike Wales’ 1-day UFO convention, “UFOrum: The True Story of the UFO,” on June 9, 1989. Pensacola News Journal, June 7, 1989.

Pensacola News Journal, June 7, 1989.

The Sentinel, June 8, 1989

Pensacola News Journal, June 10, 1989

Betty was not mentioned in the Pensacola News Journal, June 10, 1989, but it was described as having over 100 attendees. One of them was Anna Foster, a psychic, who operated the New Age Shop in Gulf Breeze and active in the local UFO scene. The Sentinel, June 15, 1989 had a more complete report including photos of speakers Betty Hill and Betty Cash.

The Sentinel, June 15, 1989

When Betty was in Florida, either on this visit or the next year, Wales took Betty Cash to meet Duane B. Cook, the Sentinel editor and publisher, who was instrumental in covering the Ed Walters UFO story in Gulf Breeze.

Wales extremist antics led to some friction. The Miami Herald, Aug. 6, 1989, ran a story about controversial figure Ed Walters, that ended with a mention of the arrest of Mike Wales:

“Ex-con or no ex-con, Gulf Breeze is adjusting nicely to its status as a UFO spaceport despite the mayor’s complaint about what the notoriety is doing to his town. Not long ago, the cops busted one strange fellow from Palm Beach, a member of the ‘Free Confederation of Planets,’ allegedly for trespassing at the high school. That’s where the UFO once landed, says a defendant. It deposited a bubbling, extraterrestrial chemical and kill the patch of grass, he says.”

Wales said he left Gulf Breeze in October 1989 [returning to Palm Beach] after being ridiculed and ostracized by Gulf Breeze officials and fellow UFO researchers. But [Police Chief Jerry] Brown and other city officials said Wales alienated himself in his search for aliens. Pensacola News Journal March 11, 1990.

Betty Cash was back in Florida for the MUFON Symposium held in July of 1990, "UFOs: The Impact of E.T. Contact Upon Society," held in Pensacola. This was during the heyday of the publicity surrounding Ed Walters’ Gulf Breeze UFO tales and photographs. Walters himself was a guest, along with folks such as Budd Hopkins, Bruce Maccabee, and Don Schmitt. Betty wasn’t listed as a guest, but she was joined by her friend Vickie Landrum who also attended, possibly attracted by the lecture, "The Fyffe Alabama Experience" by Carey H. Baker, or to network and pursue support for their story. Thanks to Michael Christol for sharing a photograph below, which shows MUFON director Walt Andrus, Jeanne Andrus, Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum. 

Also attending was the symposium was psychic Anna Foster, who would shortly be making UFO-related news of her own. See the Aug. 1990 MUFON Journal article for coverage of the symposium.

One Degree of Separation from the Gulf Breeze Six

Arriving in Gulf Breeze just after the MUFON symposium ended were six US military intelligence analysts AWOL from their post in West Germany. On July 14, 1990, the police stopped their van for a broken tail light, which led to the entire group being arrested. They became known as "the Gulf Breeze Six," on a bizarre quest that involved prophecy from a Ouija board about the Antichrist, the Rapture, exposing the government UFO cover-up and much more. The person who had inspired them was Anna Foster, a psychic, had attended Mike Wales’ “UFOrum: The True Story of the UFO” on June 9, 1989 and also the MUFON Symposium. 

Anna Foster and the Gulf Breeze Six were featured in a segment in the Sightings episode from Feb. 12, 1993, “Searching the Skies/Ouija/Phobos II Update.”

Betty Cash, Mike Wales, and the Sentinel Editor

In the Sentinel, (Gulf Breeze, FL) July 19, 1990, UFO conspiracy theorist Mike Wales asked Mayor Ed Gray and Duane B. Cook, Sentinel editor and publisher questions about Betty Cash being a victim of an alleged mind control UFO conspiracy connected to the Gulf Breeze Six: 

Mike Wales asked, “Do you feel that Paul Bennewitz, Gabe Valdez and Betty Cash have been able to speak freely to the press, without gross and unfair pressure from the U.S. Intelligence community, and ‘Operation Crystal Ball,’ UFO Coverup Security, and mind control tactics being employed?”

Duane Cook answered, “I don't know anything about Bennewitz or Valdez, but Betty Cash was able to speak as freely as she pleased with The Sentinel when you brought her to my office, Mike.”

The Palm Beach Post from July 22, 1990, concerning the Gulf Breeze Six, which included quotes from Mike Wales. The article described the arrest of the group. “…four of the soldiers were staying at the home of Anna Foster, a Gulf Breeze woman who had befriended one of the men a year ago.”

“Some UFO advocates speculate the six soldiers came on a military 'mission… They could be perfect lookouts, UFO advocates say. ‘If they felt UFOs should come to Gulf Breeze because there's been so much activity in the past, it'd be a perfect place to be conducting an experiment,’ said Michael Wales, a UFO enthusiast who lives in Palm Beach but has studied sightings in Gulf Breeze.”

(Later… one of the six was Kenneth Beason, age 26.)

[Anna] Foster reportedly met Beason last year while working at the New Age bookstore in Gulf Breeze. "On the advice of my attorney, I have no comment," she-said. Neither will she confirm nor deny whether she is a Rapture disciple. But Wales, who gave a lecture on UFOs recently in Gulf Breeze, said Foster attended and "talked about her interest in the Rapture then." 

Cash-Landrum: the Motion Picture 

Betty Cash’s Gulf Breeze connection resulted in a new legal counsel, Attorney Clay V.  Ford, Jr. UFO Magazine, Sept./Oct. 1990, quoted Ford as saying, “Whether the craft was alien or not, the government is responsible.”  

UFO Magazine, Sept./Oct. 1990

The Houston Chronicle
, Sept. 15, 1991, reported
“Their attorney, Clay Ford of Gulf Breeze, Fla., wants to reopen the case by showing government officials lied about record-keeping procedures during pretrial proceedings. Meanwhile, he is negotiating the sale of his clients' movie rights.”

The Cash-Landrum movie never happened, but the case continued to be prominently featured in the media.

Betty Cash in Books, Radio, and Television

On Nov. 18, 1990, Betty Cash, Colby and Vickie Landrum were guests on 21st Century Radio Show hosted by Dr. Bob Hieronimus, “UFOs Today with Bob Oechsler.” The witnesses were interviewed by phone while Betty was in Texas for the filming of their Unsolved Mysteries episode. It was most notable for having (teenaged) Colby Landrum give his account of the sighting, but otherwise it was Vickie and Betty mostly repeated the familiar details. Betty sounded confidant and persuasive, and when asked about the origins of the UFO she said, “I really don’t believe - I mean, it might be something from outer space. but I ...the government knows something about it, and they shouldn’t lie to us about it.”

Airing shortly after the tenth anniversary of the case the hit NBC show, the Unsolved Mysteries episode on February 6, 1991, included the segment “Texas UFO.” It featured interviews with Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, John Schuessler, Dr. Bryan McClelland, and L.L. Walker, and a dramatic and imaginative re-enactment of the case with the witnesses portrayed by actors. Betty was still focused on getting help and information.  “If it’s a top-secret object that’s protecting the United States, then I could say I could forgive them for that. But at least they owe us to tell us exactly why we were burned, and what type of radiation that we were exposed to and how much.” The show gave the case a lot of exposure and the episode was rerun at least once, frequently replayed ever since after the series was packaged for syndication.

Jenny Randles’ 1987 book The UFO Conspiracy: The First Forty Years contained a two-page summary of the Cash-Landrum case. In 1990 Betty Cash’s daughter, Mickey Gesinger, read the book and wrote a letter by to Randles who she asked to help get additional coverage to her mother’s story in hopes it would prompt a financial settlement from the U.S. government. (Published in UFO Times May 1990.) This connection led to an invitation to a convention the following year. Betty and Vickie Landrum were announced at guests at the 6th International UFO Congress in 1991 in England. 

However, the plans apparently didn’t work out, and they did not appear for the convention.

Despite the publicity from the Unsolved Mysteries episode, the stardom of the Cash-Landrum case faded, and it was seldom mentioned outside of UFO fandom. There was no movie deal, and if Betty Cash was still an advocate, it wasn’t making the papers. Thanks in part to the debut of the television show The X-Files in 1993, UFOs became newsworthy again.

Encounters: The UFO Conspiracy, was a television show aired on Fox Feb. 22, 1994. It included Betty Cash in their opening segment on a US government cover-up. 

Betty appeared at 6:26 and was in about four minutes of the show, saying:

“I don't trust our United States government, and I don't mean to be short or ugly, but that's exactly the way I feel. And if they want to do anything with me, let ’em do it”

If Betty Cash’s efforts to petition Congress for a hearing on UFOs had any effect, it went off course. In February 1994, the General Accounting Office (GAO), an investigative agency of Congress, initiated an audit to ascertain “the facts regarding the reported crash of an UFO in [1947] at Roswell, New Mexico.” What resulted from that was a report published in July 1994, later revised and expanded in 1997 as The Roswell Report: Case Closed. It looked no further than Roswell, so was helpful in no way to Betty’s cause.

The X-Files Book of the Unexplained was a 1995 book by Jane Goldman described as “an in-depth guide to the mysteries of the paranormal and unexplained which are the basis of the fictional television episodes.” It also included 3 pages with a summary of the Cash-Landrum UFO case with photos of Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum.

In mid-1998 John Schuessler self-published the book, The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident. The A&E Network broadcast The Unexplained episode, "Close Encounters" from July 9, 1998, written and produced by Kevin Barry. The episode featured an extended segment on the C-L case and included interviews with Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, John Schuessler, Dr. Bryan McClelland, attorney William Shead, and Ken Storch. Betty Cash’s said: 

“They've ruined my health, they've ruined my life, so what else what else is there that they can do other than kill me” And they probably would love to do that, but I'm so stubborn and hard-headed that I'm gonna show ’em. I'm gonna be around to fight just as long as there's a fight left in me.”

The Unexplained was Betty Cash’s last televised interview. In November Betty was hospitalized for a stroke and she died on Dec. 29, 1998 at the age of 69.

. . . 

For Further Reading on the Gulf Breeze Tangents

For Mike Wales, see War of the Words: The True But Strange Story of the Gulf Breeze UFO by Craig R. Myers, 2006

James Carrion shared A 117-page PDF on the Gulf Breeze Six published by Jack Brewer and at The UFO Trail published in his Feb. 12, 2017 article, “Revisiting the Gulf Breeze Six.” The file was from MUFON's "Pandora Project.” The Gulf Breeze Six: Media Coverage and Correspondence

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Cash-Landrum UFO Disinformation: Rick Doty & Bill Moore

When flying saucers appeared in 1947, one of the first guesses as to their origin was that they were new secret test vehicles flown by the U.S. military. The government responded with a categorical denial of having experimental flying discs in the air. Decades rolled by, but no successful U.S.-owned saucers were discovered or disclosed. The belief that UFOs were extraterrestrial spaceships grew in popularity, while the secret project notion faded. Flaps came and went, but exceptional UFO cases only come along every few years. Serious researchers fight to get at them, but so do the tabloid press, television cameras, and hucksters looking for something to exploit. Such was the case in early 1981 when the story of the Cash-Landrum incident surfaced. Everyone wanted a piece of the action. 

Part 1:
The Ufologist and the Counterintelligence Agent

In 1980, a few months before Betty Cash and friends took that fateful evening drive… Richard C. Doty was an agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His military records list him as born on Feb. 15, 1950, with green eyes, brown hair, and standing 5’8.5” tall, weighing 145 pounds. William L. Moore was born on Oct. 31, 1943, and he had achieved some success collaborating with bestselling author Charles Berlitz on The Philadelphia Experiment in 1978. Moore’s fame in UFO circles began with their 1980 book, The Roswell Incident. Stanton Friedman assisted in the research and interviews, and the underlying agenda behind the book was to counter the growing notions that UFOs were non-physical paranormal or interdimensional apparitions. The Roswell scenario turned back the clock to nuts and bolts saucerology. Donald Keyhoe established the dogma in 1950: Flying Saucers are: (1) Real, (2) Extraterrestrial spaceships, and (3) Covered-up by the U.S. government. The belief system is self-confirming, since the lack of physical evidence “proves” the government is covering it all up.

Doty & Moore early 1980s, Coral and Jim Lorenzen from Tucson Citizen Feb. 13, 1979

With Bill Moore’s star on the rise, he became a member of the board of directors of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), the Tucson, Arizona-based organization led by Jim and Coral Lorenzen. APRO was the oldest of three UFO organizations operating in the USA, the others were the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) based in Texas, and the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in Illinois. MUFON began as a splinter group of APRO, and there was some animosity and rivalry between them. 

According to the legend, in the fall of 1980, the success of The Roswell Incident led to Moore being approached by Richard C. Doty of the AFOSI. Rick Doty’s claim is that he was working for a special program tasked with the collection of intelligence and counterintelligence information on UFOs. To that end, Doty collected data from ufologists while disseminating both genuine data and disinformation, with Bill Moore as his primary asset. Doty was either acting on behalf of the US government, or he was a rogue agent operating towards his own ends - or a combination of both. Whatever the case, the collaboration with this low-level AFOSI agent enabled Moore to portray himself as being well-connected to government insiders. Moore’s overall strategy seemed to be, fake it ‘til you make it. 

In early 1981 Moore was busy promoting his Roswell UFO book, researching a possible follow-up, and building a working relationship with Rick Doty. He became a UFO superstar, frequently lectured at conferences, where he sold his book and the newsletter and booklets he published. Moore’s mission was to carry his Roswell UFO crash and U.S. government secrecy story into the present day. He began preparing the story of a government cabal that controlled the UFO cover-up, a group he called MJ-12.

First Contact in the Cash-Landrum UFO Case

Betty Cash, Coly Landrum, and Vickie Landrum

On Feb. 2, 1981, Vickie Landrum called Robert Gribble’s National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), to ask for help regarding the UFO she thought might be responsible for her friend Betty Cash’s medical problems. Gribble called APRO to share the report. After weeks of waiting, the witnesses called APRO back. This prompted APRO to hand the case off to John Schuessler, the deputy director of MUFON, then based in Texas, since the case was figuratively in his backyard. Things were not to be harmonious, and MUFON and APRO later argued about which group had actually launched the case investigation. 
Coral E. Lorenzen of APRO, letter to John Schuessler, August 24, 1982:

“Bill Moore sent us Xeroxed copies of his records of telephone calls he made and received on February 2, 1981, when APRO received its first word from Robert Gribble on the Cash-Landrum case. Mr. Moore received a call from Bill English informing him of the case at 7:40 p.m. on February 2. Moore called Howard Sussman, who I am sure you know… a medical doctor in Houston and also a MUFON member, at 9:20 p.m. on February 2 and asked if he (Sussman) could look into the case.”
Moore knew about the case from the start, but wouldn't take an active hand until later.

The First Secret Project Speculation

The Courier (Conroe, TX), Feb. 22, 1981, reported the witnesses suspected they'd come across a U.S. government operation.

"Someone knows where the helicopters came from," [Vickie] Landrum said, adding that she feels certain they encountered some sort of military experiment. “I'm not one to believe in flying saucers or nothing like that," she said. “'I think it's more likely it's something the military is up to - why else would all them planes be up there if they didn't know what was going on?"

Colby and Vickie Landrum, 1981

John Schuessler interviewed Vickie Landrum the following week, and his initial case report stated, “Vicky truly feels that this was not anything unnatural. She believes the U.S. government was transporting and escorting something dangerous through the area.”


Bill English of APRO sold the Cash-Landrum story to the Weekly World News, and reporter Dick Donovan wrote his article primarily based on the audio tape English sent of the testimony of Betty and Vickie. Allan Hendry of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) was hired to investigate the origin of the helicopters by the Fund for UFO Research. In April 1981, Hendry produced the privately circulated results, “A Preliminary Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case,” which contained the first hint of the UFO-Military Industrial Complex conspiracy:

“Reporter Donovan who covered the story confirmed that he could not locate any bases in central Texas that would take credit for the helicopters. He did relate a claim made by an individual whose identity he would not divulge that the ‘UFO’ was actually in contact with the local military! The crew indicated that it was experiencing difficulty with this craft and required air assistance. Donovan could not elaborate if this meant that the UFO was actually a man-made craft of some sort. But then, would two dozen choppers be required for an escort?”

In MUFON case files (PDF File 5, page 59) John Schuessler’s VISIT memo, 9/8/81,  “[Houston] Medical person called,” “(name on file)” with a story of a secret project:

“Randolph AFB, San Antonio, Tx. personnel were involved. Object was a classified device and was in trouble… Cash/Landrum burns were from a radiation source.” Schuessler concluded the notes stating, “I have been unable to verify this report.”

The sources are anonymous, but it’s documented that lines of communication between Bill Moore and friends were open both to Dick Donovan and to at least one “medical person” in Houston.


The Cash-Landrum case was the hottest news of the day, but John Schuessler did not present a lecture on it at the June 1981 MUFON Symposium. Instead, a cross-organization trade was made, and Schuessler spoke at J. Allen Hynek’s CUFOS Symposium in Sept. 1981, “Medical Injuries Resulting from a UFO Encounter.” Hynek was the keynote speaker for the MUFON Symposium. Bill Moore also lectured there with Stanton T. Friedman, on “The Roswell Incident: Beginning of the Cosmic Watergate.” 


Rick Doty Briefs Bill Moore

In 1982, reporter Bob Pratt was working with Bill Moore on an ill-fated novel titled MAJIK-12 or The Aquarius Project. The plan was to have Pratt write a saucer fiction thriller, incorporating “factual” information on the MJ-12 UFO conspiracy supplied by Moore via Richard Doty. Part of the information Pratt received was Moore’s 5-page typed report alleging to be notes from his Dec. 29, 1981, meeting with “Special Agent Richard C. Doty, AFOSI.” One page’s worth of material was on the Cash-Landrum story, reproduced below (all punctuation and spelling from the original). A scan of the document can be found at pages 19-20 of this PDF from The Bob Pratt Files: Sensitive.

(4) With respect to the controversial Cash/Landrum, Dayton, Texas, case, Doty provided the following information which he said he had obtained directly from a Houston OSI agent whom he knows:


The object in question was actually an experimental craft, developed jointly by USAF/NASA. The craft, which-was under development at Ellington AFB near Houston, had been flown- before with a different (conventional) propulsion system. More recently it had been fitted with an experimental nuclear system using a conventional system as back-up. The craft was somewhat circular in shape, [handwritten addition: and looked like a stingray (fish)].
On the night in question (December 29, 1980), the craft was to be test-flown from Ellington AFB (a NASA support base near Houston) to Fort Hood (near Waco) with two pilots on board. Early on in the flight, the craft developed problems with Its navigational system which caused it to stray from its designated flight plan. Helicopters were called out from Ft. Hood to help guide the craft, but as they were en route, the nuclear propulsion system also failed. The two pilots experienced some problem in trying to start the back-up propulsion system, and had just about decided they would try to ditch into Lake Houston when the back-up fired and the escort helicopters arrived on the scene virtually simultaneously.

There were nine civilians involved in this case. AFINTEL (with one AFOSI agent present) debriefed six of these (including two, Texas Highway Patrol officers), and had all six sign security statements. None of these was believed exposed to sufficient radiation to cause any medical problems, but all were checked over as a precaution. At least two were given potassium iodide by the AF physician who attended them. The other three, Betty Cash, Vikie Landrum and Colby Landrum, were not contacted by AFINTEL because of their involvement with civilian UFO people. It was determined that these three could be used to further the "UFO explanation" and thus provide effective cover for the real nature of the affair.
NASA/USAF's reason for cloaking the matter in secrecy and confusion is to avoid a public outcry against nuclear propulsion research similar to that currently in progress against the nuclear power industry. It was deemed highly desirable that the public not be made aware that the government is doing any work in nuclear propulsion systems at all. Also it was felt that any admission that the government was involved in testing nuclear propelled devices so close to a heavily populated area (Houston) would be viewed by the public and the press as a callous disregard for the public safety.
One curious aspect of this case is that the chief civilian investigator (John Scheussler of MUFON) is an employee of NASA and at the same time serves as an active CIA agent. (This, said Doty, was confirmed to him by ‘a friend’ who had checked the matter out.) Since it is certain that Schuessler is aware of the real nature of this case, it must be assumed that his activities on the part of the ‘UFO investigation’ are part of the concerted effort to confuse the issue in the eyes of the public.”

This formed the basis of the Doty-Moore Cash-Landrum myth, which would continue to evolve to suit their needs. 


A UFO Family Feud

The Moore-Doty story downplayed the central claim of the witnesses, that they suffered injuries from exposure to the UFO. His story centered on the UFO as a government experiment and it sounded plausible, blending known details of the case with a fictional scenario using real locations and military installations. The Cash-Landrum case had a lot of appeal to ufologists who believed in the government/military cover-up scenario, and Moore found Doty’s version of the story very attractive for this reason.

With Bill Moore on board at APRO, the group became a conduit for Doty’s bogus information, and the Lorenzens heard his secret project fable. Moore was somewhat circumspect in promoting it, relying on other people to hear and spread the story, people like the Lorenzens and Paul Bennewitz. As for Paul Bennewitz, he was driven to obsession from Moore and Doty’s falsehoods resulting in a decline in his physical and mental health. (For a summary of that convoluted tale, see Bill Moore and UFO Disinformation Accusations.)

Both John F. Schuessler and William L. Moore spoke at the MUFON Symposium in Toronto, Canada, July 2-4, 1982, “UFO’s... Canada: A Global Perspective.” Schuessler lectured on "Radiation Sickness Caused by UFO's" and Moore spoke on "The Roswell Investigation: New Evidence in the Search for a Crashed UFO." During this event, Moore told Schuessler the Doty story about the origin of the C-L UFO. The same rumor was printed the next month by APRO.  

“In February of this year, there was a rumor going the rounds to the effect that the U.S. government was paying all of the medical expenses of Betty Cash and Vicki Landrum… After hearing the rumor, APRO checked with Mrs. Landrum by telephone and she confirmed our initial suspicion that the information was an unfounded rumor.”

Coral Lorenzen published “Rumors Permeate Cash-Landrum Case,” in the APRO Bulletin Vol. 30 No. 6 August 1982.

 “We can’t give the reader a proper name or code name or number, but the object seen by Cash, Landrum and Landrum, was a U.S. experimental aircraft which had gotten out of control and was being escorted or ‘herded’ by the helicopters. their main function, however, would have been to cordon off the area if the craft were forced to make an emergency landing.” 

[Later in the article,]“…I am concerned that Betty Cash and Vicki and Colby Landrum may be merely pawns in some kind of game. …The most likely base of origin for the ‘mystery’ aircraft would be White Sands Proving Grounds (just a hop, skip and a jump by air) in New Mexico. How often will American UFOLOGY sheepishly cover up for official boo-boos?”

John Schuessler wrote a letter to Coral Lorenzen of APRO on Aug. 15, 1982, regarding APRO’s claims that the UFO was a secret project:

“Admittedly, I was quite upset when the APRO Bulletin carried an article claiming that APRO knew what device was at Huffman, Tx on Dec. 29, 1980. Watching Betty, Vickie and Colby suffer for months while all government agencies played dumb has made this a sensitive issue. Fortunately, Bill Moore convinced me during our discussions in Toronto that the story he had given you about the experimental aircraft was interesting, but only a story. I have tried to find a correlation between the story and the event, but without success.”

(In Coral Lorenzen’s reply of Aug. 24, 1982, she claimed Moore’s story was only part of their evidence, and there was additional information from an unnamed source.)


APRO Bulletin Vol. 30 No. 9 September 1982“The Cash-Landrum Case Analysis” by Coral E. Lorenzen updated the story. Lt. Col. George Sarran of the Department of the Army Inspector General (DAIG) was given the job of investigating whether U.S. military helicopters had been involved in the Cash-Landrum UFO incident. At John Schuessler’s suggestion, Sarran called APRO and spoke with Jim Lorenzen to see if they had information to help the case. APRO balked at Sarran’s speculation that the copters might be an “Iran-type rescue exercise.” APRO was convinced the helicopters “were rapidly deployed for an Army ‘exercise’ on December 29, 1980, which went awry,” and that the UFO was of a U.S. military origin:

“Well, they haven’t discovered the secret of the UFO (propulsion, that is) but they’re trying, and the U.S. has apparently come up with the next best thing - a brightly lit aircraft utilizing a new propulsion concept, a side-effect of which is a highly damaging radiation.”


Televising the UFO Experience


In 1982 Bill Moore was making show biz connections. One was Jaime Shandera, a television producer, who became Moore’s research partner. Shandera later said, “we joined forces in June of 1982 and Falcon told us about MJ-12.” (We’ll hear more about Falcon later.) The premise established in The Roswell Incident was expanded to include MJ-12, the group that guarded the secrets that:

  • The Roswell crash was just one of several events where craft and aliens were recovered.
  • Extraterrestrials had been here thousands of years, and they had influenced the development of our civilization.
  • The captured UFOs were being studied with the goal of duplicating the alien technology for our military.
Clipping from San Francisco Examiner, Sept. 5, 1982

The Cash-Landrum case was prominently featured in The UFO Experience, a television documentary written by Richard Saiz, directed by Ronald K. Lakis, first broadcast on Sept. 10, 1982. Bill Moore was also involved in it, as he described in a 1985 article:

“During the summer of 1982, I served for a brief period as a consultant to KPIX-TV, San Francisco, CA, while they were engaged in making a special on UFOs which at the time was intended to run only locally. (It was subsequently syndicated to a number of other stations around the country.)” 

Among Moore’s contributions, he supplied the production with an (alleged) Air Force document about a UFO event at Kirtland AFB in 1980, part of the series of incidents involving Paul Bennewitz. However, the Bennewitz story was not discussed, they just flashed the document as an example of continuing military involvement in UFOs. Moore claimed to have investigated the C-L sighting location during the time the show was being filmed. The article was in The Courier (Conroe TX), Oct. 30, 1983, “UFO victims plan to file $20 million suit” by Cathy Gordon: 

William Moore, an independent UFO researcher from Arizona who has also studied this case, shares [Peter] Gersten's pessimism. "The government is not going to divulge anything about a top-secret project that would violate national security regulations,” he said, citing from the statute in the Department of Defense manual. It reads, "Classified material will not be authorized for introduction into evidence at a civil trial before a jury."

"In other words, they’ll lie,” Moore says, “the burden is on the complainant to prove there’s something top-secret. But the government doesn't have to admit it exists and they certainly aren't going to volunteer information. It's a Catch-22."

Moore, who tested for radiation at the site nearly a year and a half following the incident, says he found “some very interesting things” on the secluded stretch of road. He claims to have found dead vegetation at the site and tree trunks that were scorched beginning six to eight feet off the ground, and only on one side.

John Schuessler said the C-L witnesses were betrayed by The UFO Experience. From The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, pg. 103:

“Betty Cash and I were participants in a press interview with Dr. [V.B.] Shenoy on June 16, 1982. The interviewer had led Betty to believe that if everyone consented to participate… he would have a new chromosome test conducted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. It was claimed that the test would pin down the type of radiation involved …the interviewer never made good on his promise to provide the chromosome test.”

In the documentary, the C-L segment concluded by saying, “the case remains unsolved, but it does raise some questions. Is it possible that some unidentified flying objects could be secret U.S. military test planes, and if so, what recourse do citizens have if they are injured by them?”


Richard Doty and the UFO Lawyer

In January 1983 Richard Doty met with Peter Gersten, the lawyer who had filed numerous UFO-related lawsuits against the U.S. government, including the one for the Cash-Landrum case. Bill Moore was also present during the first of their two conversations. Just CAUS no. 16, June 1988, page 7, contained Barry Greenwood’s contemporary notes from Peter Gersten’s phone call describing his two meetings with Doty. 

Gersten said, “Doty wouldn't talk about anything classified. He said he was assigned to investigate UFOs, among other things, for the last 5-6 years.” Among Doty’s tall tales, there were a few about the C-L case:

“Doty said Cash/Landrum object was government. The vehicle used had previously been mentioned in Aviation Week (no reference given). Doty didn't know Peter was C/L attorney when he talked about it. Doty said govt. has people in UFO groups feeding misinformation and gathering data.”

Peter Gersten swallowed the stories from Doty as being valid. He also called UFO skeptic Phil Klass on Jan. 15, 1983, and told Klass about having an unnamed source (Doty). Klass asked if Gersten was suing the Air Force program because he thought the C-L UFO was theirs. Gersten replied, “Well only because both Air Force and Army denied any involvement with the helicopters so we just filed a claim with the Air Force on general principles because time was running out. But the information that has come is that it was a military operation and possibly the Army, and the helicopters were associated, did come from Camp Hood, and that the object is kept at Ellington and is related to Snowbird.”


Bill Moore allegedly received the Aquarius Project document in March 1983, and it defined Project Snowbird as, “Originally established in 1972. Its mission was to test fly a recovered Alien aircraft. This project is continuing in Nevada.”

Gersten pursued the prospect that the UFO was a U.S. government device and, in his April 24, 1984, Interrogatories H-84-348, included it, requesting:

“16. Identify ‘Project Snowbird’, and ‘Project Moondust’.”



Petitioning Moore to Produce Cash-Landrum Evidence


Following the meeting between Moore, Doty, and Gersten, Moore was crowing about having information, even physical evidence relating to the Cash-Landrum case. MUFON files on the case contain correspondence documenting some of the efforts to get Moore to produce his evidence.  Peter Gersten letter to Bill Moore, April 13, 1983:

“I cannot understand how, if what you have been telling me is true, you can continue to withhold physical evidence which is material to the Cash/Landrum incident. The release of any evidence concerning the cause of their injuries must take precedent over your desire for personal financial gain. How can you continue to withhold ‘soil samples, ‘photographs, and an ‘executive briefing’ while their health deteriorates?”

It was an angry letter, and signed, “See you in court, Peter  A. Gersten.”

Bill Moore’s reply from April 28, 1983, said:

“I decided that the best course of action would be to turn everything over to a third party for an independent evaluation and analysis. This was accomplished shortly after my last conversation with you. When this process is completed, the results will be published without profit or gain to me (or for that matter, without even recovering expenses), and you shall be provided with a copy.” 

Gersten to Moore June 10, 1983:

“Where is the independent evaluation and analysis you promised. I promise you that unless you voluntarily provide me with this evidence, I will pursue every possible legal remedy necessary to obtain it.”

Gersten’s bluff had no results, but shortly afterwards Walt Andrus and John Schuessler had a confrontation with Bill Moore. It was at MUFON’s 1983 Symposium in Pasadena, California, on July 1, 2, & 3, 1983. Walt Andrus' letter July 18, 1983, to Fred Whiting: 

“Bill Moore couldn’t or wouldn’t provide any help with his ‘lead’ when we cornered him in Pasadena. This case is serious due to the poor health of Betty Cash in particular.”

John Schuessler’s version from his memo dated July 2, 1983:

"Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum asked me to question Bill Moore about his claims of knowledge of their case - information that might help them in their legal proceedings. I had no formal meeting with Bill, but we did have several informal discussions.

  1. Why does he believe he knows the actual location of the incident – not the location by Betty and Vickie? Reply: He cannot answer now. His material is in the hands of someone else for verification.
  2.  Does he really know what the object was and who it belonged to? He had an informant that had started giving him information on several cases. He shared some of that information with Peter Gersten, and later exposed it on national TV. The informant got in trouble and will not cooperate further. That means any information Bill could have gotten is no longer possible.
  3.  Does APRO really have any information that could help Betty and Vicky? Possibly so – may also have an informant, but they would maintain the information is confidential, so as not to get anyone in trouble.
  4. Bill shared other UFO items with me... Since they don't pertain to Cash/Landrum I really don't care about them.

Conclusion: Bill is a pretty good investigator… He could be a real asset to the investigation; however, he has other priorities, so we cannot depend on him at this time, no matter how important the information is to Cash & Landrum. He may help at some time in the future if it is not too late.

(Distribution: V. Landrum, B. Cash, W. Moore, W. Andrus, P. Gersten.)”

Moore’s technique worked on Schuessler, but it was classic UFO conman bait and switch. He couldn’t talk or share evidence because he had obligations to protect his sources. As for the evidence, Moore essentially said the dog ate his homework and his grandmother died. Betty and Vickie were given false hopes from the Doty-Moore story again and again from 1981 on. John Schuessler grew frustrated and wrote the lead article in the MUFON Journal Jan 1984, an opinion piece, “Estimate of the Situation 1984, the Sad (?) State of Ufology.” Schuessler blasted the media, debunkers, and even UFO organizations in general, but Bill Moore and APRO in particular:

“I have personally spent three years working the Cash-Landrum case… Dr. Hynek, head of CUFOS, and Walter Andrus, head of MUFON, have given strong support. On the other hand, Coral Lorenzen, head of APRO, and author William Moore have been very negative and critical of the case. They have claimed inside knowledge about the UFO, saying it was a malfunctioning government device, being flown in secret around Houston, Texas. If that is true, why not band together in a common goal and blow the top off of the cover-up. That never happened even though the victims could have been helped out of a terrible situation. …Government cover-ups is a good topic for authors and a good excuse for UFO organizations to lean on, but without facts it is really of little value.”

Meanwhile, Bill Moore was still at it. On January 21, 1984, Moore appeared on The Open Mind with Bill Jenkins radio show. When a caller asked about the Cash-Landrum case, Moore said he was, “very familiar with all aspects of that case. In fact, I was the first investigator called on the case. I put it in the hands of the people dealing with it now. He again promoted the UFO as a government operation, speculating that:

“…what we have in fact run into here is the test of some secret project-type vehicle, which may be nuclear propulsion, and which went out of control and threatened to crash…”


Secret Projects and the Cash-Landrum Legal Case

“Project Snowbird” was first mentioned by Doty to attorney Peter Gersten in 1983 and surfaced again two months later in the bogus MJ-12 “Project Aquarius Briefing Document.” Paul Bennewitz was one of the chief targets of Doty and Moore, and he embraced their concepts, with the Cash-Landrum case being part of the story. Here’s a passage from Paul Bennewitz’s 1985 letter to UK ufologist Timothy Good, as presented in Good’s 1993 book, Alien Contact.

“A deal was made between the Government and the aliens. I can only surmise what it was, but based upon my evidence we helped build the base- gave them the land- in trade for the atomic ship and the technology… We agreed to the cattle mutilations… apparently helping in unmarked helicopters…”

Good followed the Bennewitz quote by saying, “the ‘atomic ship,’ I was told, is the alleged ‘Snowbird’ craft, which during a test flight in December 1980 (escorted by more than twenty helicopters), was observed by Betty Cash and two other witnesses… it undoubtedly irradiated the witnesses and made them very ill.”

The Alien Atomic Ship as imagined by Paul Bennewitz

Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum picked up Air Force “Damage” claim forms in Aug. 1981, but they were not filed by Peter Gersten until near the 2nd anniversary of the case in Dec. 1982. The claim was denied in May 1983. (Appealed, denied again.) In January 1984, Civil Suit against the U.S. Government, H-84-348 was filed, followed by much contention and publicity. The August 1985 MUFON Journal reported that Peter Gersten stated that chances of his winning the case in court were "slim and none.” The lawsuit was finally dismissed without going to trial on August 21, 1986. This was due in large part to sworn statements by military branch representatives that the U.S. did not own or operate any vehicle like the UFO described in the complaint. By chasing Doty and Moore’s “Snowbird,” Gersten may have doomed any chance of the witnesses getting their day in court. Without the trial to generate interest, the C-L case lay dormant.  Until it was useful to Doty and Moore again.

Part 2:
The Aviary 

Richard Doty had been out of the picture for a while. He’d transferred to Germany in 1984, but he returned stateside in 1986. He reconnected with Bill Moore and was making new friends, too. Moore and Shandera were in touch with a network of ufologists, some of them with government connections. Jacques Vallee described their meeting in Forbidden Science Vol 3:

“A secret group had gathered in 1987 at the Albuquerque home of retired Air Force Lt. Col Ernie Kellerstrass to discuss [UFO conspiracy theories]. Kit Green was there with Rick Doty, Hal Puthoff, Bill Moore, Jaime Shandera and Robert Collins.” 

Moore was fond of playing spy games, so he gave these contacts bird codenames, and collectively they were called the “Aviary.” Falcon and Condor were the names used for their alleged key military informers, Rick Doty and Robert Collins. Hal Puthoff told Vallee,
 “We were meeting these people with the purpose of hearing firsthand what was being claimed by the likes of Collins, Doty and Kellerstrass… Overall, I was quite skeptical of much of what was being claimed.” 

One claim that must have been heard was Doty’s version of the Cash-Landrum story. Moore and Doty used the C-L case as a prop in their own narrative. The military angle fit perfectly to support their UFO cover-up scenario, a crucial element necessary for allowing belief in the Roswell saucer crash and MJ-12 stories. As Area 51 entered UFO lore, it helped the storyline, it was a real base with military secrets that could be portrayed as part of the “Cosmic Watergate,” hiding anything from crashed saucers to alien survivors. 

The story was supposed to be confirmed on tape. Ufologist Jim Moseley traveled to Burbank, California, in September 1987 for a meeting with Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera.  The two gave him a private showing of videotapes they had produced of “Falcon” spilling big secrets about MJ-12 and UFOs. “There were cheap theatrics of an alleged intelligence agent in shadow… his voice disguised electronically...” Shockingly Close to the Truth! by James W. Moseley and Karl Pflock, 2010.

Dark Days

A lot of UFO pioneers were lost in the 1980s. Kenneth Arnold died in 1984, J. Allen Hynek in 1986, and Donald Keyhoe in 1988. APRO was essentially a mom-and-pop organization. Jim Lorenzen died in Aug. 1986, then Coral Lorenzen in April 1988. Without them, APRO was disbanded. CUFOS tried to carry on in the Hynek tradition by publishing the serious-minded International UFO Reporter. That left MUFON to cater to saucer fans, which they did with their increasingly sensationalistic journal and conventions. Ufology was headed to the “dark side” with tales of evil aliens conducting abductions, mutilations, and more, while the U.S. government was complicit – at least in keeping it all secret. Ufologists and debunkers alike struggled to make sense of it.

In Phil Klass’ Jan. 8,1988, telephone interrogation of Richard Doty, he asked about the 1983 meeting with Peter Gersten, but Doty tried to lie his way out of it. 

“[Gersten] asked me about the UFO in Texas that exploded and hurt somebody. I said I know nothing about that. HE was the one who said I understand it was a recovered alien craft, flown by the government--his source had told him that. I said, well, I don't know. …he asked me a lot of questions, but I never once provided, not one bit of information to him, or to anyone else.”

Meanwhile, Doty and Moore’s work continued to spread confusion. Their C-L lies were mixed with Paul Bennewitz’s beliefs about evil aliens beneath Dulce, NM, and shared abroad. From UK ufologist Gordon Creighton’s 1988 article in Flying Saucer Review Vol. 33, No. 4

“Disturbing and persistent rumors… sinister small aliens [induced or coerced] the US government [into a collaboration in] the establishment of a great alien underground base beneath an Indian reservation in… New Mexico, near Dulce… in return, of course for ‘advanced technical aid and information.’ …Maybe, for example, the thing that burnt the Cash-Landrum party came from...Dulce?"

Richard C. Doty left the Air Force and began a new career as a New Mexico State Police officer in the summer of 1988. He didn’t leave UFOs behind, though.

Making UFO History on Television

In the 1980s there were many live television specials on sensational topics, and one of the most infamous was Geraldo Rivera in The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults where he found nothing. LBS Communications had produced the specials, Return to the Titanic… Live! and Mysteries of the Pyramids… Live! For 1988, they had UFO Cover-Up?... Live! Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera connected with Seligman Productions, who built a 2-hour television special around their claims and video tapes. In press for the show in The San Francisco Examiner Datebook, Oct. 9, 1988, executive producer Michael Seligman said that no one connected with the production “claims what [Shandera and Moore] say is 100% of the truth. They are respected and have a credible presentation. They've had contact with an intelligence operative who they've codenamed Falcon and a scientist who they codenamed Condor… [who] are part of the government and have been checked.” 

They were on tape, and short sections were played throughout the show, portions of the material Jim Moseley had seen the year before. “Falcon raved at length about Jesus Christ being a spaceman; earth being under alien surveillance for 25,000 years; a shipwrecked saucer pilot kept alive by the US government in a secret location, where he enjoyed strawberry ice cream and Tibetan music; and on and on…”

UFO Cover-Up?... Live! was broadcast on Oct. 14, 1988. One segment of the show featured Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum telling their story. 

To wrap it up, a pre-taped statement of Richard Doty in silhouette as “Falcon,” was played: 

“The Cash-Landrum incident - the craft that was observed was an alien craft piloted by military aircraft pilots. Although they had been trained and were somewhat familiar with the craft, they found that the aircraft did not respond to certain controls. They radioed that they thought the craft was going to crash — standard procedures for the military in any situation where an aircraft was going to crash — the military would send up search-and- rescue helicopters. The helicopters were following the craft. The craft experienced severe problems. It was thought that the craft was going to crash. However, this craft did not crash.”

Betty Cash nodded approvingly as Doty mentioned the helicopters, as if to say, “I told you so!”


The show was not a big hit in the ratings, but Walt Andrus said in the MUFON Journal Nov. 1988, that it “was an outstanding UFO documentary.” John F. Schuessler had some objections and wrote an article for The Journal of The Fortean Research Center, Vol. IV, No. 1, Spring 1989, "Wishful Thinking as an Explanation for UFOs," where he alluded to “Falcon’s” story:

“…Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum encountered a large diamond-shaped UFO… Since that time claims have been made that the object was a secret U.S. nuclear aircraft, a nuclear powerplant gone out of control, an alien spacecraft piloted by U.S. military pilots, and a number of other strange things. There is no evidence that any of these explanations are true. In fact, most are stranger than if we were to accept the UFO explanation.”

UFO Cover-Up?... Live! had featured a phone poll for a Congressional hearing on the UFO topic. Betty Cash seemed to be inspired by the show and became an activist petitioning the government for UFO hearings and transparency. The show was regarded by many serious researchers as a travesty, and Bill Moore’s shady claims and associates were given a harder look.

On July 1, 1989, Bill Moore delivered a lecture at the MUFON Symposium in Las Vegas that has become legendary. Facing mounting controversies about the origin and authenticity of the MJ-12 UFO documents and his own credibility, Moore struck back. Along the way, he made a shocking confession that he had been recruited by the U.S. government, tasked with spreading UFO falsehoods to Paul Bennewitz and others. Bennewitz’s narrative remixed their MJ-12 stories with ingredients such as cattle mutilations and alien abductions added in. It formed the basis for the loopy “dark side” UFO lore spread by John Lear. Moore didn’t like losing control of the story, and in his infamous lecture said, “I do know from first-hand experience… that a large proportion of what we are hearing today about malevolent aliens, underground bases and secret treaties with the U.S. government has its roots firmly planted in the Bennewitz affair.”

George Knapp, Bob Lazar, and John Lear

One of the offshoots was the notion of “Alien Reproduction Vehicles.” John Lear went public with his outlandish UFO views in 1987 and shared them in 1988 with the disbelieving Bob Lazar. From Bob Lazar: True or False?” by Glenn Campbell, “Lazar met Lear, heard his ramblings, and decided to give Lear what he wanted. Lazar took Lear's paranoid delusions and repackaged them in a much more intelligent and internally consistent rendition.” Lazar claimed to have taken a job at Area 51, then he fed Lear’s stories back to him as things he said he’d personally experienced. Lazar “confirmed” a central claim of Doty’s Cash-Landrum yarn, that alien-type experimental aircraft were being flown from a top-secret base, and he'd seen nine saucers. Lear introduced Lazar to George Knapp, and from the Doty-Moore deceptions, a newish legend was born.

In Bill Moore’s epic MUFON performance, he had attempted to portray himself as a whistleblower exposing the contamination of ufology by disinformation, but it didn’t go over well. After his lecture, Moore reduced his public role and involvement in ufology.

Part 3: 
Snowbird Flies Again

The Cash-Landrum case received a big boost by being featured in a segment of the popular television show, Unsolved Mysteries on February 6, 1991. The show asked for tips on the case, and afterward, some anonymous calls came in. The Houston Chronicle, Sept. 15, 1991, featured a review of the case stating:

The reported sighting has attracted numerous other responses, including some from the fringe. On one nationally syndicated TV special… "Falcon" and "Condor" told wild tales of U.S. pilots having problems while testing a nuclear-powered craft that had been acquired from extraterrestrials. Other tips are coming from callers who recently saw the UFO story aired on the Unsolved Mysteries TV program. Still others, claiming to be military… say they flew helicopters that night… At least two callers linked the UFO to a classified project, WASP-2, which they said was an experimental nuclear-powered craft abandoned after 1982 when it couldn't slop irradiating people. "The trouble is that most all the people with something significant to say were anonymous," said Schuessler. 

Richard Doty spent much of his career being an anonymous source, and he may have been behind those WASP-2 calls. Back in 1983 he’d told Gersten the C-L device had been discussed in Aviation Week. The magazine did run an article on the testing of an unusual aircraft, but it was a small one-man flying platform capable of short flights.

Aviation Week & Space Technology, May 31, 1982, page 66, “Wasp Pilot Training Begins,” and the WASP II also received coverage in mainstream magazines such as Newsweek, Popular Science, and Flying, Sept. 1982.  Doty took a dash of truth and a barrel full of lies to produce the C-L secret “experimental craft” yarn that morphed into the WASP II. Like the earlier Snowbird tale, there were some takers. Betty Cash’s Alabama doctor, Bryan McClelland, latched on to these “tips” and is chiefly responsible for perpetuating this story. McClelland’s 1996 letter reproduced in Schuessler’s The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident stated:

“There has been some suggestion that an experimental program with a military aircraft called a WASP-II could have gone amiss and irradiated Ms. Cash but this is unproven.”

Tom Adams’1991 booklet, The Choppers -- and the Choppers, carried a tale that seems to have been a variation on the Rick Doty C-L narrative, a second-hand story from an anonymous pilot repeating the word of another anonymous pilot, he called “Tony.” From Appendix 4:

“Tony was a helicopter pilot at Fort Hood. Between Christmas and the end of 1980, there was a ‘special alert.’” [They located the UFO and followed it for a few miles but were ordered to abort the mission.] After their arrival back at Fort Hood…They were told that what they had encountered was an ‘experimental aircraft’ that had gone astray… and had started to ‘experience problems.’ It was crucial to insure that no one [civilians] got too close to it.”

The X-Files Era

Bill Moore was done with ufology by 1994, but by then the mythology he’d sown with Doty was being served up to the public as entertainment on television via The X-Files on the Fox Network. 

Moore’s last known UFO-related media appearance was a short clip in the television show Sightings (season 3, episode 14) on the segment, “Disinformation,” broadcast on Jan. 15, 1995.

Rick Doty from Junichi Yaoi’s 1990 UFO documentary
for Nippon TV’s 
Thursday Night Special. 

Not much is documented about any UFO business Richard Doty had in the 1990s. He was not a public figure but claims. “I was involved in the 1997 UFO Conference briefing,” and also that he was an “avid reader of UFO Magazine.” The National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), was founded by Robert Bigelow in 1995, and it involved several players in the UFO-government arena that Bill Moore had called “the Aviary.” John Schuessler was on the NIDS science advisory board, and Dr. Hal Puthoff was chairman of the board. The Nov. 10, 2000, Saucer Smear reported:

From Super Secret Sources we learn the hilarious news that former Sergeant Richard (Rick) Doty now does research & investigation for the prestigious NIDS (National Institute for Discovery Science), though this must be on a part-time basis, as Doty is, as far as we know, still employed by the New Mexico State Police.”

John Alexander of NIDS called Moseley to deny Doty was involved, but years later more information would surface. 

Doty claimed he worked for Hal Puthoff circa 1994-2004, and Puthoff confirmed his  employment of Doty, saying:

“There was a period where we were investigating all aspects of the phenomenon. Richard Doty was a contractor for us, as were many other people. Some of his data could be verified, some could not. I happened to like him as an individual.” 
Seeking clarification, I emailed Dr. Puthoff, who replied saying Doty was hired for UFO research, but worked for EarthTech International (ETI), not NIDS. Puthoff said:

“First, Doty was not used in the earlier NIDS work. As to our (ETI's) use of Doty as a contractor, it was to get any input he could share about USG events, info that we could investigate further, e.g., sightings in US and foreign countries, claimed retrievals of materials from crash/retrievals, etc.”

Even so, the NIDS network is likely how Doty became involved in Schuessler’s 1996 book, UFO-Related Human Physiological Effects. The booklet was a directory of alleged medical cases, and it included a section on the Cash-Landrum incident.

The cover illustration was credited to Richard Doty and the artwork depicted a flying saucer above an alien-looking caduceus. We can only speculate whether it had the wings of a falcon.

Doty’s pal Robert Collins (aka Condor) was more public and posted in the Google Group, alt.paranet.ufo on July 21, 1996, where he repeated Doty’s tale: “The Cash Landrum case... is speculated to have been one of these ‘Reversed Engineered Devices’ gone out of control… a few of these reversed engineered prototypes have been lost in the Gulf of Mexico due to problems…”

Betty Cash in The Unexplained episode "Close Encounters"

The Unexplained episode "Close Encounters" aired July 9, 1998, and it was Betty Cash’s last interview. The re-enactment of the sighting depicted an angular UFO that looked like a close cousin of the F-117 stealth plane hot from Area 51. The narrator said, “Are Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum victims of a secret military program gone awry? Has a conspiracy hidden evidence of that fateful night in December 1980?”

In November Betty was hospitalized for a stroke and she died on Dec. 29, 1998, at the age of 69. A few months before, John Schuessler (self)published The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, a book collecting his files and memoirs of the investigation. He briefly mentioned the spats with APRO but did not call out either Bill Moore or Rick Doty by name, but discussing the case in a 2000 interview, Schuessler was a bit more forthcoming.

“[We] started getting leads from people like Bill Moore that this may have been a device that flew from Los Alamos to Ellington Field, which didn’t pan out at all. Ellington Field was in the process of becoming a public airport. There was no evidence between the two sites that anything had flown across.”

Richard Doty Comes Out of the Shadows

In 2005 Greg Bishop published Project Beta, his book on the Paul Bennewitz story. It contained material gathered with interviews with Bill Moore and Richard Doty, presenting them as if they were as trustworthy as any other source. On the Cash-Landrum case, Bishop wrote:

 “Richard Doty thinks the craft was an atomic-powered antigravity-type craft that was on a test mission to fly out over the Gulf of Mexico and land at a secure facility in Nevada when it had engine problems. Bennewitz guessed (and was probably encouraged in this direction) that the UFO was a captured alien ship, or at least had been developed with ‘borrowed’ technology.” 

On Feb. 27, 2005, Greg Bishop was on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell to promote the book, and brought along a surprise guest, Richard Doty. Bell asked about the damage done to ufology by “official disinformation” he had been a part of. Doty said, “Probably, it did some harm, yeah. Absolutely, not so much what I did, but there were some others. You are talking about small level operations that I did. Two that I told you about [Paul Bennewitz and Linda Moulton Howe], two others that have never been disclosed… one of them was a total failure.”

Near the show’s end, Bell asked about those other two operations for AFOSI. Doty said, “Well, basically one of the operations that was successful involved an airlines in Nevada that flew people to a certain location [Janet flights to Area 51]… That was an operation, and the second one was the Cash-Landrum… [Bell interrupted and wrapped up the show.] Piecing together Doty’s fragments, he claimed the C-L case was one of his “operations,” perhaps the one that “was a total failure.”

Later in 2005, Doty was deeply involved in promoting the Serpo hoax with the bad science fiction plot of an alien exchange program. Also, Falcon and Condor collaborated on a 2005 book. Exempt From Disclosure was a fantasy-filled flight by Robert M. Collins & Richard C. Doty, and a section rehashed Doty’s version of the Cash-Landrum case: 

“Rick Doty and others have stated that… one of our reverse-engineered craft gone out of control. …this craft was a very primitive attempt by the US government to find a fast track, secret way to get us into space and off to the stars using anti-gravity as the propulsion mechanism (part of Project Snowbird?). …the contact had said, there were problems with the materials, propulsion system, and understanding the alien’s power system.” 

Rick Doty in "The Great UFO Conspiracy"

The same year Rick Doty appeared anonymously in silhouette as a government UFO insider (like he’d done as Falcon) for an episode of the TV show, The World's Strangest UFO Stories, “The Great Alien Conspiracy.” Doty claimed:

“I was trained by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. During my DIA career, I investigated unidentified flying object sightings throughout the southwestern part of the United States. We did conduct counterintelligence operations against people that were close to obtaining the truth about classified programs. Some might call the operations disinformation…”

Mirage Men

Doty wrote an article about Serpo in the Feb. 2006 UFO Magazine, and attended the 2006 Laughlin International UFO Convention to be interviewed on film for Mirage Men. After that, he seems to have retreated from the spotlight.

The Snowbird-WASP Legend Lives On

Vickie Landrum died on September 12, 2007, but the UFO story went on. The last witness was Colby Landrum, who was interviewed for the History Channel UFO Hunters episode “Alien Fallout” that aired January 14, 2009. The show also featured Betty Cash’s physician, Dr. Bryan McClelland, who recycled rumors and conspiracy theories about the C-L case:

"There were a large number of military people exactly describing the series of events and the vehicle, and they could describe exactly what happened. In one of those, they said there was a vehicle called a WASP II, which was a nuclear-powered personnel carrier that they were apparently experimenting with..."

Rick Doty received public exposure with the release of the book Mirage Men in 2010 and the documentary released in 2013. Despite his sinister history, Doty came off like a bumbling conman, but there’s an old saying, "There is no such thing as bad publicity."

When I wrote to Rick Doty via the Internet in July 2014 asking if he could tell me more about the Cash-Landrum case, he indicated he had left UFOs behind. “Nope, not into that business anymore. Nothing more to say.” However, he later added, “That incident occurred a long time ago. It was classified then and I'm sure it is still classified. It did involve a reversed-engineered craft with a nuclear power system. I know the classified portion of the case but can't release that.”

Doty came out of UFO disinformation retirement to give an interview for Steven Greer’s 2017 film and book, Unacknowledged. Doty was still working from the old script:

"I met the four Air Force pilots involved in the Cash-Landrum incident in 1980. It involved an extraterrestrial craft that we had reverse-engineered. And I know that for a fact.”

Since then, Rick Doty has been in demand in UFO media circles and has appeared as a retired government insider in numerous television episodes and podcasts. Doty frequently discusses his alleged insider knowledge (aka disinformation) about the C-L case, though he fumbles with the details and gives contradictory accounts of his involvement and the story.

Richard C. Doty was featured as a guest at UFO MegaCon in Laughlin, Nevada, and gave several interviews about his UFO career. 

“The Cash-Landrum incident, 1980, I was involved in that. The craft was an extraterrestrial craft, but the propulsion system was one of ours. It was a nuclear propulsion system… because [they] couldn't understand it, with the alien propulsion system… They flew around Nevada for weeks… months… as they flew from Area 51 down to an Air Force Base in Texas, they developed a number of problems with it. It was gonna explosively crash and unfortunately the Cash-Landrum people were [there and it] poured some radiation on them.”

From another interview, “The Cash-Landrum incident involved a craft that had left Area 51 and flew south and eventually had the incident involving the family, and then came back, and when it came back, it was in a hangar and I saw it, and this was in 1982.”

In the publisher’s description for
Exempt from Disclosure by Robert M. Collins and Doty, it teased the “story of Area 51, S4, Aliens…” and said, “Rick Doty… confirms some of the things that Bob Lazar has been saying.” When George Knapp interviewed Doty in 2019 at the UFO MegaCon, he asked him to rate Bob Lazar’s credibility, “Scale of 1 to 10, 1 being completely bogus, 10 being really real, where does it fall?” Doty said, “I’d say it was a good 9.”

In yet another 2019 interview (My Alien Life),  Richard Doty claimed Cash and the Landrums were not exposed to radiation from the nuclear-powered engine of DARPA’s UFO. He said the aircraft did not descend below 1000 feet and suggests maybe the witnesses “exaggerated” their illnesses. In a seeming contradiction, he also says there was a secret settlement and Betty Cash was paid some undisclosed amount to cover most of her medical bills.

Since 2017 Doty has given 40 or more podcast interviews, and he has appeared in supposedly serious productions like Showtime’s four-part documentary series, UFO. Doty had to use subterfuge to spread falsehoods to ufologists in the 1980s, but now they come to his door begging for it.


Mission Accomplished


The motive for Rick Doty spreading UFO fables over the decades is interesting to ponder. Around the same time as the Cash-Landrum case, there were many rumors that centered on the U.S. government having captured alien technology. It’s possible that Doty was encouraging the spread of those rumors to make the Russians fear our military might, or to protect the secrecy of the development of projects like the F-117 Nighthawk and B-2 stealth planes. Then, if we look at the other sensational material he was pushing, no logical reason can be found for it. Doty comes off looking like just a scammer. As for his actions against UFO researchers, Doty maintains he was a soldier doing his duty, just following orders.

No matter his motive, Richard Doty exploited the Cash-Landrum witnesses with his alien-military hybrid vehicle yarn. Doty reduced them to supporting characters in their own story and their plight became secondary to his science fiction plot. The lies Doty told caused the lawsuit to become a snipe hunt for a Snowbird, ending in its dismissal. Paul Bennewitz was a victim of Rick Doty and Bill Moore, but so were Betty Cash, Vickie, and Colby Landrum. They lost their fight, and our memory of them will forever be entwined with lies.

. . .

For Further Reading

Richard Doty was involved in distorting another UFO case in 1981. APRO received the “Weitzel Letter” from an anonymous source describing a sensational sighting. Later, “Craig Weitzel, who confirmed that he had indeed seen a UFO in 1980 and reported it to Sgt. Doty. But his sighting, while interesting, was rather less dramatic than the CE3 reported in the letter.” For more details on this Doty hoax, see this item from The UFO Encyclopedia: UFOs in the 1980s by Jerome Clark, 1990. 

Other resources on Doty, Moore, and Disinformation are: 

Out There by Howard Blum, 1990

Project Beta by Greg Bishop, 2005

"The Secret Pratt Tapes and the Origins of MJ-12" by Brad Sparks and Barry Greenwood, 2007 MUFON Symposium

Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington, 2010


For further details and documents on the turf war over the C-L case see the Blue Blurry Lines article:
MUFON vs. APRO, Allegations, Accusations & Countercharges: The Cash-Landrum UFO Case Backstage Drama