Friday, June 14, 2013

How an Unexplained Event Can Evolve into a Myth

This is a first attempt to analyze how an event can be transformed into news story and then, on into a fictionalized narrative.

This is a simplified generic profile, but I welcome any input on corrections and ommissions.

How an Unexplained Event Can Evolve into a Myth

EVENT: Partial Information
from Aftermath, Witnesses, Official Report etc.

Media Coverage:
Seeks to fill information void with comments from:
Witnesss (and their associates)
Investigators or Officials

Official Investigation:
Information is gathered, theories and suspects are considered.

Confusing or Mistaken details enter the narrative.

Speculative comments begin being repeated, creating a feedback loop of corrupted data.

Attempt at Event Reconstruction:
Speculative Narrative is created, sometimes with Artwork,

Officials cannot match public's appetite for details.

Public circulation of tales mixing fact and fiction.

Media dramatization of case continues, may be linked to emotional, cultural or political hot-button issues.

Officials may repeat details of Media coverage in reports, making them "official". While trying to squash rumors, may feed them.

Public memory fades or just remembers sensationalized elements.

Media may tire of case before Official investigation complete.

No Official Explanation.

Public "knows" what really happened, but is lied to by the Officals and the Media.

Media Response:
Accusations of Official Incompetence or Cover-Up.

Official Explanation:
If it comes, always less dramatic than the Media coverage.

Fable, Parable or Myth is born. Fictionalized story, often with large doses of injustice and paranoia.

In case this does not format properly or is difficult to view, see the original at:
How an Unexplained Event Can Evolve into a Myth

I put this together after failing to find anything that quite dealt with the concepts I was examining. The closest thing I've read on it it Flat Earth News by Nick Davies. Any reccomendations on further reading are welcome.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Legend of the WASP II


Flying Magazine from September 1982 was one of many magazines carrying information  on the Williams International WASP II (Williams Aerial Systems Platform).

(scroll down a bit for WASP picture article)

Flying Magazine Sep 1982

Somehow, this real device got attached to the legends of a nuclear powered secret test vehicle involved in the Cash-Landrum case.

It seems to have begun after the story was featured on "Unsolved Mysteries" in 1991. One of the calls that came in the tip line told of the atomic powered WASP II.

Betty Cash's physician, Dr. Bryan McClelland later repeated the story in the press, and it became part of the legend surrounding the case.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Media coverage of UFOs prior to the Cash-Landrum encounter

Some cultural and historical background for the study of the Cash-Landrum sighting:

UFOs were big in the media in those days.
There was even an annual cash prize from the National Enquirer for the best UFO story of the year, judged by some prominent UFOlogists.
Bob Pratt on the National Enquirer UFO Blue Ribbon Panel

A lot of the media attention was fueled by the success of a 1977 movie by Steven Spielberg (more on that below).

Project UFO, an NBC television series debuted in 1978 and ran for two seasons.
It loosely adapted Blue Book cases, while taking its visual depiction of UFOs from CE3K- gigantic and brilliantly lit.

On April 24, 1980, there was a failed helicopter mission to rescue American hostages held in Iran, Operation Eagle Claw. The secret training for this mission was conducted at Area 51 in Nevada and the mission failure led to the base's public exposure. A second mission Iran rescue mission, "Honey Badger" was planned and test flights involving CH-47s flew across much of the United States. When President Reagan was elected in November, it was clear that the mission was unnecessary, but the operation remained active until Jan 1981. Reports of these test missions likely fed into reports of "mystery helicopters" at the time. The Cash-Landrum case was initially linked to this phenomenon.

In August, 1980 Secretary of Defense Harold Brown disclosed details of secret US stealth technology experimentation. There was much press and speculation leading up to this. (Incidentally, the test flights for the F-117 stealth plane were conducted at Area 51, birthplace of many UFO legends.)

 Another key media influence in the latter half of 1980 was the movie Hangar 18  (a Hollywood version of the Aztec UFO crash legend). The movie's advertising misleadingly promoted as a documentary, and the advertising traded heavily on US Government cover-up and conspiracy, drawing on distrust and paranoia following the Watergate affair. The movie poster played on government distrust:

 "The government is concealing a UFO 
and the bodies of the alien astronauts. 
 Why won't they tell us?"

    (Betty Cash's cardiologist recommended that she see this movie- it is highly likely she saw the television advertisements for it.)

Close Encounters of The Third Kind was rereleased nationwide to theaters August 1980 in a Special Edition. Almost every element of the Cash-Landrum UFO encounter was featured in the movie:

Brilliantly lit, gigantic UFO

 Car encounters UFO on lonely road
Witnesses suffer skin burns from UFO

A young boy endangered by a UFO   

Helicopter menaces witnesses

US military has knowledge of UFO and has scheme to for cover-up

Whatever actually happened on Dec 29, 1980, the incident was quickly absorbed and reshaped to fit into the existing UFO paradigm. The witnesses claimed it was a military exercise, but the chief investigator and promoter of the case preferred an extraterrestrial solution.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Was the Cash-Landrum UFO a Damaged Nuclear Warhead?

Among the theories for the Cash-Landrum UFO event, there was speculation that it was an accident involving a damaged nuclear weapon carried across Texas. There was such an event just a few months earlier, a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in September 1980. An accident led to a fuel tank leak which caused an explosion that sent the nuclear warhead flying. The warhead was recovered a sent to the Pantex weapons assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas.

The secrecy of the recovery led to contradictory news coverage, as to whether the damaged warhead was sent by truck or a shielded C-141 plane.

Lewiston Morning Tribune Sept 24, 1980

The Damascus incident was the subject of the 2017 documentary Command and Control.

Official Theatrical Trailer - Command and Control

The similarities in time and place are most interesting, but the Damascus incident was resolved by the time of the Cash-Landrum encounter, and there's no evidence that another weapons accident occurred.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Exonerating the Helicopter Pilot

Cover-Up or Mix-Up?

You've probably heard this story if you are familiar with the Cash-Landrum case:
April 30, 1981, a CH-47 helicopter landed in Dayton, Texas, as part of The Future Farmers of America livestock show. Vickie Landrum attended, met the pilot and she asked him if they ever encountered UFOs. He told her that he'd been called out by the Montgomery County Sheriff's department to investigate a UFO. when she told him that she was one of the witnesses and was injured in the encounter, he clammed up and tried to rush her out of there.

Colby Landrum and the CH-47 in Dayton, Texas.

Later John Schuessler contacted the pilot by phone. According to reports, the pilot first admitted it, but subsequently denied it.

What Happened Before is Important

Before any of this happened, in April 1981, there was an investigation into the source of the helicopters in the incident. Allan Hendry worked with Professor J. Allen Hynek at the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Hendry was contracted by the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) to investigate the helicopters in the Cash-Landrum encounter, but Hendry's report was far more inclusive (but much more on that later).

John Schuessler received a copy of this report and he either ignored or missed the connection detailed below.

From Hendry's FUFOR report.

Hendry wrote that during in his investigation on April 2 and 3, 1981, he contacted a Mr. Nidever from Ellington Air Force Base and was told that they while they were the only base in the area with matching helicopters, they were not in flight at the time of the incident. He did however, have an interesting story, Nidever said:
"We had a UFO sighting down here earlier about two years ago. We were called out on this by the sheriff's department of Montgomery county. they had spotted one about two or three times. They had a helicopter out there, we were supposed to go out when they saw it and go chase it down because Mr. Culverson (with the Army Guard) was involved in that."

Mr. "Culverson" is one letter away from the name of the accused pilot.

Hendry's report was distributed sometime in the spring of 1981, but Schuessler did not act on the information. Instead of investigating a possible connection between the two sightings, he missed it only to treat the pilot as a hostile witness. He gave his name to the officer during the DAIG investigation and later published the pilot's name in UFO literature, citing him as a participant in a UFO cover-up.

The UFO incident the pilot was connected with seems to match this case:

July 21, 1977; Porter, TX 4:15 AM. Officer John W. Bruner, a deputy sheriff, was on duty and was the first person to observe the phenomenon. Officer Bruner and his partner Officer Coogler were parked west of the object which appeared to be approximately 1/2 to 1 mile away. Bruner and Coogler got out of their vehicle and tried to observe the object better by shinning their light on it. The object moved toward the men and the officers turned off the light because they became nervous at seeing the object's response to their light. The object then moved back to its first location. The two officers concurred that the object appeared to have six portholes surrounding a type of framework. The two officers observed the UFO for approximately 45 minutes. During that time period, the UFO appeared to stand still in mid air, pulsated, traveled at incredible speeds and flew with erratic mobility. The officers described the UFO's apparent size to be about that of a grapefruit. Officer Bruner is convinced That the object he saw was not a balloon or a helicopter.
(from NICAP: The 1977 UFO Chronology
A similar incident on July 29, 1977 is the one where the National Guard was summoned to investigate by helicopter. Full report at: NICAP Investigator October 1977 (see page 4)

Based on the evidence, it seems that the pilot mentioned the UFO case. Vickie, in her excitement, made an overzealous mistaken connection. Emotion and the inattention of the investigator carried the story from there.

The pilot's denial was the foundation of the charges of US government and a cover-up. It was a false accusation. 

Update- further information found:

Billy Cox located the pilot, and interviewed him for an article appearing on the case in the December 5, 1983 Florida Today newspaper:
"(The pilot) conceded he told them he'd flown a UFO mission out of Ellington, and he even repeated the part about being called out by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department. But what he really told them, (the pilot) says, was that he and another chopper investigated a UFO sighting near Sam Houston State Park - in the Dayton vicinity- in 'June or July' of 1977. Not 1980. And they came up empty handed." 
The pilot is quoted, “I guess those ladies just got what I told them mixed up.”

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dayton Woman Sues Over ‘UFO Injuries’

The Baytown Sun,  Sunday, January 22, 1984, Baytown, TX
Dayton Woman Sues Over ‘UFO Injuries’ 
(NOTE: Gersten misspelled as Gerston throughout article as originally printed.) 
DAYTON- Vicki Landrum, 60, can’t go outside without “breaking out in big blisters.” 

Chronic illnesses have plagued Mrs. Landrum, her 10-year old grandson Colby Landrum and Betty Cash, 54, after their supposed December 1980 encounter with an unidentified flying object.

The women and the boy have sued the US Government seeking $20 million in damages for injuries they claim were caused by radiation emitted from the UFO that hovered above them, outside of New Caney.

They say the federal government is somehow involved and should pay for their medical care. 

“She gets very upset when she has to talk to anyone about this,” a daughter-in-law of Mrs. Landrum said Saturday. “She hasn’t even been able to go outside because she breaks out in big blisters.”

She added that Mrs. Landrum has lost her hair as a result of the encounter. 

The Sun was unable to talk directly with the plaintiffs Saturday.

A New York lawyer representing Mrs. Cash, Mrs. Landrum and Colby Landrum said they suffered severe headaches, nausea, swollen earlobes and eyelids, diarrhea, and facial blisters for a few days after the the incident.

The health of Mrs. Cash, who received the most exposure, deteriorated substantially, attorney Peter Gersten said.

She was admitted to Parkway Hospital for one week and later two weeks. She was in and out of the hospital October through December 1981 with chronic illness.

The attorney said the victims still experience nausea, loss of appetite, skin blotches and blisters.

Gersten has represented several organizations in lawsuits related to UFOs. 

On December 29, 1980, the three were returning home from a bingo game. about seven miles outside of New Caney, when they noticed a bright object glowing in the sky.

“The object hovered above the road and was so bright they couldn’t make out its shape,” Gersten said. 

The object was flaming and gave off so much heat and light that Mrs. Cash and her friends could drive no farther,  Gersten added.

They got out of the car for awhile and Mrs. Cash rested her hand on the vehicle. When she removed her hand, he said, she found it had left a permanent imprint on the car. 

Driving away, they counted 23 helicopters near the object, but  Gersten said they were unable to determine whether the choppers were escorting the object or pursuing it.

The three have twice filed administrative claims for medical treatment with the Air Force, but were refused help each time.  Gersten quoted one Air Force statement as saying “our investigation has revealed no evidence of involvement by any military personnel, equipment or aircraft in this alleged incident.”

 Gersten said finding “no evidence” means Air Force investigators merely did not have access to classified information.

The incident has been independently investigated, said Gersten, by John Schuessler, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineer who has specialized in a study of UFOs.

 Gersten said the incident also was witnessed by a deputy sheriff. 

Mrs. Cash, Mrs. Landrum and Colby Landrum asked in their suit for damages totaling $20 million.

 Gersten said his clients want also to determine what type of radiation they had been exposed to so they could seek appropriate medical treatment.

“The government has all along denied any responsibility for the incident,” he said. “They are not willing to come forward and reveal the type of object to help three people.” 

 Gersten said he is optimistic about his clients’ chances of winning the suit. “If we can show the incident happened -- and we can -- then they (the government) have to show they’re not responsible.” 

Friday, November 23, 2012

James W. Moseley - Radio Shows and Podcasts

Jim Moseley Radio shows and Podcasts

(See this page for Jim's many Paracast appearances)

Jim Moseley appeared on about two zillion radio programs in the 50s and 60s, when he was a frequent guest on the Long John Nebel show, and later on James Randi's program. When the UFO flap of 1966 launched Jim into celebrity as a UFO expert lecturer, he toured the country and was once again featured on many radio and television programs, most of which are now lost. Here's a collection of some of the more recent programs that are still available. 
(More will be listed as they are discovered.)

Radio Misterioso May 27, 2012
Greg Bishop and Tim Brigham in conversation with

Jim Moseley: Saucer Smear and Other Foibles

The Stench of Truth April 28, 2012 -  Jim Moseley Interview
Stench of Truth along with special guest-host Andy Colvin, hop on board the acclaimed Saucer Smear co-founder James W. Moseley’s campaign stump to drive away the pesky Martian aliens. 

Open Minds Radio April 2011

PsiOp-Radio May 23, 2010:SMiles Lewis and MackWhite with their special guest James Moseley.

Unravelling the Secrets  with guest Jim Moseley 2/15/2009 (iTunes link)
Living Legends of UFO Research - Feb 15, 2009

Radio Misterioso September 7th, 2003 
From The Archives: James Moseley – Saucer Smear and Other Controversies
Greg Bishop: "On September 7th, 2003, Jim was in Los Angeles for the National UFO Conference. For some reason, he did not want to make the 5 mile drive to the studio for an interview, so we called him in his hotel room at the Beverly Garland hotel in North Hollywood. Ralph Coon, director/ writer/ producer/ editor of the Gray Barker documentary Whispers From Space was on hand to ask non-sequitur questions."

Long John Nebel Show WOR radio
(Re-presented on Don Ecker's Dark Matters)
There's a fair amount about his travels and excavations at Peru, including some discussion of the Nazca Lines. Also some state of the art assessment of the flying saucer scene and the failings of UFO groups.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

James W. Moseley 1931-2012

Some images and articles in the memory of 
Saucer Smear's Supreme Commander

Panama City NewsTuesday, May 11, 1954, Panama City, Florida

ProspectorFriday, March 31, 1967, El Paso, Texas

Jim and Gray Barker's "Lost Creek Saucer", 
a film Jim used in his lectures.

Mt Vernon Register NewsTuesday, April 11, 1967, Mt Vernon, Illinois

On the Joe Pyne Show circa 1967
SHOW HT #37 - JAMES MOSELEY is the Editor and Publisher of Saucer News who discuses “The Moth Man,” a strange creature that inhabits the wilds of West Virginia.  He also discusses “the legitimate side of the UFO.”

Review of one of Jim Mosley's college lectures 

2002 NUFOC Conference
Jim begins at 31:40

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cash-Landrum Radio Programs

This is a collection of audio programs relating to the Cash-Landrum case, from 1984 to 2013. These all feature interviews with people with an imitate involvement with the case, not merely talk shows. No doubt, there were many more recorded over the years, and if you can help locate them please let me know.

1984: Bill Moore on The Open Mind
William L. Moore, co-author of The Roswell Incident, appeared on Bill Jenkins' The Open Mind radio program in early 1984 and discussed the Cash-Landrum case. See the link below for a transcript on the C-L discussion and a link to the recording. 

January 16th, 1999: John Schuessler
An interview with John Schuessler, shortly after Betty Cash’s death on the Jeff Rense program. The host asks a few questions that threaten to take Schuessler off his scripted story, chiefly about one of the witnesses seeing military emblems on the helicopters.
“Well, Betty thought she could see some markings, but she couldn’t tell what they were. Uh, My belief is they really didn’t see much markings other than the colors where they have emergency places or markings for emergency doors and that sort of thing.”
Schuessler goes on to imply it doesn't really matter, as only the military were flying that type of helicopter.

Another item is the nearly forgotten matter of the alleged injury beneath Betty Cash's ring:
“In fact where her ring was on her finger it got very hot too, and burned even under the ring.”

Betty Cash Story – Jeff Rense interviews John Schuessler

December 2000: John Schuessler on UFO Update
From 2000, on the 20th anniversary of the event, there's an interview with John Schuessler on UFO Update. This was shortly after the release of his book, and the details should have been fresh in his mind. There were some inaccurate statements, which I'll document at some point. For the most part, the story is the same as in his book, but it is interesting to hear him describe them.

UFO Update was a regular feature on KFAI’s Musical Transportation Spree (1997-2006).

"The Cash-Landrum Incident in 1980 involved huge UFO in Texas and a deadly close encounter. Researcher John Schuessler details the documented witness physical effects and the official cover-up, in an interview with Jerry Modjeski on the year 2000 anniversary."
Best of UFO Update Volume One (Track 1)

2012: John Schuessler and Kevin Barry
Paradigm Unhinged was a UFO radio show cohosted by Ken Storch and Todd Knurr. (Storch was a briefly a later investigator in the Cash-Landrum case.) They have two shows of interest, the first with John Schuessler, and a portion of that program covered the case, almost exactly repeating his comments from the 2000 Rense interview (and strangely not mentioning alleged newer developments mentioned in a 2011 Coast To Coast interview.)  Secondly, Kevin Barry, the director of two Cash-Landrum television episodes, The Unexplained, and years later the UFO Hunters episode "Alien Fallout." 

December 4, 2013: Colby Landrum
Martin Willis of Podcast UFO secured "an extremely rare interview with Cash-Landrum UFO Incident witness Colby Landrum." Joining with questions were researchers Chris Lambright and Curtis Collins. Check the link below for our article and show details.

In the years since, there have been many radio shows or podcasts about the case, but most amount to chatter and do not involve Cash-Landrum witnesses or original investigators, so are not listed.