Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cover-Up: 100 helicopters- Robert Grey airfield, came in, for effect

Charges of a Cover Up

CH-47s, suspects in cover-up

The accused:  Col. George Sarran, ret.

On the UFO Hunters episode "Alien Fallout", Bill Birnes questioned Colonel George Sarran about the following entry in his notes for the DAIG investigation of helicopters:
- 100 helicopters- Robert Grey airfield, came in, for effect

Colonel Sarran was unable to explain the entry. The implication was that he'd uncovered a massive helicopter operation and then buried the evidence. A bit of digging reveals the probable source for the helicopter notation. 

According to October 1982 issue of the MUFON Journal article written by John Schuessler:
"On 19 March 1982 I was called by Lt. Col. George Sarran from the Department of the Army Inspector General office in the Pentagon. Col. Sarran explained that his office had received the inquiry from the Air Force Liaison Office because the Air Force had concluded their units were not involved. He explained that his interest was in the possibility that Army helicopters were involved. He would be investigating that allegation. He stressed that the U.S. Army had no opinion about the unidentified object or UFOs in general."

Sarran DAIG investigation notes released via FOIA.
Lt. Colonel George Sarran made these notes, in March or April 1982, probably during a phone conversation with UFO investigator John F. Schuessler in preparation for their first meeting in May. The "100 helicopters" notation seems to be just a recording of Schuessler’s comments. Compare them to earlier published statements by John Schuessler:
"One significant helicopter operation took place at Gray Air Force Base near Killeen, Texas, where more than 100 helicopters came in from the field “for effect.” 
-The Spectrum of UFO Research: The Proceedings of the Second CUFOS Conference (Sept. 25-27 1981, book published 1988, Published first in UFO Report Winter 1981 Vol. 9, No. 4: Texas UFO Trauma by John Schuessler)
"The unit operating out of Ellington AFB in Houston had landed before the sighting time. Robert Gray Field had 100 helicopters come in from the field at one time "for effect," but claimed to have avoided the Houston area. Hence, no one claims the helicopters that filled the Huffman area sky that winter night."
Cash-Landrum Radiation Case" by John F. Schuessler -MUFON UFO Journal November 1981 pg. 6

Army Chinooks

They might have? 

"At the Robert Gray Field near Fort Hood a spokesman said they might have 100 helicopters from the field home at one time "for effect", but he claimed they avoided the Houston area."
"Blind Terror in Texas" by John F. Schuessler, The Unexplained (UK magazine) 9(107) 2121-25, (1982)

On a site hosting a video of the UFO Hunters episode, one of Col. Sarran's co-workers spoke on his behalf, describing his interview techniques. "exitpleasantrealty" writes:
"The characterization that Mr. (Former Colonel) Sarran was lying is quite incorrect - - you have to know Mr. Sarran as I do and have for six (6) years - - he literally (even after retirement and becoming a businessman) writes down notes copiously. As soon as we saw this episode we knew someone had mentioned "100 helicopters" and he had merely wrote it down...........if they had shown all the notes instead of just that line you would have probably seen more info - - this man doesn't lie."

The Smoking Gun 

Accuser: John F. Schuessler
In a telephone interview during the DAIG investigation, Sarran made notes of his conversation with John F. Schuessler. Schuessler mentioned the "might have 100 helicopters " story, which Sarran jotted down. When those notes were released along with Sarran's DAIG report in a FOIA release, Schuessler pointed to the note as the "smoking gun" of a U.S. Government cover-up.

It made for a "gotcha" moment on the UFO Hunters show, but in this case, the charges are false.

(Note: This is a revised and updated version of an earlier post.)
C. 2013, Curtis L. Colllins

Professor Michael D. Swords Reports on the Cash-Landrum UFO Investigation

Michael D. Swords, Ph.D, Reporting on the Cash-Landrum UFO Investigation

UFO historian Michael Swords  reported on paranormal conferences in Pursuit magazine (Pursuit: Science is the Pursuit of the Unexplained), and in two of his articles he covered lectures by John F. Schuessler discussing the Cash-Landrum case. Case historians will be interested to see what details were discussed at the time, and what notable details went unmentioned. Further, Dr. Swords offered  his expert analysis and historical context for the case and its investigation.*

Pursuit magazine

Pursuit 84  Second Quarter 1984News From Another World: The Nebraska UFO-Cryptozoology Conference

reported by Michael D. Swords

November 11, 12, 13 of 1983: Ray Boeche, Nebraska State
Director for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), engineered
one of the finest Fortean conventions in· recent years. Big Guns,
J. Allen Hynek (Center for UFO Studies), Walter Andrus
(MUFON), and Roy Mackal (International· Society for Cryptozoology),
headed a sparkling cast of experts who kept the audience
and the press crackling with interest. ABC television
featured the activities nationwide.

The mysteries of living dinosaurs, out-of-place animals, lake·
monsters, spontaneous human combustion, UFO abductions,
crashed saucers, and cattle mutilations paraded before the conferees
in an inspired format: four speakers per day, scheduled
half-hour question and discussion sessions behind each talk, and
one and a half-hour discussion sessions for all speakers at the
end of the day. The interchange· was dynamic and intimate.
Everyone shared in the exchange. Even the experts learned some
things. Thank you, Ray, for an extremely good show.
And, now to business 

John F. Schuessler

(Cash-Landrum portion)
John Schuessler is a key researcher in MUFON and an
employee of McDonnell Douglas Astronautics, working with
NASA on Sky lab and the Space Shuttle. He reported on the
"Cash-Landrum" close encounter incident in Texas, involving
health damage to the percipients. This case hints. very strongly
of governmental secrecy.
Driving on a quiet country highway, two older women and
the young grandson of one of the women were surprised by a
diamond-shaped object with two rows of blue lights laboriously
blasting fire from its underside and struggling in the air.
Flames seem nearly to reach the car from over one hundred feet
away. One of the witnesses felt that Christ's final coming was
at hand. As the device, "big as the watertower,", groaned slowly
across the trees, it was joined by at least 23 helicopters of the
large twin-rotored military kind. The whole ensemble moved
off and the witnesses continued home.

Later, all three experienced a barrage of symptoms classical-,
Iy related to radiation sickness. A MUFON radiology consultant
stated, "we have strong evidence that these patients have
suffered damage secondary to ionizing radiation. It is also possible
that there was an infrared or ultraviolet component as well. "
As health and behaviors changed, both women lost jobs (one
of them even lost ownership ,of businesses) and their lives altered
markedly. Naturally, they would like some compensation if they
were innocently damaged by some military activity. 

Attempts to track, down the cause of the incident have been
completely unsuccessful. All military bases in the area deny any
knowledge and consequently; any responsibility. Some people
in the UFO field  see this lack of evidence for military involvement
as an indication of the likelihood of extraterrestrial involvement,
even hailing this as "the most important UFO case in
years. " Some have gone so far as to suggest that aliens disguise
their craft as helicopters to throw us off. Most of PURSUIT’S
readers, it might be ventured, have come up with a lot less complicated
alternative for this case: no UFOs, a lot of secret military

There are plenty of reasons to guess "U.S. Military Project"
on this one: 
1. there were loads of "U.S. Military" helicopters in the
    story, and there are many of that type of device in several
    bases in the area;
2. on that very night there was a 100 helicopter operation
    elsewhere in Texas, so such an activity would not be
3. the "UFO" was blasting flames from its underside - very
    unusual for a UFO-incident, but rather common for "earth-technology;
4. the witnesses noted the odor of "lighter fluid" in the air;
    perhaps liquid hydrocarbon ("gasoline-like") rocket fuel?;
5. the U.S. Military has ample reason to tell us nothing on
    this case even without extraterrestrials being involved (for
    one, a possible secret vertical takeoff military device test;
    for another, little incentive to take responsibility for irradiating
    citizens with a snafu'd test).

To this reporter, there are two really sad things about this case:
One, that Mrs. Cash and Mrs. Landrum have had so many difficulties
and there seems little chance for justice and compensation.
This is by far the most important outcome of this experience.
Two, this incident points out the danger of' “wanting
it too badly" by some UFO enthusiasts. Since there is such a
conceivable alternative hypothesis (U.S. Military test), we certainly
shouldn't be hailing this as the most important case in
years, nor scrambling for "disguised helicopters" theories to
firm up the extraterrestrial hypothesis. To John Schuessler's
credit, he has stayed quite objective about this case and is 
primarily driven by humanitarian concerns for Mrs., Cash and
Landrum. Others haven't kept as cool, however, and seem not
to recognize the danger of selectively believing the military
whenever it fits their theories (i.e. the military is constantly accused
of covering everything up, but is believed in this case
when it says that the "object" was not its device). This doesn't
mean that there's no chance of UFOs in this "sighting," but
it should indicate that, as of now, there's no evidence of any
concrete kind to support that' speculation.

"diamond-shaped object with two rows of blue lights"

Pursuit 87, Second Quarter 1985
Meet E. T. in St. Louis: The 1985 MUFON UFO Symposium

by Michael D. Swords

Most of the nation's leading "alien watchers" convened at
the end of June, 1985 to see what they had se~n. Some of them
had searched for alien bodies, some for secret documents, some
for landing marks, and some for medical evidence. They all
agreed that UFOs are real and probably extraterrestrial. It was
the national MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) convention in St.

Peter A. Gersten

(Cash-Landrum portion)
The fourth presenter was Peter Gersten, a New York lawyer
and a leading advocate of abolition of UFO secrecy in government
documents. Gersten compared UFO evidence to trial
evidence, stating that evidence for the reality of UFOs exists
"beyond reasonable doubt." He created an analogy between,
the acceptability of witness testimony in criminal cases and in
UFO cases, noting that often one credible witness is "Sufficient
to convict a criminal whereas thousands of UFO witnesses are
available to "convict" the UFOs. This line of reasoning lacked
"conviction" to this author, however, as criminal cases require
"motive" and "opportunity" to be obvious in such open
and shut witness testimony cases, and neither is obvious in the
UFO situation. "Opportunity," especially here, would refer to
whether extraterrestrials and their spacecraft exist in our air space
at all, and without solid determination that premise, the witness
testimony fails ... particularly if there is "motive" and/or "opportunity"
for the witness to fool or be fooled.

Several other points of interest were made:
a) An important Air Intelligence Report on analysis' of flying
objects in the U. S. has been obtained through the
Freedom of Information Act. Its job was to "examine the
pattern and tactics of flying saucers;" its conclusions included
that "the origin of the devices is not ascertainable"
and that "it must be accepted that some type of flying objects
have been observed." The report was reprinted in
the July 1985 issue of the MUFON Journal.;
b) Gersten knows that some government documents have been
"leaked" after they have been falsified by adding bogus
information, which does wonders for the search for truth;
c) he 'reminded us that evidence received via hypnosis and
lie detectors is not admissable in a court of law; and that
evidence by "anonymous" informants is merely hearsay;
d) so far as is known there is no government documentation
on abduction cases, and that crashed-saucer cases have
essentially nothing supporting them admissable in a court
of law . Or to put it another way "Habeus corpus we ain't."

John F. Schuessler of MUFON

John Schuessler, an aerospace engineering manager working
on most of the famous NASA projects became interested in
UFOs naturally as to their technology and their mode of propulsion.
He has been led into an investigation of close encounters
which resulted in physiological and medical effects as an oblique
approach to what the forces involved may be. Mr. Schuessler
is another case of the advanced, disciplined, and analytical
researcher needed in ufology. Very serious and precise in his
approach and never catering to the emotionalism or fantasy some
speakers feel their audiences need, he laid out the best medical
cases from his experience in ufology and commented upon their
significance. In general, the symptoms seem the products of
radiation, often mutating or "ionizing" radiation, occasionally
even nuclear or particulate (so-called "hard" or penetrating)
radiation. Sometimes we are dealing with generalized burns,
sometimes patchy or shaped burns or marks, sometimes more
thorough effects such as hair loss or erratic growth. Many times
the common signs of dizziness, headache, nausea, disorientation,
et al are present. In the now-famous "Cash-Landrum"
case' where two older women and a grandchild were exposed
to a roughly diamond-shaped vehicle belching a powerful exhaust
(and accompanied by U.S. military-type helicopters) more
spectacular and dangerous effects (inc. rapid deterioration and
lesions of the skin) were present. This last case is important to
understanding the UFO phenomenon as the U.S. government
has now stated (since Peter Gersten is suing it for damages to
Mrs. Cash and Mrs. Landrum on grounds that this was a secret project
vehicle gone awry) that although it agrees that a device
of some sort was present in the incident, that it was not a U.S.
technical craft of any sort. So ... have they (the government) spun
a weird sort of intermediate lie, or was it really a non-U.S. production?
And if not "us," who?

_ _ _

*Note: Dr. Swords comments were based on some case details now revealed to be inaccurate, but otherwise his analysis is still relevant.
Should Dr. Swords wish to give an updated opinion, I'd be honored to host it!

Pursuit is now archived online by
Pursuit - SITU journal (Ivan T Sanderson)

A special thanks for Isaac Koi for leading me to this (and a great many other things).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry

Possibly the Most Important Cash-Landrum Case Report

Allan Hendry had a brief tenure with CUFOS working with Dr. Hynek, and also wrote The UFO Handbook. FUFOR, the Fund For UFO Research contracted Hendry to investigate the source of the  helicopters in the Cash-Landrum case. In John F. Schuessler’s paper at the Sept. 1981 CUFOS lecture, he downplayed Hendry’s investigation, stating that it was a brief inquiry conducted by telephone.  He went on to say that Hendry was unable to find a source for the helicopters, but believed the incident was a military exercise involving helicopters and a Harrier jet testing electronic countermeasures, which Schuessler disagreed with. If there was anything else to Hendry’s report, Schuessler never mentioned it.
Allan Hendry of CUFOS

Hendry played another unacknowledged role in the case, According to Betty Cash’s statement in the Bergstrom interview, Hendry called the victims and advised them to contact their senators, which eventually led to the legal action.

Hendry dropped out of UFO research about the time of this case. Interesting fellow and a great investigator, apparently now largely forgotten.

I recently dumped more files than the average reader can digest, one of the most important ones was Allan Hendry’s April 1981 FUFOR report on the Cash-Landrum case. Hendry’s charter was just the helicopters but in order to conduct a thorough investigation, he interviewed both Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum by telephone. This report is possibly the best document written on the case, objective, free of agenda or bias.

He provides a narrative of the case based on Schuessler’s original VISIT report and eyewitness statements. 

The single most startling item is that he reports:
Flames intermittently “whooshed” down towards the road; later examination showed no marks on the pavement.

This single remark seems to throw all Schuessler’s later claims of physical damage to the sighting location into the waste basket. 

The EM controversy: the Auto Engine

The report also includes a new claim of the UFO killing the car engine.
Hendry asks Betty about the motor stalling, and she replies:
BC: “It just quit on its own...”

Hendry mentions discussing discrepancy with Schuessler who admits it is troubling as his reports states the car stopped when Betty turned the engine off. Schuessler’s response to this major case detail about possible electromagnetic UFO effects was not to mention it. It remains under cover for seventeen years. There is no reference by Schuessler in the case literature until the publication of his book in 1998, where it is mentioned in quotes from Cash and also discussed in the narrative.

The Facts in Black & White

There’s also another matter that Hendry touches on that Schuessler doesn’t cover. In his conversation with Vickie Landrum she mentions having health insurance, but can’t explain why has not used it seek treatment of her (and Colby’s) injuries. 

The Helicopter Pilot

The report goes on to document Hendry’s contact with military bases plausibly in range that could have launched the helicopters reported by the witnesses. In one of the interviews, the base representative volunteers that one of their men was involved in a flight to investigate a 1977 UFO by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department. It names, pilot but slightly misspells his last name. Later, due to a misunderstanding, Vickie Landrum came to believe the same man was a pilot in her encounter. Had Schuessler been paying attention, or remembered Hendry’s report, he could have cleared the man’s name, rather than erroneously accusing the pilot and naming him as a participant in a military cover-up. (See Exonerating the Helicopter Pilot for full details.)

Burn After Reading

The Hendry report is one of the most valuable pieces of evidence in the case, an extremely rare early interview with the witnesses before the case became subject to pollution by manipulation and  rumors. It also gives us a glimpse of what kind of information was edited out of the  version of the story presented by chief investigator Schuessler in his promotion of this case as a UFO milestone.

The Hendy Report is marked "Fund use only." This document was not made public until 2013 and published here.  
There’s other great stuff on the case in this report that I’m forgetting. Read it yourself! 

A Preliminary Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry for the Fund for UFO Research undated (April 1981.11 pages w/cover) beginning on page 8 of linked PDF:

Allan Hendry illustration from the UFO Handbook, describing investigator pitfalls.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Moon has an Alibi: A Saucer Smear Exclusive

Controversial player in the C-L saga

“The sky had partially cleared and the moon was visible in the night sky.
Because of the light of the moon and the helicopters’ running lights, 
the craft were clearly visible.”
Schuessler, J, Fate Magazine,  May 1984 (Volume 37, No. 5 Issue 410Clark Publishing Co. pg 32-36 

A Saucer Smear Scoop

The Cash-Landrum UFO encounter occurred around 9:00 p.m. near Huffman, Texas on the evening of December 29, 1980. Jim Moseley was deeply interested in the case and the plight of the witnesses. He wrote about it several times.
"If the same amount of concerted effort had been put into solving this case as was put into solving the Roswell Incident, the Cash-Landrum case would have been properly explained long ago." -Jim Moseley
James W. Moseley, UFO authority

Way back in 2012, Saucer Smear publisher James W. Moseley was on the trail of the controversy about the investigation of the Cash-Landrum case. As published, Feb. 15, 2012:

From the original letter to Jim, dated 1/6/2012

There’s a seemingly minor thing that is a big clue to how this case was handled. In MUFON Journal June 1986, there’s a letter from Scottish skeptic Steuart Campbell. Campbell cites an article by Schuessler “Blind Terror in Texas”, published by “The Unexplained” UK magazine in 1982. He says the witnesses mentioned seeing the Moon, and goes on to document that the Moon didn’t appear until after midnight, and supposing the event happened much later, analyzes what celestial objects the witnesses could have mistaken for a UFO.
Finding a copy of the Unexplained article in the clippings, I was able to read it for myself. The witnesses do not put the Moon in the sky, Schuessler does: 
"Light from the third-quarter Moon, supplemented an airglow from the lights in the surrounding area, made the sky bright and the visibility good."
I'm guessing he looked at an almanac and saw a 3/4 Moon listed and added it as a background detail. I got an astronomical program that recreates historical night skies from around the globe and checked the Moon position as seen from the area for Dec. 29, 1980, and Campbell seems to be right about the timing of the the Moon, it appeared at about 1:00 a.m.  
This mistake about the Moon may indicate that there could be other, bigger problems with wishful thinking around the way evidence was gathered and presented.
UFO Docu-fiction?

Dramatic License to Kill

Jim was a rascal in his extended youth and perpetrated some pranks and even UFO hoaxes. However, he had a serious side, and did much good work over the years in exposing some UFO phonies. For some reason, Jim had a surprisingly low tolerance for fiction mixed in with UFO reports. (His term for this was bullshit.)  He was highly critical of Donald Keyhoe's works, as the Major often created dialogue (and internal thoughts) for dramatic effect in his retelling of cases.

Gray Barker took Moseley's notes of his 1950s UFO investigations and ghost wrote The Wright Field Story (currently in print as The Astounding UFO Secrets of James W. Moseley ). Moseley took every opportunity to disavow this work, as he despised the fictionalized framework. Having compared it to Jim's original manuscript, I think Barker's literary license was acceptable. He just framed things with a (plausibly) fictional framework and recounted Jim's case files in flashback without gross exaggeration or distortion. History books often do worse!

Speaking of Dramatic License...

Let's get back to one of Jim's favorites, the Cash-Landrum case. What's all this about the MoonOn numerous occasions, John Schuessler presents the moon as a contributing factor in the visibility of the helicopters pursuing the UFO. (See exhausting list at bottom for full listing.)
In a UFO case, I'm told the initial step is in the investigation is to determine the astronomical landscape and eliminate heavenly bodies as suspects. I've scoured the literature (and television interviews) and have found no statements by the witnesses, referring to the Moon. 

I used the Stellarium astronomical software (endowed by MUFON) to recreate the night sky from the approximate location. No moon that night until about 1:00 p.m. By that time, the witnesses were said to be long home and sick in bed.

Not trusting the software, I checked with a Saucer Smear asset, Tim Printy, author of the SUNlite website (self-appointed heir to Phil Klass' Skeptical UFO Newsletter). Tim's typically curt reply:
"I have looked at some MUFON articles on the matter though. I am not sure where he got his information about the moon but you are correct.  The moon had not risen until after midnight.  If you want to verify it, go to the USNO website. They can give you the moonrise-set/sunrise-set for any location. "
It checked out. No Moon during the sighting.

Paging an Expert

Ian Ridpath knows about the Moon
photo by Max Alexander

Recently, Robert Sheaffer presented a piece on the case and the brilliant and charming Ian Ridpath weighed in with some comments. Being a college drop-out, I seek knowledgeable people when it comes to serious matters like dentistry and astronomy, so I sought his aid for a more definitive statement, a testimonial. Printed here with his permission:
"Any planetarium program, of which there are many now available, will tell you that the Moon, which was a day past last quarter, did not rise until about 01.15 on Dec 30 at that location. It rose almost due east and followed the bright planets Saturn and Jupiter by about 50 minutes.

Hence, if the witnesses claim to have seen the Moon at the time of the event, there are a number of alternatives: 
  1. The event did not take place at the time they said
  2. The event did not take place on the date they said
  3. The event did not take place on either the date or the time they said
  4. The witnesses are in some way mistaken about what they saw
  5. The witnesses are making stuff up.
Given the circumstances, it would seem that they are unlikely to have been mistaken about the date or time, which leaves alternatives 4 and 5. That assumes, of course, that they really did mention the Moon, and it's not simply a piece of "color" added later by the investigator. 
I am sure that Robert S, no mean astronomer himself, will confirm my data.
I hope this is of use.
     All the best, Ian"
Let me repeat that for emphasis, just as Jim would have done in Smear:

"That assumes, of course, that they really 
did mention the Moon, and it's not simply 
a piece of "color" added later by the investigator."

Back to what I told Jim, 
"The witnesses do not put the Moon in the sky, Schuessler does"
Jerome Clark, UFO historian, and friend of Jim's, appeared on the radio program, The Paracast:
(August 26, 2012 -- Jerome Clark)

Listener's questions were solicited. As "Sentry", I posed the following question to Clark with Schuessler's Cash-Landrum embellishments in mind:
"A certain amount of dramatic license is expected in retelling a paranormal event, but some writers go too far. At what point does a dramatic portrayal become fiction?"
Jerome Clark's reply:
"When you start making stuff up."
I'll allow one of the witnesses to have the last word.
"...there's a lot of quacks, there really is, that's supposed to be big UFO dealers and wheelers, and they're not after hunting the truth, they after something, proving something that's unreal. What was up there was real. It hurt us. It wasn't (from) outer space either." -Vickie Landrum, interviewed at Bergstrom AFB, 1981

In Jim's honor, I had a few drinks during the assembly of this article.
A rehabilitated version may be published later. Or it may get worse.   (Version 6)

Old Smuggler

And as always, around this time of year, we like to say a word in 
the memory of our dear friend, Gray Barker.

Keep your eye on the sky!

- - -

Sex & Saucers: Hot chick version with Schuessler's Moon

Laborious Supporting Notes

THE MOON: References in Case Coverage

1981 CUFOS Symposium- Moon not mentioned as source of illumination.

MUFON Journal November 1981 (John Schuessler)
“Illumination from the glowing object clearly showed details of the helicopters even though the night was dark and the moon was in the third quarter.”

MUFON UFO Symposium...1982 (July 2, 3, 4) Toronto, Canada
"UFO's Canada - A Global Perspective" / edited by Walter H. 
Andrus and Dennis W. Stacy. 
Seguin, TX : Mutual UFO Network, 1982. - 104 s. : ill.
“Radiation Sickness Caused by UFOs" by John F. Schuessler, M.S.

MOON: Illumination from the glowing object clearly showed details of the helicopters even though the night was dark and the moon was in the third quarter.

MUFON Journal October 1982 (from the 1982 interview)
LL Walker: “...I looked a little bit closer and you could see some lower lights back off in the distance quite a ways back. I'd say about % of a mile — real good visibility that night...”

The Unexplained” UK magazine 1982 by John Schuessler: 
"Light from the third-quarter Moon, supplemented an airglow from the lights in the surrounding area, made the sky bright and the visibility good."

MUFON Journal September 1983 (John Schuessler)
The weather ranged from clear and hot to cold, damp, windy, and chilly. Houston, 
Texas air contains a lot of moisture which acts like little crystals that catch all light from the city, moon and cars and reflect it in an airglow manner that leaves the sky very light much of the time. A deep, dark night in the Houston area is unusual.  pg 5

The weather on December 29, 1980 was chilly. The witnesses reported the intermittent misty rain earlier in the day. By evening that had stopped. The clouds were high and broken and the moon was in the third quarter. The air was damp and full of moisture. The airglow of Houston was bright. The conditions were correct for being able to see helicopters flying at night. pg. 6

Fate Magazine, May 1984 (Volume 37, No. 5 Issue 410Clark Publishing Co. pg 32-36 (Victims of a Close Encounter by John F. Schuessler
MOON and helicopter visibility (2 mentions)
“The sky had partially cleared and the moon was visible in the night sky.”
“Because of the light of the moon and the helicopters’ running lights, the craft were clearly visible.”

MUFON Symposium 1984: no moon mention

MUFON Journal June 1986: Steuart Campbell
Dear Editor,
My attention has recently been drawn to the UFO report made by Betty Cash and Vickie  Landrum (after an alleged incident near Huffman, Texas, on 1980 Dec. 29). My source of information is John Schuessler's article "Blind terror in Texas" in The Unexplained 9(107) 2121-25, (1982). 
Looking for an astronomical explanation I noticed that the given time (9 p.m.) could not be correct; the witnesses reported seeing the Moon, but the Moon did not rise until just after 1 a.m. Nor is it likely that, after dining out, they were returning home as early as 9 p.m. A more likely time is near midnight. : Just after midnight Canopus, the second brightest star in the whole sky
(magnitude -0.71), lay at only 7° altitude directly south (180°). Highway FM 1485 runs in a dead straight line almost due south for 4 miles on a slight downward gradient (1 in 621 on average). With forest on either side of the road, this would have given the travelers a headon view of Canopus if they were on that road at the time Canopus was lined up with it. At that low altitude, the light from Canopus would have been both refracted (into spectral colors) and distorted (with streamers to the ground). The description given is consistent with other accounts of stars
seen at low altitude. The conclusion must be that Cash and Landrum, not knowing that they were loking at a star, concluded that it was a UFO, ideas about which influenced their perception. Their conclusions that the car became hot and that they suffered burns must be the result of hysteria. One would have liked to know how much alcohol they had consumed and what UFO lore they had already absorbed. One would also have liked to know whether or not the road surface (where they imagined the UFO to be) was affected by heat. I predict that no such damage will have been found. Although it is alleged that the object later moved "away over the tree tops" it must be concluded that this later object was not Canopus, which would have disappeared behind the forest. It is not clear from Schuessler's article exactly where subsequent objects were seen, but Jupiter (at magnitude -1.8) later rose in the west (accompanied by- Saturn in close conjunction). The witnesses may have thought that Jupiter was the same UFO.
Yours faithfully
Stcuart Campbell

(Betty Cash Replies)
Just a note to thank all of you for your very hard and time-consuming work that you have done for Vickie,
Colby (Landrum) and myself. Without each of you, I really don't know what we would have done.
Please accept my apologies for such people that you have to listen to such as Steuart Campbell. People like
that are to be pitied. He said he even doubted our credibility — well I doubt his mentality. All I can say is that it is such a shame it was us. It should have been him and then we would see if he would have said it was a star. Just one day of what we have suffered would have been too much for him — not even speaking of the years.
May God bless each and everyone of you for your great work.
Betty Cash

MUFON symposium 1986- no moon mention

The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident- Minor moon references only in text, reprints MUFON Journal article from Nov. 1981.
Quote from secondary witness, police officer LL Walker, describing visibility: “ it was close enough just their running lights and everything and enough starlight and everything and moon and everything that I could tell what they were by the outlines and everything.”
(Note: Walker claims to have witnessed the copters 3 or so hours after the UFO event. It is plausible the Moon was up during his story.)

UFO Hunters: Alien Fallout 2009
L.L. Walker references starlight and moonlight as illuminating the helicopters

Bonus Feature:

Jim replied by my "Moon" letter by postcard:
Dear Curt-                         You have convinced me!  Schuessler should not be a "sacred cow". That item you sent about the Moon is too clear-cut to pass up, the more I think about it. That part of your 1/6 letter will appear in our next glorious issue!
- J.M. (Ret.) 
Jim Moseley postcard dated 1/16/12

C . 2013 Curtis L. Collins