Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Cash-Landrum UFO Case


 The Cash-Landrum UFO Case was an incident that occurred in the United States in which the witnesses evidently became very ill after their encounter with a UFO and insisted that the sighting was associated with the U.S. Government due to the presence of military Chinook helicopters at the scene. They subsequently sued the U.S. government for damages due to their poor health. It is one of very few UFO cases to result in lawsuit proceedings.

The story according to the witnesses:

On the evening of December 29, 1980, Betty Cash (a 51-year business woman), Vickie Landrum (57 year old and Betty’s employee), and Colby Landrum (Vickie's seven-year-old grandson) were driving in Betty’s Oldsmobile Cutlass to visit several small towns in the Piney Woods area of east Texas looking for a bingo game. However, they discovered that all games had been canceled while the clubs prepared for the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Instead, they settled for a meal in a roadside restaurant in New Caney. 

After leaving the restaurant, they drove home to Dayton, Texas sometime between 8:20 and 8:30 pm. Betty drove along Highway FM 1485, a road in a dense forest usually used only by people who live in the area because it is so isolated. Although only about 50km from Houston the area is sparsely populated and is covered by oak and pine trees, and dotted with swamps and lakes. 

At about 30 minutes later, at 9:00pm (21:00 hrs.), the witnesses said they observed a light in the night sky. They initially thought the light was an airplane approaching Houston Intercontinental Airport (about 35 miles away) and gave it little notice.

A few minutes later, on the winding road, the witnesses saw what they took to be the same light as before, but it was now much closer and very bright which hovered at about treetop level. The object's base was expelling flame and emitting significant heat. Colby was the first to spot it and pointed it out to the others.

As they drove on, it appeared to get larger and larger. When they realized that the object was approaching the road only a short distance ahead they began to be worried but hoped to get by it in time and leave it behind. However, before they could do so the object had straddled the road blocking their way. 

The object, many times larger than the car, remained hovering at tree top level and shooting downward onto the road an occasional large cone of fire like a rocked blast. In between these blasts, it would settle downwards some 7.5 meters or so only to rise up again on the next cone of fire. Vickie described it as being "like a diamond of fire". 

Vickie screamed, "Stop the car or we shall be burned alive!" Fearing they would be burned if they approached any closer, Betty stopped the car when the object was about 60 meters away. She considered turning the car around, but abandoned this idea because the road was too narrow and she presumed the car would be stuck on the dirt shoulders, which were soft from that evening's rains.

Vickie's opinion of the object quickly changed. A committed born again Christian, who does not believe in UFOs or extraterrestrial life thought it was the coming of the end of the world and interpreted the object as a sign of the second coming of Jesus Christ, telling her grandson, "That's Jesus. He will not hurt us." Since she expected to see Jesus come out of the light, she stared at it intently.

The three of them got out of the car to take a better look at the object. Vickie stood by the open door on the right hand side of the car with her left hand resting on the car roof. Colby then begged his grandmother to get back in the car. After about three minutes, she did so and told Colby not to be afraid because "when that big man comes out of the burning cloud it will be Jesus."

Betty was so fascinated by the UFO that she had walked round to the front of the car and stood there "mesmerized by the bizarre sight." Bathed in the bright light, she stood there even though the heat was burning her skin. Eventually, as the object began to move up and away, she moved back to the car door. When she touched the door, it was so painfully hot that she had to use her leather jacket to protect her hands as she got back in the car.

They described the object as if it were made from dull aluminum and glowed so bright that it lit up the surrounding forest like daylight. It was shaped like a huge upright diamond, about the size of the Dayton water tower. The four points of the diamond were blunt rather than sharp and blue spots or lights ringed its centerline. The object also emitted an intermittent bleeping sound. Had the UFO not come to rest over the road, the cone of fire from its lowest point would have set the forest on fire.

As the three of them watched the departing UFO, moving to a point higher over the treetops, a large number of helicopters appeared overhead, approached the object and surrounded it in tight formation. Betty stated, "They seemed to rush in from all seemed like they were trying to encircle the thing."

Within a few seconds, the UFO had disappeared behind the trees lining the road. It was then that they realized how hot the interior of the car had become. They switched off the heater and put on the air conditioner instead. When Vickie Landrum’s hand pressed into the softened vinyl on the car's dashboard, it left an imprint that was evident for weeks. Investigators cited this handprint as proof of the witnesses' account; however, no photograph of the alleged handprint exists.

When the effects of the bright light had worn off, Betty started the engine and they drove off down the darkened highway. After a mile or so of twisting road, they were able to join a larger highway and turn in the direction of the departing UFO. This was about 8km and five minutes later. The object was clearly visible some distance ahead and looked like a bright cylinder of light. It was still lighting up the surrounding area and illuminating the helicopters. 

By this time, the helicopters were spread out over an 8km distance. One main group was near the UFO but moving in an erratic flight path. As they watched from their new vantage point, they counted 23 helicopters. Many of them were identified as the large double rotor CH-47 Chinooks.  The others were very fast single rotor types and appeared to be of the Bell-Huey type, but were not properly identified.  

As soon as the UFO and helicopters were a safe distance ahead, Betty drove on. When she reached an intersection, she turned away from the flight path of the UFO and towards Dayton where the three of them lived. She dropped Vickie and Colby off at their home at about 9:50 pm and went home by herself. A friend and her children were there waiting for Betty but by this time she was feeling too ill to tell them about what had happened. Over the next few hours, Betty's skin turned red as if badly sun burned. Her neck swelled and blisters erupted and broke on her face, scalp and eyelids. She started to vomit and continued to do so throughout the night. By morning, she was almost in a coma.

Sometime between midnight and 2:00 am Vickie and Colby began to suffer similar symptoms like a sunburn condition and then diarrhea, vomiting, lingering weakness, skin sores and hair loss, although less severe.  It was a miserable night for all three victims. 

The following morning Betty was moved to Vickie's house and all three were cared for there. Over the next few days, Betty's symptoms worsened, with many large, painful blisters forming on her skin. When taken to a hospital emergency room on January 3, 1981, Betty could not walk, and had lost large patches of skin and clumps of hair. The burns and swelling altered Betty's appearance so radically that friends who came to visit her in hospital did not recognize her. Her hair began to fall out and her eyes became so swollen that she was unable to see for a week. She was released after 12 days, though her condition was not much better, and she later returned to the hospital for another 15 days."

radiologist who examined the witnesses' medical records for MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) wrote, "We have strong evidence that these patients have suffered secondary damage to ionizing radiation. It is also possible that there was an infrared or ultraviolet component as well."

Other witnesses:

Betty, Vickie and Colby were not the only witnesses to the strange happenings at Huffman. An off duty Dayton police officer, Detective Lamar Walker, and his wife were driving home from Cleveland through the Huffman area also observed 12 Chinook-type helicopters near the same area and almost at the same time where the three witnesses observed the UFO. These two witnesses did not report seeing a large diamond-shaped object. Detective Walker investigated this incident but was misled on numerous occasions by high ranking military officials, including those reportedly from the Pentagon.

A man living in Crosby, directly under the flight path, reported seeing a large number of heavy military helicopters flying overhead.

An oilfield laborer, Jerry McDonald, was in his back garden in Dayton when he saw a huge UFO flying directly overhead. At first, he thought it was the Goodyear airship, but quickly realized it was something else. "It was kind of diamond shaped and had two twin torches that were shooting brilliant blue flames out the back", he said. As it passed about 45 meters above him, he saw that it had two bright lights on it and a red light in the center. 

One day in April 1981, a CH-47 flew into Dayton. As Colby watched, he became very upset. Vickie decided to take him to the spot where the helicopter had landed in the hope that it would seem less frightening on the ground. When they reached the landing zone, they found many people there already and had to wait some time before they were allowed to go inside the helicopter and talk to the pilot. Vickie and another visitor both claim that the pilot said he had been in the area before for the purpose of checking on a UFO in trouble near Huffman. When Vickie told the pilot how glad she was to see him, because she had been one of the people burned by the UFO, he refused to talk to them anymore and hustled them out of the aircraft.  


The appearance of helicopters at UFO sightings is becoming a common event, and the large number of helicopters at this incident is just another link in the chain. One thing is for certain, it is virtually impossible to be mistaken about the presence of CH-47 helicopters when you are directly beneath these large and noisy machines. The evidence of all the witnesses was consistent. They were interrogated separately about both the UFO and the helicopters and all gave consistent descriptions and sketches that indicated they had seen a large number of CH-47s. 

Finding out where the helicopters had come from was a more difficult task than identifying them. According to an official at Houston Airport, about 350 to 400 helicopters operate commercially in the Houston area but they are all of the single rotor type, there are no CH-47s. The official also said that because helicopters fly on visual flight rules they do not have to contact the tower.

John Schuessler
Vickie Landrum telephoned a number of U.S. government agencies and officials about the encounter. When she telephoned NASA, Vickie was steered towards NASA aerospace engineer John Schuessler, long interested in UFOs. With some associates from civilian UFO research group MUFON, Schuessler began research on the case, and later wrote articles and a book on the subject. Astronomer Allan Hendry of CUFOS also investigated the Cash-Landrum case.

Due to the Chinook helicopters' presence, the witnesses presumed that at least one branch of the United States Armed Forces witnessed the object, if they were escorting or pursuing it.

In 1982, Lt. Col. George Sarran of the Department of the Army Inspector General began the only thorough formal governmental investigation into the UFO encounter. He did conclude that, Ms. Cash and Ms. Landrum were credible because a police officer and his wife (who claimed to have seen 12 helicopters near the UFO encounter site) were also credible witnesses.

When Schuessler inspected Betty's car in early 1981 and used a Geiger counter to check for radioactivity, he found none. Presumably, he also checked for radioactivity when he visited the site of the incident, and found no abnormalities. However, other UFO researchers point out that high-energy ionizing radiation of the kind that can cause damage to human beings (e.g. gamma radiation) does not induce radioactivity in objects, and would not have left behind any residual radioactivity in the area.

Legal action:

Eventually, Betty and Vickie contacted their U.S. Senators, Lloyd Bentsen and John Tower, who suggested that the witnesses file a complaint with the Judge Advocate Claims office at Bergstrom Air Force Base. In August 1981, Betty, Vickie, and Colby were interviewed at length by personnel at Bergstrom Air Force Base, and were told that they should hire a lawyer, and seek monetary compensation for their injuries.

With attorney Peter Gersten taking on the case pro bono, the case wound its way through the U.S. Courts for several years. Betty and Vickie sued the U.S government for $20 million.

On August 21, 1986, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed their case, noting that the plaintiffs had not proved that the helicopters were associated with the U.S. Government, and that military officials had testified that the United States Armed Forces did not have a large, diamond shaped aircraft in their possession.

Later Years:

Betty before she died
In 1981, Vickie Landrum appeared on That's Incredible, a popular ABC television program of the early 80’s. Vickie was hypnotized in front of a studio audience; under hypnosis, she recounted the UFO incident. Vickie Landrum and Betty Cash both appeared on the 1989 U.S television special, UFO Cover Up? Live! hosted by Mike Farrell. They related their account of the UFO encounter and their subsequent medical problems and legal battles. In 2009, Colby Landrum appeared on UFO Hunters: Alien Fallout.

Coincidentally, Betty Cash died at the age of 71 on December 29, 1998, exactly 18 years after her claimed close encounter.   


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Although there have been many unexplained sightings in the town of Lajas, the situation there has been hyped by the amount of lies and exaggeration by a group of so-called, "ufologists" who ignore other areas of Puerto Rico to promote tourism in Lajas. That was evident when my wife and my daughter confronted a terrifying experience in the town of Aguada with extraterrestrials and that group of charlatans refused our plea for help. Of course, if it happened in Lajas they would have jumped on the opportunity for fame and tourism for that town. Those hoaxes and lies were approved and sanctioned by the then mayor of that town who named route 303 "The extraterrestrial route". The idea of building an "UFOport" (ovnipuerto), “la llorona sightings" and the biggest hoax of them all, "that a UFO crashed there" all this could only be found in a science fiction novel.

By Nelson C. Rivera
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About me

Ufologist, criminal investigator, musician, artist and writer.

I worked 20 years for the New York City Department of Correction. First as a Correction Officer for 4 years, Captain for 12 years, and as a Deputy Warden for 4 years. As a law enforcement officer and supervisor, I have conducted countless of criminal investigations, some for unimaginable allegations.

On June of 2005, after my retirement, I moved to Puerto Rico with my family where my wife and my daughter faced extraordinary experiences with extraterrestrials. These alien encounters, subsequent abductions of my wife and the lack of help from so-called, "ufologists" here on the island, prompted me to become involved in the field of ufology and in the need to help others who have had similar experiences.


PRUFON, Puerto Rico UFO Network, Inc., is a nonprofit organization which conducts serious no nonsense UFO investigations. Our aim is to find the truth and answers to some of the toughest questions pertaining to UFO sightings, alien encounters and alien abductions, etc. We are not affiliated with any other ufology organization in Puerto Rico or in the world. PRUFON was founded in the city of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico on September of 2009 to share with the public what we have accomplished and researched in the related fields of ufology.

This internet network ( offers a different perspective on life, and works hard to keep you informed about unexplained phenomena occurring on the island of Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean. We collect and gather information dealing with the Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and other unusual events that the mainstream news media and science fail to expose to the public, fail to study or acknowledge.

Any unusual encounter or sighting that you have had and wish an investigation and/or wish to publish it on this website, contact PRUFON at You will remain anonymous if you state it in writing.

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