Cash-Landrum UFO Incident 1980: A Diamond Shaped UFO, Military Helicopters & Long Term Illnesses

Updated: Jul 18

In 1980, close to Huffman, Texas, Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, and 7-year-old Colby Landrum came into contact with a UFO that they claimed was surrounded by a group of military-style helicopters. Following the incident, all three were subjected to various health conditions.

The Cash-Landrum UFO incident remains unresolved to this day
The Cash-Landrum UFO incident remains unresolved to this day

On the evening of December 29, 1980, near Huffman, Texas, three occupants of a 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass witnessed an astounding sight. Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, and Vickie's seven-year-old grandson, Colby, on their way home to Dayton were driving through the southern tip of the East Texas piney woods when they noticed a large light above the trees in the distance.

The light was briefly lost to view, but they saw it again, when after rounding a curve they found themselves on a straight stretch of two-lane road on Highway FM 1485. This time it was approaching them, floating above the road at less than treetop height and belching flames from its bottom. Cash and the Landrum's were only about 130 feet from the object.

Getting away from the UFO was impossible because the road they were on was that narrow and the ground surrounding the road was soggy and damp. Betty Cash was driving, and she knew if she attempted to turn around the car would get stuck. Betty stopped the car and both she and Vickie stepped outside, the frantic screaming of young Colby soon brought the women back towards the car.

The UFO, a dull metallic silver in colour and shaped like a huge, upright diamond, with the top and bottom cut off so that they were flat rather than pointed. The women claimed that small blue lights ringed the centre of the object, while periodically over the next several minutes, flames would shoot out of the bottom in an outwards manner, creating a cone effect.

All the while the witnesses felt their faces burning. The car was too hot to touch. At one point Vickie Landrum, leaning out the front window, steadied herself by putting her hands on the dashboard, only to find it molded to the shape of her fingers. (The imprints were still there when John Schuessler of the Mutual UFO Networth - MUFON - examined the car.) A few minutes later, when Cash tried to get back into the car, the doorhandle burned her fingers.

With a final blast of fire and heat, the UFO ascended slowly into the sky. But just as it was clearing the treetops, helicopters flew in from all directions. The helicopters and the UFO were then lost to view. The three resumed their journey. They passed along another long curve in the road and in five minutes arrived at the intersection of FM 1485 and FM 2100, where they saw the UFO and the helicopters again. Cash counted 23 helicopters, all clearly visible because the light from the diamond-shaped object was reflecting off them. Many of the aircraft were subsequently identified as large, double-rotor Boeing CH-47 Chinooks, a kind used by the Army and the Marines.

Boeing CH-47 Chinook as described in the UFO encounter
Boeing CH-47 Chinook as described in the UFO encounter

Cash drove on, the diamond UFO and the helicopters still in front of her, until she came to a road that would take them to Dayton. Even then she could see the object in the rearview mirror for the next few minutes. The whole incident lasted a total of 20 minutes.

Sickness That Followed

Cash dropped the Landrums off at their house and proceeded on to her own. Once home she sat in a chair and waited for the sick feeling to pass, but the headache and nausea would not go away, and large knots formed on her neck and scalp. Soon they became blisters. Meanwhile, her skin was reddening, and her eyes swelled. She threw up repeatedly and experienced severe diarrhea.

The Landrum's were suffering similar distress, though not quite so intensely. Their skin looked and felt badly sunburned, but their stomachs were upset.

The three witnesses to the Cash-Landrum UFO encounter
The three witnesses to the Cash-Landrum UFO encounter

By morning, friends feared Cash was near death. She had lapsed into near unconsciousness. Cash had previous heart problems in the past but now was too groggy to identify her cardiologist; her friends were forced to call unknown physicians. Those they could reach during the holiday period would not take on an unfamiliar patient with a history of cardiac disorder and, moreover, with a crazy story about having been injured by a UFO.

Knowing nothing else to do, the friends brought Cash to Vickie Landrum's house. Landrum attempted to feed Cash, but she rejected food and water and grew ever weaker. Finally, Landrum persuaded a local pharmacist to look through his prescription records for the name of Cash's cardiologist. As soon as he had it, Landrum phoned and was instructed to take Cash to the Parkway Hospital emergency room.

Betty Cash was taken into the hospital on January 3, 1981. She could not walk and lost large patches of skin and clumps of hair. She was released after 12 days, though her condition was not much better, and she later returned to the hospital for another 15 days. The Landrum's improved slightly, though the sores on their skin and the damage to their eyes persisted. Vickie suffered periodic sickness for the next few years, and her eyesight never entirely recovered. Colby had problems with chronic illness, sores, and hair loss.

A radiologist who reviewed the victims' medical records for MUFON concluded, "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."

Investigation Into The UFO Encounter

Ufologists learned of the case when the witnesses reported it to a NASA representative in Houston. He suggested they talk with John Schuessler, an aerospace engineer and NASA supervisor with a longstanding interest in UFOs. Schuessler and some MUFON colleagues then interviewed other witnesses, some of whom had seen the UFO and the helicopters for as long as an hour and a half. They also sought the source of the helicopters. The Fund for UFO Research commissioned Allan Hendry, one of ufology's most trusted investigators, to find out where the aircraft had come from. No airport, civilian or military, would own up to a knowledge of the helicopters.

Cash and Landrum began a long, frustrating campaign to get answers from government agencies. Eventually, their senators, John Tower and Lloyd Bentsen, talked with representatives of the Department of Defense. They urged Cash and Landrum to take their complaints to the Judge Advocate Claims Officer at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin. In August 1981 they met with Air Force Lawyers at Bergstrom. They were told that if they could find a lawyer willing to represent them, they should file a claim with the US government for compensation for their injuries. The case worked its way through military and federal courts over the next few years, but the witnesses and their attorney could not prove that either the diamond-shaped object or the helicopters were official property. On August 21, 1986, the US District Court judge dismissed the case.

The only known official investigation of any significance was conducted by lieutenant Colonel George Sarran, whom the Department of the Army Inspector General (DAIG) directed to look into the case in 1982. Sarran concluded:

"Ms Landrum and Ms Cash were credible... The policeman and his wife (who had reported seeing 12 Chinook helicopters in the Huffman area on the night of the incident) were also credible witnesses. There was no perception that anyone was trying to exaggerate the truth. All interviewees were extremely cooperative and eager to be helpful in any manner. Through the course of inquiry, the DAIG investigator tried to concentrate on any reason or anyone or any organization which might have been flying helicopters that particular evening in that general area. There was no evidence presented that would indicate that Army, National Guard, or Army Reserve helicopters were involved. "

Meanwhile, according to Schuessler:

"Betty Cash has been hospitalized at least 25 times and had had two operations for cancer (after having shown no previous signs of it). She has had blood problems and trouble with her eyesight. Her hair has regrown, though in a different texture, but she is still very weak and has to spend a good deal of time in bed."

The Cash-Landrum UFO encounter is another fascinating example of aerial phenomena that has been accompanied by both government and military denial, despite witnesses watching their involvement with their own eyes. Let us know your opinion on the Cash-Landrum UFO incident in the comments section below.

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