By Scottie Vickery
LINCOLN - The bumber sticker on Betty Cash's 1980 Oldsmobile
Cutlass sums up her life for the past eight years.
"UFOs are real - the Air Force doesn't exist," it reads.
Mrs. Cash said the words on that bumper sticker became her philosophy after she and two friends in 1980 witnessed a blinding bright light that filled the sky, and a diamond-shaped object
that emitted orange and yellow flames.
"We thought it was the end of time,"the 60-year-old woman said
in a recent interview at her mobile home on Logon Martin Lake.
"I've been scared many times in my life, but never, ever, have I
been as terrified as I was that night."
Mrs. Cash's experiance 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 cedibility
of the U.S. government.
It began about 9 p.m., Dec 29, 1980, on a county road near New
Caney, Texas, where Mrs Cash, frien Vickie Landrum and Mrs.
Landrum's 6-year-old grandson Colby were driving home from a
"We seen this bright light, and it just lit up the entire sky,"
Mrs. Cash recalled. "The further we drove, the closer we got to
Despite the 40-degree temperature, an "intense heat" surrounded
the car. In a telephone interview last week, Mrs Landrum said she screamed at Mrs. Cash to stop the car, because "I was afraid we
burn up if we went under it."
All three got out of the car, but Colby was crying, so he and
Mrs. Landrum got back in, she said.
Tried To Comfort Child
Mrs Landrum said she tried to comfort the boy.
"I told him if he saw a big man, it would be Jesus and He
wouldn't hurt us. He would be coming to carry us to a better
place," Mrs. Landrum said.
Mrs. Cash said she stayed outside about eight minutes trying
to figure out what the object was.
Both women discribed it as diamond-shaped and metallic.Flames
were shooting out of the bottom of the craft,and it made a shrill beeping sound, they said. When the object started to rise, it
made a "swooshing" sound, Mrs. Cash said.
When Mrs. Cash got back in the car, she had to use her leather jacket as a hotpad because the handle was so hot, she said.
The two women said they heard a "roaring sound ,like a
toronado, and helicopters were coming in every direction." Mrs.
Cash and Mrs. Landrum said they counted 23 helicopters.
The helicopters surrounded the craft "like they were trying to escort it some where ," Mrs. Landrum said.
As the trio drove off, they kept looking out the back
window.They could see the light about three miles away, Mrs. Cash
By the time they reached Mrs. Landrum's house, their heads
were hurting, their skin was burning and they were nauseated,
Mrs. Cash said.
"We were as red as if we had been out on a beach all day
long," she said. "We were all deathly sick.
The next morning, Mrs. Cash's eyes were swollen shut,she said.
Her hair had fallen out "in gobs on the pillow." Huge welts and
water blisters had appeared all over her body.
Mrs. Cash said she didn't go to the hospital at first because
"We were afraid people would think we were crazy." I said,
"They'll move me down to the psycho ward."
Moved To Birmingham In 1981
Records from Parkway Hospital in Houston show that Mrs.Cash
was admitted Jan. 2, 1981, and was discharged Jan. 14. She was readmitted Jan. 25 and released Feb. 9. She was treated
for swelling of the head, severe headaches, loss of her
hair, nausea, poor vision and skin burns.
Mrs. Cash moved to the Birmingham area in 1981 to live with relatives,because she said she was too sick to take care of
herself. In March 1983 doctors found cancer in her right
breast, and a mastectomy was performed at St. Vincents Hospital in Birmingham.
"She had in the past an exposure to some form of irradition,"
records from St. Vincent's say.
Her medical bills total more than $1.5 million, Mrs. Cash said
She and Mrs. Landrum, 65, have told their story many times. Television programs they have been featured on include UFO COVER-
UP? LIVE and THAT's INCREDIBLE.
Hundreds of articles have appeared in newspapers, some from
France and Germany.
Some articles were more believable than others.
THE EXAMINER, a tabloid, quoted a UFO expert who speculated
that the government was hiding the bodies of aliens killed in
flying saucer crashes.
Another tabloid, WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, said the case was part of
a "cosmic Watergate."
The DALLAS TIMES HERALDS's headline in 1981 said, "UFO report|
Woman , child say they saw ship, 23 helicoptors"; and USA TODAY published stories about the case.
Thought It Was A Military Experiment
While Mrs. Cash said she still doesn't know exactly what she
saw on that deserted road in Texas, she never thought it was a
flying saucer with little men from outer space.
Instead, because the object was surrounded by helicoptors,
Mrs. Cash and Mrs. Landrum think it was a military experiment the government is trying to cover up. Mrs. Cash and Mrs. Landrum
filed a $20 million lawsuit against the government in Houston's
federal court in January 1984, but the case was dismissed in
In the October 1988 telecast of UFO Coverup? Live, two men,
whose identities were protected, said they'd been employed by the
U.S. government in "top secret" missions. They said they were
aware of Mrs. Cash's incident, and the military was indeed
The object Mrs. Cash and Mrs. Landrum saw was an "alien craft" piloted by military pilots, one of the men claimed. The pilots apparently lost control of the craft, and the helicopters were
sent to assist.
The two women identified, through pictures, the twin-rotary helicopters as Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
At that time, such helicopters were used only by the military,
said John Schuessler, an engineer with an aerospace company in
Houston and a member of the Mutual UFO Network. Schuessler has
studied UFO incidents since 1965, he said in a telephone
Schuessler said witnesses from eight different areas also
reported a large group of helicopters that night in 1981. He said
he contacted officials at every military base within hundreds of
miles, but found no explanation.
Philip Klass of Washington, D.C. who has written four books on
UFOs and has studied the subject for 22 years, said he thinks the women's story is a hoax.
He said he asked Schuesssler to provide Mrs. Cash's and Mrs. Landrum's medical histories, but Schuessler refused. "What do
they have to hide?" he asked.
Klass said he thinks the women were suffering from bad health
and made up the story to get government to pay their medical
Mrs. Cash said she declined to provide her medical history to
Klass because of the possibility that the information would be
needed for a congressional hearing. Mrs. Cash and Mrs. Landrum
are now circulating petitions for a congressional hearing, and
they are encouraging people to write their congressmen.
Klass said: "I would expect the sun to rise in the west and
set in the east before they get a congressional hearing, but
that's my opinion."
Mrs. Landrum and Mrs. Cash said they're used to reactions like Klass'.
"I know what happpened to me," Mrs. Cash said. "I certainly
didn't get out there and tear all my hair out and blister myself
so I could lay in the bed for months."