While driving through the Piney Woods of East Texas, about 40 miles northeast of Houston, Betty Cash and her two passengers noticed a bright light ahead. With Betty were Vickie Landrum and her grandson, Colby. As they drew within about 130 feet (40 meters), they were confronted by a fiery diamond-shaped object, emitting flames down toward the road. (The object also could be described as cone-, spindle-, or top-shaped; see sketch above.) Betty stopped the car to avoid the flames, but the car interior became hot, and they were forced outside, where the heat from the object burned their skin.
Though intensely bright, the object was silvery and metallic-appearing, and small blue lights were visible around the center. Periodically, flames flared out of the bottom with a "whooshing" sound; each time the object rose a few feet, only to settle back toward the road when the flames ceased. The witnesses, who could feel a burning sensation on their faces, were terrified. Though it was a chilly evening, the car was too hot to touch.
After several minutes, just as the object ascended slowly into the sky, a number of helicopters (approximately 12 of them were determined later to be CH-47 Chinooks) showed up and appeared to be trying to force the object to land. Instead, it flew away with more than 20 helicopters in pursuit. They finally were able to resume driving; and Betty dropped the Landrums off at their house and proceeded home. She immediately became ill, experiencing headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, red and blistered skin, and swollen eyes.
Vicki & Colby Landrum
Meanwhile, the Landrums were experiencing similar symptoms, but less severe. They had upset stomachs and badly "sunburned" skin. Betty, however, was admitted to the hospital on January 3, 1981, after losing large patches of skin and clumps of hair and lapsing into semi-consciousness. She had severe medical problems for a long time afterward. Radiologist Peter Rank later concluded, after examining their medical records, that the trio had been exposed to ionizing radiation, possibly combined with some infrared or ultraviolet light, as well.
The case was investigated by aerospace engineer John Schuessler and some of his MUFON colleagues, who interviewed many other witnesses who had seen the UFO, the helicopters, or both. An investigation by Allan Hendry failed to determine the source of the helicopters; no civilian or military airport would admit to any knowledge of them. Chinooks are used by both the Army and the Marine Corps.
Legal attempts to get answers from government agencies met with failure because it could not be proven that the UFO or the helicopters were U.S. Government property. A judge dismissed the case, citing expert testimony that no such craft as the reported UFO existed in the military arsenal. Early in 1982 the Air Force stated that none of its helicopters was involved.
The Department of the Army Inspector General's Office, directed Lt. Col. George Sarran to conduct an investigation. John Schuessler received a call from Sarran on March 19, 1982, and provided complete cooperation and guidance. Sarran found the witnesses credible, but was unable to trace the helicopters to any Army, National Guard, or Army Reserve unit. The implied scope of the hypothetical Army "exercise" during the normal year-end holiday season "stand-down" period would have required extraordinary logistical support, yet no record could be found that such an operation actually occurred. Sarran seems to have conducted a thorough and objective investigation.
Although well witnessed and including strong physical evidence, the case remains totally baffling. It has been speculated that the "UFO" was a super-secret, U.S. atomic-powered aircraft that was experiencing engine problems. However, the site is very close to a major metropolitan area and far removed from the spacious military reservations in the deserts of New Mexico, California, Nevada, and Utah, where tests of revolutionary aircraft ordinarily occur. In these highly secure areas, Top Secret experiments can be kept far away from prying eyes. Why risk exposure of the secret, an accident, and potentially disastrous consequences by exposing residents of a metropolitan area to experimental test flights?
Source: Vol. II, The UFO Evidence, Richard Hall, pages 226-229