Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coral Lorenzen and the Cash-Landrum Incident

The Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) wasn't perfect. No UFO organizations ever were. A major blunder on Jim and Coral Lorenzen's part involved an initial negative polygraph reading in the alleged Travis Walton abduction case, though Walton passed the next test. The Lorenzens apparently tried to downplay, if not withhold, results of the first test, probably hoping another could be completed under circumstances they felt more favorable. Their attempts backfired and gave such debunkers as (the late) Phil Klass additional ammunition for his continuous anti-UFO rants, and respected "pro-UFO" researchers expressed their own disappointment.

Yet, much of the time the people behind APRO weren't afraid to take a stand, even if it flew in the face of other investigators' beliefs. This is precisely what occurred amidst the furor over the famous Cash-Landrum UFO incident. Many of you know by now that I don't like to rehash details of cases easily and readily available via other Internet locations, so I urge you to direct your efforts to other sites, such as the ones I link to in the margin.

The July, 1982 letter from Coral, displayed here, overflows with her rage on this particular day. For one thing, she expressed disdain that some UFO investigators, as well as ABC-TV's "That's Incredible" TV show, were turning what (to her) seemed a purely government "test vehicle" situation into a UFO puzzler in which military aircraft accompanied an actual UFO through the skies.

The Cash-Landrum incident was especially striking because of radiation-like symptoms endured by civilian witnesses who viewed the encounter. This aspect proved sad and tragic from any point of view, but Coral was not about to leap on the potential UFO aspect when something experimental involving our own government would do nicely.

But this letter winds around a number of issues in addition. Coral, never a fan of the organization MUFON (regarding, particularly a former director, whom she obviously references here and, indeed, routinely and not at all fondly refers to in various letters as "old motor mouth"), was already involved in writing a long, long letter of refutation about the Cash-Landrum situation to a MUFON professional investigator, who responded with an equally lengthy document (which I have seen). Here, she also takes the opportunity to criticize both MUFON and the Center for UFO Studies, bemoaning the effectiveness of UFO conferences and MUFON's selection process for state director positions.

Yes, this is a very, very angry letter, but this also took place during a period of several years when Coral was becoming extremely jaded about "personalities," as opposed to the hard workers exploring the UFO subject. I really don't want to fill in any additional holes about the comments she makes in this letter, but most of you familiar with APRO and with UFO history can probably draw your own conclusions.

Of course, the eighties additionally became the decade when APRO's influence started to slide into the same pond of controversy and change that claimed NICAP years earlier, though I hasten to add that reasons for the demise of either were dissimilar. In APRO's case (as further personal correspondence will demonstrate in the weeks to come), its inevitable downfall seemed -- and was -- as natural as life, illness and death itself.