Preamble: On October 18, 1973 near Mansfield, Ohio, an Army Reserve helicopter crew of four men encountered a gray, metallic-looking, cigar-shaped object, with unusual lights and maneuvers, as they were airborne between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio. This highly strange case stands out as, perhaps the most credible of the 1973 UFO wave.
Incident: The Coyne case (or "Army helicopter incident") stands out as, perhaps the most credible (in the "high strangeness" category) of the 1973 wave. An Army Reserve helicopter crew of four men encountered a gray, metallic-looking, cigar-shaped object, with unusual lights and maneuvers, as they were airborne between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio. The crew won the NATIONAL ENQUIRER Blue Ribbon Panel's $ 5,000 award for "the most scientifically valuable report of 1973."
On October 18, 1973, at approximately 10:30 PM a UH-1H helicopter of the United States Army Reserve left Port Columbus, Ohio, for its home base of Cleveland Hopkins airport, ninety-six nautical miles to the north-northeast. In command, in the right-front seat, was Captain Lawrence J. Coyne, thirty-six, with nineteen years of flying experience. At the controls, in the left-front seat, sat First Lieutenant Arrigo Jezzi, twenty-six, a chemical engineer. Behind Jezzi sat Sergeant John Healey, thirty-five, a Cleveland policeman who was the flight medic, and Coyne was the Crew Chief, Sergeant Robert Yanacsek, twenty-three, a computer technician. The helicopter was cruising at 2,500 feet above sea level at an indicated airspeed of ninety knots, above mixed hills, woods, and rolling farmland, averaging 1,200 elevation. The night was totally clear, calm, and starry. The last quarter moon was just rising.
About ten miles south of Mansfield, Healey noticed a single red light off to the west, flying south. It seemed brighter than a standard aircraft port-wing light, but it was not considered relevant traffic, and he does not recall mentioning it. An estimated two minutes later, at approximately 11:02 PM, Yanacsek noted a single red light on the south-east horizon. He assumed it was either a radio-tower beacon or an aircraft port-wing light - most likely an aircraft, since it was not flashing - and he watched it "for a long time, a minute to ninety seconds" before calling it to Coyne's attention. Coyne, smoking, relaxing, glanced over, noted the light, assumed it was distant traffic, and told told Yanacsek casually to "keep an eye on it."
After an estimated additional thirty seconds, Yanacsek announced that the light had turned toward the helicopter and appeared to be on a converging flight path. Coyne verified Yanacsek's assessment, grabbed the controls from Jezzi, and put the UH-1H into a powered descent of approximately 500 feet per minute. Almost simultaneously, Coyne established radio contact with Mansfield control tower, ten miles to the northwest. Coyne thought the flight was an Air National Guard F-100 from Mansfield. After an initial acknowledgment ("This is Mansfield Tower, go ahead Army 1-5-triple-4"), radio contact failed. Jezzi then attempted transmission on both UHF and VHF frequencies without success. Although the channel and keying tones were both heard, there was no response from Mansfield; and a subsequent check by Coyne revealed that Mansfield had no tape of even the initial transmission, the the last F-100 had landed at 10:47 P.M.
The red light continued its radial bearing and increased greatly in intensity. Coyne increased his rate of descent to 2,000 feet per minute and his airspeed to 100 knots. The last altitude he noted was 1,700 feet. Just as a collision appeared imminent, the unknown light halted in its westward course and assumed a hovering relationship above and in front of the helicopter. "It wasn't cruising, it was stopped. For maybe ten to twelve seconds - just stopped," Yanacsek reported. Coyne, Healey, and Yanacsek agree that a cigar-shaped, slightly domed object substended an angle of nearly the width of the front windshield. A featureless, gray, metallic-looking structure was precisely delineated against the background stars. Yanacsek reported "a suggestion of windows" along the top dome section. The red light emanated from the bow, a white light became visible at a slightly indented stern, and then, from aft/below, a green 'pyramid shaped" beam equated to a directional spotlight became visible. The green beam passed upward over the helicopter nose, swung up through the windshield, continued upward and entered the tinted upper window panels. At that point (and not before), the cockpit was enveloped in green light. Jezzi reported only a bright white light, comparable to the leading light of a small aircraft, visible through the top "greenhouse' panels of the windshield. After the estimated ten seconds of "hovering," the object began to accelerate off to the west, now with only the white "tail" light visible. The white light maintained its intensity even as its distance appeared to increase, and finally (according to Coyne and Healey), it appeared to execute a decisive 45 degree turn to the right, head out toward Lake Erie, and then "snap out" over the horizon. Healey reported that he watched the object moving westward "for a couple of minutes." Jezzi said it moved faster than the 250-knot limit for aircraft below 10,000 feet, but not as fast as the 600-knot approach speed reported by the others. There was no noise from the object or turbulence during the encounter, except for one "bump" as the object moved away to the west. After the object had broken off its hovering relationship, Jezzi and Coyne noted that the magnetic compass disk was rotating approximately four times per minute and that the altimeter read approximately 3,500 feet; a 1,000 foot-per-minute climb was in progress. Coyne insists that the collective was still bottomed from his evasive descent. Since the collective could not be lowered further, he had no alternative but to lift it, whatever the results, and after a few seconds of gingerly maneuvering controls (during which the helicopter reached nearly 3,800 feet), positive control was achieved. By that time the white light had already moved into the Mansfield area. Coyne had been subliminally aware of the climb; the others not at all, yet they had all been acutely aware of the g-forces of the dive. The helicopter was brought back to the flight plan altitude of 2,500 feet, radio contact was achieved with Canton/Akron, the night proceeded uneventfully to Cleveland.
Apparent ground witnesses to this event have been found by William E. Jones and Warren Nicholson, independent UFO researchers from Columbus, Ohio.
Mrs. E. C. and four adolescents were driving south from Mansfield to their rural home on October 18, 1973, at approximately 11 P.M., when they were attracted to a single steady bright red light. flying south "at medium altitude." They watched for perhaps half a minute until it disappeared to the south over the trees.
Approximately five minutes later, now driving east on Route 430, approaching the Charles Mill Reservoir, the family became aware of two bright lights - red and green - descending rapidly toward them from the southeast. When first seen, the angular distance between the lights was about 2 degrees; the red light appeared to be leading. Mrs. C. pulled over to the shoulder of the deserted road and kept the engine and car lights running. The lights - bigger than point sources - slowed and moved as a unit to the right of the car and the family became aware of yet another group of lights - some of these flashing - and "a beating sound, a lot of racket" approaching from the southwest. Two of the children (cousins, both age thirteen) jumped from the car and observed both a helicopter and the object, which they described as "like a blimp," "as big as a school bus," "sort of pear shaped." The object at that point subtended an angle equivalent to "a 100-mm cigarette box held at arm's length." The object assumed a hovering position over the helicopter, an estimated 500 feet back from the road and 500 feet above the trees. (The ground elevation at the site is almost exactly 1,000 feet above sea level; thus at the noted 1,700-foot altimeter reading, the helicopter was actually about 650 feet above the trees.) The object's green light then flared up. "It was like rays coming down," the witnesses said. The helicopter, the trees, the road, the car - everything turned green." The kids scrambled with fright back into the car and Mrs. C. proceeded apace. Their estimated total time outside the car was "about a minute." Neither ground witnesses nor aircrew are sure at what point the two aircraft disengaged; the ground witnesses reported that the unidentified object crossed to the north side of the road behind the car, appeared to move eastward for a few seconds, then reversed its direction and climbed toward the northwest towards Mansfield - a flight path which correlates perfectly the motion of the object established through analysis of the aircrew's report.
Any theory of the object's being a meteor (UFO skeptic Philip Klass maintains that the object was a "fireball of the Orionid meteor shower") can readily be rejected on the basis of: (1) the duration of the event (an estimated 300 seconds); (2) the marked deceleration and hard-angle maneuver of the object at closest approach; (3) the precisely defined shape of the object; and (4) the horizon-to-horizon flight path.
The possibility of a high-performance aircraft likewise is untenable when one examines the positions and colors of the lights with respect to the flight path of the object. To have presented the reported configurations, and been in accordance with FAA regulations, an aircraft would have had to be flying sideways, either standing on its tail, tail-to to the helicopter, or upside-down head-on. Other arguments against aircraft hypothesis are: (1) a fixed-wing aircraft moving across the line of sight would appear to move most rapidly when passing directly in front of the observer; (2) a fixed-wing aircraft would not have the capability of decelerating from high velocity to "hover" within a few seconds time; (3) a helicopter would have the capability of hovering, but would not be capable of the high forward speeds reported; (4) a conventional aircraft, if within 500 to 1,000 feet, would have produced noise audible inside the helicopter; (5) the FAA requires either a strobe or a rotating beacon on either the top or bottom of the fuselage, (6) FAA requires that no aircraft shall fly below 10,000 feet msl at speeds above 250 knots; (7) some of the features of a conventional aircraft would have been seen, e.g., wings, engine pods, windows, empennage, numbers, logo.
Coyne reported that the Magnaflux/Zygio method of nondestructive testing was applied to the rotors the following day and that there was no indication that they had been subjected to fatigue-producing stresses. Comparable times/distances/directions support the possibility that the red light first seen by the C. family, Healey's red light, and the object of the encounter were all one and the same. Yanacsek's red light on the eastern horizon was under continuous observation and was unequivocally the object of the encounter.
The case has maintained its high "strangeness-credibility" rating after extended investigation and analysis. - Jennie Zeidman - CUFOS
UFO Still Puzzles 30 Years Later
Thirty years ago tonight, strange things were happening in the skies over north central Ohio. A close encounter in Mansfield, that has since become known as "The Coyne Incident," is still raising eyebrows among believers and UFO investigators. That evening, in a soybean field on the west side of Galion, Rene Boucher and her brother Brad encountered a bright light in the sky that has lured her from Florida for another sojourn into that field.
It was about 11 p.m. on Oct. 18, 1973, when an Army Reserve helicopter came perilously close to colliding with an unidentified flying object. Arrigo "Rick" Jezzi, 56, who now lives in Cincinnati, was flying the Huey helicopter that night. Three decades later, he is still not sure what happened. Jezzi was one of four members of an Army Reserve unit based at Hopkins Airport in Cleveland on board. The crew was en route to Cleveland from Columbus.
"Capt. Larry Coyne was the pilot," Jezzi said. "I was in the left seat, actually flying the Huey at the time. We were near Mansfield flying at 2,500 to 3,000 feet."
John Healey and Robert Yanacsek were in the back of the Huey, near a cargo door with a Plexiglas window.
"One of the guys in the back reported a red light. He said it looked like an aircraft light on the right horizon," Jezzi said. "I couldn't see it."
Jezzi was flying from the left seat. On the other side of the Huey there was a 12-foot section of fuselage between the side window and the cargo doors. He figures the red light was in his blind spot.
"Then I heard 'I think its coming toward us'," Jezzi said. "The next thing I knew Larry took control of the throttle. We went into a maneuver, a controlled free fall. We dropped about 2,000 feet."
Jezzi said if Coyne had not made the drastic maneuver there would have been a collision.
"It took just a couple of seconds," Jezzi said. "I remember looking up through the ceiling and I saw a white light moving over top of us. I followed it to the left horizon where it disappeared."
Jezzi isn't sure what he saw. It was like no aircraft he'd ever seen. He guessed it was traveling at least 500 knots, twice the speed of his Huey.
"Red navigational lights aren't located in the front of an aircraft," he said. "That's what was moving toward us. I don't know what it was."
The incident was documented by witnesses on the ground. In UFO lore the "Coyne Incident" is regarded as one of the most reliable UFO sightings of all time.
"It caused a lot of hullabaloo," Jezzi said. "The first thing I thought was those Commie bastards. What are they up to."
The next morning two of the other crew members, while being questioned about the incident, sketched drawings of the cigar-shaped craft they observed.
"They both came up with similar drawings," Jezzi said.
The magnetic compass in the Huey never worked right after the incident and had to be replaced. Rene Bouchard doesn't know what she saw in Galion about 60 minutes earlier that same evening.
"I was in high school. My brother was in junior high," she said. "There had been a lot of sightings in the days and weeks before that. Even the governor reported seeing something. We thought we'd give it a try."
She and her brother walked out in the field behind their home and started watching the sky.
"We saw a bunch of stuff that looked like it was maybe 30,000 feet in the air," she said. "But it wasn't anything spectacular. Then I think we both put our heads down for some reason. That's when we saw this brilliant white light. It was as bright as the sun. I don't know what it was but it scared us. We ran for two blocks until we got home."
Rene has since moved to Florida. Her brother is in California. She's back in Galion today and plans to go out in that same bean field to spend part of her evening.
"We really saw something that night," she said. "I don't know what it was. But I'll be back there (tonight). I called my brother and asked him to fly here so he could go with me. He said no. I'm not expecting to see anything. But I'm going to be there." - Mansfield News Journal, Ohio - 10/18/2003
Army Reserve helicopter pilot Capt. Lawrence Coyne is a military commander who doesn't believe in unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or little green spacemen. But after a near miss two weeks ago between his helicopter and a "big, gray, metallic-looking" object in the sky over Mansfield, he doesn't know what to think.
"I had to file an official report in detail to the Army on this thing," he said.
"Coyne is a member of the 316th Medical Detachment stationed at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. He was returning from Columbus at 11:10 p.m., Oct. 18, when the UFO showed up near where the Air National Guard has a squadron of jet fighters based.
He said a check turned up that none of the unit's F-100 Super Saber Jets were in the air when the UFO appeared. Coyne said when he first encountered the UFO, his helicopter was cruising at 2,500 feet. He had the controls set for a 20-degree dive, but the craft climbed to 3,500 feet with no power.
"I had made no attempt to pull up," he said. "There was no noise or turbulence, either."
Coyne said a red light appeared on the eastern horizon, and was first spotted by his crew chief, Sgt. Robert Yanacsek.
"The light was traveling in excess of 600 knots," Coyne said. "It came from the horizon to our aircraft in about 10 seconds. We were on a collision course."
The pilot said he put his helicopter into a dive.
"At 1,700 feet I braced myself for the impact with the other craft," he said. "It was coming from our right side. I was scared. There had been so little time to respond. The thing was terrifically fast."
There was no crash.
"We looked up and saw it stopped right over us," Coyne said. "It had a big, gray metallic-looking hull about 60 feet long." "It was shaped like an airfoil or a streamlined fat cigar. There was a red light on the front. The leading edge glowed red a short distance back from the nose. There was a center dome. A green light at the rear reflected on the hull."
Coyne said the green light swiveled like a spotlight and beamed through the canopy of his craft, bathing the cabin in green light. He said as he and members of the crew stared at the craft his helicopter began to climb without his guidance.
"I had made no attempt to pull up," he said. "All controls were set for a 20-degree dive. Yet we had climbed from 1,700 to 3,500 feet with no power in a couple of seconds with no g-forces or other noticeable strains."
Coyne said the UFO finally moved off to the west and was gone. - UPI
The Coyne Incident
The four-man crew of an Army Reserve UH-1H helicopter, based in Cleveland, Ohio, was returning from Columbus, Ohio, at about 10:30 p.m. following regularly scheduled physical examinations. It was a clear, starry night with no moon. They were cruising at 90 knots at an altitude of 2,500 feet above sea level, over farmland and rolling hills. Lt. Arrigo Jezzi, 26, was at the controls from the left-hand seat. Sgt. John Healey, 35, the flight medic, sat behind him. In the right rear seat was Spec. 5 Robert Yanacek, 23, the crew chief. Commanding the flight from the right front seat was Capt. Lawrence J. Coyne, 36, a 19-year veteran of the Army Reserve.
About 11:00 p.m. near Mansfield, Ohio, Healey saw a red light off to the left (west) heading south. Three or four minutes later, Yanacek noticed a single steady red light on the eastern horizon, and reported it to Coyne. About 30 seconds later, Yanacek announced that the light appeared to be converging on the helicopter, and they all watched it warily.
As the light continued its approach, Coyne grabbed the controls from Jezzi and began a powered descent of approximately 500 feet per minute. He made radio contact with Mansfield approach control, requesting information on possible jet traffic. After Mansfield acknowledged their transmission, radio contact was lost on both UHF and VHF.
The red light appeared to be on a collision course, approaching at a speed estimated to be more than 600 knots. Coyne increased the rate of descent to 2,000 feet per minute until they reached about 1,700 feet, about 600 feet above the tree tops. With the unknown object about to ram them, the crewmen feared for their lives. Just as a collision appeared imminent, the light suddenly stopped and hovered above and in front of the helicopter. They saw a cigar-shaped, gray metallic appearing, domed object whose apparent size filled the entire windshield.
The object appeared solid, blotting out the stars behind it. It had a red light at the nose, a white light at the tail, and a distinctive green beam emanating from the lower part of the otherwise featureless "fuselage." The green beam swung up over the helicopter nose, through the windshield, and into the upper tinted window panels. The cockpit was bathed in intense green light. No noise or turbulence was noted.
After a few seconds, the object accelerated and moved off to the west. Coyne and Healey reported that it then made a distinct 45 degree turn to the right, heading toward Lake Erie. While the object was still visible, Jezzi and Coyne both noted that the altimeter read 3,500 feet with a rate of climb of 1,000 feet per minute. Yet the collective (steering mechanism) was still in the full-down position set during the descent.
As Coyne cautiously raised the collective, the helicopter continued climbing, as would be expected. At an indicated altitude of 3,800 feet Coyne finally felt that he had regained positive control. Then they felt a slight "bump." He descended to the previously assigned cruise altitude of 2,500 feet and made radio contact with Akron/Canton, which now was easily achieved. The remainder of the flight to Cleveland was routine.
At about 11:00 p.m., Mrs. Erma C. and four children were returning from Mansfield to their rural home southeast of town. As they drove south on Laver Road, they noticed a bright red light flying south. She turned the car eastward and continued on across the Charles Mill Reservoir, a distance of 3.6 miles, covered in about 5 minutes.
At this point they saw to the east a red and green light, moving together, coming down rapidly toward them. At first they assumed it was a low-flying light plane, but changed their minds almost immediately. The red was too bright, especially compared to the green. They could not see any shape or, at first, hear any sound. When they stopped the car and got out to look, they heard
the typical sounds of a helicopter. As they watched, the red light and the helicopter converged.
After the red-lighted object stopped, the green light flared up. "When we got out, everything was green. I saw that thing and the helicopter." The witnesses agreed that the helicopter was green "because of the light from the thing up above....It was so bright that you couldn't see too far. Everything was green. The trees, the car, everything."
The helicopter with the other object above and slightly ahead of it moved in tandem from southwest to northeast. Suddenly the green light went out and the object was gone. "When the light went out you couldn't see the object. And then the helicopter went northeast. Then we got back in the car and went on, and saw it [the helicopter] fly out over the lake."
Jeanne Elias, 44, was watching the news at her home southeast of Mansfield just after 11:00 p.m. She recognized the sound of an Army helicopter approaching so loud and near that she feared it was going to crash into the house. The sound persisted for "a long time," and when it was over her son John, 14, called out from his room. He had been awakened by the sound, and then had observed a bright green light that lit up the bedroom. The light persisted long enough for him to realize that "there must be some kind of object right above the house, because it was coming in so heavy in my room."
Investigator Jennie Zeidman conducted a time-line analysis, second-by-second, showing that the object was continuously in view of the helicopter crew for at least five minutes. This duration and the witness descriptions both from the helicopter and the ground rules out the object being a meteor. - Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR)
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UFO - Mansfield, Ohio 1973 "The Coyne Incident" by eeasynow
To Commandor Flight Operations Off DATE 23 Nov 73 Cmt 1
83D USARCOM USAR Flight Facility
ATTN: AHRCCG Cleveland Hopkins Airport
Columbus Support Facility Cleveland, Ohio 44135
1. On 18 October 1973 at 2305 hours in the vicinity of Mansfield, Ohio, Army Helicopter 68-15444 assigned to Cleveland USARFFAC encountered a near midair collision with a unidentified flying object. Four crewmembers assigned to the Cleveland USARFFAC for flying proficiency were on AFTP status when this incident occurred. The flight crew assigned was CPT Lawrence J. Coyne, Pilot in Command,1LT Arrigo Jozzi, Copilot, SSG Robert Yanacsek, Crew Chief, SSG John Healey,Flight Medio,All the above personnel are member of the 316th MED DET(HEL AMB). a tenant reserve unit of the Cleveland USARFFAC.
2. The reported incident happened as follows: Army Helicopter 68-15444 was returning from Columbus, Ohio to Cleveland, Ohio and at 2305 hours east, south east of Mansfield Airport in the vicinity of Mansfield, Ohio while flying at an altitude of 2500 feet and on a heading of 030 degrees, SSG Yanacsek observed a red light on the east horizon,90 degrees to the flight path of the helicopter. Approximately 30 seconds later, SSG Yanacsek indicated the object was converging on the helicopter at the same altitude at a airspeed in excess of 600 knots and on a midair collision heading.
Cpt Coyne observed the converging object, took over the controls of the aircraft and initiated a power descent from 2500 feet to 1700 feet to avoid impact with the object. A radio call was initiated to Mansfield Tower who acknowledged the helicopter and was asked by CPT Coyne if there were any high performance aircraft flying in the vicinity of Mansfield Airport however there was no response received from the tower. The crew expected impact from the object instead, the object was observed to hesitate momentarily over the helicopter and then slowly continued on a westerly course accelerating at a high rate of speed, clear west of Mansfield Airport then turn 45 degree heading to the Northwest. Cpt Coyne indicated the altimeter read a 1000 fpm olimp and read 3500 feet with the collective in the full down position. The aircraft was returned to 2500 feet by CPT Coyne and flown back to Cleveland, Ohio. The flight plan was closed and the FAA Flight Service Station notified of the incident. The FSS told CPT Coyne to report the incident to the FAA GADO office a Cleveland Hopkins Airport Mr. Porter, 83d USARCOM was notified of the incident at 1530 hours on 19 Oct 73.
3. This report has been read and attested to by the crewmembers of the aircraft with signatures acknowledging this report.
Mansfield News Journal, Ohio - 10/18/2003
Zeidman, Jennie - "Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio" - Center for UFO Studies, Chicago - CUFOS - 1979
Hall, Richard - "The UFO Evidence, Volume II." - 2000
MUFON 1989 International UFO Symposium Proceedings - Seguin, Texas
Cincinnati Enquirer - 10/22/1973
83D USARCOM USAR - FOIA