The Coyne helicopter-UFO incident has been called one of the most credible by many believers. Lt. Col. Lawrence J. Coyne, 1st Lt. Arrigo Jezzi, Sgt. John Healey, and Sgt. Robert Yanacsek were flying back to Cleveland from Columbus in an Army Reserve helicopter on the night of October 18, 1973. Around 11:00 at night, Healey noticed a red light to the west heading south. A few minutes later, Yanacsek noticed a red light to the east, keeping pace with the helicopter. Coyne instructed them to “keep an eye on it.” The light began to approach the helicopter. A collision seemed imminent to the 36-year-old Coyne, who had 19 years of flying experience. Coyne grabbed the controls from Jezzi and began a powered descent. The light decelerated and hovered above/in front of the helicopter. What the men saw, they would never forget. “A cigar-shaped gray metallic object filled the entire front windshield. A red light was at the nose, a white light at the tail, and a distinctive green beam emanated from the lower part of the object.” The green light moved over the helicopter and bathed “the cockpit in green light.” A few seconds later the light accelerated moving to the west. This wasn’t the first time lights in the sky puzzled Mansfield residents. The News-Journal has reported sighting dating back to the 1940s.
The term “flying saucer” was first coined after a rash of UFO sightings in Northeast Oregon in June of 1947. A few weeks later, on July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release saying they had recovered a “flying disc” on a nearby ranch. Soon the entire nation was hooked. UFO fever swept the nation and sightings rose exponentially. Mansfield wasn’t immune to this fever. The following year on March 4, 1948, Mrs. Olive Owen of 503 Cline Ave. reported seeing a strange light to the west just before dark. Mrs. Owen “reported a strange streak of light, traveling back and forth across the heavens. Mrs. Owen and her neighbors armed themselves with telescopes better to observe the as yet unexplained light which kept getting brighter as it came closer and closer to earth,” until it “disappeared below the horizon.”
On June 7, 1952, Val Isham, an amateur astronomer, reported seeing a strange round object in the sky around 2:40 a. m. He watched the object move north to south in the sky to the east, claiming it stopped for a few minutes in the sky before continuing on its way. On September 12, 1952, there was a flurry of sightings across multiple states. Mrs. Carl Breyman of Possum Run Rd., with her husband and a friend, Kenneth Parker, saw an object traveling a “terrific speed” at around 8:05 p. m.; it was the brightest thing they had ever seen.
The next year, a Shiloh family witnessed flying saucers dog fighting on the night of July 12, 1953. Wilgus A. Patton was driving on Route 178, about five miles south of Plymouth, when he saw what he described as “two things that looked like tadpoles at first glance. They were tremendously large and appeared to be flying at about 1,000 feet and about three miles away from us.” He continued saying “they were diving at each other at terrific speeds and acting like they were dog fighting.” After about 70 seconds, they disappeared to the north. Less than two weeks later, on July 24, lights were again seen in the sky. At 11:40 p. m., Mrs. H. H. Clingan reported seeing two bright lights that merged into one and disappeared over the horizon. Other residents reported seeing the lights as well.
On September 3, 1956, John Adamescu reported seeing a saucer-like object in the sky around 5:29 p. m. while he was seeding his lawn. He estimated the object to be flying at about 15,000 to 20,000 feet, based on its relationship to the clouds. Adamexcu, a weather observer and forward air observer with the Army during World War II, said “the object was foreign to any plane or other weather instrument he has ever encountered, including jet aircraft.”
On October 23, 1960, Charles Price and friends and family reported seeing a strange object while driving from Butler to Bellville on State Route 97. Price claimed the object hovered, spinning about 1,000 feet in the air. The object had light and dark areas which gave it a pulsating appearance. They witnessed the object for about five minutes before it sped away. In 1966 Virgil A. Stanfield wrote in the News Journal about the UFO craze. Stanfield wrote: “one day a teacher from a high school in the Mansfield area came to the News Journal office to accuse the editors of holding our the ‘real facts on flying saucers.’ He said the Air Force and newspaper editors had known all along that there were saucers and the newspapers had been sworn to secrecy for security reasons.” However, this may have been a clever advertisement for a series of articles on flying saucers which were to appear in the News Journal the following Sunday.
Many of these experiences can be explained as meteors, weather balloons, or known aircraft, but questions remain, leaving many to as the question: “Are we alone?”
For more on the Coyne helicopter incident check out Tim McKee’s article UFOs Over Richland County: 1973.
- Zeidman, Jennie. A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio. (1979).
- Strange Light, Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 05 March 1948, p. 13.
- Mansfield Astronomer Sees One!. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 07 June 1952, p. 1.
- Flurry of Sky Objects Bring Jitters. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 13 September 1952, p. 1.
- See Flying Saucers ‘Dogfighting’ Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 13 July 1953, p. 1.
- ‘Saucers’ Seen Again. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 25 July 1953, p. 5.
- Mansfielder Says He Saw Flying Saucer. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 04 September 1956, p, 2.
- Sky Show. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 25 October 1960, p. 13.
- Stanfield, Virgil. The View From Here. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 19 October 1966.