Army Helicopter's UFO Scare Still A Mystery, 40 Years Later.
Forty years ago today, a four-man crew of an Army Reserve helicopter was flying over Mansfield, Ohio, around 11:00 p.m. when they "encountered a near midair collision with an unidentified flying object," according to the official report, signed and submitted by the crew after the incident.
A full explanation for this terrifying UFO close encounter has never been offered, and to this day, the helicopter-UFO incident remains one of the most credible -- and terrifying -- in the history of the subject.
The commander of the helicopter, Maj. Larry Coyne, and his crew, thought at first that the light on the horizon was a radio tower beacon.
"We were flying along at about 2,500 feet when the crew chief on the helicopter observed a red light on the east horizon. He then informed me that the light was closing on the helicopter -- that it was coming at us on a collision course," Coyne told this reporter in 1975.
"I looked to the right and observed that the object became bigger and the light became brighter, and I began to descend the helicopter toward the ground, to get out of the collision course path. We were descending and this object was like a missile locked onto the helicopter, only it came at us on a perpendicular angle, to hit us almost broadside.
"It looked like we were going to collide with it and we braced for impact, and then I heard the crewmen in the back say, 'Look up!' and I observed this craft stopped directly in front of us -- stopped -- it was hovering, right over the helicopter!"
Watch this video excerpt of the Coyne account from a documentary report. The story continues after the video.
With the unknown object hovering in the air above the helicopter, Coyne and his crew suddenly noticed a light coming out of the aft end of it -- a light that swung 90 degrees and came into their cabin.
"It was a bright green light. And all of the red night lights that we utilize for night navigation were dissolved in this green light -- the whole cabin turned green. It hit all of us directly in the face."
Coyne and his crew knew they were encountering something extraordinary.
"We assumed it was a high-performance fighter, but when it stopped directly in front of us, then all four of us realized that was no high-performance aircraft. This craft, from the angle that we saw it, was cigar-shaped. It had no wings, no vertical or horizontal stabilizer, was approximately 60 feet long, 15-20 feet in height."
What occurred next was like something out of science fiction.
"We were at 1,700 feet," Coyne recalled. "Then this craft began to move slowly to the west away from us. At this time, I was worried we were going to hit the ground, and I looked at my altimeter and our helicopter was at 3,500 feet, climbing 1,000 feet a minute with no changes in the control. We went from 1,700 feet to 3,500 feet in a matter of seconds and never knew it!"
The helicopter topped out at 3,800 feet and the four men felt a bump, "like turbulence, at which time we had control of the aircraft again. I had control and we went back down to 2,500 feet and then continued on to Cleveland," Coyne said.
"As far as the vehicle itself, there's no doubt in our minds what it looked like. A craft that can move at terrific speeds in excess of 1,000 knots, and then stop on a dime, maintains altitude, can change altitude, climb, descend. To encounter a UFO when it approaches your aircraft, you have no idea what it is. I think if it wanted to collide with us, it could have. You can't get away from it -- you don't have that much time to respond!"
Lending credibility to this case were eyewitnesses on the ground who observed the UFO-helicopter encounter. The Army didn't prevent Coyne and his crew from speaking out about their experience. In fact, Coyne was allowed to recount the UFO incident to the United Nations in 1978, as seen below, under the sponsorship of Grenada..
Twilight Zone's Rod Serling presents the case:
Huff Post's Lee Speigel on the case and how it went to the United Nations:
Rare interview with one of the other pilots - see 47:20:
Separately located witnesses - see page 49:
Regional Encounters - the FC files. A century of UFO sightings and Close encounters in the Mid West. - Francis Ridge. (PDF File)
Jenny Ziedman examines the case (and the debunk by Philip Klass):
UFO Helicopter Close Encounter Over Ohio (PDF File)
"The object that I viewed that particular evening had a high degree of technology and was composed of a structure and a design that we do not have - the object could move through the atmosphere without causing any turbulence, it could move at high speeds below ten thousand feet and there were no vertical or horizontal stabilizers, no landing gear, no source of propulsion reflected on the craft - it looked like it could fly in space".
The Great UFO Wave of Ohio
The unusual aerial events happening during the October 1973 time-period remains one of the most fascinating of all UFO happenings, an intense and disturbing siege that no dismissive hypothesis or explanatory venture will easily rob of its strangeness.
Frederich Valentich an Australian pilot had the same experience before he disappeared. His encounter, which was recorded at the time, has a good percentage of the same given information.
19:10 FS Delta Sierra Juliet, roger and how large would the - er - object be?
19:10:19 DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne, it seems like it's stationary. What I'm doing right now is orbiting and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also. It's got a green light and sort of metallic like, it's all shiny on the outside.
What Happened to Frederick Valentich? Possibly the scariest UFO case ever
“Mayday, Mayday, Ercoupe ocho cero, eight zero, zero, Hotel. We can see a strange object in our course, we are lost, Mayday, Mayday.”
“Ah we are going from Santo Domingo to ah San Juan International but we found ah a weird object in our course that made us change course about three different times we got it right in front of us now at one o’clock, our heading is zero seven zero degrees…our altitude one thousand six hundred a zero seven zero degrees…our VORs got lost off frequency…”
“Right now we are supposed to be a about thirty five miles from the coast of Puerto Rico but we have something weird in front of us that make us lose course all the time I changed our course a second (unintelligible) our present heading right now is three hundred we are right again in the same stuff sir.”
The Disappearance of flight N3808H, Puerto Rico, 1980