When it comes to UFOs, it’s definitely one of the most interesting things about space and flying. The mere mention of unidentified flying objects naturally piques the interest of even the most disinterested observer. Again, in an incident that occurred on Oct. 18, 1973, in north central Ohio, UFOs became the subject of discussion in this region and beyond. Residents of Ohio witnessed enigmatic lights that glowed in the sky to the west over Charles Mill Lake on the night of the 18th. The next morning, i.e., on Oct 19, helicopter pilots near Mansfield also reported seeing similar lights in what is now known as the Coyne Incident.
Among the series of 1973 sightings, the Coyne Incident, according to the Center for UFO Studies, was the most credible incident. Piloted by Capt. Lawrence J. Coyne, the U.S. Army Reserve UH-1H helicopter left Port Columbus at approximately 10:30 p.m. and headed 96 nautical miles north-northeast to Cleveland Hopkins airport. Being in charge of the helicopter, Coyne was sitting in the right front seat. At that time, he was 36 years old and had been flying since he was 17 years old. 1st Lt. Arrigo Jezzi was sitting in the left-front seat, at the controls. Jezzi was a 26-year-old chemical engineer.
Behind the Jezzi sat Sergeant John Healey of the Cleveland Police Department and Sergeant Robert Yanacsek. They were 35 and 25 years old, respectively. Healey was the flight medic, and Yanacsek was a computer technician. That night, the sky was clear. The helicopter was cruising at an altitude of 2,500 feet above sea level a mixture of hills, woodlands, and rolling farmland. The airspeed of the helicopter was 90 knots. About 10 miles outside of Mansfield, at around 11 p.m., a solitary red light moving south from the west caught the sight of Healey.
Yanacsek reported seeing it on the southeast horizon as he thought it to be a tower light or aircraft port wing light. But soon he realized it was something else when the light rapidly started approaching their helicopter. Assuming the threat, Coyne quickly powered a 500-foot descent per minute. At the same time, he called the National Guard aircraft tower in Mansfield to check whether it was one of their planes. However, after the first contact of “This is Mansfield Tower, go ahead Army 1-5-2-4,” all transmissions were lost. Even though Coyne increased their descent rate to 2,000 feet per minute at 100 knots, the object was approaching at a faster speed than theirs.
This was a sketch of what Capt. Lawrence J. Coyne and his crew witnessed in the sky over Charles Mill Lake on Oct. 18, 1973.
As the crew prepared them for impact, suddenly, the light stopped and began hovering above and in front of the chopper. Soon they realized it was an aircraft of extraterrestrial origin. As described by all the crew members of the helicopter, it was a gray metallic cigar-shaped structure with a little domed top but no other distinguishing features. On the dome of the object, Yanacsek noted what seemed to be windows. As the UFO hovered above, the helicopter flight crew was able to see inside the object through its plexiglass windows on the roof.
There was a red light at the bow and an indented white light at the stern of the UFO. Inside the object, a green “pyramid-shaped” beam similar to a spotlight was there, which was so strong that it entered the helicopter and the helicopter was filled with that green light. For about 10 seconds, the helicopter began to float and move upwards towards the object. The crew members said that it felt like the helicopter was being dragged by the UFO. Soon, the UFO sped away at a great speed towards the west and left the helicopter behind.
Next, the UFO made a turn and raced over Lake Erie. According to Jezzi, it moved quicker than the 250-knot limit for aircraft below 10,000 feet, but not as fast as many other witnesses believed it to be at 600 knots. The crew of the helicopter was clueless and was unable to determine what happened to them. After that, they began on their journey heading towards their destination, which was Cleveland. After that incident, Coyne revealed that before the encounter, he himself was a skeptic of UFOs. But, having witnessed what happened that day, he no longer has any doubts about the existence of UFOs.
“The first thing I thought was those Commie bastards … what are they up to?”
Jezzi statements in a later interview with the Mansfield News Journal
When Coyne went to the Mansfield National Guard Tower to investigate the UFO incident, he discovered that the Mansfield National Guard Tower had no recordings of any interaction with him at all, not even the tape with the initial contact. But they verified that no other aircraft were present at the time of the UFO encounter. At the time of the encounter, Coyne had also noticed that the magnetic compass in the helicopter had malfunctioned. So later, when he asked the maintenance crew to repair it, they were unable to do so, and ultimately they had to replace the entire unit.
The Coyne Incident
Due to the crew’s immaculate reputation, the Coyne Incident remains one of the most credible UFO sightings till now. The flight crew was presented with a $5,000 prize from the National Enquirer Blue Ribbon Panel for “the most scientifically significant report” of 1973. The Coyne incident received a large amount of public attention and many articles and news reports have been published on it.
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