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.
Source: Mansfield News Journal, Ohio
Saturday, October 18, 2003
By Russ Kent
MANSFIELD -- 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
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
"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
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
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
Incident named after pilot
The following article appeared in the Nov. 4, 1973, edition of
the Mansfield News Journal. It was written by a United Press
CLEVELAND -- 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
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
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.