Pilot Reports

UFO nearly collides with military helicopter, then shines green light on startled crew (1973)

By Zack Van Eyck on February 12th, 2012
UFO nearly collides with military helicopter, then shines green light on startled crew (1973)
Drawing of the object made under the direction of Captain Coyne and Sergeant Yanacsek.
Drawing of the object made under the direction of Captain Coyne and Sergeant Yanacsek.

It has been regarded as one of the most credible UFO encounter reports ever made – and with good reason.  The four Americans who say their helicopter nearly crashed with a high-speed UFO were members-in-good-standing of an Army Reserve flight crew based at Hopkins Airport in Cleveland: the pilot, Capt. Lawrence Coyne; Arrigo “Rick” Jezzi, who was flying the Huey helicopter that night; the crew chief, Sgt. Robert Yanacsek; and crewmen John Healey.

What Captain Coyne saw through the helicopter windshield

What became known as “the Coyne incident” began at 11:10 p.m. on Oct. 18, 1973 above the skies of Mansfield, Ohio during a weeks-long period in which numerous UFO sightings were reported across the country.  Yanacsek, who was in the back of the craft, first spotted a fast-moving red light (estimated by Coyne in excess of 600 knots) coming at the helicopter, on a collision course, from the right side. Coyne quickly took over the throttle and sent the chopper into a controlled free fall – one that likely saved the crew’s lives, Jezzi told the Mansfield News Journal in a 2003 interview.

Captain Coyne

In an article published two weeks after the incident, Coyne told United Press International he was bracing himself for impact – but 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.”

He said a green light at the back of the UFO swiveled like a spotlight and lit up the helicopter’s cabin.  At that point, the Huey began to rise toward the UFO.

“I had made no attempt to pull up,” Coyne 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.”

He said the UFO finally moved off to the west, never to be seen again – although sightings of a similar object were reported by people on the ground in surrounding areas.  

The next morning, two of the crew members drew sketches of the object they saw and both came up with similar drawings, according to Jezzi.

 Witnesses on the ground

A mother (Mrs. Emma "C.") and her four children were returning home from Mansfield, when they noticed a bright red light flying south. As she continued to drive across the Charles Mill Reservoir the car's occupants saw to the east a red and green light, moving together, coming down rapidly toward them.   They thought it was a low-flying light plane, but realized that the lights were too bright, and the craft was silent.  They stopped the car to take a look at the light and heard a helicopter. They watched the red light and helicopter as they converged. 

The red light stopped in mid air and the green light flared up.  

Illustration of the incident as seen by witnesses on the ground.

Ms. "C" said, "When we got out, everything was green. I saw that thing and the helicopter." She said that the green light illuminated the helicopter and the immediate surroundings.

"Everything was green. The trees, the car, everything." 

The helicopter and the  UFO moved in formation from southwest to northeast. The green light vanished 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."

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