Classic Mysteries—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2019
Ohio's UFO Flap of 1973
by: Rick R. Hilberg
Our office phone literally rang off the hook on the evening of October 17th, with friends telling us that the UFOs were back again for a concentrated visit to the north part of Ohio.
First reports came in at about 7:15 p.m., when an off-duty Akron patrolman, Henry Bertolini, told of an object hovering over his west Akron home. He said it had red and blue flashing lights and was as big as a car.
At about the same time, Akron Police Sgt. A.W. Fields said that patromen in Car 10 reported seeing a hovering oblong object that suddenly sped away.
Patrolmen Lee Frasher and Joseph Gause, in Car 57, reported by radio of seeing a cigar-shaped object “with two red glowing lights” moving through the night sky. “I was a helicopter crew chief in the Army,” Frasher later told reporters. “It wasn't a chopper.”
At the time of these Akron sightings, five families in Willoughby reported a bright light over their homes, followed by a loud explosion. One of the witnesses, Wallace Zawacki, said that his 18-year-old daughter, Laura, saw the yellowish light through the front window. Zawacki and some of his neighbors checked the area and found no evidence of an explosion. Officials at nearby Lost Nation Airport said that there were several takeoffs and landings at the time of the reported incidents, but had no reports of engine trouble or explosions.
Also on the same evening, William Grizer was driving home when “this thing came down and landed on top of the car.” Grizer was driving south on Massillon Road when the strange incident occurred.
Grizer said that the object was about half the size of the car hood. “I know it doesn't make sense, but that's the way it came out,” he said. He described the object as “solid white, with kind of a rainbow effect. It scared me. I hit my brakes and it came up off the car.” Upon later examination he found four scratch marks on the hood of his car.
Boys playing football in a Sheffield Lake field sighted a strange object at about 7:15 p.m., on October 18th. Reports made by the boys indicate that the UFO may have touched down on the ground. Said Dave McCormick, 15, “It came over the trees from the west. It went past us, then stopped dead over the Knickerbocker Apartments (across from the field). It swung back, stopped right over us for two or three seconds, then seemed to go down behind the apartments.” He said the object had orange and yellow flashing lights.
Another boy, Tom Miller, who lives on a street behind the apartments, said that he was watching television when his dog's barking made him look out the window to the woods behind his home. Miller could only see the lights on the object. “(The lights) were flashing – red, white, and blue. Just like a fire truck,” he said.
A scattered number of reports came in from the northwestern area of the state on October 18th. Williams County Sheriff's deputies said they received several calls around 3:00 a.m. They came from the Montpelier area, telling of a very bright cigar-shaped UFO traveling very slowly southwest of that town. Toledo airport radar noted nothing unusual on their scopes, however.
A Lakeside woman reported to Ottowa County Sheriff's deputies that she saw a bright object over Lake Erie at 8:33 p.m. She said it started sparking and added she heard a loud blast. After the blast the strange object was gone, she stated. Two other residents reported that they also heard the blast. A man witnessed a white light hovering over the Catawba Island ferry dock a while later.
Possibly the most significant report of the entire 1973 UFO “flap” occurred when an Army helicopter had a strange close-up encounter with a cigar-shaped UFO over Mansfield the night of Oct. 18th.
“I've made one significant decision since the experience,” said Captain Lawrence Coyne, the copter's commander. “I've told my pilots not to take dangerous evasive actions in trying to avoid one of these things. So far UFOs have been harmless as this one was. They have not struck or collided with anybody.”
Coyne and his crew were cruising at 2500 feet when they spotted a distant red light off to the right on the eastern horizon. The light started to close in fast. Coyne put the chopper into a shallow power dive to evade the oncoming object.
“But the light was traveling in excess of 600 knots,” Captain Coyne remarked. “It came from the horizon to our aircraft in about 10 seconds. We were on a collision course. At 1700 feet, I braced for the impact with the other craft. It was coming from our right side. I was scared. There had been so little time to respond. The thing was terrifically fast!”
Coyne waited, but there was no impact with the strange visitor.
“We looked up and saw it stopped right over us. 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 from the nose. There was a center dome. A green light at the rear reflected on the hull. This light swiveled like a spotlight. It was shining brightly through the bubble canopy of our helicopter, completely flooding out our instrument lights and turning everything inside green.”
Coyne tried to contact nearby radio posts, but with no success. The radio refused to transmit or receive during the incident. “All radios were functioning, but I couldn't get the keying sound and there was no reception. This was while we were diving.”
He never did apply control or engine power to halt the dive.
“As we stared in awe at the green light glaring into the cabin, the thing slowly moved off to the west. I looked at the altimeter and could hardly believe it was reading 3,500 feet, climbing to 3,800. I had made no attempt to pull up. All controls were set for a 20 degree dive. Yet we had climbed from 1,700 to 3,500 feet with no G-forces or other noticeable strains. There was no noise or turbulence either.”
The noturnal visitor then continued west toward Lorain, to rapidly climb into the night sky.
Source: This report (and other Ohio accounts) previously appeared in Northern Ohio UFO Casebook, by Rick R. Hilberg, first published in July 1997, and reprinted again in September 2018. Special thanks to Rick for bringing this material to my attention and for giving permission to re-post it here. R. Hilberg Publications, 377 Race St., Berea, Ohio 44017.