The 1973 Mansfield Coyne Helicopter UFO Incident

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
April 16, 2018
Last Updated
October 11, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
6 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

The incident of October 1973 over Mansfield, Ohio, was witnessed by four professional military pilots, as well as multiple witnesses on the ground. Furthermore, the encounter is still unexplained but considered one of the more authentic of such incidents. An unknown and highly advanced aircraft would zoom in on a military helicopter and then stop suddenly in front of them, hovering silently.

Sketch of UFO by witness Larry Coyne

Sketch of UFO by witness Larry Coyne

Each of the pilots would sign sworn testimony regarding the authenticity of the encounter such was the conviction of what they saw. Perhaps more important was the commander of the helicopter in question chose to speak to the media before debriefing his superiors. This, rightly or wrongly depending on your perspective, prevented any aspect of the incident from being classified.

UFO researchers still actively investigate the case today and still seek witnesses [1] who may not have come forward with their accounts. We will look at some of those new reports from previously unknown witnesses a little later. Before we look at the Mansfield Incident in a little more detail, though, check out the video below. It looks at not only the basics of this case but briefly at other sightings from experienced pilots.

Collision Course With A Strange Red Light!

As the Army Reserve UH-1 helicopter cut through the night sky on 18th October 1973, [2] events were about to become surreal. The four-man crew (Captain Lawrence Coyne, Lt. Arrigo Jezzi, Sgt. John Healy, and Robert Yanacek) had traveled from Cleveland to Columbus earlier that evening for a regular standard medical examination. Following that, they would board their vehicle at 10:30 pm and leave for their return journey back to Cleveland. It was while they were over Mansfield that the night took a strange turn.

They were flying at 2,500 feet, the mixture of woods, hills, and farmland below them. It was Healy who first spotted the strange red light to their left. It was at some distance, but it looked too bright to be a standard aircraft light. He would keep the sighting to himself but would keep his eye on it. Several moments later, Yanacek noticed the red light also. When it began to close in on their craft, he informed his commander, Coyne.

Believing themselves to be on a collision course with the object, Coyne thrust the helicopter down, descending around 500 feet. As he did so he would request information from the control tower in Mansfield. A few seconds after initial radio contact with the tower, their communications began to be interrupted.

The red object was still heading in their direction. The men prepared for impact.

“The Whole Cabin Turned Green!”

Just as the object was about to crash into the helicopter it came to a complete stop directly in front and slightly above them. The metallic, cigar-shaped object hung in the air “filling the entire windshield!” The crew would estimate the object to be around sixty feet in length and around twenty feet high.

All four men looked on in awe of this huge, other-worldly craft. Suddenly, a green light “swung” from underneath and hit the windshield of the helicopter. According to Coyne, “the whole cabin turned green” as the light illuminated everything in a bright green wash.

After a few seconds, the light went out, and the object moved up and to the west at great speed. Coyne, who had the helicopter’s height locked throughout the incident at 1,700 feet, realized they were suddenly at a height of 3,500 feet. They had climbed almost 2,000 feet “in a matter of seconds and never knew it!”

Suddenly a “bump” nudged the helicopter, and instinctively Coyne climbed slightly, the vehicle now back in his control. The crew, still shaken, but all calm continued on to Cleveland where they would make an official report of the incident. However, unlike many encounters involving aircraft pilots – military or commercial – Coyne would give his report to the media upon landing. A local Cleveland reporter ran the story the following day. Shortly after, Coyne appeared on the ‘Dick Cavett Show’ and told of the encounter to a national audience. It is because of his actions that the account is largely seen as credible. It also gave the military no chance to cover-up or ridicule the incident. And even had they tried, several people below also witnessed the bizarre events unfold.

The video below features the crew of the helicopter talking further.

The “Ground” Witnesses

There were several witnesses on the ground who would corroborate the pilots’ accounts. One of them was Jim Carver and his family [3] who were driving to their rural home just outside of Mansfield. Along with Jim were his three siblings and his mother, Emma. It was shortly after 11 pm when they noticed a strange red light in the sky above them. It appeared to be getting closer.

Emma turned the car onto Route 430. As she did so both she and her four children could now see two lights up above. One was red, and the other, green. As each of them watched the lights in fascination, they noticed the sound of an approaching helicopter. Emma pulled the car to the side of the road and she and her children stepped out to watch the events above.

They could see the huge cigar-shaped object hovering over the helicopter. Suddenly, they witnessed the bright green light shoot out from the underside and bathe not only the entire cockpit in fluorescent green but everything in sight. “The woods, the car, everything turned green” was one report from a witness below.

As the crew reported, after a few seconds the light went out and the object moved away, casting a brief flash of bright, white light as it did.

Incidentally, there was a spike in UFO sightings throughout the United States in October 1973. Several prominent cases reached national headlines. Perhaps most famous was the Pascagoula Incident which featured claims of alien abduction. We will return to this sighting in detail in a future article.

The short video below features a news piece looking at the apparent surge of UFO sightings during this time.

New Witnesses Come Forward

Fifteen years later in 1988, a new witness came forward with information. Jeanne Elias from the south-east Mansfield area recalled laying in bed watching the 11 pm news when the sound of an extremely low flying helicopter made her stop watching the television. She was used to low-flying aircraft as their house was only six miles from the Mansfield Airport runway. However, this aircraft sounded lower than normal and she feared an imminent crash.

As she panicked, she “hid her head under the pillow” on her bed. She could hear her teenage son, John, calling to her from his room next door. The loud rumbling sound had awoken him, and a bright green light filled his entire room from outside.

Following an appeal in the Mansfield News Journal in 2015 for witnesses to the Mansfield Incident, many people did come forward with new information. [4] One was Brian Stevens, who at the time of the incident was 13-years-old. He would recall seeing a red-orange ball that he “couldn’t take his eye off” as he walked along Ohio 39.

Another new witness, Glenn Stout, worked at Mansfield Tire. He and several co-workers were on a break at the back dock when “a crazy looking light” sped towards a helicopter, nearly crashing. One particularly bizarre detail offered by Stout was his home electric bill for the month following the incident was only $4. He wondered if the surprisingly low bill had a connection to the UFO overhead that evening.

Judith Hamm was yet another person who witnessed the bizarre events of October 1973. She claimed to have almost “screamed out loud” as she witnessed what she thought was “two planes about to crash into each other!” Hamm believed it was a military plane until reading stories of the encounter afterward.

Depiction of a cigar-shaped UFO in space

Depiction of a cigar-shaped UFO in space

Not “Anything Military!”

Les Kiser, who was 13-years-old at the time of the sighting, would witness the strange events from his back garden along with his 30-year-old sister. As they were doing chores in the yard, a huge oval-shaped craft came into view over them. There were two red lights on the object which suddenly vanished to be replaced with an intensely bright green light. He could clearly see the helicopter in front of the craft, glowing in the green waves.

Kiser felt immediately it was a UFO. His sister, however, would state to him that “it’s probably military! Don’t say anything to anyone about it!” He would tell the ‘Mansfield News Journal’ in 2015, “I know what I saw, and it wasn’t anything military!”

His sister’s warning, however, wasn’t entirely lost on Les. He wouldn’t talk about it until the appeal for witnesses through the newspaper. He would state that the experience “was so strong for me that I never lost it in my mind!”

Just what was seen that evening in the skies over Mansfield, Ohio may never be known. While it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the military has more information on the case, the fact that Coyne bypassed potential censor heavy channels by speaking directly with the media suggests the incident is mostly intact. Whether or not there was clandestine military involvement somewhere in the timeline of the episode is open to debate. As is the question of whether the incident is part of the apparent wave of sightings in October 1973. If there was a surge of activity at this time, what was the reason?

The video below looks at the incident a little further.



1 Investigators seek UFO witnesses, Courtney Day, Mansfield News Journal June 9th, 2015
2 Army Helicopter’s UFO Scare Still A Mystery, 40 Years Later, Lee Speigel, HuffPost US, October 18th, 2013
3 45 Years Later: The Coyne/Helicopter UFO Incident in Mansfield, Ohio!, Jim Carver, The Rust Belt Chronicles, October 16th, 2013
4 UFO witnesses come forward decades later, Courtney Day, Mansfield New Journal, September 11th, 2015

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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