In 1973, the crew of an Army Helicopter encountered a UFO and subsequently won $5,000 for “the most scientifically valuable report of the year.”
Such a large number of sightings took place in October 1973 that the period is often referred to as the Great UFO Wave. It’s fortunate that one of them was witnessed by a crew of credible witnesses.
On October 18, at approximately 10:30 p.m., an Army Reserve Bell UH-1 (Huey) helicopter took off from Port Columbus, Ohio. It was headed for Cleveland Hopkins Airport, about 100 miles to the north. Its crew consisted of four men: Captain Lawrence J. Coyne, First Lieutenant Arrigo Jezzi, Sergeant John Healey and Sergeant Robert Yanacsek.
The helicopter climbed to an altitude of 2,500 feet and was cruising at a speed of 90 knots. Atmospheric conditions were ideal and a clear sky allowed for optimum visibility.
As they got closer to their destination, Sgt. Healey noticed a red light to their west, flying the opposite way. Two minutes later, he saw a similar light, this time far in the south-east horizon. He got the chance to observe it for a while but, like the other crew members, Healey thought it was nothing more than distant air traffic.
About half a minute later, Yanacsek spotted the mysterious light had changed course and was now heading towards the helicopter. Captain Coyne took over the Huey’s controls and began a rapid descent. He also contacted the nearby Mansfield control tower, as he was unable to establish radio communications with the unknown aircraft. Unfortunately, radio contact with the tower soon failed and could not be established again.
In the meantime, the red light had increased in intensity and was still heading on a collision course. Coyne therefore increased the helicopter’s rate of descent and airspeed.
At 1,700 feet I braced myself for the impact with the other craft,” Coyne told United Press International reporters. “It was coming from our right side. I was scared. There had been so little time to respond. The thing was terrifically fast.”
The crash seemed imminent when the object simply stopped and assumed a hovering position above and in front of the Huey. It was close enough for the airmen to distinguish some of its features.