To recap briefly, I noted that Richard Dolan and Jennie Randles suggested that Mansfield had said that there was no other traffic in the area the night of Coyne incident. That would suggest no air refueling aircraft had made the close approach.
The endnotes by both suggested that the information had come from Jennie Zeidman, but I haven’t been able to find that specific reference. To be fair, I have not consulted her book published by CUFOS about it, but then, in her later writings and lectures about the case, she didn’t seem to mention it. I have seen the information as supplied in the Flying Saucer Review article and looked at her 1989 MUFON Symposium paper. All that took me to a dead end.
However, on May 9, 2018, I spoke with Robert Yanascek, the crew chief on the helicopter, about the sighting and asked two relevant questions. First, I wanted to know what he had seen that night. He had reported it as an “unidentified object with light.” He told me that it was shaped something like a submarine silhouetted against the bright starry background with a bright red light at the front and a bright light at the rear. In other words, a cylindrically shaped object that didn’t look like any conventional aircraft. He also mentioned that the red and green lights didn’t look like the navigation lights seen on aircraft. His experience was extensive which included tours as a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam.
Second, I asked about attempts to learn what had been flying in the area that night. He told me that they checked with Mansfield and the FAA. They were told that there was nothing else flying in their area.
What this means here, is that I have been able to find a source who was involved that night and who said that they had been unable to verify any other aircraft in the area. I would still like to find any reference in which Jennie Zeidman said that Mansfield had said there was no other traffic around them. However, since I have a source who was there, at the time, and the statement is confirmed as having come from the participants, this seems to prove that nothing else was in the air. That includes the Air Force refueling aircraft and, at lease, one additional helicopter. There could have been more for a training mission like this, but there had to be one. Documentation confirming all this would be helpful, but frankly, not overly necessary, given what we now know.
|Helicopters in formation in Vietnam. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.|
I worried about a question about why the craft didn’t show up on radar. My go to answer these days is “Stealth,” which could apply to an alien craft but certainly not to an Air Force Tanker in 1973. However, it seems that Parabunk has supplied that answer. He wrote, “I just found out that Mansfield didn't have a radar before 1982 (sources at the end of my blog post), so the closest one was probably at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, some 50 miles away.”
What is also important here is that these flights were made under IFR, that is Instrument Flight Rules,” and because some of the flight would have been above 14,000 feet, a flight plan would have been required. Had a refueling aircraft been in the area, Mansfield would have had a record of it. When Coyne and his flight crew checked on other aircraft in the area, small, private planes flying VFR (visual flight rules) wouldn’t necessarily have a flight plan and there might not be a record of their flight. Military aircraft would have a flight plan. This seems to rule out any sort of Air Force refueling plane. I can say that with the confidence of someone who is still looking for records and data which might change that conclusion.