One of the things that I enjoy is chasing footnotes. Gives us all a chance to look at the information circulating in the UFO community, and how some of the myths and legends of the field grow. We see how the information is slightly changed as one writer or researcher uses it to prove a point. One of the latest examples of this, published here, concerned the Coyne helicopter case and whether or not a refueling aircraft was the culprit in the sighting.
As I have mentioned in the past, Richard Dolan, in UFOs and the National Security State, wrote, about other aircraft in the area at the time of the sighting, “When he
[Coyne] tried to confirm the
existence of a craft out of Mansfield, his UFH and VHF frequencies were dead
(Mansfield later confirmed there were no aircraft in the area).
|Richard Dolan. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.|
Jennie Randles in The UFO Conspiracy wrote, “Mansfield later confirmed that they did not have any aircraft in the area.”
And I spoke with Bob Yanascek who said that there was nothing else in the area. But it seems he received that information from Coyne that night, in the helicopter or shortly after they landed rather than hearing it himself.
The various sources I checked, including Dolan and Randles, referred me to Jennie Zeidman and her work on the case including a monograph published by the Center for UFO Studies and an article in Flying Saucer Review. I also looked at her presentation at the MUFON Symposium in 1989, but that focused more on the additional, ground-based witnesses, than what Coyne and his crew saw.
I now believe that the quote comes from Zeidman’s A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio, published in March 1979. On page 71, she wrote, “In addition, when Captain Coyne checked with the FAA, he could find no record of any other aircraft in the area, and the last known F-100 of the Mansfield Air National Guard landed at 10:47 p.m.”
Here’s what bothers me about this. Both Dolan and Randles give the statement a little more authority than I see in the original. Finding no record of other aircraft in the area is not quite the same thing as confirming that there were no other aircraft in the area. What gives me pause here is that, according to the records, they couldn’t even confirm that Coyne’s aircraft was in the area at the time. Though he said he had made contact with Mansfield, when he checked, the recording from the tower that night didn’t have his transmission on it. In other words, it seems the record is incomplete at best.
Based on the information we have, we know that whatever Coyne and his crew encountered, it was not an F-100 fighter. That all of them were on the ground prior to the UFO encounter seems to be properly documented.
Is this splitting a fine hair? Oh, absolutely. But it is an important one because, while it seems that Mansfield did say there had no other aircraft in the area, there are no records to back up that bold claim. Zeidman’s statement about the lack of records is not the same as confirming there was nothing else around.
Does this open the door for the refueling aircraft? Maybe a little, but there is other information that affects it. Those arguments have been made elsewhere so we don’t need to repeat them here. Just note that the statements about a lack of traffic are in the Mansfield area at the time are not as positive as they had been. This is chasing footnotes to the bitter end.