[CNI News has learned of extensive UFO activity over south-western Ohio on the night of March 26, 1997, reported to us by Kenny Young of TASK (Tri-State Advocates for Scientific Knowledge), headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Young suggests the Ohio incidents are similar to those reported recently in Arizona (see March 16 edition of CNI News) and may stem from the same, as yet undetermined, cause. Young emphasizes that TASK is looking at various possible angles to the story, including the official claim that military exercises involving extensive use of aerial flares may account for the numerous reported sightings. Young can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the TASK web site at: http://home.fuse.net/task/ The following text is reproduced with permission.]
At 8:00 p.m. on March 26, TASK received a phone call from "Jesse" regarding a UFO sighting near Cheltenham Drive in Mount Healthy (just north of Cincinnati). Jesse said he witnessed a UFO with his friend Josh. Both were outdoors looking for Comet Hale-Bopp, when they reportedly observed a large white light 50 to 60 degrees above the horizon. The light was surrounded by smaller lights that were 'scattered about.' The surrounding lights flashed with a synchronized pattern. One small red light was occasionally noticed to the side of the main light. Jesse said he was 80 to 90% certain this was not an airplane. Dogs in the neighborhood were barking "radically." The object was visible for nearly 5 minutes before departing to the north.
TASK received a telephone call from "Dave" on Thursday, March 27, from Wilmington (35 miles northeast of Cincinnati). Dave works at a warehouse in Wilmington, located within visual range of the two runway strips of the Wilmington Airport. He was at work on Wednesday night, March 26, when workers began going outside to watch odd aerial lights which appeared over the east part of Wilmington. The lights seemed to be positioned over Hillsboro, which is in Highland County, and also over Cincinnati. The lights were not Airborne or Federal Express traffic, which they see constantly there, being located right off the runway.
There were lights in a triangular formation spotted by a second person and the security guard. The manager of the company also saw them. He was in the Air Force and had "never seen anything like them before." Dave saw a huge orange fireball, which disappeared and reappeared. It could not have been an airplane, he said.
Dave said the crowd also observed four fighter jets appearing from the northwest, which headed directly southeast toward the lights. The lights were in progress at 7:30 p.m. and the jets flew overhead at 7:35 p.m. As the lights would "come on," the jets would fly into that general vicinity, as if playing a game of "cat and mouse." The planes were in a semi-V formation and flew so low that Dave could see the missiles underneath.
The recurring lights appeared eight times from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. There were eleven witnesses. The "main object" was described as a single orange ball. The other objects, described as "red balls," would light up and die in a straight line. The main object was said to be larger than a dime at arms length. The main object didn't move at all, and held stationary in one spot. The red balls appeared near the main object. All the balls were brighter and larger than the stars, and appeared randomly. When one would light up, another would die. It was not like the ignition and extinguishing characteristics of flares, stated the witness.
Dave called the Sheriff's department around 8:15 p.m. The police dispatchers on duty said they had not gotten any unusual reports.
Another report was received that night from Loveland, Ohio (about 10 miles northeast of Cincinnati). "Jake" called TASK at 9:15 p.m. to advise of sighting unusual light phenomenon north of Loveland, in Clermont County. The caller was with his girlfriend when they sighted several lights which held stationary and then accelerated at high speed. There was a main object and also smaller objects in a triangular formation. He felt certain they were not flares, nor were they airplanes. He said there was no noise which could be heard. The caller stated that there was a pinkish-white "vapor trail" which could be seen occasionally, and described the vapor trails as "pixels on a computer screen which faded out." The main object was "absolutely huge," and the witness said that many people "had to have seen it."
TASK Investigations Coordinator Ron Schaffner received a telephone call from a resident of Brown County, Ohio, who also observed the event from his locality, which is near the town of Aberdeen (about 45 miles southeast of Cincinnati). Another witness, who is an employee at the warehouse in Wilmington, placed a telephone call to his mother, who lives near Rocky Fork Lake (45 miles due east of Cincinnati). His mother reportedly went outdoors and also observed the phenomenon from her vantage point.
All witnesses who contacted TASK expressed confusion as to why this event was not addressed through the local news media, as they had listened closely for any explanatory reports.
TASK received an email message on March 27, 1997 offering further details of the event. Portions of that message follow:
"My fiance and I saw some pretty spectacularly weird stuff in the sky over Caesar's Creek State Park (30 miles northeast of Cincinnati). There was nothing on the news about it despite the several people we saw pulled off highway 73 to look at it. I've been looking at the sky for a long time, but I've never seen anything even close to this.
"About a mile from the turn-off to Caesar's Creek beach we saw a big orange light in the corner of the windshield. It was several times brighter and larger than any object in the sky. It divided into five pieces along a straight line and remained motionless. Some other people saw it and were pulling off the road. The light furthest to the left faded and disappeared. Three others did exactly the same thing until only the original light was left, then it suddenly winked out.
"We then pulled into the beach's parking lot and I was hurrying to set up my camera. I had the camera (a 35mm SLR on a tripod) in place and was looking towards the area where we'd last seen it with binoculars, when it appeared across the lake and began dividing again. Through the binoculars it just looked like a very bright oval orange light. I ran over to point the camera at it, but by the time I'd lined up the shot it had winked out again, this time only dividing twice. I know it wasn't a plane or a meteor or any other naturally occurring object.
"We watched the 11:00 pm news and the news this morning (March 27), but there was no mention of it on any of the Dayton (Ohio) stations."
A phone call from TASK to the Clinton County Sheriff's Department revealed that numerous calls had been received from the general public in regards to the event. No reports had been filed, although a police detective on patrol near New Vienna, Ohio, also witnessed the happenings and attempted to pursue an "object."
The phenomena were also witnessed by two patrolmen with the Ohio State Highway Patrol in an area near Georgetown, Ohio.
A Clinton County Sheriff's dispatcher on duty at 7:15 p.m., March 27 stated that the department had been advised that the lights were explainable as "helicopters." When asked, the dispatcher couldn't advance a source for this explanation, but added that it was advanced to their satisfaction.
TASK consultant and 30-year UFO investigator Jerry Black received a telephone call on Wednesday, March 26, from an anonymous contact at the Wilmington Airport. The contact advised Black that "Two F-16 jets would be conducting training maneuvers in the Clermont County vicinity for the next several hours. The jets originated from the Springfield, Ohio Air Base." This information was acquired by the contact at the Wilmington airport, who reportedly observed the two fighter jets, and called a friend at the Springfield, Ohio airbase to verify their operations in the area. This was strictly an "unofficial" advisement, both to the contact at the Wilmington airport and the relay to Jerry Black.
The following morning, Black placed a phone call to the Wilmington airport control tower. Black learned that there was no disruption in air traffic on March 26. According to the supervisor at the Wilmington Tower, no Federal Express or Airborne Express flights begin until 11:00 pm. A check of the log book revealed no entries concerning F-16s or flares reported at the Wilmington tower.
Key information on the March 26 events was furnished when contact was made by Kenny Young of TASK with a Sergeant at the Springfield Air National Guard base in Springfield, Ohio.
The Sergeant, contacted by telephone at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, stated that there were eight F-16s from the 178th Fighter Group or 162nd Fighter Squadron Flying Unit involved in air-to-air dogfight maneuvers the previous evening. The Sergeant had already been asked about UFO reports, as someone from Columbus had also called after spotting a news report from a Columbus TV station.
According to the Sergeant, it is a common practice to utilize flares in these maneuver. When asked the practicality of this practice over residential neighborhoods, the Sergeant held that it was not a big concern, since the flares don't hit the ground. The Sergeant stated that the maneuvers have been conducted there for at least 10 to 12 years, and this is the first time that this was speculated to be UFOs. He cited "the rare clarity of the night" as the reason why so many people noticed the activity.
These operations are always conducted on Wednesday nights. The activity on March 26 was taking place over the restricted air corridor known as the BUCKEYE MOA (Military Operating Area) in Southern Ohio, the Sergeant said.
TASK investigators report that this practice is routinely conducted in other parts of the country, and may also account for the recent reports in Arizona, which are of similar description to the March 26, 1997 events in Ohio.
CNI News comments: The military maneuvers explanation for these sightings seems inadequate, given the information presented by TASK in this report. It seems to us highly implausible that so many good witnesses, over a very large geographic area, saw these events on this occasion, but not on previous occasions, if the same or similar maneuvers have taken place periodically over the last 10 to 12 years as stated. "Rare clarity of the night" calls to mind other ignoble euphemisms, such as "swamp gas."
According to Kenny Young, the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper received many calls, but did not provide their readership with details of this happening. Similarly, a reporter at WKRC Channel 12 News told Young that they had received "hundreds of calls." The reporter contacted Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where they denied knowledge of the event.
According to Young, "It is safe to say that this event could have been witnessed by thousands."
CNI News wonders why neither the military nor the press saw fit to make a simple announcement concerning the alleged military maneuvers, when hundreds or even thousands of witnesses were asking for an explanation.
In light of all the foregoing, CNI News suggests that the "official" explanation has the appearance of "too little, too late." We respectfully call upon TASK to dig deeper and submit a further report of their findings when available.
Original file name: CNI - OHIO UFOs
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