Tuesday, August 14, 2018

UFOs in the heartland: New movie, ‘Blue Book’ TV series set in southwestern Ohio

By Steve Hammons

Tucked into the southwestern corner of Ohio, along the borders with Indiana and Kentucky, is a region that is the setting for two new and significant media projects on the subject of UFOs. 

History Channel recently released a trailer on their new drama series “Project Blue Book” about the U.S. Air Force program based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, from 1952 to 1970. 

And Sony Pictures Entertainment has also recently posted a trailer for the new movie “UFO,” also set in southwestern Ohio, this time in the Cincinnati area just south of Dayton. The movie is partially based on the real-life UFO incident at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Nov. 6, 2007.

Gillian Anderson of the “X-Files” TV series and movies plays a math professor at the University of Cincinnati. She becomes involved in an investigation of a UFO incident at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. 

Movies and TV shows aside, what about the real Project Blue Book based in southwestern Ohio? 

Shortly after the project began in 1952 a major UFO incident occurred that July in Washington D.C. Multiple UFOs were tracked by radar and witnessed by reliable people on the ground. 

Military aircraft were scrambled to intercept the unknown objects, but were unable to do so. Newspapers carried the dramatic story: "'Saucer' Outran Jet, Pilot Reveals," said the Washington Post front-page headline for July 28, 1952. 

Interestingly, a Project Blue Book team member was in Washington at the time. 


The new History Channel series and the Sony Pictures “UFO” movie are not the first time that Project Blue Book, Wright-Patterson AFB and southwestern Ohio have been the subject of movies and TV shows. 

For example, in 1978 and ’79, the TV series “Project U.F.O.” reportedly used real cases from Project Blue Book as a basis for episode plots. Jack Webb (of the original “Dragnet” TV series) created “Project U.F.O.” which told the story of two Air Force investigators from Project Blue Book as they follow up on a variety of UFO reports. 

Again in 1996 and '97, Wright-Patterson AFB’s Project Blue Book was a focus of the TV series “Dark Skies.” Series creators Bryce Zabel and Brent Friedman told the story of a young congressional aide visiting Project Blue Book on a routine task for the congressman he worked for. He soon finds himself entangled with a separate top secret government UFO project. 

But these are not the only connections between Ohio and the UFO phenomena. 

One of the most significant real-life cases occurred in 1973, after Project Blue Book officially ended. It became known as the “Coyne Incident.” On Oct. 18, 1973, four members of the U.S. Army Reserve were in their military chopper flying from Columbus in central Ohio to Cleveland up on Lake Erie. 

The crew included pilot and aircraft commander Capt. Lawrence J. Coyne (a 19-year Army Reserve veteran), co-pilot Lt. Arrigo Jezzi, flight medic Sgt. John Healey and crew chief Specialist 5 Robert Yanacek. 

While en route, a UFO suddenly came into view and flew dangerously close to the helicopter. Coyne, fearing a collision, quickly put the chopper’s controls in the position for a descent. However, the helicopter’s altimeter indicated that it was rising and gaining altitude during this part of the encounter.  

Crew members had close-up eyewitness views of the unusual craft. This well-documented case included a formal report from the crew members for the Army Reserve.  


Even Steven Spieliberg’s classic 1977 blockbuster “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” brought us to Ohio in hot pursuit of UFOs. 

In opening scenes, Indiana police officers from the Muncie area near the border with Ohio are Code 3 lights-and-sirens chasing multiple UFOs. Power company tech Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is close behind in his power company truck as UFOs, police and Neary blow through a toll booth on the Ohio state line. 

This scene reportedly may be based on an April 17, 1966, incident in Portage County, Ohio, when Ohio officers from several public safety agencies pursued a UFO into Pennsylvania. 

Yet another case involving Ohio public safety officers took place on Dec. 14, 1994. The so-called "Trumbull County incident" involved officers from multiple regional public safety agencies who chased a large object that reportedly emitted bright lights of various colors intermittently.

Police radio transmissions of the incident have provided good documentation of this remarkable case. The Trumbull County incident was subsequently well-portrayed in a TV documentary segment. 

Even though several unusual UFO incidents have taken place in Ohio over the years, and Wright-Patterson AFB has been the focus of much research on this topic, it gets even more interesting. 

According to rumors, reports and tales from people who have researched the UFO phenomena, after the alleged July 1947 crash of an unusual craft near Roswell, New Mexico, the remains of the craft were promptly transported to Wright-Patterson AFB. 

This makes sense because Wright-Patterson was then and is now home to the Air Force’s center for analysis of foreign aircraft – aircraft of adversaries, “frenemies” and even allies. It would be the logical place to have experts thoroughly examine an unusual craft. 

As the new History Channel series on Project Blue Book and “UFO” movie with Gillian Anderson roll out, more viewers will become somewhat familiar with the region around southwestern Ohio where these stories take place. 

By viewing the UFO phenomena through the lens of southwestern Ohio, we might encounter several mysteries to explore and insights to discover.