With the War on Terror and various other news issues taking up all of the limelight as of late, one of my old passions, UFO's Real and Imagined, has been at a low heartbeat. This blog is meant to be a small crash cart in an otherwise quiet area of investigation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Portage County Backgrounder 

I thought that before I go into a technological dissertation on why the case below is so interesting to me, I might condense it for folks to read. It’s really an intriguing case.

The Portage County UFO Chase

April 17, 1966

1. The synopsis I have condensed for discussion: http://ufologie.net/htm/portage66.htm
2. Richard Hall’s report for NICAP: http://ufologie.net/htm/portage66hall.htm#doc
3. Mr. Weitzel's investigation details in a letter to Prof. William Powers, here: http://ufologie.net/htm/portage66weitzel.htm#doc

Shortly before dawn during a check of an abandoned vehicle, Portage County, Ohio Sheriff Deputy Dale Spaur and Wilbur "Barney" Neff (a sheriff’s auxiliary) saw a steadily brightening object rise from about ground level and crest the trees behind them. The object was about fifty feet in diameter, with a bright, well-defined light beam shining down from the bottom. Its initial appearance was rounded on top, with a cone-shaped light underneath, like a “partly melted ice cream cone”. According to the duo:

"When Barney Neff saw the object he just stood there with his mouth open for a
minute as bright as it was, and he looked down. And I started looking down and I
looked at my hands and my clothes weren't burning or anything, when it stopped
right over on top of us. The only thing, the only sound in the whole area was a
hum... like a transformer being loaded or an overloaded transformer when it
changes..." 1

The UFO tilted forward to produce forward acceleration, with the light acting similar to “a flashlight which, when aimed down, throws a beam to the rear when tilted forward.” 3 The hum and brightness seemed to increase as it accelerated, as well.

Feeling some need for protection, they bolted for their patrol car. By this time, the whole area was very brightly lit, with the UFO being about 250 feet distant. After consulting their sergeant by radio, they were ordered to follow the object. They did so, at speeds upwards of 100 mph, heading generally east on State Route 224. As they paced the object, it maintained an altitude between 300 and 500 feet. Interestingly, at two locations (Canfield and Deerfield, OH) the object appeared to slow down to “wait” for Spaur and Neff to catch up.

From Richard Hall’s NICAP report:

“As the sky became brighter with predawn light, Spaur and Neff saw the UFO in
silhouette, with a vertical projection at its rear. The object began to take on
a metallic appearance as the chase continued. Spaur kept up a running
conversation with other police cars that were trying to catch up with them. Once
when they made a wrong turn at an intersection, the object stopped, then turned
and came back to their position.” 2

Officer H. Wayne Huston of East Palestine, Ohio joined in the chase, having been monitoring the associated radio traffic. He sat waiting for the group to cross his location, and then swung in behind to join the pursuit. Soon, they crossed over the state lines into Pennsylvania, where they were joined by Frank Panzenella, a Conway, PA police officer. According to Panzenella:

"The object was the shape of half a football, was very bright and about 25 to 35
feet in diameter.... The object continued to go upward until it got as small as
a ballpoint pen. Relative to the moon, the object was quite distant and to the
left of the moon. We all four watched the object shoot straight up and
disappear." 3

At about this time, as dawn began to break, the apparent brightness of the UFO diminished, though it still retained a self-luminescence. The top portion at the rear of the object, with some protruding structure, was not self-luminous. The UFO soon stopped, and the four officers exited their cars to watch. A radio call went up for a jet scramble, and at about that time the object left the area at high speed and essentially straight up.

A few other no-so-local observers from the Salem police department also watched as the UFO made its exit, with three jets (presumably those scrambled) in pursuit. These jets all produced contrails in flight, whereas the UFO did not. This part of story was estimated to take place at between 10000 and 20000 feet. In related information, a news report said that a jet trainer had flown close to the object, and reported a hum.

I’ll get back to the importance of all of all this tomorrow.

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