Ohio, including Stark County, is a hotspot of UFO activity – Canton Repository

It’s a clear night and you’re out for a drive, taking the same back roads you’ve traveled for years.

That’s when you see it. Something hovering just above the tree line. It’s bright, it almost lights up the night sky, and it doesn’t look like any plane you’ve seen before. 

You stop the car and pull out your phone. You catch a few minutes of video before, just as suddenly as it arrived, the object just vanishes.

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You’ve just experienced a UFO sighting. 

Ohio — Northeast Ohio in particular — is a hotspot for such activity, said Thomas Werton, director of the Mutual UFO Network of Ohio.

MUFON Ohio, a chapter of the worldwide Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization, investigates and collects data on unidentified flying objects, better known as UFOs. Statewide, the group investigated about 200 reports of strange happenings over the last year, putting Ohio in the top 10 states for UFO activity, he said.

When UFOs and aliens are discussed in the media — and there’s been plenty of conversation surrounding the upcoming release of a government report on unidentified aerial phenomena — reports often go up, Werton added.

The New York Times recently reported that the U.S. government didn’t find evidence that Navy pilots have witnessed alien spacecrafts, but the report doesn’t say definitively that they aren’t.

“What is true, and I’m actually being serious here, is that there are — there’s footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are,” former President Barack Obama said last month upon news of the report’s commission.

Investigating the unexplained

Werton has heard plenty of stories about strange lights and seemingly unexplainable encounters.

It’s MUFON’s job to investigate those stories. When someone reports a UFO, a team of researchers gets to work studying the event using tools such as flight information and aircraft data.

“What I look for is not just a story. A lot of times what you have is a story,” Werton said.

Most UFO sightings in Ohio are reports of lights in the sky typically moving in an unusual pattern or taking an unusual shape. About 80% of those reports can be explained. If MUFON Ohio had access to more data, that percentage would probably increase, Werton said.

MUFON says that about 95% of the UFO sightings it investigates are explainable. Many cases are explainable as aircraft, drones or satellites.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite network, which looks like a line of bright lights appearing across the sky “almost like laying eggs in a sequence” when launched, have been the source of several UFO reports in the last year.

MUFON’s website urges those making a UFO report to first make sure it’s not a Starlink launch.

But every once in a while, Werton comes across a report he can’t explain.

“At times, out of nowhere, you get unusual cases that pop up,” he said.

North Canton UFO

A friend of Werton’s, a North Canton woman who Werton said doesn’t speak about her experiences publicly, has had numerous encounters with UFOs, going back to the 1970s.

Around Christmas in 2009, she kept seeing a triangular-shaped craft hovering around the former Hoover Co. headquarters in downtown North Canton. Soon after, she saw the same craft while driving toward Massillon.

She could make out windows on the aircraft, which seemed to hover stationary in the air, and thought she could make out a figure inside.

Her husband thought she was crazy until one night, he saw the same thing.

That same week, another report came in from the Belden Village area. A woman was taking a county road to the Jackson Township commercial area around dusk when she saw a triangle-shaped aircraft just about the tree line.

The object was so close that the woman pulled over and rolled down her windows to get a closer look. She said the object had lights on the corners and the bottom had an almost corrugated look. She could see a shimmering effect, like waves of heat.

While the woman stopped and stared, other cars whizzed by like nothing unusual was happening. The woman felt like she was the only one who could see it.

A third report from that same time came from a man who said he spotted a UFO after going outside a Belden area bar for a smoke. The man had been drinking for several hours before seeing the strange lights and object in the sky.

“I take (that report) with more of a grain of salt,” Werton laughed.

Earlier this year, some southern Canton residents posted video on social media of three red or orange dots moving through the sky. The Akron-Canton Airport concluded that it was likely a drone.

Canton’s connection to Roswell?

And then there’s Canton’s suspected connection to Roswell, New Mexico — where an Army base supposedly housed an alien spacecraft that had crashed in the region in 1947.

Ralph A. Multer, a Timken Co. truck driver who died in 1982, used to tell the story about how he hauled material from the crashed spaceship to one of the Timken plants in Canton. A Timken furnace could not dent, damage or melt the UFO wreckage. Not even slightly.

An FBI agent told him not to share the story, but he did tell loved ones.

“We grew up with the story,” his daughter Sundi Multer-Lingle told the Canton Repository for a story in 2010. “Dad would put us up on his lap, and he would tell us the story.”

He never changed his story. Or added details, she said.

“Dad wasn’t a liar at all,” she said at the time. “I mean, if he told you something, you believed it because that’s just how he was, and I heard this so many times and so much that we never doubted it.”


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The truth is out there … maybe

Later this month, the report from the director of national intelligence and secretary of defense on unidentified aerial phenomena is due to Congress. The report will contain some things that cannot easily be explained, experts have said.

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Many people who report a UFO sighting will jump to the conclusion that it must be aliens, but none of them have actually touched an alien aircraft or can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is extraterrestrial, Werton said.

But if these unexplained aircraft aren’t our technology, it must be another technology from another source, he said.

Maybe another civilization out there has technology we can’t conceive of yet. Or access to a wormhole that would allow them to cut across a vast swath of the universe quickly. Maybe we’re being visited by objects and creatures from another dimension, he suggested.

“I’m very open about the fact that there’s so much we don’t know about our universe,” he said.

Nearby high-profile encounters

In 1966, two Portage County sheriff’s deputies encountered a large unidentified flying object while investigating an abandoned vehicle near Ravenna.

The two chased the object, which filled the sky with light, for about 86 miles, sometimes at speeds higher than 100 mph, from Ohio into Pennsylvania. Other law enforcement officers also became involved in the chase.

According to The (Beaver County, Pa.) Times, the encounter later inspired a scene in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

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In October 1973, folks near Mansfield spotted strange lights in the sky. A U.S. Army Reserve helicopter crew reported nearly colliding with a UFO near Charles Mill Lake.

“The crew reported attempting to descend to avoid the 60-foot-long, cigar-shaped object with a bright green light. The craft then reportedly pulled them upward from 1,700 feet to 3,500 feet,” the Mansfield News Journal wrote in 2015.

Civilians on the ground corroborated that story. The occurrence later became known as the Coyne Incident, named after pilot Lawrence Coyne.

How to document an encounter

What do you do if you look up and see something strange?

First, pull out your smartphone, Werton said.

In a high-stress or tense situation, it’s easy to lose track of time or details. Your phone can help researchers get the data they need to investigate the phenomenon:

  • Document the details: The time, exactly where you are and what direction you’re facing or traveling.
  • Take a video: Don’t zoom in but keep a wide shot of the object to give researchers more to work with. If you can, try to get footage of the star pattern in that area.
  • Report it to MUFON online at mufonohio.com

Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or jessica.holbrook@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @jholbrookREP.

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