Case Directory
  Category 2, Close Encounters 
Rating: 5  

A Hynek Classification of Close Encounter is usually an incident involving an object less than 500 feet from the witness.  The size of the object,  viewing conditions, or stereoscopic vision (depth perception)  may render the object in greater detail and still qualify the sighting as a Close Encounter even though the object may have been beyond 500'.  The incident depicted in the logo was encountered during an intense storm near Princeton, IN,  Aug. 1973.

Portage County UFO Chase
April 17, 1966
Ravenna, Ohio

Brad Sparks:
April 17, 1966; Portage County, Ohio, bet. Atwater and Randolph, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, Penna.
5-6:10 a.m. (EST). E of Akron Deputy Sheriff Dale F. Spaur and associate Wilbur Neff saw a 30-45 ft metallic object approach over the treetops from the woods, bathing the witnesses and the whole area in light while making a transformer-like hum, then headed E and they gave chase in the patrol car at speeds up to 105 mph for 85 miles. Officer Wayne Huston about 35 miles to the ESE saw the object he described as ice cream cone-shaped, point downwards, approach from the W and pass overhead at about 800-900 ft height with paur and Neff in pursuit to the SE and he joined them near Unity, Ohio, with the object about 1/2 to 3/4 mile ahead of them, reaching the Penna. state line at 5:35. They lost sight of object at Brady Run Park regained it in Bridgeport, Penna. At about this time officers Lonnie Johnson and Ray Esterly in Salem, Ohio, saw 3 jet fighters [two F-102s] attempting to intercept a bright object at about 10,000-20,000 ft about 25 elevation to the E for about 2 mins. In Conway, Penna., at 6 a.m. they met with officer Frank Panzarella who had been watching the object for 10 mins to the E or SE which he described as 25-35 ft half-football-shaped object at about 1,000 ft height (or 1,500-2,000 ft according to the others), when it stopped in the NE towards Harmony, Penna, then rose. They watched as the object climbed to about 3,500 ft to the left of and level with the quarter moon in the ESE (which was at about azimuth 116 elevation 14 and 11% illuminated at 6:00 a.m.) and Venus (at 122 azimuth 22 elevation) and it passed near a 707 airliner taking off from Pittsburgh Airport and disappeared shooting up vertically at about 6:10. (Sparks; Hynek UFO Exp ch. 8; NICAP)

Fran Ridge:
If this incident seems familiar to you, just maybe you saw the motion picture, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Investigated by NICAP's William Weitzel, this report, also known as the Spauer/Neff Case, was the basis for the UFO "chase" in this film. This case involves police witnesses, confrontation, light beam, brilliant illumination, light engulfment, sound, cat and mouse chase, with rapid upward departure. Special thanks go out to Mark Rodeghier of CUFOS for providing the documentation and to Loy Pressley for converting them into text so I could make the web pages. 

Dr. James E. McDonald:
Ravenna, Ohio calls for reevaluation not only on the scientific grounds involved, but also to avoid unfairly subjecting to local public ridicule the several officers who have testified.  (Compare Bertrand & Hunt in the Exeter case) The available evidence (especially Wm. Weitzel's extensive report for NICAP) seems to me to make the astronomical explanation, that now stands as the official Air Force evaluation, quite unreasonable. 

Detailed reports and documents
The Portage County Ohio UFO Chase  Report - Richard Hall
The Documentation - Courtesy of CUFOS
Two news articles about the case supplied by Kenny Young
Cassette tape available from FUFOR: "Portage County, Ohio, UFO Chase

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