Published: 2:54 PM 3/12/2015
"I didn't think we should say anything to anyone
they would think we were crazy."
Foo fighters over Twinsburg?
by Andrew Schunk | Editor Published
Twinsburg -- A popular TV show once opined that "the truth is out there." The evidence may have been in the evening sky over the city Feb. 17, 1969.
The curious case of one local UFO sighting began innocuously enough in the city of 7,000 with TV interference at a Glenwood Drive home. It concluded, abruptly, with a bizarre visit to the Twinsburg Police Department from a United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and his mysterious, diminutive sidekick.
According to a recently released report from Project Blue Book, the United States Air Force's systematic analysis of UFO reports between 1952 and 1969, a woman, 44, and her son, 19, were watching the news when the color contrast went out on their TV -- and then the entire signal.
The mother walked outside at dusk to check the antennae, and immediately called Twinsburg police to report an "oval-shaped object that had red and white lights around it" -- what World War II pilots might have dubbed a "foo fighter," or UFO, just two decades earlier.
"Looking up we saw the strange object, coming over Glenwood Drive," said the woman, whose identity is redacted in the March 6, 1969, report.
"I never seen anything like this before," she states. "It seemed to have stopped near the corner of [Glenwood Drive], then proceeded down [East Idlewood Drive] for about a quarter mile
then it just went right up out of sight."
Sgt. Donald Prange, a former Twinsburg officer and Marine Corps veteran who later served as chief of police in Twinsburg in the late 1970s, responded to the woman's call around 6:40 p.m. More than 20 calls referencing the UFO were ultimately fielded by Twinsburg dispatch that evening.
Prange, now 77, recalled the event with detail Jan. 27 from his home in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
"We officers talked amongst ourselves after the sighting," said Prange, who said he witnessed the object over R.B. Chamberlin High School for several minutes with Twinsburg patrolmen Walter Orcutt and Herbert Munn. "I told them I didn't think we should say anything to anyone
they would think we were crazy."
In keeping with caution, the TPD did not immediately report the event to the USAF. The USAF was made aware of the event thanks to a Feb. 18, 1969, letter from the woman's 19-year-old son to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton detailing the sighting.
In its April 22, 1969, conclusion to the Glenwood Drive woman, the USAF determined that the object was actually an "aerial advertizing [sic] aircraft."
"A letter was sent to the Twinsburg Police Department requesting information on the sighting, however this office did not receive a reply
the description of the UFO is similar to past reports of Aerial Advertizing aircraft," states Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla, chief of the now defunct Aerial Phenomena Branch at Wright-Patterson.
Prange said he doesn't buy the USAF's answer in the Twinsburg incident any more than he believes its conclusion from a Portage County case three years earlier, in 1966, when officers were informed that they had just chased the planet Venus for 85 miles, from Ravenna to just outside of Pittsburgh.
"It was like nothing I've ever seen," Prange said. "We had three cars respond, and watched it for several minutes over R.B. Chamberlin High School, near some power lines there.
"It appeared to be stationary, hovering. What bothered me is that it didn't seem to be making any noise, at least not that 'egg beater' sound you get from a helicopter. It was more like a whirring sound. Then it slowly rose up and disappeared."
For the woman and her son, the story ends with the April 1969 correspondence from Quintanilla.
For Prange and his fellow officers, the story of the peculiar foo fighter over Twinsburg has one final, bizarre chapter.
About a month after the sighting, Prange says his department was visited by a USAF lieutenant colonel -- believed to be Quintanilla -- and a "strange little man."
"They brought out a light colonel
another strange little man was with him
to question us individually," Prange said. "The smaller man, perhaps 5 feet tall, was not like us
he had strange features, almost like a child who has aged rapidly.
"He wore a hat, gloves, and he never spoke to us, never shook our hands, just observed. I don't remember [the colonel] ever even saying thank you. When they left, we never heard from the Air Force again."
Prange added he never experienced anything like the February 1969 call again in his law enforcement career.
"You ask me what it was? It was a flying saucer," he said.