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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 14

Re: War Games Often Mistaken For UFOs In Tristate

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 03:21:25 +0200
Fwd Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 03:45:27 -0400
Subject: Re: War Games Often Mistaken For UFOs In Tristate

From: The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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War games often mistaken for UFOs in Tristate

"At first, it looked like an asteroid and fireball"

Monday, July 13, 1998


The Cincinnati Enquirer

They saw it over the skies of Wilmington, Loveland and Mount Healthy
and as far south as Maysville, Ky.

(Image: An F-16 takes off at the Air National Guard base in
Springfield, Ohio. (Craig Ruttle photo))



Lights flashed in a synchronized pattern. A huge orange fireball
disappeared, then reappeared. Smaller objects moved in a triangular
formation. Below, neighborhood dogs barked.

In Maysville, Jamie Orme noticed the activity in the sky that night in
March 1997. It lasted, he said, no more than two minutes. "I was
astonished at what I saw," Mr. Orme said at the time. "They were little
balls of white light that appeared and disappeared. Sometimes one,
sometimes three or six little white balls of light in the distance."

Officials at the Ohio Air National Guard in Springfield have confirmed
that Tristate residents have indeed seen colorful objects in the sky
and may very well see them again.

But they weren't UFOs.

Military dog-fight maneuvers over the skies of Southern Ohio -- which
usually go unnoticed -- happen on a regular basis. The Air National
Guard conducts intercept training with F-16 "Falcon" jets and flares in
the skies over the region.

In military jargon, airspace very near Cincinnati is called the Buckeye
MOA. Though most people have never heard of this or any other MOA --
shorthand for Military Operating Area -- the Buckeye MOA is a hotbed of
high-altitude pyrotechnics and all-too-real-looking aerial dogfights.

The training overhead includes air-to-air refueling of F-16s by aerial
refueling tankers, dog fights and low-altitude exercises. There are
also search-and-rescue exercises.

In fact, similar war games are scattered throughout the Tristate. To
the west of Greater Cincinnati, pilots drop bombs on the Jefferson
Proving Grounds in Indiana, where the grounds remain littered with 1.5
million rounds of unexploded ammunition.

To the south, Blackhawk helicopters run low-level exercises over Fort
Campbell, Ky., near the Kentucky-Tennessee border. From Louisville to
Fort Knox, Ky., the C-130 "Hercules" four-engine turboprops -- a
transport aircraft -- conduct exercises along Military Training Routes.

On some nights, area residents may look skyward and catch a glimpse of
some training missions -- if the skies are clear. What residents were
actually seeing last spring were the F-16s' afterburners and flares
being ejected from the $17.5 million jet fighters.

The pilots were simulating air-to-air dog fights. And in actual combat,
pilots drop hot, glowing flares during enemy confrontations to confuse
heat-seeking missiles, said Capt. Neal O'Brian of the Air National
Guard in Springfield.

"They eject the flares and typically that's what people see," he said,
"a streak of flares that at night burn very bright. It's not uncommon
for people all across the country to mistake the flares for some
unidentified flying object.

"They might see the aircraft or hear it. More than likely, they will
hear it. But the flares take a certain amount of time to burn and that
is what they're seeing in the sky."

Mystery in sky

On clear nights, the high-altitude training missions inside the Buckeye
MOA -- a large block of air space over an area near Cincinnati,
Springfield, Columbus and Portsmouth -- startle many Greater Cincinnati

That was the case in March 1997.

In Loveland, Ohio, Jake Ashcraft reported seeing a "main object" and
smaller objects in a triangular formation in the sky. He said the main
object was "absolutely huge" and that many people "had to have seen

Mr. Orme of Maysville, Ky., said what he saw did not appear to be
military maneuvers. "At first, it looked like an asteroid and fireball,
then it slowed down and came to a halt."

Air National Guard officials said there is no mystery to the sightings
-- the military exercises have been conducted for decades. The
afterburners of a climbing F-16 give an appearance of something

Pilots at the 178th Fighter Wing in Springfield spend an average of six
hours a day flying in the Buckeye MOA, said Capt. Ann-Maria Coghlin,
public affairs officer for the 178th Fighter Wing. They spend an
average of 30 minutes a day training in a low-altitude training area
called the Brush Creek MOA, which is within the larger Buckeye MOA, she

Maj. Brian MacLeod of the 178th Fighter Wing, recalled the night that
area residents got a rare glimpse of the air-to-air combat and

"It was kind of a funny night," he said. "Most of the calls we got came
out of Columbus."

The jet flares actually burn bright white when they are ejected from
the jets, he said. But when viewed from ground level and at a distance,
the flares appear to flicker and burn orange because of pollution in
the air, Maj. MacLeod said.

Restricted air space

Exercises in the Buckeye MOA are conducted at altitudes above 5,000
feet. Supersonic flight is done at 35,000 feet, about seven miles above
ground, said Maj. MacLeod.

"We try to be very, very noise-conscious because people live down
there," he said.

Some civilian pilots -- unaware of these areas -- have flown their
small planes into the training spaces. It is a dangerous way to get an
up-close view. Aeronautical charts warn pilots of the many restricted
training areas throughout the country.

"MOAs are places typically where aircrafts practice maneuvers," said
Maj. Ken MacNevin of the National Guard Bureau in Alexandria, Va. "We
have special use areas, so that other aircrafts know to be aware."

In the United States, there are 388 MOAs, said William Shumann,
spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C.
There are also much smaller Restricted Areas (RAs) scattered throughout
the region, as well as Military Training Routes (MTRs). The MTRs "tend
to be more like corridors, certain distances above the ground. They
also loop around communities, wildlife refuges and other sensitive
areas," said Maj. MacNevin.

The restricted areas, such as the nearby Jefferson Proving Grounds, are
used by the military for air-to-ground target training. Almost all the
units in the region routinely deploy to wherever the Air Force is
conducting operations, making it vital that pilots receive ongoing
training, said Maj. MacNevin.

Copyright 1998 The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.

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