Local encounters with the unknown

by rachel sluss | Reporter Published:

Have you seen a UFO? Have you ever encountered anything you couldn't explain? Have you ever had an experience that made you feel like you were in an episode of "The X-Files" or "The Twlight Zone?"

If so, hopefully you didn't miss the library's recent presentation from the co-director of the Cleveland Ufology Project.

Thomas Wertman, also chief field investigator for the Mutual UFO Network, raised a number of local cases during his "Encounters with the Unknown Presentation" April 8 at Pierce-Streetsboro Library, which was attended by about 35 people.

Cleveland Ufology Project is the oldest UFO organization in the world, starting in 1952. The group investigates UFOs and other relating occurrences.

Wertman discussed local and unexplained encounters such as crop circles and unidentified objects. Wertman said he's pursued many investigations of his own to find the truth behind these strange occurrences.

"I like to keep it real," Wertman said. "When you turn on the TV at night, you get a multitude of shows that are pretty good, and then there are some that take some artistic liberties and change a few things because of Hollywood. I tend to try to keep things as real as I can out there. My main thing is investigations."

Wertman said over 1,000 reports of UFOs and other strange encounters have been made in Ohio since January 2009, but he estimates about 80 percent of cases can be explained. Often, people mistake airplanes, planets and even Chinese lanterns for unidentified objects. He said Venus and Pluto are often mistaken for UFOs.

However, Wertman said he's investigated and researched a number of cases that still cannot be explained, including a UFO sighting that occurred in the '90s reported by a number of people in Trumbull County.

"I always like to look at airports and other things in close proximity," Wertman said. "You have the Youngstown airport close by, and the Youngstown airbase does have National Guard units out there. You have to be open-minded about it."

After Liberty Township Police Department dispatch received many calls, an officer, Toby Melero, finally left to investigate a rural portion of the area. He was driving down a country road, when everything mechanical and electrical in his vehicle failed. He attempted to call the station on his radio, but it wasn't functioning.

After exiting his vehicle, Melero looked up and saw he was below a massive structure that Wertman said he described as being about 100 feet across. Melero got back in his vehicle and was finally able to start it.

Wertman said a former Youngstown Airport public relations officer denied any UFOs near the airport.

Wertman presented another case that is left unsolved: an intricate crop circle in Chillicothe. Wertman and other investigators visited a farmer's corn field that the crop circle was engraved in. The crop design was made up of a number of circles creating an odd design.

The crop circle was estimated to be 350 feet across, Wertman said. He does not believe humans with boards could create the crop circle considering about five acres were flattened in the process, and it appeared the crop would have to be bent by hand in order to create the bends in the corn stalk.

When Wertman and fellow investigators inspected the crop circle and found the flattened circles making up the overall design alternated between clockwise and counterclockwise formations. The joints on the corn stocks also appeared to be expanded as if some sort of radiation blew them out, causing the stocks to bend and fall.

Wertman and his team conducted a number of experiments on the crop circle but cannot explain its existence today. The farmer erased the design in the process of harvesting the corn. Wertman said the farmer did not want media attention and unwelcome visitors on his land.

Ohio ranks within the top five states nationally for the occurrence of crop circles, Wertman said. He continues to respond and investigate strange occurrences.

Email: rsluss@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4162

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