March 13, 1997
UFO researchers and writers today are tantalized by the increasing reports of alien abduction, possible photographs of alien beings, physical trace cases, and implant removals.
In a way we have become spoiled-expecting the sensational. This desire for ultimate proof has caused us to overlook the seemingly mundane, everyday reports of night lights, which were at one time sensational in their own right.
With the ever growing technology of our era, pictures and video are often times called into question because of the ease of manipulation and creation afforded computer graphics experts. Called into question, that is, by those who are waiting in the wings to debunk any and all visible proof of UFOs as suspect of being hoaxed.
This is especially true in cases with one or two photos taken by one witness. This has always been a pitfall to researchers who scratch and claw for authentication of a particular photograph or video. There are, however, those cases which have multiple photographs of the same object, taken by many witnesses.
This type of case carries the heaviest weight for those who remain on neutral ground on the subject of UFOs. One of the best of these is the Phoenix, Arizona lights case of 1997. Supported by many photographs and videos, this fantastic event is still discussed and analyzed today.
The Lights Appear
Evidence points to March 13, 1997 as the onset of this extremely compelling account of various and sundry phenomenal lights which moved over the state of Arizona. These lights, though referred to as the "Phoenix Lights," were actually witnessed in at least five other cities.
Phoenix has the distinction as the first Arizona city to report the unknown light sources, which were initially spotted over Superstition Mountains, east of the city, at about 7:30 PM. The first reports indicated an object of six points of light, immediately followed by a report of eight connected lights, with a separate ninth, which moved in unison with the eight.
The formation was seen again over the Gila River just before 10:00 PM. In a matter of minutes, the enormous, lighted structure had made its way over the southern part of the city of Phoenix. At this time, literally thousands of people witnessed the object or objects. It was at this time, that the first photographs and videos were taken.
The final sightings of the night were in Rainbow Valley. Witnesses there reported a very distinct "V" formation. This sighting occurred at about 2:00 AM on March 14.
It is important to note that there are various descriptions of the lights from the Nevada border throughout Arizona. Some witnesses described a very clear "V" shape, while others said that the lights were circular or cresent-shaped. It is only common in night light cases for these differences to come to light. Many factors can attribute to these varying descriptions.
One specific object can be seen from different angles, with the angle of the object only reflecting part of its light system, depending on atmospheric or weather conditions, or the very way a witness looks at the object can make this difference. It is very possible that two witnesses can see the same object at the same time, and give two completely different accounts.
This fact has been proven in scientific studies of eye witnesses accounts in crime cases. Another possibility in the case in point is that there may have been several different objects of different shapes and sizes. In my own research into this case over the years, I have come to the personal conclusion that the main object over Arizona was of a circular shape, and this is corroborated by the various still and video film taken. There were other shapes observed, but it appears that the "mother-ship" was circular.
Though the huge lighted formation seemed to move in a tauntingly slow speed over Arizona, it was reported that strange lights had sped from the Henderson-Las Vegas, Nevada area toward Arizona, and seemed to slow down as it entered the Arizona area.
Initial reports described anywhere from 5-7 points of light, and ultimately 8 with a trailing ninth. The enormous object was extremely low, and mountainous areas could be seen behind the craft in pictures, therefore giving photographic experts scale to approximate the elevation from the ground, and the distance from the camera.
This would enable an estimate of the craft being a whopping one mile or more in length! The color of its lights were described as "blue-white," to "yellow-white," to "amber." Again, these differences of description do not necessitate there being more than one object. During the crafts fast moving period, it was estimated to be moving at Mach 2-3. As it slowed down as if posing to be filmed, the speed dropped to an estimated 10-15 MPH.
At one point over Sky Harbor, it reportedly hovered for several minutes. The object was also reported to change shapes, speeds, and colors, as it made its way across the skies of Arizona.
Another dramatic description of the mother-ship was made by a group of real estate agents who had subdivided property over the northern part of Phoenix. They would also get a close-up view of the gigantic disc.
They estimated the craft to be a staggering two miles wide as it flew at a low altitude near Phoenix. They could see dozens of bright lights along the leading edges, and also a row of windows with "silhouettes of people."
It also seems highly probably that for some reason, the giant craft turned off its lights, as observers could see only the windows with what appeared to be people shadowed in the glow of the inside. Another family got a brightly lit view of the unknown object, and described its color as "flat blue-black, like the color of a shotgun barrel."
Among the most reliable witnesses of the craft's movements that first night were two airplane pilots, one retired from an airline, and another from Vietnam, who was also a U. S. Marshall. Though seeing the object at different times and places, both men described a craft of "immense size," measuring up to a mile long.
The Marshall could also see the city lights of Phoenix reflecting from the bottom of the massive object, while it "blocked out the stars."
One of the pilots also videotaped the UFO, but had the tape confiscated in a "men in black" encounter. In a completely separate incident, a group of witnesses had reported a "huge discoid" craft which was "larger than Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University."
This object was hovering just above tree tops at the west end of Sky Harbor runway between 2:00 and 3:00 AM about two weeks prior to March 13.
It was almost inevitable that the United States Air Force would become involved in an event of this magnitude, and the Phoenix lights mystery would be no exception. While driving down Interstate-I-17 from Camp Verde, a truck driver had been seeing two amber colored UFOs moving ahead of him southward for two whole hours.
His destination was a materials plant near Luke Air Force Base. Upon arriving there, the two UFOs hovered nearby.
While his truck was being loaded, the driver walked upon a pile of materials to get a better look at the two UFOs. He could make out two identical "toy, top-like amber orbs" with a white glow to them. A band of red lights pulsated on the craft as it hovered near the Luke AFB runway.
Suddenly, two F-16s "blasted out of Luke with their afterburners on full." Soon, a third plane followed, and all three made a direct run toward the hovering UFOs.
As the first two jets were about to reach the UFOs, the unknown objects shot straight upward, and disappeared "in an instant." The two jets flew right through the exact spot the UFOs had previously occupied. A Luke ground crewman later confirmed to NUFORC that the driver's account was true.
He also stated that upon returning to the base runway, one of the pilots had to be helped from his cockpit. He was visibly shaken from what had just happened.
According to Peter Davenport of the NUFORC one of the more intriguing reports was submitted by a young man who claimed to be an Airman stationed at Luke Air Force Base, located to the west of Phoenix in Litchfield Park.
He telephoned the National UFO Reporting Center at 3:20 a.m. on Friday, some eight hours after the sightings on the previous night, and reported that two USAF F-15c fighters had been “scrambled” from Luke AFB, and had intercepted one of the objects.
Although the presence of F-15’s could never be confirmed, the airman provided detailed information which proved to be highly accurate, based on what investigators would reconstruct from witnesses over subsequent weeks and months.
Two days after his first telephone call, the airman called to report that he had just been informed by his commander that he was being transferred to an assignment in Greenland. He has never been heard from again since that telephone call.
The Flare Theory
The Phoenix lights case is not without its controversy, much of which originated from the Air Force. In May of 1997, Luke AFB Public Affairs Office stated that Air Force personnel had investigated the so-called "UFOs," and had solved the case. They claimed that flares dropped from an A-10 "Warthog" had caused the numerous reports of night lights. This explanation is totally unfounded for several reasons.
First of all, flares do not move in unison, fall toward the ground, and then fly back up into the air, and move across many miles without changing their relative positions. Secondly, many witnesses had made reports of the giant lights hours before the reported time of the launch of the flares.
This would not be end of the Phoenix lights. Sightings over the Phoenix area have continued to this day, supported by eyewitness accounts, photographs and video.
Article From The Arizona Repubilc
By Susie Steckner and Chris Fiscus.
It's not exactly the kind of made-for-tv case those X-files agents would investigate. But, says Frances Emma Barwood, those strange lights in the Phoenix sky should be checked out by city staff, at the very least.
"I asked them to find out if it's a hoax or what," the Phoenix councilwoman said Friday. "I did not see it. I wish someone would have called me.
"Apparently, people all over the city got video of it. They all said it was as big as a football field."
So Sculley -Sheryl, the assistant city manager, not X-files FBI Agent Dana Scully - has asked police to look into the sightings, at Barwoods request.
"I guess they'll ask Sky Harbor, ask the military, look at videos, I'd love to see all the videos," Barwood said.
In March, callers from Prescott Valley to Tucson flooded the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle to report the appearance of a boomerang-shaped, lighted object.
The center called it "the most dramatic sighting" reported in the past two or three years. In the following weeks, it drew hundreds of calls - even one from Las Vegas - and resulted in an inch-thick stack of written reports, center Director Peter Davenport said. Then, in April, the sighting was featured on the out-of-this world radio program called The Edge of Reality, which is produced in New York City.
"Personally, I think it's something the Air Force is working on, some sort of large transport," Barwood said.
Does she believe in UFOS? "That's a good question," she said. "I guess I have an open mind." Since God created the universe, she said, "Why couldn't he have created others?"
UFO researchers so far say they have no explanation, despite asking questions around Luke Air Force Base and local airports.
Davenport, meanwhile, is thrilled to hear that a public official is taking the sightings seriously.
"As far as I know, this is the first time I've ever heard of a local or state body taking an official stand," he said. "I'm encouraged. I'm heartened by that."
At a City Council meeting this week, Barwood said she was "a little curious" about the recent sightings. She said a television news crew asked her about the lights, and piqued her curiosity.
The crew was from the show Extra, which aired a segment Thursday about the "Phoenix UFO mystery."
Barwood said the main reason she asked the city to look into the matter is because the TV crew asked why no one was investigating the reports.
"I said, 'I'll ask.'"
"I don't know why they (the government) don't check it out and if it was nothing, say it was nothing," Barwood said. "Being there were videos of it, it has people's curiosity. Why not check it out and see if it's a hoax?"
'Phoenix Lights' witnesses credible, hard to dismiss:
When the "Phoenix Lights" were reported last year, I yawned. I didn't see them, and breathless TV broadcasts were underwhelming. It seemed easy enough to dismiss the lights as flares or military aircraft. UFOs? You've got to be kidding.
Still, as the March 13 anniversary of the sightings approached, I was curious enough to seek out some witnesses. I suspected most would turn out to be UFO devotees. My skepticism was heightened by a New Times story last week that debunked the extraterrestrial theorizing and discredited a leading local theorist, Jim Dilettoso, as a "quack scientist."
I found several people with credible credentials who witnessed the lights. At the least, their stories are interesting. Even if you regard their accounts dubiously, as I do, they raise legitimate questions.
Enough questions, says Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle, that what happened that night "may rank as the most dramatic UFO event in the past 50 years."
First, a little background. The lights were spotted between 7:30 and 10:30 in the evening over a 300-mile corridor from the Nevada line through Prescott Valley and Phoenix to the northern edge of Tucson. Some reports indicate that a single "V" formation traveled across the state, while others suggest multiple UFO events. The lights were seen by hundreds of people.
Here Are Four :
Dr. Bradley Evans, 47, is a clinical psychiatrist from Tucson. He and his wife, Kris, were driving north on Interstate 10 to a swimming meet in Tempe. They watched the lights for 20 minutes or so move slowly south in a diamond formation and pass over them at an estimated 1,500 feet. Even then, with the car's moon roof open, they heard not a sound from the sky. He was "awed" by the experience and has no idea what he saw. Kris said she couldn't explain it either and guesses it was "something military."
Trig Johnston, 50, is a retired commercial airline pilot who lives in north Scottsdale. His 22-year-old son was looking for Comet Hale-Bopp that night when he noticed the lights and told his dad.
"I looked up and remember saying out loud, "I'm going to chalk this up to an illusion.' It was the size of 25 airliners, moving at about 100 knots at maybe 5,000 feet, and it didn't make a sound.
I've flown 747s across oceans and not seen anything like I saw that night," Johnston said.
"I don't expect anybody to take my word for it," he added. "This was something you had to see for yourself to believe."
Max Saracen, 34, is a real estate consultant who lives in north Phoenix. He and his wife, Shahla, were driving west on Deer Valley Road when they saw a huge triangular craft. They pulled off the road, got out and watched it pass overhead. "It was very spooky -- this gigantic ship blocking out the stars and silently creeping across the sky. I don't know of any aircraft with silent engines."
Dr. X is a physician who lives near Squaw Peak in Phoenix and asked to remain anonymous for fear of ridicule.
Her home has an elevated, panoramic view of the Valley, and she has some of the best known videotape and photographs of the lights. Though she had no prior interest in UFOs, the episode prompted her to begin her own investigation.
"I think what happened is mind-boggling," she said. "I'm trying to be as scientific as I can, and a number of things just don't compute."
I'm not given to an otherworldly answer. But neither do I think these four people and so many others who saw the lights are all exaggerating or delusional.
Of all the explanations, a U.S. military operation of some sort, maybe testing experimental aircraft, seems most likely. Mitch Stanley of Scottsdale said he could clearly see several planes when he pointed his telescope at the lights. But if it was a classified operation, why conduct it directly over the nation's sixth-biggest city?
And if it wasn't, why hasn't the military simply acknowledged it?
You don't have to be a ufologist to be puzzled about what lit the sky that night.
By: Steve Wilson