Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks Phoenix Business Journal
Friday, May 2, 2008-The lights spotted in the night sky over Phoenix last month stoked the fires within UFO believers and further fueled speculation over the mysterious "Phoenix lights" phenomenon of 1997, a formation that some -- including former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington -- believe to have been UFOs.
The latest light show solidifies Phoenix's place in the UFO annals and helps drive Arizona's cottage industry of UFO researchers, businesses and authors.
Thanks to these sightings, the Valley is part of a golden triangle of the UFO community, along with Southwestern neighbors Roswell, N.M., and Nevada's Area 51.
Phoenix hosts UFO conferences and is home to a gaggle of UFO-related businesses, ranging from authors and researchers to artists and DVD producers.
Jeff Willes, a Glendale UFO hunter who sells DVDs related to the Phoenix lights and other Valley sightings, said he had 10,000 hits on his Web site, UFOs Over Phoenix, after this latest episode. That is helping sales, said Willes, who has four DVDs on the market and has sold more than 2,000 to date.
Most of the UFO entrepreneurs are true believers who say they have seen UFOs and that the sightings can't be discredited by stories of military flares and weather balloons.
"They're real," said Bill McDonald, a Mesa artist who specializes in UFO and alien artwork for books and movies. McDonald, who said he saw a UFO in 2005, said interviews with military personnel about extraterrestrial activity in Roswell led him to change his career path from commercial illustration.
Roswell is the storied site of a 1947 UFO crash. The New Mexico town has linked its economy at the hip with aliens and UFOs, including festivals and a museum.
The secret Area 51 military installation sits in the Nevada desert 90 miles north of Las Vegas.
The region spawns related theories and draws tourists despite its end-of-the-Earth location.
Lynne Kitei, a family medicine physician and former television health reporter, said she and her husband saw three orbs in the sky outside their Paradise Valley home in 1995. She also witnessed the 1997 Phoenix lights and anguished over whether to talk publicly about those episodes and the photos she took.
"I didn't want to come forward, but it was too important not to share," said Kitei, who also does medical communications work.
She wrote "Phoenix Lights" in 2004. She said the book is headed for a fourth printing. Kitei and California filmmaker Steve Lantz also produced and released a documentary on the book and the lights April 22.
None of the UFO entrepreneurs interviewed for this story would disclose how much revenue their businesses are generating. Most, however, hope the Internet will boost distribution and ease discourse related to their cause.
"The Internet has become the No. 1 arena for reporting, discussing, blogging, and marketing ideas and products connected with this topic. It seems that marketing through the Internet is the wave of the future. Products, sighting events, photos, reports and feedback can be posted in real time," Kitei said.
Still, McDonald said the UFO marketplace is limited to those focused on the issue. He said those doing research and writing on the topic need to act more like businesses.
The lights spotted April 21 were not from the military, according to Luke Air Force Base and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. A Valley man called KTAR-FM 92.3 to say he had strung together flares and launched them on balloons, creating the latest event. Those who believe in UFOs, however, still have questions.
Also see UFO Casebook case file The Phoenix Lights.
source & references:
Archived UFO Articles and News Items, 2008
UFO Casebook Home Page