Were the Phoenix Lights Just an Experiment? More Clues Revealed
By Steve Hammons, Transcendent TV & Media, Thursday, March 11, 2010
The mystery of the 1997 "Phoenix lights" incident seems to continue. TV
shows, films, research articles and other explorations of the case still
fascinate us – and still raise many questions.
As the 13th anniversary
of the strange incident approaches on Saturday, March 13, 2010, it does
seem an appropriate time to take a new look at clues about this case.
The theory that the Phoenix lights were a U.S. psychological operation
of some kind gained new attention late last month when experienced
researcher and writer Randall Fitzgerald published a thought-provoking
article online titled "Were the 1997 Arizona Lights a psychological
This unique hypothesis was based on Fitzgerald's two-month fulltime
investigation and interviews with more than 50 witnesses in 1997 funded
by Reader's Digest magazine.
Fitzgerald reviewed points that most people are generally aware of. The
lights were first seen in southern Nevada in the early evening and then
mid-evening across the state line in west-central Arizona, moving in
generally a south-southeast direction. The lights were large and bright.
They did not resemble normal aircraft lights to many observers. Some
witnesses, but not all, saw five lights in a V-shaped formation.
Steadily making their way south-southeast, the lights entered the
metropolitan Phoenix area in mid-evening and crossed the area
diagonally, entering from the northwest and exiting the metro area on
The lights reportedly continued all the way to Tucson,
Sierra Vista and possibly the Mexican border.
During this general time frame, out-of-state Air National Guard units
training at Luke Air Force base on the western edge of metro Phoenix
dropped flares in an area of the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
The site of
the flare drop was reportedly in an unusually far north part of the
range and within sight of metro Phoenix. Many factors in the case led to
much speculation then, and over the years.
Did people see military flares from the training exercise? Was there
something else that was not over the Goldwater Range but was directly
over the city and surrounding communities (as well as other parts of
Arizona and Nevada)?
Were both happening that night? And, if so, was
this a coincidence?
It seems clear that something apart from the flares did fly directly
over Phoenix. Were there five or more individual objects or aircraft?
Or, was there one huge object with five or more bright lights on it?
This question is a main focus of Fitzgerald's article. Some witnesses
saw distinctly separate objects and lights. Others are sure they saw one
huge solid craft with multiple lights.
Some witnesses thought they saw a
translucent aspect of the object where they could see stars or the moon
in a hazy and altered way through the craft. Other people said it was so
solid that it blocked out the stars.
These and other interesting elements led Fitzgerald to speculate that
this incident could have been a U.S. psychological operation (PSYOP) of
He wondered in his article if several aircraft could have
been equipped with holographic projection equipment that could create
the illusion of a large craft.
He pointed out that the lights were first seen in the region around Area
51 in southern Nevada and last seen near the Army's Fort Huachuca (a
major intelligence facility), southeast of Tucson near the Mexican
In his article Fitzgerald also notes an account of an anonymous source
who claims to have been in the Air Force on active duty in Arizona at
the time. I also explored this source's comments in a Februrary 2009,
article "New information alleged in 1997 'Phoenix lights' UFO case."
In an online discussion forum about unconventional scientific and other
topics, the source logged on in January 2009 and called himself
"Topol-M" and "AL." This source stated his information was based on both
first-hand knowledge and accounts directly from trusted friends and
associated, apparently other Air Force personnel.
He brought some
interesting information to the discussion and understanding of the
Phoenix lights case. It is unclear if his information is accurate. But,
it seems worthy of review.
He wrote: " … on the night of March 13, 1997, USAF personnel stationed
at both Luke AFB in Glendale and Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson were a bit
scared, as something was occurring over the skies of central and
southern Arizona that night, and the on-duty personnel at both bases had
no idea what it was."
"That night, Luke AFB scrambled two F-16Cs from the 56th Fighter Wing,
however, these aircraft were not vectored southwest of Phoenix towards
the source of the lights [the flares over the Goldwater Range], but
directly south towards Tucson.
What is known further, is that less than
10 minutes later, a second set of F-16Cs from the 56th were also
scrambled and sent southeast."
"Radio reports from the first flight of aircraft indicated something
'odd' was occurring, however the pilots never gave any indication or
specifics (in the open at any rate), as to what that was."
Various photographs of the Phoenix Lights
(click on pictures for larger image)
"It was obvious to all with access that there were other aircraft in the
area, with orders to drop flares. It was felt that this was indeed a
'deception' measure to keep curiosity focused on one space in the sky,
as flares were never used that far north of the Goldwater training range
(as any Luke personnel can tell you, if they were, there would be weekly
'Phoenix Lights' incidents)."
Topol-M/AL continued, "The next morning, wing intelligence units at both
Luke and Davis-Monthan were scrambling to compile information. No one
knew what had occurred the night before, but for some top officers that
were summoned in during or just after the incident, there was an element
of anxiety (I would not say fear, though many were disconcerted)."
"The 'hush' order took a few days to trickle down …"
"The first two aircraft, from the 56th Fighter Wing (310th Fighter
Squadron), were armed only with 2x AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles and 20mm
Vulcan cannons each. Once the flight was airborne, the flight leader
called in that something 'odd' was occurring after he picked up a radar
contact a few thousand feet below, and several miles ahead of his
position. His radar was showing 'clutter' common to stand-off jamming."
"This led to two further F-16Cs from the 56th, that were being fueled
and armed since the first flight was launched, being sent up. This pair,
in addition to the armament as above, also carried 2x AIM-7M Sparrow
medium range missiles as well."
Flight 1 leader was able to regain radar contact on something large and
low that was beginning to accelerate rapidly. Flight 1 lost the contact
approximately 7 miles south of Tucson, and was ordered to proceed close
to the border and try to regain contact."
"Once Flight 1 lost radar contact, Flight 2 was ordered back to Luke
(Flight 2 had just approached the Tucson area). Once Flight 1 was on
station, attempts were made to re-establish radar contact to no avail.
After 10 minutes or so, Flight 1 was ordered back to Luke."
"Further scramble of aircraft was initiated from Nellis AFB, Nevada
(prior to the Phoenix sighting) and Holloman AFB, New Mexico (around 10
minutes after the Flight 1 scramble from Luke). F-16s from Nellis, no
word on aircraft type from Holloman (at the time it was the only F-117A
'Stealth Fighter' base, with the Luftwaffe having a training squadron of
Tornado aircraft, neither would have been used on an intercept
Topol-M/AL also noted, "Towers at several locations had tapes of the
'event.' Radar at Luke and Davis-Monthan were picking up low level
'noise' on several frequencies, similar to what had happened to Flight
1. This 'noise' was consistent with active wide-spectrum jamming."
"It was highly unusual for this to occur in an area that did not have
that type of (jamming) training environment (nearest place this was done
was at the Nellis AFB range)."
"According to many in the know, something physical was in the sky that
night, with radar data providing the primary source of evidence. That
'something' entered Mexican airspace and promptly disappeared. Maximum
recorded speed was at Mach 1.8 past Tucson nearing Fort Huachuca."
"The next day, intelligence units at both Luke and Davis-Monthan were
abuzz. No one knew what had occurred, other than something physical was
in the sky, an intercept was attempted, and there were thousands of
eye-witness accounts (many of these being the flares)."
"Orders were apparently given for a flare-drop near Phoenix by a unit
returning from the Goldwater range. This was considered highly odd to
say the least, as that order was given while the main event was
unfolding. These aircraft were likely A-10s."
"The orders that were given for the flare drop would have had to have
been very high up, probably even officers outside the Luke and
Davis-Monthan chain of command.
For the average intelligence personnel
working on the bases, this event was no doubt 'above their pay grade'
and security clearance."
"The alert aircraft being scrambled is not uncommon. Anytime a small
aircraft that is unidentified violates southern Arizona airspace, and
does not answer radio hails, we will scramble fighters to intercept and
ID the 'bogey.'
What was unusual about that night were the contact
reports from the first flight, and a second scramble of two additional
aircraft. This is simply unheard of in day to day intercepts."
"However, I do know that USAF aircraft were chasing down something that
night they could not positively ID, either on radar, or visually.
Massive electronic interference occurred, knocking out the F-16s BVR
(Beyond Visual Range) capability, forcing the fighters to close at
short-range. After brief contact, the 'bogey' accelerated close to mach
2, and dashed south-southwest into Mexico," Topol-M/AL said.
TRAINING AND PREPAREDNESS
Some of the anonymous source's information does seem to dovetail with
Randall Fitzgerald's speculation about a U.S. operation of some kind. It
also seems to point out that there may have been secrecy about the
operation that even excluded Air Force personnel.
If it was a PSYOP test of some kind, the experiment seems to have also
been planned to explore the reaction of local Air Force bases and units,
local public safety officials and the news media (local, national and
international) as well as the general public.
The idea that this was a planned event to test reactions seems to make
sense to some people. The object or objects obviously wanted to be seen
or didn't care if it was seen. But why? To see if there was mass panic?
To prepare us for something in the future? It's unclear to most people.
Because of the many reports of UFOs and related phenomena and activities
around the U.S. and around the world, it does seem wise to be prepared
for many types of challenging situations that could occur.
A worthwhile training source is the well-known firefighter training
manual "A Fire Officer's Guide to Disaster Control," published in 1992
by Fire Engineering Books & Videos, was written by firefighting experts
William M. Kramer and Charles W. Bahme.
The authors are highly-trained
and experienced. In addition to important and conventional firefighter
training, a chapter is included titled "Disaster Control and UFOs." It
covers certain risks and dangers associated with UFOs.
One section subtitled "Adverse Potential of UFOs." The authors note
that, "The two principal hazards noted with relation to UFOs have been
attributed to powerful electrical fields which they can project in a
general or localized area and the psychological effects they have
produced on the general populace or individual contacts."
The authors also explain that "force field impact" can affect the
electrical systems of vehicles and aircraft. Disruption of
electronic-related communications systems can also occur.
point out that regional power blackouts have been reported in
conjunction with UFO incidents. Kramer and Bahme point out that public
panic is also a concern for public safety officials and could be related
to some of the other effects.
My March 2009, article on these topics, "UFOs and public safety:
Firefighter manual explains risks," might be worthwhile reading for
those interested in the Phoenix lights case.
Because, who knows, we may
experience another incident like this in the future – and we should be
Intrigue persists over lights in sky-For first time, military pilot tells of dropping flares; others say 'Phoenix Lights' were UFOs.
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 25, 2007 12:00 AM
On a mild springlike evening the string of amber orbs appeared as if by magic, a celestial sleight of hand that would in the coming weeks make headlines and video highlights across the nation.
Although little more than an atmospheric curiosity at the time, the hovering and evenly spaced balls of light would soon become known as the Phoenix Lights, an event that 10 years later continues to spark debate over just what was seen that night.
Those who accepted the explanation that it was military flares dismissed the controversy with logical precision, while people who saw it as an otherworldly encounter claim the truth has been shrouded in lies and disinformation.
In the ensuing decade, the Phoenix Lights would change outlooks, minds and even a few lives. What hasn't changed is this: The mystery that still hovers above March 13, 1997.
The key witness
What she was seeing had barely registered when Lynne Kitei raced inside to fetch her video camera. Lights, six of them, evenly spaced in a direct line. They were - floating? - over Phoenix. Certainly not a plane. Or balloons.
She had seen something like this before, but could these be like the amber orbs she saw in 1995 hovering in formation just 100 yards from the backyard of her Paradise Valley home? And she had seen orbs like that just two months ago. In each case she had snapped photos. This time she wanted video.
By the time she was back on her patio, only three lights continued to shine. She pressed "Record," and those several seconds of tape would become one of the seminal recordings of the Phoenix Lights to be shown on the news, TV specials and, several years later, her own documentary.
In the decade since that night Kitei, a respected physician, has resigned from her position at the Arizona Heart Institute to devote herself full time to talk about, and further investigate, the Phoenix Lights.
"If you had told me this is what I'd be doing," she says, "I would never have believed it, not in a million years."
For seven years she spent nearly all her spare time trying to answer the question that plagued her: What were those orbs, and what did they want? She finished with 750 pages of notes detailing her interviews with witnesses, experts and UFO investigators. Her notes included extensive research of similar sightings around the world.
Kitei remained anonymous for seven years, fearful of the ridicule that accompanies those seen to be tilting at extraterrestrial windmills.
But her chase for the truth eventually overcame her fears of going public. She condensed her notes into a 222-page book, The Phoenix Lights, where she revealed her findings as well as her name.
What she has not found is a definitive answer, only educated speculation as to the meaning of the lights.
"It's never been about me; it's about the data," Kitei says. "To present it I had to come forward, to tell people what I know."
Kitei also has discovered something nearly as surprising as interplanetary visitors - a wider acceptance of things that can't quite be explained. She said she still receives e-mails from fans of her book and her documentary, The Phoenix Lights . . . We Are Not Alone.
She takes no offense at those who call her efforts a waste of time.
"Some people deny it even exists, that it all feeds into a logical explanation," she says. "That's OK if it gives them comfort. Everyone in their own time."
The lights appear
It is generally agreed that at about 10 p.m. on March 13, 1997, under a clear sky with no breeze, a string of lights appeared to the southwest. The orbs seemed to form a flattened V shape, like a boomerang. They appeared to be motionless, or traveling so slowly that movement was imperceptible.
They shimmered for five to 10 minutes and were seen by hundreds, and likely thousands, of people.
In the days to come, air traffic controllers at Sky Harbor International Airport would tell reporters and UFO investigators that they spotted nothing on radar. Officials at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson would report that no military maneuvers were taking place that night at the Barry M. Goldwater Range to the west of Gila Bend (and would change their story two months later, saying the person on duty that night failed to look at the proper logbook).
Photos and video of the Phoenix Lights were popping up on local and national TV news. The images made their way around the world.
Then things got crazy.
Stories trickled in of isolated sightings from northwestern Arizona about three hours before the mass sighting in Phoenix. Some people said the lights seemed to float before accelerating and disappearing into the night. From those sightings, experts in the UFO community assembled a timeline that had a mysterious craft drifting north to south across Arizona.
Video of the Phoenix Lights appeared on TV tabloid shows with breathless commentators wondering if this was the proof UFO believers had been waiting for. And when Gov. Fife Symington called a press conference, few expected to see the extraterrestrial who emerged from backstage (a Symington aide in alien drag).
At least one person wasn't laughing.
Frances Emma Barwood never saw the lights as she drove home March 13 north along Highway 51. Her eyes were on the road, not the sky, though in a week's time she'd be eye-deep in controversy.
As the Phoenix city councilwoman fielded calls from curious constituents, she decided she needed to know more.
She called for an investigation.
What she got, Barwood says from her home in Dewey, was ridicule.
"Oh, the media had a heyday with me," says Barwood, who would never hold another political office when her City Council stint was up.
Barwood did not assume the lights were UFOs as the media inferred, she says. She only wanted a government agency to look into the odd occurrences of March 13. She received calls from eyewitnesses in Prescott Valley, Phoenix and points south.
A decade ago, Barwood would have leaned toward a logical explanation. Today, she's open to the not-so-logical.
"I don't know what it was, but I'm a lot more open to that thing coming from elsewhere," Barwood says. "What makes us think we're the only intelligent being in the whole entire universe?"
The flares exposed
Those who believed in logical explanations would have to wait four months for the proof they knew was out there when the military, spurred by a June 1997 story in USA Today that brought national attention to the Phoenix Lights, decided to take a second look.
They were flares, said the Air National Guard, dropped during nighttime exercises at the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
That simple explanation didn't fly with those who had four months of mystery on their side.
They were flares, insists Lt. Col. Ed Jones, who piloted one of the four A-10s in the squadron that launched the flares.
Jones, in his first interview with the media about the night 10 years ago, can't believe a decision to eject a few leftover flares turned into a UFO furor that continues to this day.
Jones now is assistant director of operations for the 104th Fighter Squadron of the Maryland National Guard. His title has changed, but his story remains the same.
He and the rest of his colleagues were cruising the night skies of southwestern Arizona on the last night of Operation Snowbird, so named because they were winter visitors. Pilots dropped flares to light the night but had no idea they were about to ignite controversy as well.
On the way back to Tucson, not far from Gila Bend, Jones says, he reminded pilots to eject their leftover flares. Since this was their last night on maneuvers, it was more cost-effective to eject the flares than to offload and store the munitions upon returning.
"One of our guys had about 10 or so left, so he started to puke them out, one after another," Jones says. "So every few seconds or so, when the next flare was ready to go, he hit the button and launched it."
Jones looked behind him and saw an evenly spaced string of lights over the desert, floating ever so slowly to earth. Each was extremely bright, a "couple million" candle power, Jones knew. They seemed to hover because heat from the flare rose into the parachute, as if each were a tiny hot-air balloon. The planes headed for the base.
Jones and the rest of the crew returned to Maryland. Several weeks later, Jones says, "All this stuff just blew up."
News of the unexplainable Phoenix Lights reached Maryland, where the logical explanation sat waiting to be discovered. It would not be until the end of July when it was announced that the Maryland Air National Guard had launched flares that night and were the lights everyone had seen.
"With flares that bright, they can be a lot closer than they seem," Jones said. "Yes, they could have looked like they were right over Phoenix."
There are those who believe the flare story is a lie, the military's attempt to cover up the truth. Others think flares were indeed dropped but only as a diversion so officials could explain what people saw that night.
Jim Dilletoso belongs in the first camp. The Phoenix computer specialist who has analyzed film and video of dozens of alleged UFO sightings says Lynne Kitei's video, the best taken that night, is not of military flares.
Dilletoso compared the lights to the thousands of images on his database, which he likens to testing fingerprints or blood samples. He tests for size, brightness, movement characteristics and more.
"I have thousands of knowns," Dilletoso says. "I didn't get a match to flares, airplane lights, Venus, swamp gas, flashlights, whatever. That means it's unknown. Not a spacecraft necessarily, but unknown."
The questions remain
A decade has passed, and while the Phoenix Lights have dimmed, they refuse to disappear.
Steve Kates is not surprised. Dr. Sky, as he is known on radio and on his Web site, follows aviation and astronomy and often is called upon to explain unusual occurrences above us. Kates is hardly surprised the mystery of the Phoenix Lights endures today.
"Mystery is a great thing," Kates says. "We don't want to think we're alone. I imagine even ancient people looked to the sky and wondered."
The night had a profound effect on Bobby Brewer, who was with a friend driving southbound on Highway 51when the lights appeared.
Brewer would write UFOs: 7 Things You Should Know, which many may consider unusual coming from a pastor.
The experience led Brewer to respect those who have reported sightings, encounters or even abductions.
The lights were so compelling that night, he pulled off the highway to stare.
"It was like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time," says the pastor for young adults and singles at Citichurch in Scottsdale. "It took my breath away."
Brewer did his own research, yet to this day he is still unsure of what he saw. Flares certainly seem plausible. A high-tech craft pushing the edge of physics is in the realm of possibility. And he won't discount a visit from another world.
For Brewer, the Phoenix Lights remain a tantalizing mystery. He can live with that.
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 eyewitness 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 craft's 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.
Between 9:00 and 9:30 PM on the 13th, one extraordinary description was made by a family in Mesa. They said that an enormous craft with a distinctive structure flew over their area. They described a triangle-shaped object with lights at the three corners, and another larger light in its center. Amazingly, they could clearly see panels on the craft which were in a grid pattern.
There were also, about this same time, several reports of two round objects which seemed to detach from the larger "V" shaped object, only to later rejoin the mother-ship. One witness described the "V" shaped mother-ship dividing itself into two separate craft as it moved toward the city of Tucson.
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 AM 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 Republic.
May 11, 1997.
X-Files is Opened Into Phoenix "UFO", BarWood asks staff to investigate lights
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?"
~end of article~
Article from The Arizona Republic.
Steve Wilson - Republic Columnist
'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.