The Phoenix Lights – 2 Years Later

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Saturday, March 13, 1999, marks the second anniversary of the dramatic UFO sighting event that occurred two years ago over both the states of Nevada and Arizona, an event generally referred to as the “Phoenix Lights” case.   One unconfirmed sighting report was received from the State of New Mexico, as well.

Many aspects of the case still remain unexplained and controversial, but a considerable body of data and evidence has been collected by many capable investigators, which suggests that the event was extraordinarily dramatic and bizarre.  Moreover, it went virtually unreported in the press, save for a handful of short articles printed in local Arizona newspapers.  The story finally “broke” with a major, front-page article in USA TODAY on Wednesday, June 18, 1997, some three months after the incident had occurred.   Some of the salient features of the case are described below:

1) Perhaps thousands, or tens of thousands, of witnesses on the ground witnessed at least one object pass and/or hover overhead which they described as being huge, gigantic, or unimaginably large.  Many of the witnesses reported that they had the impression that a Boeing 747 could land on the back of the object they had just witnessed pass overhead their location.

2) Most witnesses described the object as being generally triangular in shape, with anywhere from five, to “many, innumerable,” lights on the leading edge of the object.  Some observers reported that the pattern of lights consisted of three lights clustered near the “nose” of the object, with one  light on each of the trailing tips of the triangle.  Other individuals reported an object that appeared to have seven large lights equally spaced along its leading edge.

3) The object apparently was capable of very rapid flight, probably even supersonic flight, although few witnesses reported any sound emanating from it.  The object was reported heading generally to the southeast over Henderson, NV, at 1855 hrs. (Pacific), and was next reported heading to the south in the vicinity of Paulden, AZ, approximately 22 minutes later at 2017 hrs. (Mountain).  Within approximately one minute of the sighting in Paulden, the object was reported from the vicinity of Prescott Valley, AZ, roughly 30 miles to the south. The object then appeared over Phoenix, where it is reported to have hovered for 4-5 minutes in the vicinity of the intersection of Indian School Road and 7th Avenue.

4) The object passed through the airspace of Sky Harbor Airport, where it was witnessed by air traffic controllers in the airport tower, and where it also was reported via radio by at least one commercial flight crew.  They reported via radio that the object was passing directly overhead their aircraft, which was on the ground preparing to depart Sky Harbor.  The object reportedly did not appear on radar, and it did not communicate via either radio or transponder.

5) From the Phoenix area, the object reportedly proceeded generally south toward South Mountain, continuing southeast toward Tucson, AZ, along Interstate 10.  One family, driving northwest toward Phoenix on Interstate 10 near Casa Grande, AZ, reported that the object remained above them for an estimated 1-2 minutes while they were driving at approximately 80 miles per hour.  The object was so large above them that the family’s two children in the back seat of their station wagon simultaneously could see the opposite “wing tips” of the object out both the left and right passenger windows.

6) The National UFO Reporting Center received a telephone call approximately seven hours after the incident from a person who identified himself as an airman stationed at Luke Air Force Base, located 20 miles to the west of Phoenix.  The individual reported that the U. S. Air Force had launched two F-15c fighter aircraft from Luke AFB, and that one of the aircraft had “intercepted” a gigantic object over the intersection of Indian School Road and 7th Avenue.  It was also reported by this individual that the onboard radar of the intercepting fighter had suddenly gone to a condition of “white noise,” and that the lights on the anomalous object simultaneously had suddenly dimmed in unison and disappeared from the pilot’s sight. 


NUFORC:  Let me start the tape, and I’ll put a time mark on…For the record, it’s, ah, 0320 hrs. on Friday, the 14th of March, 1997.  I’m talking with a gentleman who’s just calling from Phoenix.  O.K., sir, go ahead.

CALLER:  That’s correct. uh, the, Luke Air Force Base is actually in Litchfield.  I’m, I’m, ah.. I got off shift about 30 minutes ago.  At, uh, 8:15, ah, the F-…”Ready Alert” at Luke Air Force Base, which is the F-15…two F-15’s that we keep on “Ready Alert”…They’re part of the Air Force One and Air Force Two “Protection Group”… to protect ‘em when they come west of the Rockies, whenever the President or any dignitary is on board.

They were launched because…all Hell broke loose, basically.  Apparently, we got a call from, ah, Prescott Valley Airport, a small airport, um,  north of us…I’m sorry, northwest.  And reporting an object that had a near miss with a small Cessna…aircraft.

The call came up once (“wants” ??) “Ready Alert.”  Approximately 8:32, uh, from my understanding, that they encountered something over the sky, …over Phoenix, Arizona, over the area of 7th Avenue and Indian School Road.

They don’t know what it was.  The description that the pilot…one of the pilots stated that they had a visual on it, they’ve got gun camera film of it, they have no radar tape of it.  It scared the hell out of them.  I’ve never seen…this ((rank/name deleted))  I’m talking about, he, uh, …the command pilot of this particular flight, he’ll never talk to you.  He’s a real professional.  I’ve never seen this man, oh…, I’ve never seen this man scared.

Are you familiar with the term, “white noise“…blanking out” radar?  My understanding is, that’s what they got, was strictly white noise.

His statement was that they followed this aircraft…it went on a straight-line course, heading towards “vector”…((Sky)) Harbor Airport, which is one of our main airports here, and it entered the pattern…Sky Harbor Airport.  Crossed the pattern of the outbound runways.  The outbound runways at that time…the wind was coming in from the west.

They encountered going in, originally, uh, two 737’s, and a DC-10 taking off from Sky Harbor.  We have an America West hub here, so we’ve got a lot of civilian flights.

They…this aircraft stayed at…it was, um,…his understanding was that it was at approximately 18,000 feet, descending to 10 thousand five.  When it got to “Angels 10,”…10-5, it completely went dark.  He doesn’t know if it was one aircraft, or several aircraft.  He saw five distinct lights in a triangular pattern.

First three lights were in a tight triangular formation.  Uh, one of the rear lights was with,…at starboard at about…he said that it was about 200 yards.  And then the other light was at about 400 yards, also on the east side of the triangle, if you will.

His belief is that this might have been more than one aircraft.  He could not describe the aircraft.  All he could say is that there were lights…there were no strobe lights.  It was ((a)) light, he said, as bright as a star.  Not like the North Star… Right now, Mars and Jupiter are very bright in the sky.  But this was not very bright.  And, uh, they dimmed.  And when they dimmed, he realized landing lights generally do not have that capability.

They then went…and they dimmed in unison.  Upon…after dimming, they…they went completely dark.  The aircraft then passed into the pattern.  They came back on…followed the straight line of 7th Avenue, which, like, cuts right through Phoenix.

And they kept on going.  They turned…they came back on just as they passed a mountain called “South Mountain.”

He, he was scared to death.  He’s not sure what it was.  After they landed, the base was…we had a complete “lock down.”  The facility was closed.


7) On March 14, 1997, senior officers from Luke Air Force Base stated that they knew nothing about the incident, and that the base had received no reports from the public regarding the event.  Long distance telephone bills, which indicate calls to the base, contradict the statements made by these officers.

8) Some military personnel and UFO investigators have asserted that the entire event was caused by “military flares” that had been released at approximately 2130 hrs. (Mountain) by a flight of USAF A-10 aircraft in the general vicinity of the Gila Bend Bombing Range.  The bombing facility is located approximately 60-80 miles to the southwest of Phoenix.  This event, if in fact it did take place, occurred at approximately 2130 or 2200 hrs., some 45 minutes after the UFO sighting had already occurred over northern Arizona, Phoenix, and Tucson.

9) The witnesses who reported their sightings of the object over northern Arizona and Phoenix include architects, physicians, law enforcement officers, educators, attorneys, airline pilots, scientists, real estate brokers, and other seemingly reliable citizens.  Many  are qualified observers, and have reported their sightings in eloquent, written form.

For more details on this case, see our original report, or read sighting descriptions in witnesses own words on our March 1997 report page.

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