NUFORC Sighting 117121

Occurred: 2015-02-01 19:40 Local
Reported: 2015-02-02 21:09 Pacific
Duration: 2 minutes
No of observers: 2

Location: Tempe, AZ, USA

Shape: Triangle
Characteristics: Lights on object, Aircraft nearby

Hello. I live in Tempe, Arizona, a city in the Phoenix metroplex area. As you are probably aware, the Super Bowl was hosted here in Phoenix (Glendale, specifically) yesterday evening. It was during this time that this sighting occurred at approximately 7:40 PM Arizona time.

I had returned from Tucson earlier that evening with my fiancé and was cleaning up our house. The game was on the television, but I was not watching it, as I’m not a huge sports fan. At approximately 7:40 PM, I went outside to the backyard to take some trash out. On my way over to the trash can, I looked up at the moon which, at the time, was in the upper eastern part of the sky. It was at this moment that I saw a curious-looking craft heading north some degrees above of the moon.

This stood out to me immediately because this craft was not following the flight path which nearly every plane follows on its approach into nearby Sky Harbor Intl. Airport. Planes flying into Sky Harbor at night typically fly in from east-to-west as our runways run in this orientation. If a plane does fly over this airspace, its altitude is typically very high as to not disturb the lower traffic. This craft’s altitude appeared to be relatively low, around 10,000 feet or so and no more than a mile away from me to the East, making it very unusual from the start.

As I observed this craft going north-bound, I tried to logically make out what it was. I was looking at it from below. It had one unblinking white, slightly yellow light on the bottom of it, generally in the middle of the craft. This light appeared to illuminate other parts of the craft, which had a reddish-orangish tint to it. I could see what appeared to be actual structure rather than a series of lights.

As I stared at this object, transfixed, I tried to logically see it as a plane, thinking that the illuminated areas were perhaps the tail section and/or wings of a Southwest jet, which are commonly painted with orangish colors. However, this object didn’t fit the description of a jet. There were no navigation lights, it made no sound, and the shape that I could make out seemed to be triangular in shape. The illuminated areas seemed to perhaps be the points of this triangle. The object was slightly smaller than the moon that night, however it didn’t cover as much surface area in the sky as the moon did because of its triangular-looking shape (triangles covering less surface area than circles do).

Once I ruled it out as an aircraft, I thought that perhaps I was viewing a large satellite and that the illuminated areas were solar panels. Many images that I have seen of satellites show their solar panels to be of a rusty orangish color, similar to what I was seeing. This, too, just did not fit. At this moment, I noticed that the object was beginning to turn. It made a smooth 90 degree turn in a sharp arc going from north to west in seconds. It was at this point that I noticed how fast this thing was going and how fast it had made the turn. A normal jet would have needed much more distance to make such a sharp turn. I remember thinking that a typical commercial jet would probably have fallen apart turning at such a speed.

As it was turning, my view of it changed. Before turning, I was looking up at it, seeing it from the bottom with one light. Now, as it was turning (and more north of me at that point) I was seeing it from the side. It was at this view that I could see two lights (both still unblinking and the same white-yellowish color). I am not sure if this was actually an additional light on the craft, or if it was part of the same light I saw on the bottom. Perhaps because of the new view point, I was seeing the bottom and top of the light, split horizontally by the craft itself. I am not sure. But as soon as it leveled off, I could only see the one light again from the bottom.

It was at this moment that I heard the thunderous sound of jet engines behind me from the South. As soon as I looked above, two military jets zoomed right overhead, heading northwest from the South. I could tell they were military jets because they were not on the Sky Harbor flight path, they had a distinctly different sound than the commercial jets, and were flying low for that area (approx. 10,000 feet). They too were turning towards the West in pursuit of the object, but made a much wider turn than the object had. They each had a sole very bright white blinking strobe light that I remember thinking looked kind of ominous in a way. They did not appear to have the red and green navigation lights that I see on countless jets flying into Sky Harbor.

At first I thought that this could be an escort of some sort, but it was clear that these jets were trying to catch up and pursue this object. I have seen strange things in the sky before, but seeing jets literally chasing this thing made me realize that I wasn’t “seeing things.” I was amazed and somewhat frantic and called out to my mother who lives with my fiancé and I (my fiancé had just left the house and was not home to see this). She ran out and saw the object with the jets in trail as they all zoomed westward, coincidentally heading directly towards the Glendale Stadium where the Super Bowl was being played at the time. To my estimate, it seemed that the object and the jets had to have flown right over Sky Harbor, which astonished both my mom and I. At this time we heard what may have been the jet's afterburners because the jet noise became significantly louder once they were flying in a straight line again after they had turned.

Although my mother did see the object, she only saw it as a light being chased by the jets. She did not see any structure or detail like I had seen when it had flown past less than 30 seconds before. We watched the jets and the object till they were out of view, and it appeared that they had turned slightly south before again continuing west.

Some further information: I am a graphic designer, 28 years old, and have lived in Phoenix (specifically Tempe) for five years. Both of my parents are licensed pilots, and I practically grew up at the municipal airport in the town where I grew up. I have spent hundreds of hours flying with my dad in his planes (both single and twin engines) throughout my life. Although I am no expert, I feel that I am somewhat knowledgable in identifying things in the sky and feel confident that this craft was something truly unusual.

I will also add that military aircraft (helicopters and jets) have been flying around the Phoenix area for the past week because of the heightened security surrounding the Super Bowl. These military aircraft were discussed on the news before the Super Bowl so that all of us citizens would be aware of their presence and purpose in case we saw them flying around that week. The news media stated there would be two Blackhawk helicopters and two jets patrolling airspace during the Super Bowl.

Over the week, everyone in town, including myself, saw and became familiar with the helicopters and jets as they did their rounds. However, I believe that the jets that I saw were not necessarily related to these aircrafts flying around for security reasons. Very shortly after the sighting, I actually saw the two patrol jets in formation flying nearby from north to south in the vicinity of Sky Harbor. These jets had dim, yet visible, red and green navigation lights, along with their white strobes. The jets that I saw chasing the objects were not the two patrol jets because they were far out to the West at the time when I saw the patrol jets. I got the feeling that the jets I saw pursuing the object may have been scrambled from Luke Air Force Base or other nearby military base.

Thank you so much for your time in reading my long report about this event. I wanted to be thorough and cover as much information as I could. I will be emailing a map with the path of the object and jets based on my observation. I will also try to put an illustration together. I really do appreciate that there is a place where this kind of thing can be reported.

Thank you for you work!


This is ((name deleted)) whom you spoke with yesterday afternoon. My apologies for directly sending this to your email address.

Thank you for taking the time to call yesterday. I wanted to send you a map graphic that I put together. In this graphic, I have illustrated the approx. paths of the object, the jets, and have also noted the Sky Harbor flight paths. All of this has been superimposed onto a map of the area to give you context. I hope it provides some useful information.



My name is ((name deleted)) and I submitted a report last night detailing a strange craft I saw on Sunday night (February 1st, 2015) that was being pursued by two military jets.

I am attaching a pdf file of a map graphic that I created to show the paths of the object and jets as well. The paths are superimposed on a map of the area to give context. I hope it provides useful information and further insight to my report.

Please feel free to contact me if you need further information. Thank you so much!



I am attaching hand drawn sketches that I made, along with computer drawn sketches made in Adobe Illustrator. Not the most beautiful sketches ever, but generally convey what I saw. Please let me know if you have any issues with the files.

I have contacted local media and received a response from Fox. I provided them with the sketches, map graphic, and description. I will keep your center updated on any further developments if interested.


Posted 2015-02-06

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