Phoenix Lights

Artist Jan Chandler Garbero saw the UFO from her backyard and sketched this Impression of UFO size and elevation.  She added the typical helicopter and passenger jet for comparison.

13 Mar 1997, 8 - 11 PM: climax of similar sightings starting 7 March, not to be confused with unrelated reports due to parachute-born flares dropped on week nights by aircraft at the U.S. Army and Air National Guard's Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range, 80 km southwest of Phoenix near Gila Bend.  Conversely, there were many reports -- with more than 50 credible witnesses interviewed, including active or retired military people -- of a triangular, structured object moving slowly overhead with its apex forward -- a black mass blocking out the stars as it passed between the viewer and the sky.  Most witnesses saw six or seven lights along the leading edge, outlining the triangle.  These were unlike aircraft landing lights and looked more like stars, as bright as Sirius.  Tim Ley, whose house is situated 500 m above the Phoenix valley floor said he was able to look up into one of these lights as the object passed overhead: "The light was a right-circular cylinder, two m in diameter; I could see scintillations inside the cylinder."  Two red lights were observed on the trailing edge of the triangle.  Some witnesses saw no lights at all, only the triangle.  To others it seemed to have grey panels on the underside.  It appeared to be three to four times the size of a Boeing 747.  One witness thought it was translucent, because on passing over the moon, the moon appeared yellow.  He and another witness independently reported a distortion field around the object: it seemed to ripple, "like waves traveling through water".  The lights seemed loosely associated with the triangular object -- sometimes moving toward or away from each other -- and were observed to detach, fly off, and return.  Also, two witnesses together described a brilliant white ball of light with a red glowing trail, behind the primary object.  As the triangle moved, the lights would grow dimmer and disappear sequentially, as if gradually obscured by it.  The triangle generally traveled at blimp speed, but sometimes accelerated or slowed to hover.  Witnesses estimated the object to be only 600 - 1500 m above them, and some saw it in front of the local mountains.  Most witnesses heard nothing; Jan Garbero (see sketch) reported a faint sound which she said was distinct from that of an aircraft engine.  The UFO generally moved from north to south through Arizona but occasionally was observed to change direction.  Reports came from Chandler, Dewey, Paulden, central Phoenix, Prescott, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson.  Video cam images recorded independently by various witnesses appeared on local and national TV; some were of the unrelated Gila Bend Gunnery Range flares.  Truck driver Bill Greiner, willing to take a lie-detector test, swears he saw jets scrambled from Luke AFB, during the event, to intercept two orange lights engirdled with a pulsating red ring; he said one of them shot straight up as the jets approached.  Luke Public Information Office denied having any base activity after 7 PM, and denied receiving any telephone inquiries.  Yet some witnesses who called National UFO Reporting Center claimed they got the telephone number from Luke.  Phoenix Sky Harbor FAA replied to a commercial jet pilot, who saw the lights above while taking off, that they had nothing on radar.  Councilwoman Frances Emma Barwood (Phoenix City District 2) asked Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain (R) to push the Air Force for investigation.  Our government does not test advanced air forms, including those from Area 51 in Nevada, over populated areas.  Moreover, the UFO displayed no conventional red and green running lights, and no strobe lights.  Primary sources: two MUFON UFO Journal accounts: William F. Hamilton's in May 1997 349, and Richard F. Motzer's in July 1997 351.  See also The Phoenix Lights.