Phoenix Lights - 2 Years Later: Special Report



National UFO Reporting Center Special Report Phoenix Lights -
2 Years Later March 13, 1997

NUFORC Home Page

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

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.  (See
text of conversation with the alleged airman)

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.

From: Peter B. Davenport <ufocntr@NWLINK.COM>

Note: Peter B. Davenport is the Director of the National UFO reporting

I would propose inclusion of the events over Phoenix on Thursday,
13MR97.  It exceeds the three qualifying criteria cited, as indicated

    1)  The object, or objects, was/were witnessed over Henderson, NV,
at 1855 hrs. (Pacific), and were still visible over Tucson, AZ, some
40-50 minutes later.  The event may have continued to as late as 2200
hrs. (Mountain), although the later sighting is "clouded" by the issue
of possible flares over the Gila Bend Bombing Range.  This latter issue
is not fully resolved yet to everyone's satisfaction, but it has little
bearing on the earlier events that evening.

    2)  When one of the objects stopped and hovered approximately over
the intersection of Indian School Road and 7th Avenue, just a few miles
north-northeast of Sky Harbor Airport, it reportedly subtended an arc,
as viewed from the ground, of between three and four widths of a
clenched fist held at arm's length, i.e. between approximately 30 and 40
degrees.  Our estimate of the object's altitude above ground level at
that time is from 7,700 to 10,500 feet.  These altitudes are reported by
either pilots, or in the case of the latter figure, by a USAF airman,
who asserts he was personally involved in the sequellae of an alleged
intercept by two F-15's, whose pilots estimated the object's altitude at
"angels 10," i.e. 10,500 feet.

    3)  The object, or objects, that passed over Nevada and Arizona that
night must have been witnessed by thousands of people, perhaps tens of
thousands.   Dr. Michael Tanner, Ph.D., of Village Labs reportedly had
interviewed approximately 500 witnesses by 29MR98.

In my opinion, the events that occurred over Phoenix almost two years
ago are the lead candidate for being the most dramatic UFO sighting in
modern ufology.

Another sighting which was reported to us and which satisfies the
criteria you cite is the event that occurred over the Pacific Northwest
on Friday night, 14NO97.  In point of fact, the we have evidence that
the cluster of lights seen from the Northwest was one of three separate
"waves" of anomalous objects that passed over the western United States
that night.  Many of the objects reported over Oregon and Nevada were
reported to us to have stopped and hovered, in some cases.

What makes this latter case so interesting is film footage of a similar
event that was reported and video taped over Mexico City on the same
night.  We are pursuing details on this case through Jaime Mausson, who
recently showed the footage at the 8th Annual International UFO Congress
in Laughlin, NV.

I would be happy to answer any questions regarding either of these two

Peter B. Davenport,
National UFO Reporting Center
P. O. Box 45623
University Station
Seattle, WA  98145
Hotline:  (206) 722-3000 (0800 to 2400 hrs. preferred, except for

From: Bill Hamilton <>

Let me add this report to what Peter Davenport has released on his
website.  I will be on KTAR radio along with Peter this afternoon
in Phoenix.

These are the events that occurred on March 13, 1997 as uncovered
by Michael Tanner and myself:

1.  FORMATION OF HOVERING ORBS - First observed in a hexagram pattern at
about 7:30 p.m. over the Superstition Mountains area east of Phoenix in
the characteristic 8+1(or 2) formation of amber orbs and was next seen
in two separate arc patterns with "trailing lights" over Gila River area
at about 9:50 and again at 10:00 at the southern edge of Phoenix where
they were seen by thousands  and videotaped by a handful who had
camcorders close enough at hand to catch the fleeting minutes of their
displays.  These amateur videos have immortalized the orb formations,
becoming known around the world as The Phoenix Lights.  These are the
very same lights that started the controversy over "flares" and that
will be taken up in the next chapter.  The last appearance of the
hovering orbs of the night was made over a now recognized "hot-spot" of
Rainbow Valley arrayed in a "V" formation at about 2:00 a.m. on March
14th (and again appeared on January 14, 1998).

        2.  "V" FORMATION OF FLYING ORBS - First seen leaving the Henderson-Las
Vegas area and entering Arizona at high speed, a V-formation of five to
seven orbs, variously seen as bright blue-white to a yellow-white, came
through the Prescott Valley area at low altitude by 7:50 p.m., turning
south, where by 8:28, were videotaped (displaying their characteristic
movement within the formation) at the north end of the valley that
comprises the Phoenix metro area.  In an apparent slower mode of flight,
the orbs appeared at that point as amber in color as the formation moved
along Interstate 10 angling toward Tucson after having been visually
seen (not on radar) to intersect air traffic coming in on approach to
Sky Harbor International Airport.  After hovering for several minutes
over a car full of witnesses driving north on I-10 at 65 mph, the
formation was then picked up by observers in the Oracle area who
reported the orbs' color as red to red-orange before the formation split
up, going in separate directions while skirting the edges of the Tucson
metropolitan area.  At various points independent of this very specific
formation, individual orbs were seen to shoot across the metro Phoenix
valley with some moving away from and then re-docking with one or more
of the Very Large Objects (VLOs) which came through later in the night.

        3.  CHEVRON VLO (narrow angle) - Observed first as a "V" formation of
five white lights moving slowly and silently toward Prescott Valley from
the northwest at about 8:15 p.m., the "chevron" was soon clearly seen as
a single object.  The huge craft made a pivot turn over the witnesses'
home there while the lights shifted into an arc formation while the
lights turned red and then it shot off at blinding speed toward Phoenix.
At that time the next set of witnesses in central Phoenix saw the object
coming directly toward them (estimated at Mach 2 or 3) while still in
the "turbo" mode arc configuration, and then, as if to slow back down
again, was seen to change back into a "V" whereupon it cruised silently
and slowly right over their heads (only 100 to 200 feet above at 10 or
15 mph).  The craft was later seen to zigzag through the valley, even
changing altitude at various points and hovering for five minutes at the
edge of Sky Harbor before proceeding south (right over the Village Lab
building) to Interstate-10.  After following I-10 several miles to
Picacho Peak, the enormous craft (estimated at 900 feet or more on each
leading edge and more than a mile in length to its "taillights") hovered
once again for 10 to 15 minutes until there was no further track of it.
According to Michael, this is a possible docking point for this craft
and the giant triangle that followed it down I-10 some fifteen minutes
later.  This same "chevron" or similar craft was seen traveling east to
west over north Phoenix at about 10:50 p.m.

        4.  BOOMERANG VLO (wide angle) - This "V" formation, consisting of five
groups of three lights, was confirmed to be a single huge object by
various Prescott-area witnesses, being equivalent to a formation of five
747s flying absolutely lock-step in formation toward Phoenix.  The craft
was seen to make a southerly turn at about 8:25, once again, in the
Prescott Valley area, after first approaching from the northwest.  This
VLO was later seen (although not clearly enough to identify) by an
America West pilot who called Sky Harbor tower wondering what "those
nine lights were", and an amateur astronomer in Phoenix who wrote it off
as a formation of conventional airplanes.  It is possible that this
craft was the same as the giant triangle(wide angle) described below.

        5.  TRIANGULAR VLO (narrow angle) - This is the one seen by the family
in Chandler.  It may be the same Triangle or Deltoid craft seen by
others as a wide angle craft.  It had definite structure complete with
panels in a grid along with lights at each of the three corners and a
larger center light.  Multiple witnesses confirm its northwest to
southeast flight path through the eastern part of the valley with some
observers seeing one or more orbs leaving and then re-docking with this
VLO at various points.  This particular craft was seen to "split in two"
by a resident in Gilbert, south of Chandler.

        6.  BIG BLACK TRIANGLE (wide angle) - By all accounts the largest of
the VLOs in the March 13th parade of craft, this gigantic craft was
first seen at close range over north Phoenix between 8:30 and 8:45 where
the key witnesses (real estate people who subdivided the area) estimated
its size to be as much as two miles wide as its wingtip lights fell over
two parallel streets that are 1.8 miles apart.  Its flight path brought
it low to the ground at this point (less than 2,000 feet) where it was
seen to not only have dozens of lights along its leading edges, but also
a row of windows wherein the silhouettes of "people" were observed!  At
some point further south, other witnesses reported that they saw nothing
but the row of windows with beings (also in silhouette) as all of the
lights were turned off at that point.  By the time the VLO was seen over
I-10 south of Casa Grande, however, three large lights were seen to be
turned on, one at each corner, with smaller lights on along with the
leading headlight.  The witnesses here reported that it took them one to
two minutes to drive under this immense ship while they were driving at
80 mph!  They estimated the width of this VLO to be at least two,
possibly three miles wide and big enough for a C5-A Galaxy or "Condor"
troop transport (the largest conventional aircraft known) to land upon
it!  The craft had definite structure to it and the family of witnesses
described its color as a flat blue-black like the color of a shotgun
barrel.  They also reported seeing rectangular "panel-like" structures
on the underside of this craft.

        Another large triangle was seen moving just north of Thunderbird Road
at around 10:45 p.m., but the configuration of the triangle was
different.  That triangle had a V-cut into its trailing edge to give it
a very distinctive look.

        7.  GIANT DISCOID VLO - Witnessed first by a retired airline pilot, his
sons and a friend, and seen coming down Scottsdale Road at about 10:20
p.m., this huge circular craft, featuring amber lights around its
perimeter (at an estimated one mile in diameter)  was seen to make a
purposeful turn toward Sky Harbor at about Camelback Road where it also
intersected air traffic before disappearing from view over South
Mountain.  The corroborating central Phoenix witness, also a former
pilot (Vietnam) and retired U.S. Marshal, described how the craft both
reflected the city lights on its underbelly and blocked out the stars
with its upper half, attesting to its being a single craft of
spectacular "mile-wide" proportions.  This witness also claimed to have
videotaped what he saw from the roof of his apartment building, but his
tapes mysteriously disappeared in what may amount to a genuine
"men-in-black (MIB)" episode.  This craft may also have docked with the
"chevron" craft and cloaked in "visual stealth" mode in its earlier pass
through Phoenix at about 8:20 to 8:30, but this is purest speculation.
The two craft reappeared (or two similar ones) in June and were
photographed together at high altitude over Phoenix by the same
witnesses with a 35mm camera while also viewing them with binoculars.  A
separate set of unconnected witnesses also reported the sighting of a
huge discoid craft (bigger than Sun Devil Stadium at ASU) hovering at
treetop level right off of the west end of the Sky Harbor runways at
between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. one morning about two weeks before March

        8.  MILITARY JET/UFO INTERCEPTION ATTEMPTS - We have to date identified
four such events (there may be more) that clearly point to the
conclusion that the Phoenix Lights UFO incident of March 13, 1997 was
certainly no secret "black ops" or classified military exercise as many
people would like to believe.  A woman who lives next to Luke Air Force
Base in the west part of the valley surfaced to report that at least 6
pairs of jets and as many as 8 were "scrambled" out of the base on the
night of March 13th, something she could never recall witnessing before.
One researcher called Luke AFB and asked someone who was out on the
flight line if anything was seen by base personnel, and, unofficially,
he answered that "they" were all over the place.  The response from Luke
spokesmen and their response to FOIA requests indicate that they were
receiving phone calls about the lights, but never scrambled any jets to
pursue them.  Witnesses say different.  Here are the witness reports:

        A)  Crown King at 5:30 p.m. - A formation of 3 huge "Vs" were seen
hovering over this pine-topped mountain and were soon joined by a
diamond-shaped or triangular craft which appeared "out of thin air" (at
first seen as an amber light).  As the four objects were hovering
together, two jets were seen to come low from the south (from the
direction of Luke AFB) at which point the UFOs went into a "stack",
collapsed upon each other while going "into a ball", then totally
disappeared!  This would be called a case of high strangeness.  Finding
nothing there, the two jets circled the Crown King area and returned in
the direction of the base.  Similar disappearing acts of formations of
"Vs", one over Lake Mead that afternoon and on March 27th over Elmont,
New York were reported to Village Labs after seeing the article
published in USA Today.

        B)  Central Phoenix at 8:15 p.m. - A pair of F-15s were dispatched from
Luke AFB to attempt an interception of one or more of the Vs approaching
or entering the valley at that time.  This was reported to NUFORC by a
ground crewman at Luke who stated that the aircraft were equipped with
gun cameras and that one of the pilots had to be helped out of his plane
because he was so shaken by his encounter.  A cursory check revealed
that Luke AFB no longer has F-15s in its inventory and only has the F-16
aircraft.  However, at one time both were maintained at Luke.  Could
these F-15s have been visiting aircraft?  There is still some attempt to
locate the civilian witness who corroborated this story.

        C) North Phoenix at 9:30 p.m. - One of the witnesses who had earlier
witnesses with his wife the giant wide-angle triangle reported that when
he was later at home, he saw in the distance what appeared to be the
return of the triangle, this time with only three lights on, one at each
corner.  As the UFO hovered near the Deer Valley Airport in northwest
Phoenix, he saw two military jets approach the triangle, with one jet
seen to pass one side of it and the other seen to fly up under it,
veering down at the last moment to avoid midair collision.

        D) Luke AFB at 10:00 p.m. - (The original Event 4 - the first
aircraft/UFO encounter to be reported).  A truck driver who had been
watching two unusual amber lights move ahead of him to the south for
fully two hours as he drove down I-17 from Camp Verde, reported that as
he neared his destination, a materials plant near Luke AFB, the two UFOs
seemed to have stopped their movement and were hovering.  Once at the
plant, while waiting for his truck to be unloaded, he stood on a pile of
materials to watch what were now seen as two identical, toy-top like
amber orbs (like hot air balloons without hanging baskets) having a
white iridescent sheen and a band of red pulsating light, with the
nearest to him being one to two miles distant right near the runway at
Luke.  Suddenly, two F-16s, followed by a third, "blasted out of Luke
with their afterburners on full", made a steep bank directly over the
witness and headed straight for the nearest UFO.  At the moment the lead
jets were about to close on the UFO, it shot straight up and disappeared
"in an instant" as the jets passed right through the very spot where the
object had been hovering.  The second UFO also vanished, as it was no
longer hovering in the northwest.

        As you can see by Michael Tanner's event analysis and my own event
analysis, there was a lot of activity on March 13th, yet the media chose
to cover only 2 of these events.  The Big Black Triangle has been
virtually ignored by the journalists and is considered significant since
these triangles have been reported more frequently throughout most of
the world.

Bill Hamilton
Executive Director
Skywatch International, Inc.

March 1999
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