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

From: UFO Folklore Center
See also: UFO Folklore Center - Phoenix Lights

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. (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

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

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

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 events.

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 emergencies)MR

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 13th.

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