|By Mike Fortson|
The UFO Chronicles
This is being written for those in mind who may have witnessed something “unusual at the very least” and or “life-changing” at the top of the WOW! meter, on Thursday, March 13, 1997. (This could have been anytime from about 5:00 pm March 13, 1997 through 4 am., March 14, 1997). This is for you if you saw something and decided to keep it to yourself.
I have always preferred “The Massive UFO Flyover of Arizona, March 13, 1997,” over the term, “The Phoenix Lights” as the former is by far the most descriptive title regarding the true events state-wide, not just lights at or near the city. The term, “Phoenix Lights” is simply not accurate. The name came into being as 2 of the 5, “10 pm videos” (Rairdon & Kitei) of "mysterious lights" that slowly appeared and then disappeared, were aired on local news stations beginning the following day (Friday March 14th) and were erroneously depicted as being over Phoenix proper. These night-time video’s were shot by residents living in mountain-side homes; the respective cameras were
flares dropped at (unusually) high altitude some 45-60 miles away by the Maryland Air National Guard. Thus, the name “Phoenix Lights” was born and by the same token confusion (which still exists today) between the flare drop footage and the “real, remarkable UFO events” which occurred on that date.
Speaking as a witness, it’s safe to say that those of you who were privileged to have observed the massive UFO—did tell someone! If not, how did you do it?! How did you vent the emotion? How could you keep it to yourself?! Having gone through the experience (myself) . . . seeing something that does not compute; that goes against the grain of how one was raised, and or what falls outside of that which society dictates is normal—the natural desire is to share the experience with folks, or seek out others who experienced the same phenomenon.
After 15 years we now know, given the area the UFO(s) traversed; the weather conditions, as well as the fact that people were sky-watching for the Hale Bopp comet that evening—only a fraction of the actual witnesses went public. So what did you do? Did you write about your sighting in a log, or sketch what you saw on paper and keep it private? Do you still see it in your memories? Do you still think about it and what it possibly was or where it was from? Did you take a snapshot or record a video? If you did, would you share it now? Would you be willing to tell your story now? It’s been 15 years . . . isn’t it time to talk?
If you still don’t want to do this, I do understand.
I really don’t pass blame on anyone who failed to come forward. All too many of you have said over and over, “I don’t like the way the media is treating witnesses”—and you are right! The media did their best to simplify the sighting and belittle the witnesses. I don’t blame you for not coming forward.
It still occurs today! That is when a witness is recounting seeing the massive craft in the 8 o’clock hour; they (the media) will show the 10 pm flare videos in the background, thus confusing everyone. This is done intentionally, not just because of the lack of videos in the 8 o’clock hour. The media and the “medium” they employ to present the news is forever evolving; however, the emphasis then (in ’97) as it is today is centered on the “visual”; seemingly, news organizations feel obligated to show “something” that is illustrative (if “actual” images aren’t in hand) along with their respective topics even if it’s detrimental to the facts of the matter—the reporting of the “so-called” Phoenix Lights is the prime example of this confusing practice.
I Chose To Talk.
Our sighting (my wife and I) was at 8:30 pm Thursday evening, March 13, 1997 from our home in Chandler, AZ. It was intense to say the least. Total sighting in duration was approximately 2-3 minutes. We were looking to our northwest horizon from the western edge of our patio. The lights from the Phoenix-metro area gave us a grey background looking low to the northwest sky. And in that grey background light was a solid black chevron shaped craft of unbelievable length. We watched this massive craft pass by in front of us. It was incredibly low to the surface and it made no noise. From nose to the end of the left wing was over 30” at arm’s length. I’ve always said, “that-son-of-a-bitch is a mile long!”
I also remember telling myself not to blink. We wondered then, if anyone else had seen this massive, silent V-shaped craft as it passed through the area. (The term chevron, V-shaped or boomerang would all be accurate as to the shape of the craft). We never considered fetching a camera or yelling for a neighbor; we were truly “frozen” in our tracks! We were doing our best to take it all in. It was as if we knew immediately that this was indeed a very special event that was slowly passing in front of us.
Please keep in mind this was in 1997. There were very few cell phones and none with a camera feature. Very few video cameras worked in the dark night sky. Sony was the only one with a "0 LUX" feature. So, please give witnesses a break for not running to get a camera. I think it would be fair to say that most, if not all who did not film their sighting are satisfied by staying with the sighting and not leaving the once-in-a-lifetime-experience to get said camera.
I’ve been involved now for almost 15 years. Not as an investigator, but as a very active witness. I still enjoy meeting or reading reports from new witnesses coming forward to tell their story. I know there are still hundreds and maybe even thousands more who have yet to tell their respective stories. There has to be!
There were at least two other Arizona politicians involved that also chose not to speak up; both were state legislators. Each saw the massive craft in the 8 o’clock hour, and sadly decided not to speak openly and publicly about their respective experiences.
Then we have the police and firefighters who were practicing search and rescue drills in the north valley near Cave Creek. They witnessed the massive V shaped craft as it passed over their location. They chose to remain silent as well. One very interesting fact was that—there was also a helicopter and pilot present. The pilot refused to go up and get a better look.
What a difference that would have been if he had chosen to approach the craft and film it from his helicopter! I understand why they did not come forward. They all knew reporting something of this nature would have negative results on their careers. For this fact . . . I do understand.
Consider what might have transpired to the investigation if the above groups and or individuals would have come forward and revealed their sightings. The governor of Arizona, two state legislators and a group of mountain rescue police and firefighters, with an operational helicopter! What a difference this would have added to the investigation had they chosen to step up and take action! Yet, they all chose not to do so. Admittedly, I do understand why . . . it’s the media, and the powers-that-be controlling the media.
Since coming forward, I have encountered many types of media coverage. Live talk radio is by far the best: uninterrupted, uncut, and unedited; live discussion is the unbeatable way to communicate. Cable network documentaries have yet to get it right; they (also) deem it necessary to use “visual aids” (i.e., flare footage) in their videos; acting as if it’s a possible UFO, already knowing it’s flares.
Because of the actions or inactions of the media, the true story of what happened on the evening of March 13, 1997, throughout the great state of Arizona, will not be told . . . not completely.
There are still too many missing pieces to this grand puzzle. These pieces are those of you who failed to report your sighting. It is still very important. Where were you? What time was it? What direction were you looking? How long did it last? Did you feel threatened by the experience? Did you feel the craft you were observing was not of this Earth?
It’s still not too late to open up and tell your story. But, if you chose not to…it’s ok. I truly do understand.
PHOENIX LIGHTS: Project SNOWBIRD and the Flare Drop
An Interview By Kenny Young
The Massive UFO Flyover of Arizona-March 13, 1997
12th Years of Retrospect
Phoenix Lights: Vintage Interview with Tim Ley, Mike Fortson, Frances Barwood and Richard Motzer
SHARE YOUR UFO EXPERIENCE