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Unexplained Cases | Phoenix Lights of Arizona and Beyond

Written by: Darren Dedo
Case Filed: 05/4/19 - Phoenix, Arizona
Executive Producer: Rick Garner

The evening of March 13, 1997, thousands of people in Phoenix, Arizona, saw something strange in the sky. It was dubbed the Phoenix Lights. Unexplained Cases spoke with several eyewitnesses of the event who are still looking for answers about what they experienced.

Was it an alien spaceship? Maybe a top secret military aircraft? Or a naturally occurring phenomenon? It was 22 year ago that mysterious lights were witnessed by thousands of people. One of those eyewitnesses was Dr. Lynne Kitei. 

“There were thousands of reports of craft with gun metal on the bottom and windows right above people’s heads rooftop level," recalls Dr. Kitei. Some people saw it take off at blink speed not even dispersing the air others saw these orbs that went out into the environment and redocked with it later. Incredible technology for sure."

Dr. Kitei says she took video of this UFO well BEFORE the infamous sighting on March 13, 1997. She says she encountered the same type of mysterious lights from her home multiple times prior to the massive event in the Arizona night sky. She took video and photos of the colorful orbs that at times got incredibly close to her home.

“In 1995, two years before the mass sighting when thousands of people would see what I witnessed and photographed with 35mm - the only 35mm to date that we know of and analyzed by military and university optical experts as true unknowns and this was very close to our home in 1995. Three orbs in a pyramid formation that seemed to cloak as they were disappearing. Where did they go? And, I wondered for two years what this advanced technology was doing outside our bedroom window. Two years later, two months before the mass sighting on March 13, 1997, I actually captured the same exact phenomenon that would also be videotaped during the mass sighting - the signature videos, handful of signature videos from that night - of an over mile-wide V-formation."

While Dr. Kitei shared her video with others – she remained anonymous for 7 years – until she finally came forward after writing her book "The Phoenix Lights: A Skeptics Discovery That We Are Not Alone." Before that, though, thousands of people in Arizona got to witness what Dr. Kitei had from her home for years– the same apparent Unidentified Flying Object. Several of those individuals came forward to share their stories with Unexplained Cases.

“We did stay outside and watched the whole thing," recalls Annie Wilke. "We watched as it came over the mountain range. We watched as it came over our apartment building in slow motion. It was an absolute V. Not a triangle - a V. We could see the sky. But, you couldn’t see through the V. It was a solid form. It passed over our building in slow motion. There was no sound! There was no traffic sound, no people sounds, no birds. It was just silent. It was silent. Everything just stopped still."

Russell Azbill also remembers that night. “I remember it was dark in the backyard and right off I noticed to the northeast of me there were 5 lights in a row in the distance. So, I stared at them and they were odd. They weren’t blinking. They weren’t moving. If I recall there were 5 of them in a row, just stationary and they weren’t doing anything. It was almost like 5 blimps that were tethered together.”

“I was standing by the pool and saw this thing in the sky and it was very big and very quiet and had lights on it," says Dennis Lane. "And it came right over my head and I could tell it wasn’t separate lights between the lights I couldn’t see the stars. The stars were out, but, I couldn’t see that thing between the stars.”

Dr. Kitei says even a famous person came face to face with the giant V-shaped craft. “And, one of them mentioned a pilot had called in to say, 'What the heck are these lights in front of me?!' And we just learned this past year that that pilot was Kurt Russell, the actor, which is amazing! Because he described exactly what I was seeing. Six lights in a V-formation which only confirms what people saw was not only real, but to date has never been explained or reenacted like the military tried three years after the mass sighting.”

Many started to wonder if we are not alone in the universe. In Arizona, the Phoenix Lights exhibit was created at the Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park to educate the public about the historic event. Part of the display – a timeline for the lights.

The Phoenix Lights actually started in Henderson, Nevada, but, were first spotted in Arizona in Paulden, at 8:15 pm on March 13, 1997.

  • 8:30pm - Anomaly seen in Prescott, Arizona apparently blocking out stars.
  • 8:25pm and the lights were spotted in Dewey, Arizona on Highway 69.
  • 8:30pm - Travelers on Interstate 17 spotted it at Sunset Point, Arizona as it moved Southward.
  • 8:35pm - Luke Air Force Base scrambled two F15-C fighter jets, it is alleged that their radar failed as they approached an enormous object.
  • 8:40pm - Lights are seen by witnesses over Piestewa Peak.
  • 8:45pm - Object is reported by air traffic controllers and commercial flight crews at Sky Harbor International Airport.
  • 9:00pm – Craft is spotted in Casa Grande moving southward from South Mountain, toward Tucson along interstate 10.
  • 9:30pm - Object reported in Tucson and then passed into Mexico.

According to most Media Reports, the historic & still unexplained 3.13.97 AZ mass UFO sighting supposedly began at 8 pm (when the FIRST OFFICIAL CALL came in from a retired police officer in Paulden, AZ). HOWEVER, the mass sightings of one to eight mile wide anomalies (according to Peter Davenport, Director of the National UFO Reporting Center) were also witnessed over Nevada, California and New Mexico, as well as Arizona for OVER A DOZEN HOURS! To elaborate, even though the bulk of Reports came in when most people were outside for a glimpse of the Halle Bopp Comet between 8 pm-10 pm, according to hundreds of credible reports from multiple witnesses, the actual 3.13.97 mass UFO events began with DAYLIGHT SIGHTINGS at 3 pm over AZ, then anomalous sightings over NM during the 5 pm hour, multiple sightings over CA during the 7 pm hour, one of the massive Craft witnessed covering Las Vegas during the 11 pm hour (reported by 2 separate Commercial airline pilots), with anomalous aerial phenomena continuing during the night. The last credible report was by a Boeing Crewman who stated that one of the silent mile wide CRAFT was hovering over their tarmac at Sky Harbor IAP when the entire crew came into work at 5:30 am the next morning (3.14,97). 

After a 12 year meticulous study by investigators, including Michael Tanner and Bill Hamilton, the conclusion from thousands of credible reports to the National UFO Reporting Center, AZ MUFON, Village Labs and former Phoenix Councilwoman/Vice Mayor Frances Barwood (who received over a thousands reports herself) was that there were 10 DIFFERENT mile and much larger Craft. Whether it was one Craft that could morph, the perspective from where the witness was standing or a Parade, we may never know. However, the investigators concluded that there was indeed a Parade of multiple anomalous ORB arrays, as well as massive V, Delta, Triangle, Boomerang & Oval shaped CRAFT, because there were multiple anomalies happening at the same time in different locations for hours. The data speaks for itself. Impressive animations, as well as illustrations by Larry Lowe are posted on the PHOENIX LIGHTS NETWORK Website GAP (Geospatial Animation Project) at

The military remained tight lipped — later saying the mysterious lights in March of 1997 were part of a training mission involving flares. Most witnesses never bought that explanation.

“It was not flares," says Dennis Lane. "I was in the military and I know what flares are and what I saw wasn’t flares.”

Russell Azbill has seen flares over the years. "I was born here. I’ve seen government flares. They weren’t government flares. Plus, they hovered for a long time. Flares drop and these didn’t look like flares.”

Kitei “Well, I have to say it really put the nail in the coffin for that explanation because it was nothing like the true one. It was flares. They drifted and
dropped in the wind huge plume of smoke trails illuminated by the flare itself and flares cannot travel rock solid over-mile-wide V-formation throughout an entire state and beyond.” 

Another thing that adds to the conspiracy theory – the governor at the time, Fife Symington, originally made fun of the incident but later changed his story and admitted he was a believer.

“Arizona Governor Symington mocked the sighting in 1997, says Dr. Kitei. "But he actually came forward 10 years later to say that he saw one of these craft and that it definitely wasn’t flares. He described the craft as 'other worldly.'"

The truth is out there – is a phrase that gets kicked around a lot. But, for some who were captivated by the Phoenix Lights – the truth is exactly what they want.

"I do believe there’s a lot of it being covered up," says Annie Wilke. "A lot we don’t know. I honestly do. I’m not a conspiracy person but I do believe there’s a lot we don’t know."

Russell Azbill agrees, “I think it was a coverup by the government by the government. I know they started dropping flares later after they were visible. I think that was a coverup."

Dennis Lane remains optimistic. “I’d like to think at some point we’re going to find out what these things are. Whether they’re natural or manmade. Or other species made. Come from here, some other place. Some military place in another country...I don’t know.”

So, were the Phoenix Lights some kind of alien spaceship? Or, was it just flares
being dropped from planes during a military exercise? Was it some sort of aircraft? The Phoenix Lights remain an open case.


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