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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 20

Re: The Phoenix Lights - nothing on radar

From: fergus@ukraine.corp.mot.com
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 14:04:36 -0600 (CST)
Fwd Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 08:36:18 -0500
Subject: Re: The Phoenix Lights - nothing on radar

> Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 01:21:13 -0700
> From: jared@valuserve.com (Andromeda.net- Anderson, Jared)
> To: Updates@globalserve.net
> Subject: Re: The Phoenix Lights - nothing on radar

> It's also noteworthy that Captain Stacey Cotton of Luke Air Force
> Base affirmed Grava's statements and said that nothing passed
> overhead on radar at Luke either although the folks over a Luke
> have not exactly had a spotless record of veracity since this
> whole thing began.

> I don't think we can eliminate the plane hypothesis for reasons
> of radar alone. The ATC radar at Skyharbor is designed to detect
> signals emitted by transponders within the planes themselves. If
> a plane was not carrying a transponder or it was turned off, it
> would not have shown up on radar. Grava said he is still
> reluctant to accept the plane theory based on the brightness of
> the lights.

Did you get this info from the Phoenix New Times article?


I found this article misleading in several details.

Any large commercial airport will have both primary and secondary
(transponder) radar.  Planes which do not generate transponder
signals will still show up as radar blips but without IDs next to
them.  There are are ways to filter out some of the stuff picked
up by primary radar, such as things that are not moving (ground
clutter) or already-identified aircraft, but full radar would
always be turned back on in case an aircraft has a transponder
malfunction, and particularly if it was suspected that an
unauthorized aircraft without a transponder might be nearby.

Mark Adkins (emerald@aztec.asu.edu) says he has confirmed this by
email with local pilots who have flown without transponders yet were
pointed out by radio to nearby pilots by Sky Harbor air traffic

If the writer of the New Times article couldn't get this straight,
how much confidence can we have in the rest of the article?

What the article actually said, speaking about air traffic
controller Bill Grava, is:

"He confirms that the object or objects did not register on radar
as they passed overhead, a fact seconded by Captain Stacey Cotton
of Luke Air Force Base."

But we know from Grava's own words that he never saw anything
overhead, only on the far horizon above South Mountain, so "as
they passed overhead" is a phrase invented by the writer of the
article.  And so we must ask exactly what "fact" was seconded by
Captain Cotton.

Regarding Luke Air Force Base's less-than-spotless record of
veracity, some apparent lies may simply be due to inaccurate
press reports, ignorant spokespersons, or insufficiently probing
questions.  At times, it's like trying to find the right keywords
to get info from a computer database.  For example:

None of our planes were in the air that night
- Oh, you expected us to check for visiting planes too?

We got no phone calls about the incident.
- Oh, you expected us to check with the night switchboard operators
  to see if there were any calls when our office was closed?

-George Fergus

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