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Arizona's Worst Governor On Arizona's Worst UFO

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 07:23:31 -0500
Archived: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 07:23:31 -0500
Subject: Arizona's Worst Governor On Arizona's Worst UFO

Source: The Village Voice Blogs - New York, USA


posted: 5:26 PM, November 12, 2007 by Michael Clancy

Arizona's Worst Governor On Arizona's Worst UFO
by Tony Ortega

Before people get too worked up about disgraced former Arizona
governor Fife Symington's "disclosure" that he saw the 1997
'UFO' known as the Phoenix Lights - the subject of a breathless
Larry King Live show this evening - a few words about that
phenomenon from someone who actually investigated it.

In 1997, Symington was in the middle of the bank-fraud scandal
that would bounce him from office, but that's not my way of
questioning what he saw in the sky - thousands of Arizonans did,
in fact, witness the famous Phoenix Lights that March. But from
the start, bad reporting of the facts, hyperventilating by UFO
"experts," and constant stupidity from television reporters in
particular resulted in a false impression that has hardened into
seeming fact a decade later - that the 'vee' of lights seen flying
over the entire length of the state was explained away by the
Air Force as flares dropped from military planes.

That is not the case. But it's not hard to see why people think
as much. Because the bare facts of what happened that night
almost never get told by a confused press, even ten years later.

Here's the truth: there were two, distinct events that happened
the night of March 13, 1997 in the skies over Arizona, which I
reported in great detail in a story that appeared a year later
in the Phoenix New Times. The first event was the famous 'vee',
which appeared over northern Arizona and gradually traveled
south over nearly the entire length of the state, eventually
passing south of Tucson. This is the 'wedge-shaped' object that
Symington and hundreds or even thousands of others saw - including
two of my colleagues at the New Times. Timings of the 'vee'
sighting started at about 8:15 over the Prescott area, and it
was seen south of Tucson by about 8:45. That's 200 miles in 30
minutes, suggesting an air speed of 400 miles per hour.

News of the sighting spread fast, drawing out many other people
who began looking at the sky, some with camcorders. And it was
this second wave of observers who caught the second event of the
night at about 10 pm, a set of nine lights falling behind the
Sierra Estrella, a mountain ridge to the southwest of Phoenix.
Television reporters were the first to suggest that this was a
series of flares dropped over the North Tac range behind the
Estrella. But naturally, people who had seen only the 8:30 'vee'
were incredulous - how could 'flares' dropped from planes fly over
the entire state in a vee formation?

Well, they couldn't, of course. But to this day, reporters
almost never distinguish between the two events and the
explanations that were soon presented for each.

The flares over the Estrella were soon cleared up. The Air
Force, after some maddening early denials, eventually owned up
that the Maryland Air National Guard had dropped them over the
North Tac range. So much for the 10 pm sighting.

But what rarely gets reported is that the famous vee was also
solved quite early. First of all, contrary to what you usually
hear, there was a videotape made of the vee. I saw it after
questioning the person who shot it (he also shot the 10 pm
flares over the Estrella), and the video quite clearly shows the
lights moving in relation to each other, rather than as lights
on a solid object.

The human eye, however, seeing point sources of light in a dark
Arizona sky, will tend to fill in the space between the lights
in a contrast effect - convincing the eyewitness that he's seen a
solid object. Again, however, videotape of the ‘vee' clearly
showed that this was not the case.

(My personal favorite of all the accounts that night is a
sighting that was convincing proof that the 'vee' was not solid.
A man saw it pass directly over the face of the Moon, and
instead of a solid object, he saw five contrails pass over the
Moon, making the Moon look blurry. Now, instead of concluding
that he'd seen five planes flying in formation with their
exhaust plumes plainly showing against the Moon, he instead
insisted that the 'captain' flying the alien triangular craft
had turned it transparent just at the right moment so that he
could see the Moon through it!)

Also, reports that the vee was low overhead and moving slowly
have to be discounted. The human eye is notoriously unable to
judge the distance to overhead point sources of light in a dark
sky. Simple physics dictates that in order to fly from Prescott
to Tucson in 30 minutes the vee was moving very fast, and, logic
dictates, at a high altitude.

But there's an even better reason to believe that the vee was
not what Symington and others believed. As I reported in June of
1997, there was a credible report of the vee's nature that was
received immediately by UFO "experts" but not followed up - at
least until I checked it out. It turned out that an amateur
astronomer, Mitch Stanley, had been outside that night using a
Dobsonian telescope, and had captured the vee in his field of
view, giving him a view 60 times the magnification of the human
eye. (I'm a builder of telescopes, and I thoroughly checked out
his telescope and quizzed him about his use of it. There was no
reason to question this young man's veracity.) That March
evening, his mother was standing nearby and could see that he
was looking at the vee through the scope (I questioned them
both) and they both say this was his response when she asked him
what it was: "Planes."

What I reported a decade ago:

What looked like individual lights to the naked eye actually
split into two under the resolving power of the telescope. The
lights were located on the undersides of squarish wings, Mitch
says. And the planes themselves seemed small, like light private
planes. Stanley watched them for about a minute, and then turned
away. It was the last thing the amateur astronomer wanted to
look at. "They were just planes, I didn't want to look at them,"
Stanley says when he's asked why he didn't stare at them longer.
He is certain about what he saw: "They were planes. There's no
way I could have mistaken that."

The only real mystery of the Phoenix Lights is which group of
planes this was. I suggested that Stanley's description
(squarish wings) sounded like A-10s, not private planes. But the
Maryland National Guard denied that they had flown over that
path before dropping flares later.

Ten years later, however, the Phoenix Lights still live because
it's claimed by UFO supporters that the only explanation for the
flying vee was that the Air Force called it flares. You'll hear
that explanation ridiculed again tonight on Larry King Live, and
the UFO community will no doubt consider it a huge victory. So
much for common sense.

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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