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13/03/1997 - Phoenix, Arizona - Phoenix Lights Sighting

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Birmingham UFO Group Case Report

Author: Dave Hodrien

Release Date: 29/08/2020

Last Updated: 31/08/2020

Note: For reasons of anonymity pseudonyms have been used

In May 2020 I was contacted by a gentleman named Nathan from Virginia, USA who wanted to discuss his numerous contact and UFO experiences which have taken place since childhood. As part of our discussion he informed me of his military career as part of aircraft maintenance on a number of Air Force bases. Of particular interest was the fact that he was one of the many witnesses of the Phoenix Lights incident - one of the most impressive UFO related events to have ever taken place!

Due to the significance of this sighting I have seperated it out from his other experiences. There is a link to the case report covering his other experiences towards the end of this one. This report will focus specifically on Nathan's part in the events of 13th March 1997.

The Phoenix Lights

I will assume that many people viewing this report will already have a good knowledge of the incident, but if you do not, here is a brief summary of what took place.

At 6.55pm on the evening of the 13th March 1997 a man from Henderson in Nevada reported seeing a large V-shaped object with six lights on its leading edge travelling in a South Easterly direction. At around 8.15pm a police officer saw five reddish-coloured lights travelling South as he drove away from his house. Soon after this sighting reports began coming in from the area of Prescott. Some of these sightings reported that it was a singular solid object as it blocked out the stars as it passed over.

The first sighting from Phoenix occurred while the UFO was still over Prescott Valley. A family noticed the lights in the distance, thinking at first they were a formation of separate objects. As the lights got closer over the next ten minutes the witnesses realised they were attached to a huge V-shaped object. This passed overhead and travelled off in the direction of Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport.

As the object flew over Phoenix many other witnesses would watch in awe as the incredible sight. It was seen from the ground by many residents and police officers, and from the air by numerous pilots. Many people have come forward in the years following the incident to describe what they witnessed. One such person was the governor of Arizona, Fyfe Symington, who famously brushed off the incident while in his position, but years later came out to say he had also observed it and that he believed it to have been alien in origin.

Fyfe Symington, the governor of Arizona at the time of the incident:

Fyfe Symington, governor at the time of the incident

After the UFO had left the area of Phoenix it continued on a South-Easterly course towards Tuscon. Some of the last reported sightings of it came in from the North Western outskirts of the city.

Drawing of the UFO based on witness testimonies

Map showing the locations of various witness reports:

Map showing the locations of various sightings

Hours later at around 10pm a curved line of glowing lights was observed and video-taped by numerous witnesses. This caused much confusion and some witnesses attributed the lights to the same object which had passed over the city earlier in the evening.

It was later proposed, and widely accepted, that these lights were caused by military flares which were dropped by four A-10 Warthogs during a training exercise going on behind a nearby mountain range. Some feel that the flares were dropped on purpose to aid in the cover up of the initial incident. Unfortunately there are very few videos or photographs reporting to show the UFO which had passed over Phoenix hours earlier, most likely because people were awestruck watching it.

Still from the most well-known video footage of the lights seen at 10pm

Nathan’s Sighting

Between February 1997 and June 1999 Nathan worked as an Airbourne Intelligence Analyst at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, five miles South East of Tuscon. He and his wife moved to the city before he began his active service on the base. In the run up to the incident he happened to have taken a week off, and on the 13th March he and Gemma had been out shopping in Phoenix.

Aerial map of Davis-Monthan AFB

Aerial map showing Davis-Monthan AFB at Tuscon (A) and Phoenix (B)

In the evening they began the drive back home to Tuscon along Highway 10, the main road that leads between the two cities. It was very dark as there were no streetlights. There were quite a few other vehicles on both sides of the road. On either side was flat open desert, with some low hills to the North East.

Initially Nathan put on some music, but after a while switched to radio. It was between 8.30 and 9pm when he and Gemma started to hear talk of the lights which had been seen over Phoenix. Intrigued by what they were hearing, Nathan decided to pull over the car on the hard shoulder and get out to see if he could spot anything in the sky. Gemma remained in the passenger seat.

Aerial map showing the position on Highway 10 where Nathan stopped the car

It was pitch black but also clear, with the stars visible overhead. At first he could not see anything. But then in the distance to the North East he suddenly noticed a star disappear in the sky. As he watched another star then disappeared a little further to his right. He began to make out a huge black shape travelling in a South Easterly direction. It looked like a wide and flattened V-shaped wedge. As it moved it blocked out the stars as it went, which is the way in which it was visible against the night sky. On the leading edge of the object he thought he could see numerous white star-like lights.

Photograph from the sighting location in the direction the UFO was seen

When asked to describe the object, Nathan said it looked like “a black knife or sliver moving against a black background. It had a V shape cut out of the back, so not a perfect triangle. On the edge you are wondering if you can see lights or stars. It looked like one solid object from my angle. No sound, just the sound of the highway. The bottom had a rippling effect like waves which made it really hard to see against the dark sky.”

Nathan was stunned at the sheer size of the object. It looked about 1.5 times the size of a football pitch, although it was hard to judge this accurately from his location. He thought to himself “This can’t be one of ours!” He felt that it would almost certainly be classified, and because of his military background he felt uneasy about mentioning the fact he could see it to Gemma. He just kept his mouth shut and did not tell her.

Witness drawing of the UFO

The same drawing overlaid on top of the sighting location photograph to give an idea of scale

He watched the object drift slowly across the sky for about 5 minutes. Gemma was also looking out for the object but from inside the car. Perhaps due to the car window or he reduced viewing area she could not see it.

Aerial map showing Phoenix (A), Tuscon (B), the sighting location (C) and the path of the UFO

In the end Gemma exclaimed “Let’s go, I don’t see it!” At this point Nathan decided to get back in the car. He did not tell her that he had witnessed the object as he felt it was something which would be classified top secret. He continued the remainder of the journey home without further incident.

In the following days Nathan looked into what had occurred. He rang up a number of his friends on the base and found out that many people around Phoenix had witnessed the object. One of his contacts confirmed to him that there had been no military aircraft in the air at that time which could have accounted for what was seen.

Nathan knew from that moment that what he had seen was not human in origin. He says the size of it was just too large, there would be no reason for us to build something so massive. He has been fascinated by the Phoenix Lights incident ever since, and still seeks answers regarding what exactly was observed that night.

Sighting Analysis

Even though he did not see the object fly right overhead it is clear that what Nathan witnessed was the UFO which had previously flown over Phoenix. The direction it was heading in puts it right on the flight path which has been mapped out from many other sighting reports, and the huge size of the object matches many of the other testimonies.

Strangely some of the sightings reported a formation of separate glowing lights rather than a single object, however there are far more which report the later. It is possible these particular witnesses were observing a formation of jets sent up to intercept it, confused by the flare dropped which occurred later, or were simply mistaken.

Because of his background of working on numerous air force bases, Nathan knew that this was not a normal aircraft of any kind. While observing it he distinctly felt that this was something he was not supposed to be witnessing, which lead to him not informing his wife about what he could see.


Nathan is just one of hundreds of witnesses who have testified to the Phoenix Lights incident. His views on what the object was echo my own – It is very likely that this was a huge and intelligently controlled craft. It was far too large to be a top secret military craft, and even if it had been there would have been no reason to fly it over a city in plain sight of so many people. Therefore it was most likely of extra-terrestrial origin. Nathan’s testimony now joins the many sightings already on the record regarding this compelling, on-going mystery.

It is fascinating that Nathan witnessed this event, seemingly by being in the right place at the right time, but has also had numerous other previous sightings and contact-related experiences. Could this merely be a coincidence, or was Nathan in some way lead to be on the main road between Phoenix and Tuscon that night? His other experiences have been written up in a separate case report. Click here to go to this report.

Copyright Dave Hodrien 2020



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