New information alleged in 1997 'Phoenix Lights' UFO case

New information alleged in 1997 'Phoenix Lights' UFO case
February 16, 2009
Steve Hammons
American Chronicle

(This article originally appeared on the Joint Recon Study Group site.)

Interesting new information has surfaced in an online discussion forum about the March 13, 1997, events in Phoenix, Arizona, that has come to be known as the Phoenix Lights incident.

Whether the information reported in the online posts is accurate, or has some elements of truth or inaccuracies combined, is unclear at this time.

On the site, a person using the log-in identifier name "Topol-M" and signing with the letters "AL" states that he was in the Air Force and stationed in Arizona at the time of the Phoenix Lights incident.

He states that through his own direct knowledge and accounts from trusted Air Force associates, he has information about the situation that is not widely known.

His statements, if accurate, provide significantly more insight into the incident.

His first post on the discussion forum was Jan. 18, 2009, and his last, so far, appears to have been Jan. 29, 2009.


"Topol-M" or "AL" posted is original comments post on Jan. 18 in his discussion thread called "Phoenix Lights ... My Story ..."

He wrote, "Greetings. It has been nearly 12 years since the incident known as the 'Phoenix Lights' was shown around the world, nearly 12 years that something has been burning inside of me. When the official explanations of the incident were released (mainly the story about Maryland ANG [Air National Guard] A-10 'Flares' story), myself and everyone else that had anything to do with the incident itself were deflated, as we knew it was false."

He continued, "In short, on the night of March 13, 1997, USAF personnel stationed at both Luke AFB in Glendale and Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson were a bit scared, as something was occurring over the skies of central and southern Arizona that night, and the on-duty personnel at both bases had no idea what it was."

For those not familiar with Arizona, Luke Air Force Base is located on the far western side of the metropolitan Phoenix "Valley of the Sun." It is primarily a training base for F-16 fighter planes. The based is named after Frank Luke, a daring combat pilot in World War I.

"Topol-M"/"AL" explained further: "That night, Luke AFB scrambled two F-16Cs from the 56th Fighter Wing, however, these aircraft were not vectored southwest of Phoenix towards the source of the lights, but directly south towards Tucson. What is known further, is that less than 10 minutes later, a second set of F-16Cs from the 56th were also scrambled and sent southeast."

He added, "Radio reports from the first flight of aircraft indicated something 'odd' was occurring, however the pilots never gave any indication or specifics (in the open at any rate), as to what that was. Both flights were kept away intentionally from the lights being seen near the Estrella range."

The Sierra Estrella (Star Mountains) Range is located in generally the southwestern corner of the Valley of the Sun.

"It was obvious to all with access that there were other aircraft in the area, with orders to drop flares (whether this was the Maryland ANG is unknown)," wrote Topol-M/AL. "It was felt that this was indeed a 'deception' measure to keep curiosity focused on one space in the sky, as flares were never used that far north of the Goldwater training range (as any Luke personnel can tell you, if they were, there would be weekly 'Phoenix Lights' incidents)."

The Barry M. Goldwater Range is a training range southwest of metropolitan Phoenix, near the Mexican border. According to, the range "serves the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps as an armament and high-hazard testing area; a training area for aerial gunnery, rocketry, electronic warfare, and tactical maneuvering and air support; and a place to develop equipment and tactics."

Topol-M/AL continued his story: "The next morning, wing intelligence units at both Luke and Davis-Monthan were scrambling to compile information. No one knew what had occurred the night before, but for some top officers that were summoned in during or just after the incident, there was an element of anxiety (I would not say fear, though many were disconcerted)."

"The 'hush' order took a few days to trickle down, but it was not a complete wash-up. Because of the sheer amount of public scrutiny, focusing on the 'flares' video and photos allowed for a convenient and plausible explanation. Few in the mainstream press talked about the 'other' sightings that night, focusing on the large triangular craft that had passed over the Phoenix metro area, the outskirts of Tucson, and over Fort Huachuca before slipping in to Mexico," he wrote on

U.S. Army Fort Huachuca is a major intelligence training center located southeast of Tucson. It is also the home of the Buffalo Soldiers and was a major post in the fights against the Apaches.

He also explained that, "Neither did anyone mention the F-16s at all. Even though we KNOW there were numerous civilian witnesses to the scrambles (and even a few mentions here and there), NO ONE in the media asked what we all hoped they would, if this entire incident was just 'flares' dropped from ANG aircraft, why then were four F-16s in the air that night, with one pair flying all the way to the Mexican border before turning back to Luke?"

Topol-M/AL seems as interested, and as puzzled as many other people when he wrote, "The incident has quietly fallen down the memory hole for most, but not for many USAF personnel close to the incident that night. There is a considerable amount of information that was never leaked, and for an incident of this magnitude, the mind boggles as to why ..."


Naturally, others who discuss unconventional topics on found Topol-M/AL's account very interesting and several posted questions and comments.

On Jan. 20, 2009, Topol-M/AL elaborated on his first posting: "Gentlemen (or ladies). To begin with, I would like to state a few personal facts before I expand upon my original post. First, I am in no way a 'fanatic' when it comes to UFO or paranormal phenomenon. At least, until that March evening in 1997, and even then, I tried to look to Occam's Razor as a source of comfort, alas knowing what I knew about that night, no simple explanation was forthcoming."

According to, "Occam's razor, also Ockham's razor, is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory." In other words, it is sometimes interpreted to mean that the most simple and most obvious answer or theory may be preferred over a more complex theory.

In his post, Topol-M/AL also pointed out, "Second, I am now retired from active duty from the United States Air Force. I will provide further information, but wish to be discreet as possible. While no one in my unit was ever specifically threatened, we were 'encouraged' to stick with the official story, not in an ominous way mind you, but merely had the 'facts' hammered home. We all received the message that was relayed."

"Yes, I was stationed in Arizona at the time. No I am not comfortable to give any further personal information than that (rank, unit). I will separate what I know below as 'fact' that knowledge gained from firsthand experience and 'alleged' that knowledge gained through trusted sources (friend in other units, other bases)."


Topol-M/AL then gives an interesting account of "firsthand" reports to him. "Facts: On the night of March 13th, 1997, an alert klaxon [audible alarm] sounded at Luke, orders for two armed aircraft to perform an immediate take-off to 10,000 feet, and head south-east towards a radar sighting north of Casa Grande, Arizona."

"The first two aircraft, from the 56th Fighter Wing (310th Fighter Squadron), were armed only with 2x AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles and 20mm Vulcan cannons each. Once the flight was airborne, the flight leader called in that something 'odd' was occurring after he picked up a radar contact a few thousand feet below, and several miles ahead of his position. His radar was showing 'clutter' common to stand-off jamming."

"This led to two further F-16Cs from the 56th, that were being fueled and armed since the first flight was launched, being sent up. This pair, in addition to the armament as above, also carried 2x AIM-7M Sparrow medium range missiles as well," Topol-M/AL wrote.

"They were also vectored south-east towards Flight 1 (now over Marana, AZ and approaching Tucson) on full afterburner. Flight 1 leader was able to regain radar contact on something large and low that was beginning to accelerate rapidly. Flight 1 lost the contact approximately 7 miles south of Tucson, and was ordered to proceed close to the border and try to regain contact."

"Once Flight 1 lost radar contact, Flight 2 was ordered back to Luke (Flight 2 had just approached the Tucson area). Once Flight 1 was on station, attempts were made to re-establish radar contact to no avail. After 10 minutes or so, Flight 1 was ordered back to Luke. ALL of this occurred as the 'flares' were being taped and photographed south-west of Phoenix. No aircraft were vectored to that area to investigate."

"Alleged Facts: Further scramble of aircraft was initiated from Nellis AFB, Nevada (prior to the Phoenix sighting) and Holloman AFB, New Mexico (around 10 minutes after the Flight 1 scramble from Luke). F-16s from Nellis, no word on aircraft type from Holloman (at the time it was the only F-117A 'Stealth Fighter' base, with the Luftwaffe having a training squadron of Tornado aircraft, neither would have been used on an intercept mission)."

He continued, "Towers at several locations had tapes of the 'event.' Radar at Luke and Davis-Monthan were picking up low level 'noise' on several frequencies, similar to what had happened to Flight 1. This 'noise' was consistent with active wide-spectrum jamming."

"It was highly unusual for this to occur in an area that did not have that type of (jamming) training environment (nearest place this was done was at the Nellis AFB range)."

"According to many in the know, something physical was in the sky that night, with radar data providing the primary source of evidence. That 'something' entered Mexican airspace and promptly disappeared. Maximum recorded speed was at Mach 1.8 past Tucson nearing Fort Huachuca."

According to Topol-M/AL, "The next day, intelligence units at both Luke and Davis-Monthan were abuzz. No one knew what had occurred, other than something physical was in the sky, an intercept was attempted, and there were thousands of eye-witness accounts (many of these being the flares)."

"Orders were apparently given for a flare-drop near Phoenix by a unit returning from the Goldwater range. This was considered highly odd to say the least, as that order was given while the main event was unfolding. These aircraft were likely A-10s."

"Other than that, all I have is a lot of second-hand hearsay. Mainly stories people would tell while drinking, etc. The above information is from myself, and from close friends whom I trust a great deal. Other than the above, I would not speculate further, as it would take away from the facts and only fuel sensational speculation," wrote Topol-M/AL.

"Why I post this on ATS? I came across ATS a few years ago out of curiosity, and started to read it about once a month (never posted). There are a lot of good, level-headed people here (and a fair share of 'eclectics'), but I believed this would be the best way to post the information for people to digest."


Also on Jan. 20, Topol-M/AL logged in on to answer a few questions. In response to a questioner who wondered about the apparent contradiction that the incident was kept quite secret on the Arizona air bases, yet they were "abuzz," and about the nature of the intelligence units he referred to, Topol-M/AL replied, "When I stated that Air Force Intelligence was 'abuzz' not knowing what happened, I am referring to the Wing intelligence units at Luke and Davis-Monthan AFBs."

"These are standard units attached to all wings and squadrons in the USAF, mainly dealing with threat assessment, OPFOR planning, and other day to day activities. These are not 'specialized' intel units that you would normally see dealing with these kinds of events."

"The orders that were given for the flare drop would have had to have been very high up, probably even officers outside the Luke and Davis-Monthan chain of command," he wrote. "For the average intelligence personnel working on the bases, this event was no doubt 'above their pay grade' and security clearance."

He responded to another question about why he waited so long to comment on a platform such as the forum.

"Because I did not wish to come forward while still actively serving, to do so would have added additional complications that could have had an adverse affect on my career."

"Why now? Because I am no longer serving, and for the past few years there has been an increasing amount of talk among those I have served with about other, more recent, UFO incidents, but we always come back to the 'Phoenix Lights' event."

Topol-M/AL wrote, "My desire to find the truth was reignited quite recently due to a conversation with a good friend who was also stationed with me in Arizona at the time, and so the past few weeks I have been digging up all I can on the story, and finding out what new developments or disclosures have occurred since. Surprisingly, aside from Symington's, very little is out there ..."

He is referring to former Arizona governor Fife Symington, who was governor at the time of the Phoenix Lights incident. Symington, a former Air Force officer and pilot, later admitted he saw the huge craft over Phoenix and did not believe it was man-made.


On Jan. 29, Topol-M/AL logged in to write, " ... my sincerest thanks for your input and opinions. I do believe there is far more to be told about this story, I also believe it is the single most credible event in recent history, simply due to the overwhelming evidence that something did occur that evening ..."

He noted, "Regarding the reports of activity in the 8 pm - 9 pm time frame [when the large craft was spotted over Phoenix], in all honesty, I was not present during that time, and the base showed no signs of outward alert. The only aircraft in the air at the time would have been a few F-16s returning from training missions."

"After 9 pm, activity around the base picked up, mainly via air control radar, as reports of 'something' in the skies were filtering in, however the scramble did not occur until much later."

Regarding a question about the alert klaxon that Topol-M/AL mentioned, he wrote that it "is basically an alert warning that goes off in ready-intercept quarters. Usually, most regular USAF installations in the US (especially those close to border areas), will have two aircraft in a 'ready alert' posture, armed and ready to get airborne in a few minutes after the initial alarm is sounded."

"At Davis-Monthan in Tucson, F-16 units rotate in from around the nation (though a mainstay is the Montana ANG), taking over the alert role (prior to 9-11, this was mainly interdicting drug smuggling aircraft), Luke would also perform this role."

"The alert aircraft being scrambled is not uncommon. Anytime a small aircraft that is unidentified violates southern Arizona airspace, and does not answer radio hails, we will scramble fighters to intercept and ID the 'bogey.' What was unusual about that night were the contact reports from the first flight, and a second scramble of two additional aircraft. This is simply unheard of in day to day intercepts. This was by no means one of those ..."

He added, "I don't know much about the 'V' shaped aircraft sightings over Phoenix in the 8-9 pm time frame, other than what I have read elsewhere. I did not witness this phenomenon personally, or talk with anyone who did."

"However, I do know that USAF aircraft were chasing down something that night they could not positively ID, either on radar, or visually. Massive electronic interference occurred, knocking out the F-16s BVR (Beyond Visual Range) capability, forcing the fighters to close at short-range. After brief contact, the 'bogey' accelerated close to mach 2, and dashed south-southwest into Mexico."

He also speculated that, "The likelihood of this being a civilian aircraft is nil IMHO. The size of the object, electronic interference, and speed of mach 1.8 simply rules that out. If it was a military aircraft on a test run, then I would echo the sentiments of others, why test it over a major metropolitan area?"

"Keeping the majority of the USAF in the dark, and causing a scramble to test stealth effects and jamming capabilities would make sense. However you can do that well away from a major population center, and be able to keep it quiet afterwards," Topol-M/AL noted.

He concluded his last (so far) post with the comment, "This ... well it simply does not have a rational explanation, and I am a VERY rational person. I don't go around looking for the unexplained, I deal with facts and tangibles. This event has left me mystified for nearly 12 years ..."

So what are we to make of the claims of Topol-M/AL on

It seems evident on the surface that he has knowledge of Air Force activities in general and those in Arizona in particular. His statements seem to make sense. His manner appears logical and reasonable.

If his statements are true, Topol-M/AL has added a significant amount of information that helps shed more light on the Phoenix Lights incident.

NOTE TO READERS: For more information, click here to visit the Joint Recon Study Group and Transcendent TV sites and have a look around.
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