James and Fawn Clemens of Kingman, Ariz., the bright but fuzzy
amber light hanging above the northwestern horizon seemed odd.
It was 8 p.m., March 13, 1997, and the couple, both 42, were
in their yard.
Looking through binoculars, the Clemenses seemed
to see five intense orange lights, in a "V" formation, heading
southeast. Then reports began streaming into local law
enforcement agencies, media outlets and civilian UFO
Retired Northwest Airlines Capt. Trig Johnston
says an object the size of 25 airliners floated slowly and
soundlessly past his home in north Scottsdale. "It was the
most incredible thing Ive ever seen," he told Readers
Digest. A 43-second videotape, recorded at 8:28 p.m. by a man
in north Phoenix, shows five white lights in a "V" formation.
At 8:30 p.m. the cockpit crew of an America West 757 airliner
at 17,000 feet near Lake Pleasant, Ariz., noticed the lights
off to their right and just above them.
"Theres a UFO!" co-pilot John Middleton said
kiddingly to pilot Larry Campbell. They queried the regional
air-traffic-control center in Albuquerque, N.M. A controller
radioed back that it was a formation of CT-144s flying at
Overhearing this exchange, someone
claiming to be a pilot in the formation radioed Middleton.
"Were Canadian Snowbirds flying Tutors," a man
The Canadian Snowbirds are the elite air-show
performance team of the Canadian air force. Snowbird pilots
fly CT-144s, a two-seat training jet nicknamed the Tutor,
which has a single landing light in its nose.
Michael Perry, squadron logistics officer for the Snowbirds,
denied that any of his planes were in Arizona that month. "We
dont travel in a V-shaped formation, and we dont cruise with
landing lights on," he told Readers Digest.
at Luke AFB in Phoenix, Nellis AFB in Las Vegas and Edwards
AFB in Rosamund, Calif., all denied that any of their planes
were responsible for the sightings. FAA officials profess to
be baffled. "We dont have any knowledge of the incident,"
says Martin Hardy, the Phoenix air-traffic-control
Was it a secret military exercise, an
elaborate hoaxor something else? The mass sightings of
whatever flew over northern Arizona that night have added new
fuel to the UFO controversy.