Best of Phoenix

Best of Phoenix 2020: A Longtime Arizona UFO Hunter Still Has His Eyes on the Skies

The truth is out there — and maybe in Phoenix.
The truth is out there — and maybe in Phoenix. Luster Kaboom
click to enlarge The truth is out there — and maybe in Phoenix. - LUSTER KABOOM
The truth is out there — and maybe in Phoenix.
Luster Kaboom

“Some of the things you see flying around in the sky are questionable,” says Jeff Willes. “It could be a Mylar balloon, or a military aircraft. I try to weed that stuff out.”

Willes has made a career of sorts out of weeding that stuff out. As a UFO hunter — Arizona’s first and original, he insists — he’s spent decades eyeing the skies in and around Phoenix. His vigilance has paid off with hundreds of hours of footage that show off strange things hovering in our heavens. Most of his discoveries are logged in video clips on a website,, and on a YouTube channel jammed with images of shiny objects dancing around in the sky.

He started early. “I moved to Phoenix in 1978 and I couldn’t believe how many flying objects are visible here. Phoenix is a good place for UFOs because there’s a lot of wide-open desert spaces where a spacecraft can move 100 miles this way or that way without bumping into stuff.”

One of many UFO hunters who spotted the infamous Phoenix Lights in March 1997, Willes has continued to document the return of those same boomerang-shaped craft in the years since. “I got video of them in 2005, and they came back with jumping lights and similar craft in 2006,” he says. “These spacecrafts are real interested in this part of the desert, for some reason.”

Alien abductions are totally a thing around here, Willes swears. “Those mainly occur from the Zeta Reticuli guys,” he explains. “Those are the beings with gray skin and big eyes, and we usually call them the Greys. The most common thread among abductees is the Greys take ovum and sperm, and sometimes they’ll show the woman a half-alien, half-human baby. So the theory is that the Zetas are doing a breeding experiment on us.”

Some of the mysterious things flying around up there, Willes says, are secret American military experiments and not little gray joyriders from other planets. And then there are the hoaxers, whose faked UFO videos and photos make a mockery of real UFO-hunting. “There’s even an app now that’s designed to help you make a fake UFO video,” he moans. “The fake flying saucer thing is getting a little out of hand.”

Willes thinks people are skeptical about the existence of life in other galaxies because aliens haven’t given us enough drama. Yet.

“They haven’t landed a fleet of vehicles on the White House lawn,” he says. “There hasn’t been a massive sighting of alien spaceships over every city that has stayed in the sky for 24 hours so the whole world could see it. Can you imagine what that would be like? Anyway, that would finally prove that UFOs are real.” ­
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela