The Hack and the Quack

Page 3 of 11

But someone got an even better view than Proctor and his video camera.
That night, Mitch Stanley and his mother were in the yard of their Scottsdale home, where Stanley has a large Dobsonian telescope.

He and his mother noticed the vee pattern approaching from the northwest. Within seconds, Stanley was able to aim the telescope at the leading three lights of the pattern.

Stanley was using a 10-inch mirror which gathers 1,500 times as much light as the human eye, and an eyepiece which magnified the sky 60 times, effectively transporting him 60 times closer to the lights than people on the ground.

When Stanley's mother asked him what he saw, he responded, "Planes."
It was plain to see, Stanley says. Under magnification, Stanley could clearly see that each light split into pairs, one each on the tips of squarish wings. Even under the telescope's power, the planes appeared small, indicating that they were flying high. Stanley says he followed the planes for about a minute, then turned his telescope to more interesting objects.

"They were planes. There's no way I could have mistaken that," he says.
The next day, when radio reports made Stanley aware that many thought they had seen something extraterrestrial, he told Jack Jones, another amateur astronomer, about his sighting. Jones later called both the Arizona Republic and Frances Emma Barwood. Neither called Jones or Stanley back.

Barwood says she passed on Stanley's name to Dilettoso's Village Labs, who didn't call the young man until New Times first reported his story in June.

Although hundreds of Valley residents saw the vee formation, the media have paid much more attention to a separate event that occurred later that night.

At 10 p.m., up to nine bright lights were seen to appear, hover for several minutes, and then disappear southwest of Phoenix in the direction of the Sierra Estrella. Video cameras at points across the Valley caught the string of hovering lights. All nine were visible from some locations, others saw fewer.

Mike Krzyston, from the yard of his Moon Valley home, captured all nine on video. "I hit pay dirt, finally!" he exclaimed as the lights appeared. "This is a major sighting!" said another videographer as he taped five of the lights.

In June, however, KPNX-TV Channel 12 reporter Blair Meeks filmed a drop of flares by military planes over the Air Force gunnery ranges southwest of Phoenix. The hovering lights looked remarkably like the 10 p.m. lights of March 13, and Meeks suggested it as a possible solution to that night's second event.

Within days, Tucson Weekly broke the news that the Maryland Air National Guard, in Arizona for winter training, had a squad of A-10 fighters over the gunnery range that night, and they had dropped flares. An Arizona National Guard public information officer, Captain Eileen Bienz, had determined that the flares had been dropped at 10 p.m. over the North Tac range 30 miles southwest of Phoenix, at an unusually high altitude: 15,000 feet. (Captain Drew Sullins, spokesman for the Maryland Air National Guard, says that the A-10s, which have squarish wings, never went north of Phoenix, so they could not have been responsible for the formation of planes seen at 8:30 p.m.)

Local UFO investigator Dick Motzer and others have shown that the initial appearance of the 10 p.m. lights, the number of lights seen from different elevations in the Valley, and the timing of the lights' disappearances all correspond well with flares dropped at high altitude beyond the Sierra Estrella.

But questions remain.
If Stanley saw that the 8:30 lights were airplanes, whose were they? And why did Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where the Maryland Air National Guard's A-10s returned that night, initially say it had no planes in the air at that time?

Krzyston and others who taped the 10 p.m. event insist that the 10 p.m. lights hovered in front of, not behind, the Estrella, where the gunnery ranges lie.

Most publicized objections to the 10 p.m. flares hypothesis have come from Jim Dilettoso, who claims that sophisticated tests performed at Village Labs show that the lights filmed by Krzyston and others could not have been flares--whatever caused the 10 p.m. event, Dilettoso claims, was like no source of manmade light.

Local and national media alike have found his statements irresistible.
While careful to tell the mainstream press that he makes no claims about extraterrestrials, that his research simply eliminates the possibility of flares, Dilettoso is perhaps feeling more bold as an increasing number of reporters seeks his opinions.

With all of the seriousness he could muster, he recently told Hard Copy: "These could be the most important events in 50 years."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tony Ortega
Contact: Tony Ortega