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Does it require faith to believe in extraterrestrials?





SpaceInvader75
I would assume that it does. I know that there is evidence of UFOs, which the governments always seem to deny, but that is probably another topic. But just because an object is not identified, does not mean it is extraterrestrial. Maybe it does not take faith to consider the possibility is very likely that life exists somewhere else besides earth, so I should say "Does it require faith to believe earth has or is currently being visited by extraterrestrials"?

Now, as a skeptic, I found some very interesting questions being asked by the people that do believe that extraterrestrials have visited earth. I might ask the same thing of them that I ask of people who believe that we were visited by god. "If they have such technology to visit us, why do they seem to be hiding most of the time?"

I actually felt very strange, the first time I watched some documentaries, something like "The Phoenix Lights" or (to a lesser extent) "Ancient Aliens" and actually thinking that these things could be possible. That doesn't mean there's any real evidence for them; I'm just surprised that it actually somewhat made sense to me.

It is rather interesting that numerous military pilots supposedly witness things that they don't believe could be human technology, but I suppose (assuming they had no motive to lie) the key word is still belief. It is difficult to explain events like "The Phoenix Lights", without thinking that at least, something unexplained happened. Granted, it may be a big step to assume from there that it was an extraterrestrial.

I never thought I would seriously consider this, but it does seem to me there is more "evidence" in extraterrestrials than there is in religious matters. I will be quick to point out this is merely my opinion. I suppose in reality there is probably not evidence for either one.
badai
You damn right!! Ask any Scientologist. It require faith (and money) to believe in UFO.
CHAOS-THEORY
i wish i could read all what you wrote with both eyes open :OOO
spinout
Ok, let say you, as an alien of some sort, have travelled a long distance from another part of the universe or even another universe . Why would you not show yourself??

As I can see it the only valid stance would be "Why land in a dump!".
Would you land in a dump like this, mostly wars here? Ok, there could be mono-gold or similar metal but that is all gone today...

Ok, you could also have the agreement with other aliens to not interfare life on the surface but you could take samples (humans) for testing. This craves many types of aliens and some to protect the Earth... But if any hostile aliens come along the humans have a unknown defender!

Let say there are a not human civilization on earth, that we not know of that are packing big guns... we could have the same phenomena. Perhaps like the videos of reptilians hiding in caverns. Rolling Eyes
Well, well - all is hiding it semms like Laughing

Ok, as I can see it the "dump" idea is not so adequate maybe cos it will be a one timer to clean us out - SO -> the reason for not landing must be some other aliens not wanting you to land!!!
Ankhanu
There are really two basic questions at play and they are rather different beasts in terms of faith/rationality, I think: 1) is there extra-terrestrial life, and 2) is extra terrestrial life visiting Earth (and associated cover up beliefs)?

In terms of #1, faith may apply. I mean, I believe that extra-terrestrial life is quite probable, and likely to the point that I'm pretty confident in saying that the chances that we're alone being pretty much nil. This isn't a faith-based belief, it's a probability-based belief. However, one can reach the same point based on nothing but blind faith, rather than reason/statistics.

#2, on the other hand, I think is a heavily faith-based position. Granting that extra-terrestrial life is a thing that exists, Earth-visitation, government coverups, abductions, Terran-life engineering, and all the other things associated with alien visitation is all based on conjecture, the unknown, hope, a desire for it to be true... just like other faith-based positions. The "evidence" is circumstantial at best, just like with other faith positions. Basically, without actual evidence, there's no reason to believe it's actually happened, and the statistics are stacked against it (not that improbability itself is evidence against something).
Indi
SpaceInvader75 wrote:
I actually felt very strange, the first time I watched some documentaries, something like "The Phoenix Lights" or (to a lesser extent) "Ancient Aliens" and actually thinking that these things could be possible. That doesn't mean there's any real evidence for them; I'm just surprised that it actually somewhat made sense to me.

It is rather interesting that numerous military pilots supposedly witness things that they don't believe could be human technology, but I suppose (assuming they had no motive to lie) the key word is still belief. It is difficult to explain events like "The Phoenix Lights", without thinking that at least, something unexplained happened.

I'm not familiar with any documentaries on the Phoenix Lights, but i have seen some of Ancient Aliens. Before considering them as a source, you should be aware of four things:
  1. Nobody on that show has any real expertise on any of the fields they speak so authoritatively on. Not one of them. They're all authors, not historians, anthropologists, or anything remotely similar. That famous image of the guy with the wild hair speaking so authoritatively on the evidence for aliens in history? He's a Swiss author whose degree is in "sports communication". Once in a while they'll pop an "expert" on a particular topic on... but it's never an actual expert who is known or respected in the field - it's just some dude who studied the topic on his own.
  2. They do not provide anything even remotely resembling a balanced, reasoned perspective. No skeptical viewpoint is ever seriously presented or considered. Contrary evidence - even when there is a ton of it and even when it is obviously conclusive - is simply not shown.
  3. They routinely present baseless assertions and wild speculations as if they were conclusions of reasoning processes, and then build further theories on top of these shoddy foundations. (Watch carefully, it's pretty blatant. They will often point out some weak and strangely interpreted "evidence", then say "it may be that...", while making a huge leap in logic that they never justify. I could do the same. I could point to someone's post that's hard to understand, then say, "it may be that this is the work of an alien being, who is not familiar with our language." (Of course, it's more likely due to someone simply not knowing English very well... but if i wanted to sell you on the idea of ancient aliens, i wouldn't point out that obvious interpretation.) Another line i see used often is "ancient astronaut theorists think that...". You know the qualifications you need to be an "ancient astronaut theorist"? A fertile imagination and a complete lack of shame - that's it.)
  4. They often flat out lie. They present long-disproven and discredited evidence and theories, and sometimes even make shit up wholesale. I mean literally fabricating "ancient" artifacts with so-called ancient astronauts depicted on them, but usually just photoshopping the images of them they put on the show. Of course they also make up the "theories" (which are not scientific theories, but rather just wild speculation fit to a narrative).

To put it bluntly, you'll get better history from watching Stargate series than you will from Ancient Aliens.

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As for the general "evidence" of sightings of aliens, there is a startling fact about these kinds of witness testimonials. I'm going to tell it to you, and you're not going to believe it - no one ever does. But if you ever have the time and resources, pick one of these sightings that you think has strong evidence, and dig. I mean really dig - don't bother with secondary sources, go find the original eyewitness testimony and all the other evidence collected at the time. You are going to be shocked at what you'll find.

As i say, you won't believe me when i say this, but whenever you hear one of these stories of eyewitness testimony, it's almost never true. Yes, even when there are "hundreds" of witnesses who all "saw the same thing". Yes, even when it's "well-documented". It defies common sense - there's so much written on these events, and so many witnesses, and so much physical evidence... how could it all be bunk? I'm telling you, in virtually every single case you've heard about, there is an obvious banal explanation with a mountain of evidence, and the version you have heard is entirely made up.

I'm going to demonstrate with the case of the Phoenix lights. Now i'm only going to half-ass this - i don't have the time to waste on a detailed analysis of the evidence - but you're welcome to dig deeper if you think what i've found is wrong.

Let's go over the version you've heard, which i'm going to take from this source: on 13 March 1997, between 1930h and 2200h MST, thousands of witnesses in several cities observed the lights of a giant craft - possibly a mile or more in size and V-shaped - in the night sky. Several videos and photographs were taken. The Air Force dismissed the event as "flares", but this doesn't fit the facts, because the lights travelled for many miles - they didn't just fall - and they were seen hours before the planes that launched the flares were allegedly launched. Besides, many witnesses claimed they could see the actual shape of the object - it blotted out the stars, and you could see the lights of the city reflected off the bottom.

Wow. Sounds pretty convincing doesn't it? Now let's dig deeper.

The first thing you're going to find in cases like this is that the more time has passed since the event, the taller the tales have gotten. If you go back to what people said right at the time, rather than stuff they said when they were interviewed by TV producers and authors months or years later, there's a dramatic difference.

In this case, i found that all of the claims about details like the lights of the city reflecting off the bottom, or being able to see "people in windows" did not come from eyewitness reports made at the time. There were a few reports at the time that did claim to be able to vaguely see the shape of the object, but it was not clear, and there was wild disagreement about the size, shape, and altitude (some said it was as low as 30 metres... which strikes me as a bit problematic unless there are no 10-storey or taller buildings or towers in Phoenix) of the object. Most witnesses simply reported a cluster of lights - separate lights, not a single, big object.

The second thing you're going to find in cases like this is what i call the "pile-on of strange shit". You see, it will start with a single weird thing - strange lights in the sky... but as the story gets told and told again, new angles get added as just about anything remotely peculiar that happened at the time gets lumped into a single event. Eventually the story becomes this lumbering behemoth of tiny bits of unrelated, sketchy observations, but the proponents will insist that unless you can refute every single damn bit of it, you can't refute the overall story. It's like: "Dude, that strange red light in the sky? It was Mars." "Oh yeah, then how do you explain the fact that the Air Force scrambled jets at the time it was observed?" "The Air Force launches planes all the time, dude. It's kinda their thing." "You mean you seriously don't find it suspicious that they launch their planes at the same time a strange red light was seen?" You see, on their own, there's nothing remarkable about any of the individual things that happen - any single event is easily explained - but when you lump them all together as a single big thing, it becomes so unwieldy that you can't explain the whole mess without sounding like you're listing a bunch of "curious coincidences".

In this case, you can see pretty blatant examples of it in that description of the event. It's supposed to be about lights in the sky... but then there are sections about the Air Force launching fighter planes, witnesses mysteriously disappearing, and so on. Most of the extra junk is easily debunked on its own - for example, that page's wording is misleading, because it is not really true that "{a}n Air Force airman telephoned the National UFO Reporting Center"... what actually happened is a man CLAIMING to be an Air Force airman phoned them, with a dramatic tale of fighter planes intercepting the UFO, but never identified himself or provided any evidence of any of his claims, and dodged doing so by later claiming he was being transferred to Greenland. Yeah, nothing sketchy there. Anyway, all that extra noise drowns out the signal - the lights themselves.

Another side effect of the pile-on is confounding data - the proponents start throwing so much "evidence" onto the pile that they end up tripping over their own data, and misattributing or mixing stuff up. (Let's face it, properly collecting, managing, organizing, and interpreting data is not really their strong point.) There's a rather stark example of that here, but it's hard to see unless you read VERY carefully (or, do as i did, and check other sources). First, start with this bit: "The first reports {which the previous paragraph says came in around 7:30} indicated an object of six points of light, immediately followed by a report of eight connected lights, with a separate ninth, which moved in unison with the eight. The formation was seen again over the Gila River just before 10:00 PM." Did you catch that? In case you missed it, look closely at the times. The page glosses over it, but the reality is there was not one "incident" of strange lights in the sky there were two, and they were hours apart. The first involved six lights, the second involved nine. Why is this relevant? Well, later on in the page the author scoffs at the claim that the lights were flares because: "Secondly, many witnesses had made reports of the giant lights hours before the reported time of the launch of the flares." Hello!

Let me throw out this hypothesis: there were two different, unconnected incidents of lights in the sky on 13 March 1997. The first, involving six lights moving southeast, started sometime around 1930h and ended sometime around 2030h - this is the one that supposedly seemed solid, with windows and such. The second, involving nine lights that seemed to hover over Phoenix while moving first east then changing direction to southward, started sometime around 2200h and ended sometime around 2230h. The flare planes were launched sometime shortly before 2200h, so obviously they can't be used to explain the first set of lights... but the second would. And it turns out that when people analyzed all the evidence, they found that a) the location of the second set of lights was over the Air Force's training grounds, b) the colour and intensity of the lights match military flares perfectly, and c) the flight path of the lights matches the wind perfectly. You can also see in the many videos of this event that the lights move independently. At this point, the first incident is still a mystery, but it seems pretty obvious that the second incident was the flares.

Now take a look at the photograph on that page, and count the lights. Looks like nine, eh? You're looking at a photograph of flares.

Okay, the second incident is easily explained, but what about the first, with the six lights? Well here's the thing: all this alleged photographic and video evidence of the Phoenix lights... it turns out that virtually all of it is from the second incident... which we've just shown is pretty easily explained by the flares. There is next to zero physical evidence from the first incident. Which really takes the air out of all the hype about how well-documented this event was. The confusion is caused by attempting to pile-on evidence to explain the first set of lights - the one that really is mysterious - and you end up with a pile of evidence... that is mostly irrelevant, because it's all of the second, easily explainable event.

So by this point, we've debunked at least half of the actual Phoenix lights event - by breaking it into two events and explaining the second one - and we've shown that virtually all of the evidence either appeared long after (as people embellished their stories), or is not really evidence at all (it's pictures and videos of the second set of lights - the flares). Still though, there is a mysterious incident left... the first set of lights. What about that? Can that be explained?

Yes. Yes it can. Unfortunately, due to the lack of clear witness testimony and physical evidence, it's not as much a slam dunk as the explanation for the second set of lights. However, there was one witness - an amateur astronomer - who was the only witness who has come forward who actually had a telescope that night. Guess what he saw. Planes. A squadron of planes. He says he say the individual planes clearly despite the wispy cloud cover (remember that bit) through his telescope. So why haven't we heard that guy's evidence? Because when the media showed up in the town and called a meeting to get everyone's story, he was shouted down and silenced... and the media ultimately ignored him - ignored the only witness with a damn telescope.

Wait, how could people confuse a squadron of planes flying in formation for a single, huge object? It was the clouds. The clouds were just thick enough to block the stars, but just thin enough to let the aircraft's running lights through, and the ghostly glow of the lights through the clouds created an illusion (a well-known optical illusion, actually) of a shape connecting all the lights. Most people didn't fall for it (or the effect wasn't as pronounced when they saw the lights), but a few did. Is this plausible? Turns out it is... because the same damn thing happened in other cases where it was confirmed they were planes - people saw a bunch of lights and thought it was a single, huge object. The clincher? Only a single video of the first event is known to exist... and while it's very fuzzy it shows the lights are independent.

Unlike the flares, i can't provide evidence for this, because the first incident is so poorly documented. It's hard to conclusively refute claims that are so sketchy and vague. The second incident is much more clearly documented, and much easier to prove that it's just flares.

So let's summarize - and recall that this is allegedly one of the best documented and strongest pieces of evidence for UFOs:
  • The claims about being able to see an actual, solid craft - with windows and all - mostly came much later... when the media started giving attention to whoever had a yarn to spin. One or two witnesses claimed to see a vague shape (for the first incident), and that the stars were blocked out, but many more said flat out that they were just separate lights.
  • The alleged mountain of physical evidence is mostly red herrings - almost all of it is of the second set of lights, which has a clear and unequivocal explanation. The small bit of evidence of the first set of lights is of very low quality, but it clearly does not show a single, solid craft.
  • The clumped-together collection of events that is called "the Phoenix lights" is easily explained when you view each individual bit of weirdness on its own, and don't imagine relationships between events that aren't shown by the evidence. The first set of lights was probably a formation of planes flying through thin clouds. The second set was certainly military flares.
That was all done in about an hour or two of research on a slow Saturday morning. I have no doubt that if you dig deeper you will find much more bullshit in the claimed story. For example, i'd bet big money that if you checked military records you would find that exactly 9 flares were dropped that night, and there was no airman at the base who was transferred to Greenland. I bet if you looked hard enough, you could actually find the damn flight plans for all the planes involved.

The moral of the story is this: the plural of anecdote is not data. These kinds of stories that purport to be well-documented evidence of UFOs, or ghosts, or Sasquatch, or the Philadelphia experiment, or the Bermuda Triangle, or religious miracles... they're not well-documented. Or if they are, the documentation clearly points to a mundane explanation that just gets ignored by the people making TV shows or selling books. You will almost always find that witness testimony grows more lurid the longer it is after the event, and that several unrelated events have been lumped together. Never accept the version that a believer gives you, because it will almost certainly be horribly distorted.

Is it possible that extraterrestrials are buzzing Earth? Sure. But if you're looking for evidence that justifies believing that it actually happened, rather than simply resorting to faith, you're going to have to find better than this.
Bluedoll
SpaceInvader75 wrote:
I might ask the same thing of them that I ask of people who believe that we were visited by god. "If they have such technology to visit us, why do they seem to be hiding most of the time?"
Recently a comet visited our solar system and after going close to the sun came out as dust. Something is happening in the middle of the sun. It is very mysterious. No one is quite sure what is happening there. Is the sun hiding from us? I don’t think so.

You asked a question and many of the enormous mind blowing scholars of Frihost gave you a whole lot of info. What are they saying? THEY DON’T KNOW.
Indi
Bluedoll wrote:
Recently a comet visited our solar system and after going close to the sun came out as dust. Something is happening in the middle of the sun. It is very mysterious. No one is quite sure what is happening there. Is the sun hiding from us? I don’t think so.

Yes, a frozen ball of dirt passed within spitting distance of a raging, unshielded nuclear fusion reaction and only dust came out on the other side. Whatever could have happened? It's a mystery.

F**kin' magnets, man. F**kin' magnets.
SpaceInvader75
Quote:
Nobody on that show has any real expertise on any of the fields they speak so authoritatively on. Not one of them. They're all authors, not historians, anthropologists, or anything remotely similar. That famous image of the guy with the wild hair speaking so authoritatively on the evidence for aliens in history? He's a Swiss author whose degree is in "sports communication". Once in a while they'll pop an "expert" on a particular topic on... but it's never an actual expert who is known or respected in the field - it's just some dude who studied the topic on his own.


I agree that they are not scientists or historians, but usually in those documentaries the narrator says "What if..." . So they are not stating the possibilities as if they are facts. I understand this show has some wild claims, without any real evidence, but there were a few that I thought were very interesting. I will try to look up a little more information on them before posting.

Quote:
They routinely present baseless assertions and wild speculations as if they were conclusions of reasoning processes, and then build further theories on top of these shoddy foundations. (Watch carefully, it's pretty blatant. They will often point out some weak and strangely interpreted "evidence", then say "it may be that...", while making a huge leap in logic that they never justify.


I agree with this. I have noticed this about that particular show.

Now regarding the Phoenix Lights. I haven't had much time to do more study of it, but I will admit that the only photos and videos I have found so far do not look very impressive. I am in the process of researching it more, because I find it somewhat interesting that so many people thought they saw something. These people live right by an airforce base, and I think they would know what flares look like.

Supposedly, the air traffic controllers also witnessed this, and they did not know what it was. I haven't found it yet, but I remember seeing an interview with somebody from the Air Force, who would definitely know if it was flares or planes (one would assume). Not to mention that the Air Force denied everything at first. Then about a month later they said there were flares. And this kind of thing seems to happen very frequently, so it makes the military's credibility very suspect, in my opinion, when it comes to these kind of stories. If there was nothing going on, why did the Air Force deny that it was related to any Air Force activities? I also found a you tube video of a news story announcing that one of the authors who wrote about this has documents from the Air Force confirming that all the planes were grounded at that date and time.

Now, I understand none of this is hard evidence that even anything out of the ordinary happened, but I don't think it can be explained away as simply as flares and aircraft seen in the clouds.
Indi
SpaceInvader75 wrote:
I am in the process of researching it more, because I find it somewhat interesting that so many people thought they saw something.

That's not really as interesting as you'd think. You'd be flabbergasted by the number of "mass UFO sightings" that turn out to be just stars. In fact, in a famous study done on over 1000 "solved" UFO sightings by a UFO researcher (not a skeptic), over a third were stars and planets (the remaining ~2/3 were aeroplanes, satellites, meteors, the Moon (!), etc.). You'd be further shocked at the details and bizarre "estimates" people came up with when they were looking at stars - which include describing the shape of the "craft" the "lights" were mounted on, estimating the lights to be only a couple hundred metres above the ground, insisting that they were "darting around" and so on.

SpaceInvader75 wrote:
These people live right by an airforce base, and I think they would know what flares look like.

Is that what you would think? Why would you think that?

For the record, there's no reason whyy people in Phoenix would have ever seen a flare before. They don't drop them over Phoenix, after all. They use the huge Barry Goldwater proving grounds, which are 100+ km away from Phoenix and behind (several) mountains. (The Air Force is not into making their practices and exercises public spectacles for major cities, and there are laws against doing any kinds of drops or weapons testing near populated areas.) In fact, 32 flares were dropped that night. Only 9 were seen. Why were those 9 special?

Well, the planes that were doing the exercises dropped 23 flares normally starting from around 2130h - none of those were seen by witnesses because they were all dropped deep within the Barry Goldwater proving grounds, as flares normally are. When their exercises finished, they started to head back to Tucson. As they got to the northeastern edge of the proving grounds, they realized, "oh shit, we're not allowed to land with flares still on board". (Why didn't they know this beforehand? Ah, excellent question, which will be answered shortly.) So... they dumped the last 9 flares just as they were leaving the proving grounds. That's why the flares were visible from Phoenix, and that's why they were so unusual - contrary to what you think, no, people from Phoenix are not used to seeing flares.

And to hammer home the point of just how clueless the people of Phoenix are about flares....

The year after the Phoenix Lights incident, the Air Force - after having been irritated and hounded for months - repeated the events of the year before. Not only did they alert everyone beforehand, they actually challenged UFO researchers to witness it, and actively arranged with witnesses to set up their cameras in the same places they had been for the original event. Once again they dropped the flares on the edge of the proving grounds. Guess what happened.

If you guessed they were flooded with UFO reports again... good for you. (Bonus points if you also guessed that UFO proponents insisted these were UFOs, regardless of the fact that the Air Force told them beforehand that they were going to be flares.)

And it happened again (2007)... and again (2008)...! The "Phoenix Lights" have reappeared several times in the decades since 1997... mysteriously always coinciding with a flare drop or release of flare balloons.

SpaceInvader75 wrote:
Supposedly, the air traffic controllers also witnessed this, and they did not know what it was.

That's a misrepresentation based on half-truth. The air traffic controllers at Sky Harbor were surprised and confused by the event... but not for the reasons you suppose.

First, they knew they were flares. They knew that right off the bat, and said so in the interviews right after the event before the military even said they were flares. They never said otherwise.

So what was so confusing for them? Well, the problem was that they severely underestimated the distance to the flares. They were fooled by those ultra-bright military flares. They thought the flares were very close - possibly even over Phoenix itself. Their question wasn't "are aliens visiting us?" It was "who the ****** is dropping flares over Phoenix?" (Dropping flares over Phoenix would have been a violation of FAA law.)

To add to their confusion, they could see no planes on radar. Unbeknownst to them, the planes were flying from Barry Goldwater to Davis-Monthan, almost 200 km south of them... way past the limits of what their meagre little radar could pick up. But because they thought the flares were closer, they assumed the planes should be closer, which would have meant they would be visible on radar.

Their distance estimates were off; the flares were way further southwest - not even close to being over Phoenix - and the planes that dropped them were well out of range of their radar. But at the time, they thought they were looking at flares that had been dropped over Phoenix from invisible planes, and they were baffled.

SpaceInvader75 wrote:
I haven't found it yet, but I remember seeing an interview with somebody from the Air Force, who would definitely know if it was flares or planes (one would assume). Not to mention that the Air Force denied everything at first. Then about a month later they said there were flares. And this kind of thing seems to happen very frequently, so it makes the military's credibility very suspect, in my opinion, when it comes to these kind of stories. If there was nothing going on, why did the Air Force deny that it was related to any Air Force activities? I also found a you tube video of a news story announcing that one of the authors who wrote about this has documents from the Air Force confirming that all the planes were grounded at that date and time.

I can't speak for the US Air Force, but the Canadian Air Force wouldn't know where their left boot was from looking at their right boot, and i've heard the US Armed Forces are even more disorganized than we are. All these claims sound sinister - ooo, they "denied everything" - but they're all either exaggerations, or misrepresentations of what actually happened. And what actually happened was that the Air Force was mildly incompetent... as usual.

First, it is not true that the Air Force "denied everything". That is a gross exaggeration of what really happened. What really happened was that the Air Force had little to no interest in yet another UFO sighting - which, to them, was probably going to be just another wild goose chase. To put it bluntly, they didn't care. They found the whole thing to be an annoyance and just wished it would go away - which, really, is still SOP when it comes to dealing with UFO sightings. They didn't really bother to get off their asses until after the event became a sensation several weeks later, when it was reported in national news media in June or July.

Second: the truth is that right after the event, the Air Force was saying it was flares. The simplified story you've heard doesn't quite capture the real progression of the Air Force's story. Right after the event, the Air Force was saying it was planes and flares for a week or two. To them that was the only logical conclusion, given that the event apparently happened over their damn gunnery range. They didn't even bother to check, they just said "probably planes or flares", then hung up and went back to work. They probably figured that would be the end of it. Well, no, people kept hounding them for more answers, so the Air Force actually got off their asses and did some (some) digging... then they changed their story to "we don't know what it was, it wasn't any of our planes". That was the Air Force story for the next three or four months.

Basically, the Air Force was just groaning and trying to ignore the whole thing, hoping it would simply be forgotten, but of course they kept getting peppered with questions. Naturally they answered most with shrugs - "don't know", "no comment", and so on, while making some reassuring noises about how the skies were still secure and America was safe - but there were a handful of questions they could answer directly. One of them was "did you have any planes in the air at that time". That one they could answer, and they did: no, they had no planes in the air at the time. That was their official story for those months you're talking about.

Well, so it would have stayed, but for one particular Army/Air National Guard officer named Captain Eileen Bienz. Like her colleagues, she was being perpetually harassed by UFO fanatics for more information. However, while her colleagues were content with just shrugging off the questions with the usual "no comment" act, Beinz decided to actually do some digging.

What she found out was that the Air Force had been telling the truth - all of the planes belonging to both Luke AFB (northwest of Phoenix) and Davis-Monthan AFB (southeast of Phoenix, near Tucson) were on the ground at the time of the event...

...

... but not the planes belonging to the Maryland Air National Guard.

It's a classic military ****** up. The Air Force did the minimum amount of work necessary to find an answer for the question they were given. They were asked "were any of your planes in the air?" so they checked... their planes. They accounted for all their planes at Luke and Davis-Monthan - and, hell, maybe they even went the extra mile and checked all Air Force planes, period. They accounted for all of them, so, job done.

Bienz, however, was not Air Force... she was Air National Guard. She had the wherewithal to check whether anyone else besides the Air Force were in the area at the time... and lo: the Maryland Air National Guard was.

Now, you may be thinking... "Maryland? What the hell were they doing in Arizona?!?" Well, apparently the US Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard have this thing where they bring aircraft down from the northern areas during the winter. The program is nicknamed "Operation Snowbird". The Maryland group was there in Arizona for that reason in March - when the event happened - and they left just a week or two later to go back to Maryland.

So basically, when the Air Force started doing their half-assed "investigation" into whether the lights could have been their planes several weeks after the fact, they asked around Luke and Davis-Monthan: "Anyone here was flying that night?" Everyone answered no... because the Maryland group had already gone home. It wasn't till Bienz realized someone else had been there, and she chased down the Maryland pilots. She found them (back in Maryland), and they were quite baffled and surprised that they'd been totally forgotten by the Air Force - they just assumed the Air Force remembered they'd been there, and that they'd run that exercise. She checked their logs, and sure enough, they were the culprits.

And there it is. That's why there are official documents saying the Air Force had no planes in the air... because they didn't - the Maryland Air National Guard did. That's why the Air Force had no answers for months... because a half-assed check showed all of their planes accounted for, and nobody bothered to dig deeper for months. And - incidentally - that's also why the Maryland pilots dropped their flares so late... because they were not used to Davis-Monthan's rules about not landing with flares, so they didn't remember to drop them until they were right at the northeastern edge of the proving grounds.

Of course, if you carefully cherry pick the details to share, and make ominous implications - like "they denied everything" - the story sounds fantastic. But it's just the usual kind of bureaucratic ****** that happens during joint operations between branches of the armed forces.

Honestly, the whole Phoenix Lights thing is really just a bunch of pretty mundane miscommunications that all happened to occur at just the wrong time that night.

For example, the first set of lights - the group of 6 - was probably just a flight of Canadian Air Force stunt pilots passing over the area (which is why they were flying such a good formation). Note that? Canadian Air Force... which is why the US Air Force couldn't account for them. But during the incident, when people started reporting the strange lights, the air traffic control radio lit up with questions about "who are those lights?" The Canadians heard the chatter and realized it was them, so they responded with something like "it's just us, we're snowbirds" ("snowbirds" being Canadian slang for Canadians who come down to warmer climates when it's cold up north). Well, when the UFO researchers "checked" they found out that THE Snowbirds - the special Canadian acrobatic team - was nowhere near the area... OMG mystery! Explain that, skeptics! ... But it's not so - the Canadian pilot didn't say "we're THE Snowbirds", he said "we're snowbirds". (He may also have been referring to the fact that they were flying the same type of planes as the actual Snowbirds - they're not used anymore, but back in 1997, the Tutors the Snowbirds fly were standard training planes in the CAF.)

In fact, if we expand the exchange... what happened was a passenger airliner pilot saw the lights first, and - joking around - radioed to say there was a UFO. Actually, he was just curious - it was a formation flight of unfamiliar planes, so that's only natural. The air traffic controller didn't know who the lights were and they weren't showing up on their radar (more on that in a moment), so they phoned the regional ATC centre in Albuquerque to ask. They were told it was a formation of CT-144s at high altitude. Then the Canadians - hearing the exchange - realized it was them everyone was curious about, so they broke in and identified themselves.

But all that still leaves one mystery - why didn't the planes show up on radar? Unlike the A-10s that dropped the flares in the later event, the 6 planes in the first event were right over Phoenix, so why didn't they show up on radar? The answer is... they did. However... they showed up on the regional ATC radar... not Sky Harbor. To understand what's going on, you have to know a bit about how air traffic control works. The ATC at airports only handles local traffic - planes landing or taking off from the airport, or flying below their control ceiling (which, for Sky Harbor, was apparently 18,000 ft). Flyovers - planes just passing through a controlled airspace - are just ignored. (I could tell you a true story about that from when i was a kid, actually.) So long as the planes stay above the control zone, the airport ATC has no interest in them... instead they are tracked by regional ATCs. In the region near Phoenix, the regional ATC is in Albuquerque... not Sky Harbor.

There's another important factor, too. Unlike the real ATC centre at Albuquerque, most airports like Sky Harbor don't have a full radar. They have a small, weak radar for their immediate control zone, but mostly they rely on transponders. If your plane's transponder isn't turned on... they just don't see you. And, when you fly in formation, only the lead plane turns on their transponder - formations are treated as single planes while in flight. Since the planes were flying above the airport's controlled airspace zone, there was no reason to turn the transponders on. So if the lead plane of the Canadian formation didn't have their transponder on, Sky Harbor wouldn't see them... but Albuquerque would. And... that's precisely what happened.

But since all the "UFO researchers" didn't do their homework, they just checked with the local ATC - Sky Harbor - who, of course, had no records of the flight and no radar sightings, then cried "mysterious!". If they'd checked Albuquerque, they would have gotten the records of the flight.
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