By Steve Hammons, Contributor

In the 1977 movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” the character of French researcher Claude Lacombe (based on Jacques Vallee), played by director and actor Francois Truffaut, tries to explain to a U.S. Army Special Forces officer why several civilians were brought to the secret temporary base at Devils Tower, Wyoming.

Lacombe says to the officer, “Major Walsh, it is an event sociologique." That is, it is a “sociological event” and the civilians are somehow part of it, Lacombe tells Walsh.

The same can be said about the situation in the mid-evening hours of March 13, 1997, in the Phoenix, Arizona, region. It also was, and is now, an “event sociologique.”

Sociology is the study of human social behavior, its origins, development, organizations and institutions.

The appearance of one or multiple very large objects or craft of some kind flying low and slow over the city triggered a sociological event in the Phoenix-area “Valley of the Sun” and throughout the U.S. and the world.

This was because hundreds or thousands of Phoenix-area residents reported witnessing the object(s) and called police, newspapers, local TV and radio stations, and reportedly, the nearby Luke Air Force Base on the west side of metro Phoenix. Local news coverage was quickly picked up by national and international media outlets and “the Phoenix lights” incident joined scores of other significant UFO cases.


Now, 17 years later, the award-winning documentary film “The Phoenix Lights” will be shown at a special presentation Sunday, March 16, 1 pm, at the Harkins Shea 14 theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event will also include speakers and discussions about the UFO phenomena and related research and discoveries.

The 2005 film by writer-director-producer Lynne Kitei, MD, in association with Steve Lantz Productions, is based on Kitei’s bestselling book of the same name.

Were the large objects or craft over Phoenix ours, “theirs,” some combination of the two or something even more surprising? If the objects were those of visitors from elsewhere, which visitors are involved? What were the reasons for the apparent flyovers that would clearly and dramatically be seen by so many Arizonans? Was the flyover meant to provide acclimation and orientation for the public?

These kinds of questions are sure to be considered and discussed at the upcoming showing of “The Phoenix Lights” film.

The questions of readiness and preparedness also seem relevant for public health and safety personnel as well as civilian and military pilots and air traffic controllers.

Many safety-related topics were addressed in the 1992 firefighter training book "Fire Officer's Guide to Disaster Control" by Charles Bahme and William Kramer. Although most of the book addresses conventional firefighter and public safety challenges, the authors also include a fascinating chapter titled “Disaster Control and UFOs."

The authors provide background and insight about the UFO phenomena and focus on safety issues in the section "Adverse Potential of UFOs." According to Bahme and Kramer, the two main dangers associated with UFO encounters include powerful, unusual energy fields and psychological effects.

They say that potential hazards include exposure to radiation as well as other energy fields, rays and beams. Physical injuries have been reported. In some cases, these energy fields are involved in the disruption of communications, vehicle and aircraft functioning, and power grid operations.

Psychological and emotional impacts can include disorientation, anxiety, confusion and a hypnotic or paralyzing state, according to the authors. Some researchers indicate that unusual feelings, perceptions, impressions or perceived communications can be associated with these kinds of situations.

In addition, we might consider that human neurological functioning could be affected. This could be intentional by use of some technology or inadvertently due to our proximity to quantum or anomalous natural energies associated with UFOs and certain other unusual phenomena.


There have been other significant UFO incidents before and since that evening of March 13, 1997, in the Phoenix area. Yet, the Phoenix lights case still stands out because of the large number of witnesses in a major city who reported clearly seeing a low-flying large object over an extended period of time.

In the Phoenix incident and beyond, the coordination of the UFO situation, along with other remarkable discoveries, probably involves extensive activities of many kinds. Among these activities, key goals probably include improving preparedness and readiness of the general public, news media, and public health and safety officials.

There has been reasonable speculation over the years that certain elements of the U.S. government and/or organizations related to the federal government may have been tasked with handling aspects of various unconventional phenomena, including UFOs.

In “Close Encounters,” the character of Major Walsh and other U.S. Army personnel are portrayed as being Army Special Forces (Green Berets) from the 5th Special Forces Group, as noted by the unit patches worn in the movie.

As many military history buffs know, Army Special Forces traces its roots back to the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

And, in a publicity photo from the set of the movie, Steven Spielberg (a Phoenix resident himself during his teenage years) is seen talking with Francois Truffaut while Spielberg is wearing a Vietnam War-era camouflage Army shirt with Army Special Forces shoulder patches clearly visible.

To some observers, these subtle factors raise questions about the involvement of Army Special Forces in unconventional activities associated with UFOs, assuming Spielberg had inside information.

In fact, the mysterious red-suited 12-person team in “Close Encounters” has even been linked to reports of a real-life exchange program.

And like the successful outcome of the special operation in “Close Encounters,” maybe the Phoenix lights incident and our continuing examination of it will also lead to similar important and helpful developments, and to a positive “event sociologique” for human race.

Arizonans attending the special showing of “The Phoenix Lights” film will be doing their part by learning more and sharing viewpoints about one of the most amazing UFO cases in recent years, and helping us prepare for what comes next.

About the event: The annual screening of the award-winning documentary film “The Phoenix Lights” is on Sunday, March 16, at 1 pm, at the Scottsdale Harkins Shea 14 Cinema, 7354 E. Shea Blvd. Tickets are available at the normal prices. Included in the event are special guests, Q&A sessions and book-signing. For more information, visit Harkins Theatres pages here and here or call (490) 948-6555. You can also visit The Phoenix Lights website.


Steve HammonsSteve Hammons


Hammons is a researcher, writer, journalist and novelist.

His novels “Mission Into Light” and the sequel “Light’s Hand” follow a secret investigative group of ten women and men as they delve into metaphysical mysteries that currently hold the interest of millions of people worldwide. 


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  •  Taeko: 

    The Phoenix Lights was a big ET show of force to the powers in Washington DC. In addition ET wanted civilians to see and report as they are opposed to all this secrecy.  The US government made a secret agreement with the extraterrestrials back in the 1950s in exchange for advanced technology.  President Eisenhower actually made it in person.  So the Pentagon took the goods but has done everything possible to break the agreement.  After all it is a secret so no human can make them keep it. But the ET intended to impress upon this secret government that there would be severe consequences if they did not start keeping there part of the agreement. 

    Then there is that exchange program.  It seemed far out when I first encountered it on the internet, but when I used it as a remote viewing target it proved to be true.  Twelve astronauts were sent to the Zeta Reticuli star system in 1965.  Eleven of them arrived at the home planet of the Zetas which they call Serpo in English. (One died of a gunshot wound in transit-I observed by RV.)   Two more died of flying accidents while on Serpo.  Two remained behind and are still alive there as ambassadors from the USA.  Seven of the Astronauts returned in 1978.  The Zetas encouraged them to tell us about their trip, but the US military made sure they did not.  However, they did talk to Carl Sagan who wrote a cryptic novel about this flight. (__Contact__  The book is different than the film.) Even Mr. Spielberg has become very negative about ET since his original __Close Encounters__.  


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