Editor’s Note-March 13th is the anniversary of one of the most significant UFO events in history; The UFO Chronicles will underscore the event with various articles both past & present, throughout the month-FW
I’m from Seattle. I remember the reverberations in my lungs from the formations of WW II bombers flying over the city as a boy. I watched the B-47 & the B-52 fly out of Boeing Field when they were brand new. I learned the parts of airplanes by building models. I learned aerodynamics from gliders. I read about airplanes, and loved to watch the Beavers lift off of Lake Union trailing spray, with the sound of their Pratt & Whitney R-985 echoing off of Queen Ann Hill. I still do.
I began flying in late 1962, as soon as I could reach the rudder pedals and hitchhike to the closest airport which by then was Portland International. I earned my licenses & ratings at the minimum age. I washed/waxed airplanes, cleaned toilets, scrubbed hangar floors, flew skydivers, charters, dead bodies, radioactive pharmaceuticals anything to log more time to get the airline career that was my destiny. Flying is not what I do, its who I am.
My Airline Transport License bears type ratings in Convair 580, DC-9 and B-727. I have flown the DC-10 and B-747 as First Officer. I have logged over 12,000 hours of flying time. I know what flares don’t look like.
Airline pilots are accustomed to noting the time. Time off the block’s, time off the ground, the time over navigational fixes particularly over the ocean. Then there is the all important estimated time of arrival, the time on the ground and the time on the blocks where we turn off the seat belt sign. And the time the crew bus leaves in relation to those times. Son Logan was making a racket outside in our drive way. When I stepped outside to investigate, the time in Scottsdale Arizona on March 13th, 1997 was 22:20.
Logan’s friends, Ryan and Jenny, were helping with the project that consisted of constructing massive, rustic gates for our acre horse property. He was using a sledge hammer to force timbers onto steel rods. Ryan asked, “What the hell is that?” Ryan had to be the only person on earth who hadn’t known of the Hale Bop comet.
I turned, prepared to deliver a lecture on comet’s, but stopped short. “Uh, we’re in for an air show.” I said. My initial impression was that of a formation of C-130’s displaying some new type of tactical lighting. But you feel a C-130’s powerful Alison engines before you hear it or see it. We felt nothing. It was quiet. Real quiet, and it stayed that way.
The huge mass – at least a mile wide – approached from the North West. I could land on it with my 727. We began to eliminate possibilities. What ever it was seemed to be following the Tonto One arrival, the standard jet arrival routing for instrument traffic into PHX on an approximate heading of 120°. I estimated its altitude to be 10,000 feet. . . .