The US premiere tonight at 10 PM Eastern (8 PM Arizona) on the Science Channel of Episode 102 of the series 'Close Encounters' features a dramatic recreation of two well-known witness reports from the March 13, 1997 statewide sightings of an unknown number of large black objects that have, for better or worse, come to be known as the 'Phoenix Lights' -- so-named after a controversial set of lights captured on video and film at 10 PM south of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The episode includes commentary by Phoenix UFO Examiner Larry Lowe and David Marler, author of Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation a definitive examination of the large black triangular objects reported in hundreds of similar cases across time and the planet.
The series is part of a week-long 'Are We Alone?' event on the Science Channel.
The episode shifts the historical focus from the controversial 10 PM 'lights' to the enigmatic observations of eerie craft that occurred across the entire state and occurred over greater Phoenix for the most part in the 8:00 PM to 8:30 PM time frame.
It also kicks of a week of events to commemorate the 1997 sightings, culminating in a screening of the film "Phoenix Lights Documentary" produced by Dr. Lynne D. Kitei, M.D. at Scottsdale Harkins Shea Cinema On Sunday, March 16 at 1 PM. Dr. Kitei is the Executive Director of the Phoenix Lights Network.
The Science Channel's 'Close Encounters' episode includes recreations of the sightings by the Tim Ley family around 8:20 PM in northwest Phoenix on the fateful night and of commercial airline pilot Trig Johnston around 10 PM in Scottsdale. Unfortunately, the use of the same CGI Model in both recreations tends to confablulate the facts to imply both sightings were of the same object, which likely they were not.
The Canadian-produced Close Encounters series is a form of primary education into the UFO Phenomenon aimed primarily at younger demographic, one adept at tweeting and watching simultaneously. Each episode in the series gives a thumbnail sketch of two significant cases with commentary from two investigators for each case interwoven with recreations of the events reported. Noted author Leslie Kean is a commentator on the 1965 Kecksberg sightings, along with Stan Gordon, the primary investigator of the Kecksburg Incident
Given the introductory format and target demographic of a younger audience new to the material there is no time to go into the kind of excruciating detail that can emerge from a significant multi witness case, such as the Kecksburg incident or the March 13, 1997 sightings across the state of Arizona, the subjects of Episode 102.
BELL OF FIRE: DECEMBER 9, 1965: It’s early evening in rural Pennsylvania when several dozen witnesses report seeing a fiery object falling through the sky and landing in nearby woods. Volunteer Firefighter, Jim Romansky, is called to the scene to investigate what they think is a crashed plane. As Romansky combs the woods near Kecksburg, he spots a glowing acorn-shaped metallic object. As he moves in to investigate the strange craft, the military orders Romansky and any other civilians to leave the area. The military denies ever finding a craft in the woods that night.
NOT QUITE A COMET: MARCH 13, 1997: Thousands of people in Phoenix, Arizona are stargazing in search of the Hale-Bopp comet, which is visible in the night sky. Instead, hundreds of witnesses report seeing strange lights flying in a V- formation, while hundreds more report boomerang and triangular-shaped crafts the size of three football fields flying low and soundlessly over their homes. The U.S. Air Force immediately denies anything unusual in the airspace that night.
At 10:30 Eastern, the US series premiere continues with episode Episode 104, "Sky High and Crash Course", which includes the 1986 Japan Air Lines 747 encounter over Alaska, and a 1979 encounter in Minnesota where two aspects of bone-fide close encounters, medical effects and missing time are recounted.
SKY HIGH: NOVEMBER 17, 1986 - A Japanese airline crew is en route from Paris to Tokyo with a cargo load of Beaujolais wine. As Captain Terauchi and his crew are crossing Alaska, they encounter blindingly bright lights flying in their airspace. These lights illuminate the cockpit and seem to be keeping pace with the Boeing 747. Captain Terauchi then reports seeing two unidentified crafts, one the size of a ‘mothership’. The UFO is tracked by both ground and airborne radar, though its origins remain unknown.
CRASH COURSE: AUGUST 27, 1979 – Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson is on patrol near Stephen, Minnesota in the early morning hours when he sees a beam of light shining down on the road ahead. As he continues to drive, the beam of light engulfs his car. Johnson briefly loses consciousness and wakes up to discover that he had skidded off the road and he’s suffering eye damage similar to welder’s burns. Both his wristwatch and the car clock have stopped for exactly 14 minutes.
Investigative commentary for the JAL segment of Episode 104 is provided by aviation technical specialist Don Ledger and Retired FAA Division Chief, Accidents and Investigations John Callahan, while Mark Rodeghier, Director, The Centre For UFO Studies and author/UFO Investigator Chris Rutkowski provide investigative insight into the Minnesota missing time case.
The twitter conversation from 8 to 9 PM Arizona will center on #CloseEncounters @ScienceChannel for those who want to watch and tweet.
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