The interception and Luke AFB's involvement

By Tim Printy 1998

Last updated October 2008

Bill Hamilton and Peter Davenport both described UFO intercepts by Luke AFB aircraft. Davenport claimed it was made by F15C’s but Luke has no F-15’s at their airbase and puts into doubt the rest of the story . Peter has some mysterious source, which feeds him information stating the lead pilot was shaken up during the operation. I seriously doubt these events are as described. The same source states that LANTIRN II’s were used. LANTIRN stands for "Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting InfaRed for Night." It is most often used for low altitude bombing runs and not really designed for interception roles. The fact that the object was supposedly over a mile wide with a first quarter moon illuminating it, brings into question any need for the pilot to use this type of equipment. Couple this with the fact that none of the air traffic controllers at the nearby airport report a scramble/intercept, brings into serious doubt this report. Peter is not beyond grasping a wild rumor and unconfirmed story to embellish his report.

Bill Hamilton has a sole truck driver named Bill Grenier, who says he saw three F-16’s attempt an interception but failed because the ball of light flew rapidly away. Bill does not realize but most flights use pairs of aircraft. Had he said two or four, it would have more credibility. Also, Bill is the sole witness to this event and nobody that lived in the area has come forward to discuss unusual air activity coming from the base. Bill also claims to have seen these two UFO’s for over two hours (Bill Hamilton Report). However, nobody in all of Phoenix confirms this sighting. Despite the fact he was driving down I-17, he did not see the huge V-shaped formation. Even more interesting is that Grenier did not start telling this tale until April 1, when he was "discovered" while Bill Hamilton and Richard Motzer were conducting a talk radio program about the lights. Did he recall the date accurately and how much of the facts were correct (remember the problems with memory pointed out by Dr Drake). These facts bring into question Bill Grenier’s statements.

A freedom of information act request to Luke Air Force Base produced the following results:

This is in reply to your 3 April 1996 Freedom of Information Act request, received on 17 April 1997. Our search reviewed no records exist pertaining to your request.

The mission of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base(AFB) is to train F-16 fighter pilots. We are not an air defense base which maintains aircraft on "scramble" status. Instead, our pilots are instructors and trainees learning to fly the F-16 and employ it in the ground attack and aerial combat missions. While we routinely have aircraft airborne at night, their mission is not to investigate unusual aerial sightings, nor would they be asked to do so. On the night of 13 Mar 97, our aircraft were involved in normal training missions and had no involvement whatsoever with the lights observed over Phoenix.

On the evening of 13 Mar 97, our command post and other base agencies received telephone calls about the lights that many saw in the sky over Arizona. In the days that followed, our public affairs office also handled calls about the same subject. When queried by the staff of the Strange Universe television program, our public affairs people acknowledged that callers reported seeing lights in the sky, but our staff did not state that the cause was aerial flares. In fact, we don't know where the question of aerial flares come from. There have been a number of accounts of the 13 Mar 97 incident that alleged Air Force involvement, and we have made every effort to ensure that callers understood that we were not involved in that incident. However, despite our best efforts to the contrary, we have been accused of withholding or covering up information. This is not the case--in fact, we have honestly answered every query made about the 13 Mar 97 incident.

In summary, we have no records to give you, and we assure you that Luke AFB aircraft were not involved in any way with the phenomena reported on the the night of 13 Mar 97. (Greenewald)

Another story that cropped up concerning the UFO story was the statement that the AFB lied the following day when they stated nobody called the airbase that night. With a little help from an ETH’er on AOL, I was able to locate where this originated. It was from a story in the Prescott Arizona Daily Courier on March 16, 1997 (Sunday). The Daily Courier quotes Luke Air Force Base media liaison Sgt. Rolla Suttmiller as stating the base did not receive any calls that night. While the report did not directly quote her, I am sure that she said something to this effect. It is not clear what Sgt Suttmiller’s official role is but she apparently worked in the public affairs department. Her statement is contrary to the reports in the Arizona Daily Republic (of March 18), where it stated that Luke received phone calls, "Reports poured in Thursday to Luke Air Force Base,…" (Steckner)

Even more interesting is a follow-up article by the Prescott Arizona Daily Courier on March 18, 1997 by Laura Hitchley. Here another Sergeant was interviewed and she clarified the situation somewhat, "But Luke spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle DeMers said calls did come in on Friday asking if the objects were jets from the base. But, she added, any calls reporting UFOs on Thursday night would have been referred elsewhere" (Hitchley). Sergeant Suttmiller was mistaken and the official word that came from the AFB is that they did receive calls that night as printed in the FOIA answer. When one looks at the date of the Daily Courier’s story, it seems that the interview was made shortly after the events and Sgt Suttmiller may not have known all the facts yet. They may have interviewed her as early as Friday morning. She was not very well informed and made this misstatement. This is blown way out of proportion by the ETH’ers as some form of cover-up statement. Also mentioned by Demers in the same article was the fact that aircraft were in the air at the time of the sightings. This was reflected in the FOIA statement, which stated that they had aircraft on training missions that night, "In contradiction to Suttmiller's statement on Friday that Luke does not send fighters out at night, DeMers said a squadron was flying between 6 and 9 p.m. Thursday night, but only around the base. She said only two F-16 planes of the squadron were out during that time frame on training flights, and they were back in by 8:30 p.m" (Hitchley). Note that the number is TWO and not THREE (Grenier's tale). Also, the aircraft were landing long before Grenier showed up (which was about 10 PM). The aircraft were landing at the time the V-shaped formation was flying over Phoenix. They were not involved in an intercept attempt because they would have to have been airborne after 8:30 PM.

Bill Hamilton magnifies this one statement attributed to one SERGEANT and wrote about the USAF in his MUFON summary, "It seems like the official statements made to members of the press and public by those representing our Air Force are, to put it delicately, on a course deviation from the truth" (Hamilton). I can make the counterpoint that Bill's/Village Labs statements via the internet and the media are "on a course deviation from the truth". I make this statement due to their lack of full disclosure of all the information. Their reports are what they want you to hear and not all of the information is revealed. They also have misrepresented the data from the videos and made scientific-like claims using an unscientific process. They are the ones who make false statements and they are the ones who should be held accountable for such drivel. Instead they latch onto the conspiracy theory about the government covering up the truth. Witnesses, who are curious about what they saw, now are convinced this is true because the AF is not interested in what they have to say (since they are not investigating) and Hamilton is. The sad fact is that the investigators are the ones covering up the truth by withholding all information and not attempting any sort of real investigation with published data. Once again, I quote Dr. Paul Scowen, "Why should people care? Because it's been so high-profile and they've been told lies. That's why people should care." (Ortega)

Since, they have not looked at the process very scientifically, I am going to attempt to do so. I have managed to contact a few witnesses that were not discussed by the "investigators" and also looked at all the information presented on the net and in other places.

Works Cited

Greenewald, John Jr., FOIA Response From Luke AFB. 3 April 1997. Online. Internet. http://www.blackvault.com/

Hamilton, Bill. PHOENIX SIGHTINGS: Summary Report - Mass Sightings in Arizona. Online. Internet. http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1509.htm

Hitchley, Laura. "UFO Debate Goes On." Prescott Arizona Daily Courier. 18 March 1997.

Ortega, Tony. "The Hack and the Quack." Phoenix Newstimes. 5 March 1998.

Steckner, Susie. (No title available). Arizona Republic. 18 March 1997

 

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