The believer, doubter, and on-the-fence members of the Chasing UFOs team returned on Friday night, with a new episode titled "Abducted in Arizona."
The team consists of Ben McGee, the skeptic; Lisa Ryder (AKA Ryder), who is on the fence; and James Fox, the ufologist.
This week, for once, Ryder was driving the SUV. Typically, thus far, it's been Ben, and to be honest, James for some reason always sits in the back, never driving. Ryder has driven once before. James, get off your butt and help out (unless, perhaps, he can't drive).
The team is off to Arizona and discuss Arizona's history, including the 1997 Phoenix Lights (embedded below).
It's a famous incident with a triangular shaped set of lights (more or less) that was a series widely sighted unidentified flying objects observed in the skies over the U.S. states of Arizona, Nevada and the Mexican state of Sonora on March 13, 1997.
However, what has really gotten the interest of the team is a recently unearthed video by a man named Terry Connet. That video seems to show a similar object, but was taken four years before the Phoenix incident. We were unable to find the video on YouTube, but viewing it on the show, it does appear to have similarities.
Connet's video was shot in 1993, and was taken off of a highway 40 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. When they speak to Connet, he adds more color to the video. He said, for one, that the UFO was silent as it passed over him. He also tells the Chasing UFOs team that whatever he saw that night, it would have been possible to line up eight to ten B-52 Stratofortress bombers, wingtip-to-wingtip within its outline.
When asked to compare it to the Phoenix Lights incident, Terry felt it was very, very similar.
One possible explanation for the Phoenix Lights has always been flares. With the help of the Arizona Skyhawks pyrotechnic skydive performance team, Ryder, Ben and James attempt to prove or disprove that theory. The skydivers perform a night jump wearing pyrotechnic flares. Ben and James stay on the ground to observe while Ryder takes off with the skydivers to direct the test. You might recall that Ryder also went up in a plane on an earlier episode; fortunately she does not seem to be afraid of flying.
As the skydivers jump the team - all three of them, two on the group and one airborne - watches a really cool light show. But the jump doesn't seem to resemble what so many people in Arizona have reported seeing. Instead, it looks something like a comet or meteor. It's nothing like the earlier videos - awesome though it may be.
Seeking more information, the team meets with a local UFO researcher named Jeff Willis. Jeff says that he has caught hundreds - yes, hundreds - of UFOs on camera. One of the videos is very similar to the earlier mentioned two videos. Willis agrees to take Ryder, Ben and James out with him for a night reconnaissance mission to search for UFOs. Remember though, that a UFO may be unidentified, but not necessarily extraterrestrial.
Jeff and the team also meet with two other "experts," Jason McClellan and Alejandro Rojas. All of them trek out to the site, which is a mountain at the north end of Phoenix. Naturally, strange lights start appearing. We have to admit, it's always a hoot to watch the team with their face-on low-light cameras as they run. They look - let's be honest - silly.
On camera, we and they see a strange orange light. Strange could be deceptive though; it appeared, at least to us, to blink, like a plane's landing lights might. Eventually, the "red orb" is identified - it's a Chinese lantern. Whoops. It's a slightly terrestrial explanation.
As they are in Arizona, it wouldn't be a complete trip unless they went to the huge Meteor Crater that was created thousands of years ago. As Ben says, hey, it's really an extraterrestrial impact. Just not little green men, though.
It must have been a light show. Not only did they stop at Meteor Crater, they also tried a shortcut and got stuck. So they spent several minutes on that side adventure. Really, guys?
However, now they go to meet an ex-logger named Travis Walton, who also claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Reportedly, he disappeared for five days. Travis tells his harrowing tale to the team, in detail, including meeting an alien creature. He said he spent five long days on the alien craft, before finally waking up alongside a highway.
They ask him if he was willing to go to the site with them. He agreed, although he had never been there alone since the event. James and Travis, looking at a tree's rings, discover that in the years following the incident, the trees in the area experienced an unexplained growth spurt. Since it is known that high EMF doses can affect plant growth, skeptic Ben wants to bring tree samples from the site. The team gets to work taking samples - including shinnying up trees to get samples far up the trees (and why they send Ryder is beyond us).
Travis leaves, as he gets nervous as night falls, but naturally the team stays put. It's time for the "what the f*" moment on the show as they all hear something strange.
It's back to HQ and evidence analysis.
a) the triangular shaped objects in the videos. Ben, of course, can't confirm it's extraterrestrial and says (skeptically, go figure) that he can't rule it out.
b) the flares: clearly not the same as the videos.
c) Walton: there is an unexplained tree growth, but it's hard to determine why.
As Ben notes, with two spaceports, multiple test ranges, etc. in the SW, it's easy to assume these are military aircraft.
For the first time, though, Ryder makes a decisive statement. She says "I do think UFOs are flying around Arizona, but I don't believe their coming from outer space." Ryder, you're supposed to be on the fence. It's a different ending than we're used to on the series.
Perhaps that's encouraging.
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