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On the night of March 13, 1997, the people of the United States witnessed one of the largest and best-known UFO sightings in history. The UAP phenomenon was observed in the skies over the southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada and the Mexican state of Sonora. According to a Rocky Mountain Poll conducted at the time, as well as the commotion that ensued, around 10% of Arizonans claimed to have witnessed the incident that is now known as “The Phoenix Lights.”

One of the eyewitnesses named Richard Curtis from Arizona, claiming to have solid evidence of the incident, contacted local Councilwoman Frances Barwood. He vanished following an encounter with MIB and a media revelation.

Frances Barwood, a member of the city council, opened an investigation into the incident. Since the military and local authorities had already managed to claim that the lights seen by the eyewitnesses were only flares, her coworkers thought her behavior was ludicrous.

Barwood received a call from Richard Curtis a few months later. He said right away that he had extremely detailed footage of the Phoenix Lights despite being an injured former soldier. He claimed that had personally captured them using high-quality equipment.

“He said you could see the shape. He said you could see how big it was in comparison to the surrounding buildings and everything. He described that the lights were gaseous. He was so excited that he had gotten all this on video,” Barwood recalled him telling her. Additionally, Curtis admitted to Barwood that he had no idea who else to call and that he trusted her.

Phoenix Lights UFO
A drawing of the object created by witness Tim Ley appeared in USA Today. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Since the majority of the Phoenix Lights video footage up until this point had been merely specks of light on a dark background, Barwood was intrigued by this message. Curtis agreed to provide copies of the footage to Barwood’s office after she urged him to do so. However, days passed, and she did not receive films either by mail or by courier. “I thought he made this up. He didn’t have video, you know, all this stuff,” she said.

A week later, Curtis telephoned Barwood at her house and inquired about her thoughts on the films. Barwood informed him that she had not received them and expressed her amazement. Curtis continued by telling her that following their phone call, two men from her workplace stopped up at his home. The two “similar-looking” individuals were fully covered in black (three-piece black suits, black shoes, black hats, black suitcases, etc.). The men were not dressed in jackets or other gear, even though it was fairly chilly outside. It struck Curtis as weird.

Phoenix Lights UFO
Richard Curtis

He asked the men if they were from Barwood’s office and they confirmed it. Then they inquired about the Phoenix Lights videos, specifically to find out if Curtis had copied them. They responded that they would make copies for him themselves when he said he had not been able to. Curtis then handed them his videos and the two men left his house in a black sedan.

Barwood informed Curtis that she had no men in her office and that all of her staff were female. “I had no idea who these guys were. It sounds so bizarre. Nothing made sense to me,” Barwood recalled thinking. All of this infuriated Richard Curtis, who concluded that the authorities had misled him. In an interview with Phoenix TV, he discussed everything that had happened, including the “Men in Black” visit and that they took his videos.

And shortly after that, when Barwood tried to call Curtis, she discovered that he was not answering. When she got to his apartment, he was not there, but the neighbors informed her that Curtis had supposedly taken a faulty medication and had been transported by ambulance to the hospital. There were no records of Curtis ever being admitted to any Phoenix-area hospitals when Barwood started looking for him there.

Barwood made the decision to have her phone lines checked by a professional when she questioned how the odd men even knew about the tapes. He visited her house and conducted his tests there. After that, he went outdoors. “He wouldn’t come back in the house. He came to the backdoor and said, “No, I’m not coming in. Yes, your phone is tapped, it’s a government tap,” she said.

Phoenix Lights UFO sighting
Phoenix city councilwoman Frances Emma Barwood sits in her north Phoenix home with a copy of The Arizona Republic which touts “UFO Mania” on its front page June 20, 1997. Barwood didn’t see the lights, but many people called her about them demanding an explanation. (AP Photo/Scott Troyanos, File)

Since the military and authorities insisted that the Phoenix Lights were nothing more than flares, Barwood was astounded to learn that someone in the US government had tapped her phones. Richard Curtis vanished without a trace.

It became a worldwide sensation throughout the course of the subsequent months. It was “the second biggest case in UFOlogy after Roswell,” according to the late Art Bell, host of the syndicated paranormal radio program Coast to Coast AM.

The bizarre light show, according to skeptics, was caused by man-made aircraft from Glendale’s Luke Air Force Base or other neighboring military installations conducting training drills. The Phoenix Lights, according to UFOlogists, were not of this world.

Below you can find a transcript from a FOX10 NEWS (Phoenix Lights) reported by Jim Schnabel: (Source)

Voiceover: Months after this (March 13) sighting there are many questions regarding the strange lights over Phoenix. Is this a solid craft, or merely lights in an empty sky? What could be the conclusive evidence is now mysteriously missing. Richard Curtis claims his home video is proof that this sighting was a huge flying craft. And he claims his video shows a solid object in the sky passing over his home.

Curtis: I saw the bottom part (of the craft) as it went over Phoenix, because the lights lit the bottom of it, and it partially blocked out the clouds and the stars. : voiceover: Curtis called city councilwoman Frances Emma Barwood, wanting to show her the footage. : (on screen: cut to a headshot of Barwood)

Barwood: He said he had it on two videotapes, and would I like them, so I said, “Of course I would.”, and could he give me copies of them. He said he would. I told him how to get them to my office and to mark them ‘personal and confidential’.

Voiceover: But before Curtis could send copies to Barwood, he’s paid a visit by two mysterious men in black. : Curtis:(voiced over MIB reenactments) They were dressed in black suits, with black hats and sunglasses. They asked me if I had tapes for councilwoman Barwood, and I said “Yah, they’re laying right here”. They said, “We’ve stopped by to pick them up.” So I said, “Great!” and just handed (the original tapes) to them.

Barwood: I didn’t get them, and I have no idea who these two men were since I have just females working in my office. It’s absolutely puzzling to me.

Voiceover: Did the tapes ever exist, and if so were they proof of more than “lights” in the sky? And who were these mysterious Men in Black who allegedly took them?

Curtis (voiced over): I think someone listened in on that phone call and wanted those tapes.

Barwood (voiced over): I can’t explain it. It’s just eerie. Voiceover: The mystery continues.


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