Researchers divulge UFO sightings in Valley and ASU

The 21st annual UFO conference, a weeklong event hosted by the International UFO Congress at Radisson Fort McDowell Resort and Casino, featured film screenings, guest speakers and exhibitions about UFOs. (Photo by Diana Lustig)

Arizona humans shared paranormal experiences from the ASU Tempe campus and around the state during Phoenix’s International Unidentified Flying Object Congress this weekend.

The five-day annual event is hosted in Fountain Hills and allows UFO researchers and fanatics to share first-hand encounters of the unknown.

Ben Hansen, host of Syfy Channel’s “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files,” a show dedicated to challenging paranormal claims, attended the event and said Arizona is the home of many bizarre stories.

“Arizona is the ‘para-palooza’ of paranormal,” Hansen said.

Arizona has been featured in Hansen’s show with episodes on ghosts in Tombstone and UFO sightings near Cave Creek, Hansen said.

Jeff Willes, a local UFO researcher and videographer, helped Hansen with the Cave Creek episode.

Willes said he has seen thousands of UFOs in his 35 years of research.

He said one of his UFO experiences was near the Tempe campus on College Avenue and Rural Road in 1995.

Willes said he saw a white object hovering at a high altitude for 15 to 20 minutes, at which point it instantly disappeared.

Dana Harper, former UFO researcher and Mesa resident, attended the event and said his most significant UFO sighting was in 1984.

He and a friend were driving near the Salt River when a triangle-shaped object with purple lights began following them, he said.

Harper said it was three football fields away from his car and resembled a hang glider.

“When people say, ‘Are you a believer,’ I don’t consider myself a believer,” Harper said. “It’s a part of reality of our existence.”

Travis Walton, an event speaker, wrote “Fire in the Sky” after his 1975 extraterrestrial encounter in Snowflake.

His book was adapted to film in 1993, but Walton said the movie was not the exact depiction of his experience.

A UFO took Walton after he and six other men were driving home from working in the woods, he said.

Walton said he was injured by a beam of light that shot down from the UFO. After years of evaluating and analyzing his experience, he said he doesn’t see it as abduction anymore.

“The fact that I was returned at all suggests that (the aliens) were benevolent,” Walton said.

“It makes more sense to me than they would actually fire this beam to hurt me,” he said.

Hansen said because of his work on the show and responsibility to find the truth, he is a skeptic when it comes to UFO claims.

“Do I want to believe? Yes,” he said. “Do I believe everything?  No.”

 

Reach the reporter at thaniab@asu.edu

 

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