Huge triangular-shaped UFOs made repeated visits to two small copper mining towns in eastern Arizona and one even hovered over members of a high school marching band as they were practicing on a football field.
One hundred ten members of the band and several dozen parents saw the UFO as it stayed directly above them for an hour as the students marched up and down the field in the town of Morenci. Most of the students were uneasy and some were frightened but they continued practicing.
"The whole band saw it and there must have been thirty to forty parents in the stands who saw it too," said band director Bruce Allen, then thirty-three. "The kids were pretty excited. It was some type of object shaped like a V or a boomerang, outlined in different colored lights.
“It didn't make a sound. It was real big. It looked like the entire sky above the field was filled with this object. It was bigger than any airplane, even a 747.
"It just roamed clockwise slowly around above the field as we were rehearsing. It stayed there for the entire rehearsal, almost as if it were watching us. It seemed like it was checking out what was going on down here. It was going very slow.
“I've never seen anything like it before. As the kids were leaving after practice, I turned the field lights off and looked up and the object was gone."
To Kris Windsor, seventeen, a junior, "it was a bunch of lights with a big one in the middle. Everybody was looking up. At first, everybody got kind of scared but we had to keep on rehearsing."
Tim Pingleton, eighteen, a senior, “saw a string of lights in a triangular shape, like a boomerang. It was about three hundred yards long. It looked like it would go forward, stop and stay there for about three minutes, then take off and not go very fast at all, then stop and go forward again.
“I wasn't frightened but the fact that it stopped right over us was sort of weird. I saw it again later on farther off at an angle.”
Allen, who had been band director at the school for ten years, said the sighting began a few minutes after seven on the night of October 23, 1980 and lasted for nearly an hour.
Shortly before it appeared over the school, five maintenance workers saw it over the huge Phelps-Dodge copper smelter a mile west of the school on the other side of a mountain.
"We were just going to lunch about five minutes to seven when we noticed something big flying directly toward us," said Randall Lee Rogers, twenty-one, a repairman.
"It was sort of boomerang-shaped. There were twelve red lights on it and a big searchlight right in front. It was maybe the size of a football field. We saw it fly down right over us until it was right over the smokestack."
The smelter had two six hundred-foot-tall smokestacks about one hundred forty feet apart. The tops of the stacks were twenty-three feet in diameter.
"It looked like the object was looking directly down the smokestack with that search-light," Rogers said. "Then it moved over us real slowand went to the other side of the smelter. We drove around to the other side and when we got there it took off real fast towards the south. We started driving back to the lunchroom and the object came back again, flew right over us and went off beyond the mountain."
One other sighting in the area was notable. On a Monday night early in December 1980, Opal Ray was attending a Tupperware party at a home ten miles south of Clifton. She and several other women were standing outside the house waiting for a guest to arrive when an object passed over the house.
"It was a triangle and had red lights on each point," Mrs. Ray said. "It went directly over us and it was low enough that you could see the bottom. It looked like hardwood planking about three or four inches wide, like a hardwood floor.
"It scared me. It seemed like for a second it just hovered over the house and then it shot away."
Her description of the object was somewhat similar to what Kathryn Bezjian and her husband saw from their home in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, three years earlier.
A large object passed over their house, making a low humming sound. "As it got directly over us," Mrs. Bezjian said, "the bottom of it was diamond-shaped. It looked like raw wood. In the middle of this diamond was a red light, a signal-like light like you'd see on any plane, and up underneath it were three or four small red lights."
Many UFO sightings occurred in that part of Arizona in December 1980, mainly in nearby Clifton, just several miles south of Morenci.
"There have been several different sightings but the main one was on the night of December 10," said a Clifton businessman who did not want his name used. "I feel sure at least a thousand people saw these objects.
“I saw three lights or objects in formation in a kind of triangular shape that just kind of floated over this area four times. We watched it for a couple of hours. It made a thirty-mile circle around Clifton and was maybe a mile high.
“The second time around, two objects left the main body at a high rate of speed and I never saw them come back. It kind of made the hair stand up on the back of your head.
"We didn't hear anything that sounded like jets. It sounded more like a sewing machine motor, a little buzzing sound. It was definitely something I had never seen before and we see jets and planes through here all the time.
“My son-in-law thought he saw lights in a cabin one time but I didn't see it. Many people are reluctant to say anything about these things because they're afraid people will think they're kind of squirrelly."
Another businessman, restaurant owner Alonzo Coronado, said he had seen UFOs several times but the most interesting one was in April 1981.
“This other fellow and I were walking down the street about seven-thirty one night when we saw this V-shaped object with three or four lights on each side. It passed right over us, not too high, and as we were looking at it, it broke into two sections. Half the lights went one way and half the other.
"Another time I saw a light about the size of a dime just standing still. It was maybe half a mile high. Then it went straight up, made a couple of wiggling turns and then went straight up and kept going higher and higher until it just went out of sight."
(For more on sightings of triangular-shaped objects, click here.)