Journal: Russell, how were you introduced to MUFON?
Azbill: Actually through a friend at work. His mother was a member and she invited me to a meeting here in Phoenix. Everyone was very friendly and a lot of the members were retired military or engineers so the knowledge they brought was phenomenal and I liked MUFON’s scientific approach to investigations. I attended the meetings for about a year before I joined and I’ve been a member now for five or six months.
Journal: Who presents the meeting there in Phoenix?
Azbill: Well, Jim Mann is the State Director and Stacey Wright is the Assistant State Director. They do a wonderful job. All the speakers they bring in are first rate. The meetings are held in the auditorium of a small university. I think it has about 150 seats and it’s pretty much sold out every time. The meetings are great and afterward everyone is invited to meet for dinner.
Azbill: I currently work for a state agency as a technical writer. I was an engineering student in college and I worked for years in automotive so I have some mechanical background. I have also taken classes in criminalistics and criminal investigations and I’ve done paranormal investigations for over 10 years so it brings some of the same skills together.
Journal: Is being a MUFON investigator what you thought it would be?
Azbill: So far it’s been pretty much what I thought it would be which is that many of the cases are explainable. So from that aspect it’s what I expected. I think the public really needs to be educated about UFOs and what’s truly going on around us and I think MUFON does a good job of that. I think UFOs are much more accepted now than 30 or 40 years ago.
Journal: As a new investigator is there a specific area of training that you think might help you?
Azbell: I’d like to learn to use photo analysis software. I want to learn more about taking apart photos and videos. Mark D’Antonio came and spoke at one of our meetings. He’s amazing. He is at the level that I would love to be at one day so I have a lot to learn.
Journal: Yeah, Mark is talented guy. Were you there during the Phoenix Lights event?
Azbell: Yes, I actually saw them. I was outside with my dog and I saw the lights in the northeast over the McDowell Mountains. To me from a distance they looked like blimps all lit up. I think there is a MetLife blimp that lights up and from a distance they looked like one of those but there were five of them in a line. And I remember looking and thinking that even when they had the Super Bowl here they didn’t have five blimps. At the time I really didn’t think about it being a UFO so I just went back inside. Then a couple of hours later I was out again and looked back over South Mountain. That’s where most people saw them. I watched them for probably 20 minutes both times. They just sat there stationary. They weren’t moving or if they were, they were moving so slow that I didn’t perceive it. Obviously though at some time during the night they did because they moved 40-50 miles from the first time I saw them to the second time. I don’t think they were military flares because they were stationary. They didn’t drop at all for the entire time I was looking at them. I actually didn’t know about the UFO aspect until the next day on the news and then I realized that maybe I did see a UFO. If I would have known, I would have taken photos of them. Back then it just didn’t occur to me to photograph them. But I didn’t see the flying black wedge or triangular craft that some people saw.
Journal: Russ, thanks very much for talking with me. You’ll be a big asset to MUFON.
Azbill: Well I’m honored to be in the Journal. I literally read it cover to cover. It’s a wealth of knowledge and in fact I wish I could find some back issues.
Journal: You can. Visit the MUFON Store at mufon.com.
Contact Texas ASD Terry Hinson regarding One-On-One at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of the MUFON Journal.