The mysterious “Phoenix Lights” witnessed by hundreds of people over Valley skies on March 13, 1997, changed one Valley physician’s life forever.
Paradise Valley resident Lynne Kitei halted her 30-year medical career and spent the next nine years obsessively researching the phenomenon.
“I pushed away my entire professional life for years to find a logical source for what I had both witnessed and photographed,” she said. “I have yet to find one.”
Some people who saw the flyover claimed the lights were connected to a giant UFO. Other witnesses said it was a formation of military jets.
Visible events in the sky usually have a natural explanation, said Ricardo Alarcon, an Arizona State University physics and astronomy professor, who did not witness the lights in 1997.
“I certainly do not give much credence that this could actually be a UFO or something of that sort,” he said.
For Kitei, there is no doubt such sightings mean an unknown intelligence is visiting our world.
“I’m not saying it’s aliens, time travelers or the spirit world. I do know that they’re real, and that they were here,” she said.
The product of her obsession, an 80-minute documentary called “The Phoenix Lights,” will be showing at Harkins Shea 14 in Scottsdale on March 12.
Kitei, who has worked as a general practice physician and health care educator, moved to Arizona in the early 1990s with her husband, Frank, also a physician, and their two children. She received her M.D. from the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, according to the Arizona Medical Board’s Web site. Kitei said she believes her credentials as a doctor lend credibility to her studies.
Her first major UFO sighting came in 1995. Kitei said she was in her bath at her hillside Paradise Valley home when her husband called her to the bedroom window. Floating outside were amber orbs of light, she said. She began taking the first of many photographs of those lights, and others that she later saw.
Then came the 1997 lights, which made her feel like all of her beliefs were confirmed. She studied the phenomenon and related subjects for the next four years.
In 2001, to help pay for her son’s college education, Kitei rejoined the medical field as the Chief Clinical Consultant at the Arizona Heart Institute Imaging Prevention Wellness Center in Phoenix. At the same time, she decided to write a book about the 1997 lights. The book helped produce the documentary, a project that so far has been unable to recoup its cost, she said.
Kitei’s research goes far beyond UFOs. She said she believes ghosts, UFOs and other unexplained phenomena are all connected.
Jeannie Swindle worked alongside Kitei for two years as the director of the Wellness Center. She said Kitei never talked about her UFO research at work, and when Kitei left medicine again in 2004, it came as a surprise.
“She’s a pretty gutsy lady,” she said. “She has a passion for everything she does. She showed the exact kind of passion in her medical practice as she seemed to show in this research.”