Okay, it’s time again to talk about the Phoenix Lights. For those of you who aren’t steeped in UFO lore, that’s not the name of a new brand of herbal cigarettes or a franchise of the defunct XFL . The Phoenix Lights were a series of bizarre optical phenomena seen by thousands of people in Arizona, Nevada and parts of Mexico on the evening of March 13, 1997, and then again, almost exactly 10 years later, on February 6, 2007.
The 1997 incident actually was two distinct events–a triangular formation of lights that passed over Arizona, and a series of stationary lights seen in the Phoenix area. As this CNN.com article from the time details, some witnesses claimed the triangular formation looked like an immense spacecraft. (Here’s a photo of it, from the website of a Phoenix TV station. ) Among the witnesses were two journalists from the Phoenix alternative weekly New Times. In a 1997 article , they gave this description:
David Holthouse and Michael Kiefer were in separate parts of the Valley that night, but their reports are remarkably consistent: Each saw a V-shape of five lights moving slowly from north to south. The lights were bright and yellow-white, and seemed very high in the sky. No sound accompanied them. Holthouse says he perceived that something connected the lights in a boomerang shape; Kiefer disagrees, saying they didn’t seem connected.
Other witnesses reported seeing six lights. Some saw seven. Videotapes of the event show seven lights, and the V-shape, clearly. Reports of the lights’ altitude and speed vary widely.
Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, took the incident seriously enough to ask the U.S. Air Force to investigate. The military’s subsequent explanation–that the lights were flares dropped by a-10 Warthog aircraft in training exercises over the Barry Goldwater Air force Range–didn’t satisfy a lot of the witnesses, who included then-Arizona Gov. Fife Symington. As the governor related in a 1997 news story :
“I’m a pilot and I know just about every machine that flies. It was bigger than anything that I’ve ever seen. It remains a great mystery. Other people saw it, responsible people. I don’t know why people would ridicule it.”
Read The Phoenix Lights, Part II