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As you may remember, I’ve previously written in this blog about the famous March 13, 1997 “Phoenix lights” UFO sighting, a series of bizarre optical phenomena seen by thousands of people in Arizona, Nevada and parts of Mexico, and the seeming reappearance of the lights almost exactly 10 years later, on February 6, 2007.

To recap, 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: 

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.


The U.S. military eventually came up with the explanation that the sighting actually was caused by flares released from aircraft from the visiting Maryland Air National Guard during a training mission, and not by extraterrestrial visitors. A similiar explanation was given in 2007 for that sighting as well.

But not everyone bought that official story, particularly when it came to the original sighting. The most conspicuous critic of the military-flares explanation was former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, himself a former Air Force pilot, who was among the thousands of people who saw the lights. In 2007, Symington and 14 other former government officials who also claimed to have knowledge of UFOs held a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Before the event, Symington wrote a provocative CNN commentary, in which he described what he saw in detail.

I witnessed a massive delta-shaped craft silently navigate over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix, Arizona. It was truly breathtaking. I was absolutely stunned because I was turning to the west looking for the distant Phoenix Lights.

To my astonishment this apparition appeared; this dramatically large, very distinctive leading edge with some enormous lights was traveling through the Arizona sky.

As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this craft did not resemble any man-made object I’d ever seen. And it was certainly not high-altitude flares because flares don’t fly in formation.

Symington admitted he had worried about public panic over the sighting, and thus had tried to diffuse the tension by having his chief of staff jokingly wear an alien costume to a press briefing. But quietly, he pressed the military to admit that the lights actually had come from a UFO.

I was never happy with the Air Force’s silly explanation. There might very well have been military flares in the sky that evening, but what I and hundreds others saw had nothing to do with that.

Symington said that since then, he had learned that other high-ranking officials had either witnessed the UFOs or uncovered information during investigations of sightings that led them to doubt the government’s explanations. That prompted him to come forward.


We want the government to stop putting out stories that perpetuate the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth conventional terms. Investigations need to be re-opened, documents need to be unsealed, and the idea of an open dialogue can no longer be shunned.

To date, that clarion call has yet to be answered.

Don’t miss American Paranormal The Truth Behind UFOs over Phoenix airing August 6th at 10P et/pt.