March 13, 1997: “Phoenix Lights” UFO Witnessed by Governor of Arizona!

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A Brief History

On March 13, 1997, the skies over Arizona from the Nevada state line through Phoenix and on to Tuscon, a 300 mile stretch, were lit by a series of lights that fascinated and baffled thousands of witnesses that observed them, including Governor Fife Symington of Arizona.

Digging Deeper

Believed by many to be some sort of UFO or alien related event, the phenomena consisted of 2 major manifestations, the first being a triangular series of lights moving across the night sky, and the second being stationary lights over Phoenix.

The first group of moving lights, arrayed in a “V” or triangle formation stretching for a few hundred yards in each direction was described as blotting out the stars behind it as it passed by, implying an extremely large object outlined by the lights. This object was seen by Governor Symington, who at first scoffed at the suggestion that the event was of extra=terrestrial origin, but later admitted he thought it was “otherworldly” and further admitted having seen another UFO like this one at another occasion.

The second group of lights was later explained by the US Air Force as flares being dropped by A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka, “Warthog”) light bombers flying a training mission at the Barry Goldwater Range.

Although some photos were taken of the first group of lights, no particularly revealing or sharp images exist, and the two videos that were taken resulted in one being lost and the other being of poor quality.

The second group of lights seen from Phoenix were much better documented by photography and video, with numerous clear images attained. Analysis of the photos and video was unable to determine whether or not the lights were indeed airplane flares due to the lack of ability to analyze light spectrum from photographs. Thus, the lights remain unsolved.

In February of 2007, another event occurred similar to the Phoenix Lights, this time the culprit being named as F-16 fighter planes dropping flares around Luke Air Force Base.

April 2008 saw another night sky lit with mysterious lights, this time described as in a diamond pattern, and later a “U” shaped pattern. Video and photos were taken, but this time a man reported his neighbor had tied flares to helium balloons and sent them aloft. A Phoenix resident later admitted doing just that, but the perpetrator was not identified (possibly because doing a stunt like the one described is dangerous!).

The Phoenix Lights are usually explained as airplanes from the Maryland Air National Guard flying in formation with marker lights on, and with the aforementioned air dropped flares. Of course, not everyone is so quick to accept government explanations, and plenty of skeptics believe the events were alien related. Several films and television documentaries have been made about the Phoenix Lights.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Kitei M.D., Lynne D., Paul Perry, et al.  The Phoenix Lights: A Skeptic’s Discovery that We Are Not Alone.  Waterside Productions, 2017.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.