Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: Phoenix Lights

Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

Phoenix Lights: More Than A Star

Once again, aliens are at the center of discussion for today. In this case, the stars above Phoenix, Arizona that weren’t quite the shining balls of gas and fire we all might know. Stars are absolutely beautiful to admire when staring at the void of the night sky, but once they usually don’t move. Some bright lights happen to be airplanes or spacecraft, but for the most part, the bright objects remain in their assigned spots for the duration of their life. These stars, though, refused to stay put, and they became known as one of the most iconic and extraterrestrial experiences to ever occur on planet Earth.

On March 13, 1997, a large amount of strange objects were spotted flying over the southwestern United States, taking place mostly in Nevada and Arizona. Around 7:55 P.M. that night, the first report in Nevada claimed they witnessed a large object shaped like a V, similar to the pattern of migrating geese, that was flying southeast. The observations eventually found their way to Arizona, when a family spotted them at a distance. They claimed the lights were traveling separately, but eventually united to create a uniform shape and approached about 150 ft above them before zooming off into a nearby mountain range. At 8:16 P.M. that night, a retired police officer also witnessed the lights, citing them as a red and orange color.

Reports followed in Glendale, right outside of Phoenix, eventually making their way to Scottsdale. Scottsdale resident Mitch Stanley, in conflict with all of the other previous reports, claimed that they were undeniably airplanes in formation. UFO centers were flooded with calls and messages, as hundreds of people had apparently been exposed to the absurd phenomenon that was making its way over America’s western coast. Over two hours after the first sighting, the lights paused above Phoenix, providing the whole city with an opportunity to witness what many describe as the largest viewed UFO incident in American history. They seemed to stall in the night above the bustling city, and many claimed that they appeared to be slowly descending. 

No more viewings were made of the infamous Phoenix lights until about 10 years later. In February 2007, a Fox News team managed to capture footage of the infamous show, but they were clearly observed to be F-16 fighter pilots making rounds from their home base of Luke Air Force Base. A little over a year later in April 2008, another wave of Phoenix residents claimed to see a formation that would slowly morph through different shapes in the night sky, appearing like a display or show. A person living in Phoenix also cited the presence of three military aircraft in the area, although the air force base nearby denied any involvement. The day after, a man claimed the lights were nothing more than helium balloons navigating with flares that were exposed to the sky by a person living next door.

Following this phenomenon, Arizona governor Fife Symington III held a press conference where he announced the culprit to be an aide in an extraterrestrial costume. Symington was obviously humored by the event, as he claimed throughout his political career to have endured run-ins with supernatural life but refused to discuss the source out of fear of scaring the public. Many different witnesses claim that the lights were most likely a source of alien technology, though, like Dr. Lynne Kitei and truck driver Bill Greiner. Frances Barwood, a city council member at the time, was mocked and ridiculed for even suggesting that the incident be reviewed at a meeting. 

The event was not nationally known until June of 1997, when a USA today article was published for the country to see. Following this article, many more accounts of witnessing Phoenix-like events lit up UFO reporting centers like a Christmas tree. Despite this, not much more came of the event, and the Phoenix Lights phenomenon did not breach a majority of the American public, spare the couple who viewed it and the couple more who used it to feed delusions.

The true explanation for the lights is at this point unknown, but if they were to ever reappear, the people of the city would be prepared to strike out and discover the source of these V-shaped orbs of light in the night sky. They might be fighter pilots or organized aliens, but with all the extraterrestrial craze existing in the United States, they might just be what citizens need to prove that aliens are real.