Over twenty years ago on March 13, 1997, thousands of people in the Phoenix area reported seeing the same unidentified flying object in unison, glowing amber orbs flying in an enormous unmistakable V-formation. Today the event is referred to as the Phoenix Lights. According to the Mutual UFO Network, the sightings were reported between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. over Nevada, Arizona, and part of Mexico.
The eyewitness accounts matched up, with reports of glowing amber orbs that cast no reflections unlike any light people had seen before. The light inside the orbs did not shine beyond the sphere, and inside, the glow seemed to be pulsing. Many people caught the phenomena on camera or video, but the lights are fuzzy and hard to make out.
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The orbs varied in number, could dim out and vanish, then reappear. Some of the orbs could move their position. Some reported that the spheres seemed to part of a hazy triangular boomerang-like shape and that the object could dimly blot out the sky. It flew directly over the heavily-populated area and airport, which did not see it on their radar. The size was said to be as much as a mile across, bigger than any known aircraft, but hovering in total silence. Radar couldn’t pick up the UFOs, yet they were clearly there.
Russell was piloting his plane into Phoenix with his son Oliver, who wanted to visit a friend. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, he explained what he and Oliver saw as he was landing at the airport.
“There’s this bank of six lights in the shape of a triangle, going back, right over the airport,” said Russell.
Oliver asked his father what lights were, but he didn’t know, so he asked the air traffic controllers as he was attempting to land. They said they didn’t see anything on their radar and asked if the actor wanted to report what he saw, which he did. Years later, he and his life partner Goldie Hawn were watching a show about UFOs and saw the story of the lights in Phoenix. Russell remembered his report had been logged. He hadn’t thought about it in years, as if he forgot all about it and so did his son.
“On the show, they talked about 20,000 people reporting it and one general aviation pilot, and I said, ‘That’s me!’ So the weirdest part of that to me was I never thought about it from the time I landed until I saw that TV show and when I saw Oliver the next day, he hadn’t either. That was kind of bizarre,” said Russell.
See Russell explain what he saw below:
One of the witnesses was then-Governor Fife Symington, who initially treated the incident as a joke at a press conference about the phenomenon. He had his chief of staff, Jay Heiler dress as an alien and joked that the alien had been captured.
“This just goes to show that you guys are entirely too serious,” Symington said then.
However later he had a complete change of attitude ten years later, saying:
“I’m a pilot, and I know just about every machine that flies,” Symington said. “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.”
In an interview, he admitted that the craft had taken his breath away.
“I saw a huge craft come right over Squaw Peak,” said Symington, in an interview with FOX10 news anchor John Hook. “It was just breathtaking.”
According to NBC News, Symington said he had initially feared people would panic.
“Symington recently told a UFO investigator making a documentary that he hadn’t acknowledged his own encounter at the time because he didn’t want people to panic. He repeated the story in an interview on CNN and other media, saying the craft he saw was “enormous. It just felt otherworldly. In your gut, you could just tell it was otherworldly.”
Former Phoenix City Councilwoman Frances Barwood faced a backlash of criticism and ridicule as the first public official to draw attention to the Phoenix Lights, weeks after the sightings. At a council meeting, she simply acknowledged the phenomenon and was met with icy stares.
“I asked if anybody knew what this object was and could we check into it,” said Barwood. “I was met by a whole bunch of stares.”
Barwood was ridiculed in the press which mocked her in cartoons and even at the Mayor’s office. However, hundreds of eyewitnesses contacted her to verify what they saw. They were furious that the local government dismissed their accounts.
Year’s later it’s clear she was correct for acknowledging the incident, but she remains unclear what it was and still seeks answers.
“If other planets are inhabited, and are more advanced than we are because they didn’t spend time fighting, then I’d like to know,” said Barwood.
Eyewitness Phoenix physician Lynne Kitei would not come forward for seven years. Now she has written a book and produced a documentary about the Phoenix Lights. She believes it’s time for people to accept that we are not alone and take the next step in our evolution, one that pivots between self-destruction and enlightenment.
“We need to address it,” said Kitei. “Accept it and study it, so we can find out who is driving these things as well as move forward in our own evolution.”
See more from FOX10 Phoenix below:
Truck driver Bill Greiner saw the orbs as he was driving his route near Luke Airforce Base. He said that he saw two orbs, one of which was hovering over the base. He watched as three fighter jets took off. One of the orbs pursued a jet and then shot up into the sky and disappeared. (see video below)
“Before this, if anybody had said they saw a UFO, I would have said, ‘Yeah, and I believe in the Tooth Fairy,” said Greiner. “Now I’ve got a whole new view. I may be just a dumb truck driver, but I’ve seen something that don’t belong here…I wish the government would just admit it.”
“You know what it’s like in this city right now? It’s like having 50,000 people in a stadium watch a football game and then having someone tell us we weren’t there.”
On May 14, 1997, the morning after the sightings, an unidentified Airman from Luke Airforce Base reported that the base had received a call from Prescott Valley Airport. The caller was “reporting an object that had a near-miss with a small Cessna” around 8:32 p.m.” In response, the base sent two F-15s to investigate.
When the airmen returned to the base, one of the airmen said a pilot was extremely shaken by what he had encountered.
“The Command Pilot of this particular flight…I’ve never seen this man scared. And…he was scared to death. He’s not sure what it was…His statement was that they followed the aircraft, it went on a straight-line course. He saw five distinct lights in a triangular pattern.”
The unidentified airman also claimed that following the event, the base “had a complete lockdown…All hell broke loose basically, and the facility was closed.” The Air Force denied that this story ever took place.
Later the Air Force tried to dismiss the findings as flares dropped in a training exercise, but the sightings didn’t match up with the description of flares as they hovered in perfect formation and left not trails of smoke. The orbs were seen for several hours, while the military exercise supposedly took place around 10 p.m. The National Guard tried to replicate the phenomena with a release of flares on the third anniversary of the Phoenix Lights, but the attempt didn’t convince the public. The flares didn’t move in the same orderly way or fly across a vast expanse of the sky.
Thousands saw the Phoenix Lights, and yet we still have no idea what the glowing orbs were. There continue to be similar reports of triangular UFOs across the globe. We recently discussed another mass UFO sighting on May 13, 1917, in Fátima, Portugal. Upwards of 70,000 people saw a silver disc whirling around the sky. Both events seem to be performances meant to be observed by humans, but what remains unclear is what people are supposed to learn from them. Perhaps in the case of the Phoenix Lights, the amber-colored wavelength of light and formation of lights could reveal important clues about the craft.
See more about the Phoenix Lights phenomenon below from BuzzFeed featuring alien expert Giorgio Tsoukalos: