In March of 1997, thousands of citizens across Arizona witnessed one of the most incredible mass UFO sightings in history. This incident has famously come to be known as The Phoenix Lights.
On Thursday, March 13, 1997, a large unidentified craft was sighted in the skies over Arizona.
The first reported sighting was by a police officer in Paulden, Arizona. Within a few minutes, the lights were seen about 50 miles away in Prescott, Arizona. Shortly thereafter, they were sighted by air traffic controllers over the Phoenix Airport.
The craft then silently made its way to Tucson, Arizona. Local authorities were swarmed with phone calls about the lights, and many witnesses had seen aircraft from Luke Air Force Base sent out to investigate the strange lights. The U.S. military was allegedly placed on a defense condition alert (DEFCON 3) - in response to the lights. Nonetheless, military officials denied ever sending out any jets to investigate the lights.
(Computer-generated imagery of The Phoenix Lights)
Multiple witnesses say the lights were connected and radiating from a single source, giving the impression of a structured craft. They also say the craft was so enormous that it had to be over a mile long. The unidentified aerial phenomena was silent and seemingly had translucent capabilities. Witnesses describe being able to see the stars through the craft as if they were looking through water.
A decade after the sighting, the former Governor of Arizona, Fife Symington, described the anomaly by stating, "To my astonishment, it appeared to be a solid structure. It was huge. It had a very distinctive leading edge with huge embedded lights, and it was just traveling quietly, made no sound through the Arizona night sky."
The only general aviation pilot to report the lights that night is Hollywood actor Kurt Russell. He sighted the lights with his son Oliver over the Phoenix airport just before they landed. Russell describes the sighting by saying, “I saw six lights over the airport in absolute uniform in a V shape."
The Press Conference
On June 19, 1997, Fife Symington held a press conference to address the Phoenix Lights incident. The mass UFO sighting, which occurred in March, had not been officially addressed by the Governor for months. Nevertheless, the lights were witnessed by thousands across the state of Arizona and had the public on edge without an explanation. Several news outlets from Arizona attended Symington's conference as he had announced that the mysterious lights would finally be explained.
All in all, the press conference turned out to be a spoof and was not serious once the media realized that Symington had his chief of staff mockingly dressed as an Alien. He then said, "this just goes to show that you guys are entirely too serious."
In 2007, Symington set the record straight and admitted that he, too, had seen the otherworldly lights. When discussing his 1997 press conference, he said, "It was meant to be a spoof. That worked. We managed to lessen the sense of panic at the time."