The Phoenix lights - aliens, hoax or mistaken identity?

Discussion in 'UFOs, Ghosts and Monsters' started by James R, Nov 26, 2014.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    In a post to another thread (link), Magical Realist wrote:

    I undertook to watch part of that video. I watched the section on the so-called Phoenix lights, which starts about 7 minutes in to the above video and goes for about 10 minutes. This event occurred in 1997. Unidentified lights of varying descriptions were seen in the sky by hundreds of people (perhaps thousands), in a space of about 300 miles from the Nevada line, through Phoenix, to the edge of Tucson.

    If you watch the linked video, you'll see statements from some eyewitnesses, some "reconstructed" footage of what they describe, and some examples of actual footage of some of the lights. You'll also see criticism of the then Governor, who in a press conference made light of the idea of that these lights (and related eyewitness descriptions) were evidence of one or more alien spacecraft.

    Magical Realist regards what is presented here as "very convincing" evidence for alien spacecraft. And taken at face value, the evidence presented sounds solid.

    Almost immediately after reports of the lights started flooding in to TV stations and the like, the military explained that it had dropped some flares from planes. But many people claim that such flares can't account for all the observations - for example the apparent movement of the lights observed by some witnesses, and their appearance over a wide area. On the face of it, this military explanation sounds implausible.

    But how much skeptical analysis is present in the video? Answer: none. The possibility that there is a mundane explanation for the Phoenix lights is canvassed in the video only so as to dismiss it without asking serious questions. In other words, the above video doesn't present an unbiased investigation of the lights. Instead, it presents the sightings with a pre-defined conclusion in mind: that they were of alien origin.

    I did a brief web search about this event. It took very little time or effort. Immediately, I found that somebody later actually have claimed to have perpetrated a deliberate hoax using flares tied to weather balloons. That's one possible explanation, but again it seems unlikely to be able to explain all of the eyewitness accounts over such a wide area. So now what?

    Well, as you would expect, there's a wikipedia page on this. Also, a number of skeptics have taken a look at the matter.

    It turns out that there were two distinct events here, not one. That is, the lights seen moving in a vee formation were different from the slowly moving or mostly stationary lights seen over the city of Phoenix. The moving lights were most likely a squadron of several airplanes, and the stationary lights were likely flares - either as described by the military (the most likely explanation) or perhaps put up by a hoaxer.

    Here are a couple of links if you want to find out more from a skeptical point of view. The first one is the wikipedia page.

    There's not a lot to discuss here, as far as I can see. All I really want to say is if this is an example of some of the most convincing evidence for aliens visiting Earth, then I'd say alien hunters need to come up with something a lot more convincing.
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  3. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    So besides aliens in the sky the only possible explanation I can think of is directed laser pulse air ionization, as is presented here by Japanese scientists:

    perhaps military had this technology figured out long ago...(as a possibility for anti-alien theory)

    also there has been research into actual plasma ball creation in the open air environment:

    again the military could have gone much further and controlled the intensity, the stability and overall movement of such plasma balls over large distances...
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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Another example of how skeptics will listen to half the story, then disregard details about it to support their own conclusion. The hundreds of eyewitness accounts testify that the object was GUN METAL GREY TO BLACK IN COLOR and BLOCKED OUT THE STARS as it flew over. It was HUGE and ROUNDED BOOMERANG SHAPE and moving in a specific direction while MAKING NO NOISE. The sighting took place at roughly 8:15 to 8:45. At 9:30 the military base sent up their flares, which is the account given by the media and which most pictures show. But the object was already gone by that time. The next night some guys in private planes flew over trying to replicate it. But everybody could hear their engines. So again, either you believe the whole story, or you don't believe any of it. But don't pretend to buy half the accounts while ignoring other crucial details of those accounts.

    Here's one of those accounts from eyewitness Sue Watson:

    "There are only four known videos that capture what happened in the sky over the Phoenix area. Each one shows a slightly different view of a series of lights out west. They blink on for a few minutes, then disappear.

    The U.S. military

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    maintains those lights were part of a training session involving flares dropped over the Barry M. Goldwater Range near Gila Bend, AZ.

    Witnesses like Sue Watson believe differently, because they saw something else.

    "Evidently what we saw that night was one of the biggest reported UFOs ever," she said.

    Watson and her family live in East Phoenix. She said that night they all watched an enormous black aircraft cruise slow and low over Camelback Mountain headed south.

    "It was like a [shopping] mall flying over my home," she said of the craft, described by multiple witnesses as being over a mile wide.

    "Seriously, when it flew over it was beautiful," Watson said. "It had these lights in front and then it was totally illuminated underneath, like a yellowish amber. It was a totally rounded boomerang shape."====

    Read more:
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    No. Another example of how a story gets embellished in the retelling, especially by people with an agenda. Also an example of how details can be changed or ignored to make the story sound better.

    When you observe some bright lights against a relatively dark background (like the night sky), the areas around the lights look even darker because your eyes get saturated with the light and you lose your dark adaptation.

    The planes in the vee didn't block out the stars as they flew over. In fact, there was even one witness who said he saw a giant boomerang-shaped spacecraft just like you describe, but he said he could see the stars through it as it passed overhead. His explanation? The aliens must have made their craft transparent as I flew over him. Go figure.

    Also, how do you account for the guy with the 60x telescope who had a good look and saw planes in a vee formation, flying high above? He could distinguish that each of the lights was in fact multiple lights (as in lights on the tips of the two wings of each plane etc.)

    The planes were flying high. However, some witnesses did report hearing the engine noise. The UFO people ignore them.

    The planes flew through at 8:15 to 8:45. That was incident 1. The flares were a different thing, and they happened at 9:30. Thus, your "object" and the floating lights over Phoenix were in fact two unrelated events, not one single event.

    Did you read the links I provided?

    How high did they fly?

    By the way, people tend to be poor judges of the heights of aircraft observed from the ground at night.

    Good advice that you should strive to follow yourself.

    The flares dropped behind the mountains, so they were observed to disappear.

    When was Watson first interviewed? Was this long after the event, or immediately after?

    The accounts from witnesses become less and less reliable the further removed from the event they were. This is in part because memory is faulty. It is also influenced by all the media involving UFOs and so on, so that over time a common story tends to emerge. It's like the classic image of the "grey" alien with the big ideas that is so common in pop UFO culture these days. People have settled on that image because it has appeared in so many films and other media.
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You have no clue what was embellished and what was true simply because you are someone who wasn't there and are speculating based on your reading of a career skeptic. Career skeptics for those who don't know are people who go around trying to refute every sighting of ufos that ever takes place because they somehow know in advance that all ufos are either conventional aircraft or weather balloons or hoaxes. Such biased interpreters are the last people you should turn to about what actually happened.

    Aircraft shining lights down that brightly? That doesn't even make sense. Besides, the accounts clearly describe the stars being blocked out and a rounded boomerang shape. I believe the eyewitnesses. They even describe the underside of the craft being illuminated by an amber glow.

    Was this alleged flyover of aircraft in a Vee formation with bright amber lights too high up to be heard ever confirmed by radar reports or the airport? Who was behind this extraordinary event, and why is the report of this person taken over the hundreds of other reports of people who saw a UFO. I'll tell you why. Because its all the skeptics have to debunk the sighting. Against all the testimony of all the witnesses, they dig up one guy who claims he saw aircraft thru a telescope. Sounds biased to me.

    Oh, so the planes were so high up they couldn't be heard, but had lights on their wings shining down that were bright enough to create an illusory "solid" darkness between them. I've never seen planes do that. Have you?

    High up but with extremely bright amber lights shining DOWN. Ok..

    Any confirmation of this 30 minute 300 mile fly over? Any pilots coming forward saying yes we did this? Now there WAS a fly over of planes attempting to mimic the ufo the next night. Could this witness actually have his nights confused. Sounds plausible to me. Memory is so fragile afterall right?


    Planes are pretty loud. Even at great heights they would likely have been heard, especially 5 of them.

    The descriptions of the majority of the witnesses does not match any aircraft flying in a Vee formation. I will include more accounts at the bottom.

    Does it matter? People tend to remember lucidly extraordinary events that happen to them. The emotional impact of the event on the witnesses cannot be denied. Something huge flew over Phoenix that night. And it wasn't the aircraft that flew over the next night.

    I doubt that thousands of witnesses all misremember an event in the same way over the years. People tend to remember clearly amazing emotionally-impacting events like seeing a UFO. I trust what they say. They were there. The skeptics weren't.


    "Among the most reliable witnesses of the craft's movements that first night were two airplane pilots, one retired from an airline, and another from Vietnam, who was also a U. S. Marshall. Though seeing the object at different times and places, both men described a craft of "immense size," measuring up to a mile long.

    The Marshall could also see the city lights of Phoenix reflecting from the bottom of the massive object, while it "blocked out the stars."

    One of the pilots also videotaped the UFO, but had the tape confiscated in a "men in black" encounter."
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  9. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Note in this account aircraft were seen near the object. This would explain what the amateur astronomer saw thru his telescope as well as accounts of lights that moved independently of it and made some noise.

    "The next sighting was reported from Dewey, AZ, located approximately 10 miles to the south of Prescott. Five adults and youth were driving north on Highway 69 to an appointment in Prescott, when they witnessed a very large cluster of lights, which formed a "V" shape in the sky. The driver pulled off the road into a grocery store parking lot, and all the occupants got out of their car in order to get a better look at the object. By this time, the object was directly above them, where it appeared to hover for several minutes.

    The member of this group who called the Hotline reported that the object was so large that, if he clenched his fist and held it at arm’s length, he could not cover the size of the object with his fist!

    In addition, he reported that based on his flying experience, he estimated that the object was not over 1,000 feet above the ground. He emphasized that there was absolutely no sound emanating from the object—it was absolutely silent, and it was moving at a very slow pace, considerably slower for example than a light aircraft would have been seen to move at that (assumed) altitude.

    He added that he could see a small, private aircraft in the vicinity of the object overhead, and that the aircraft appeared to be heading in the direction of the Prescott airport. More about this aircraft is described below in the description of the alleged interception of the strange object by F-15’s farther to the south

    One particularly noteworthy aspect of this observer’s report is that he had called both Prescott Airport, and Luke AFB to report the sighting. The female operator at Luke AFB volunteered to him that their switchboard had been deluged with reports about the strange object. Later statements from Luke AFB alleged that they had received no calls about the object.

    The next calls to arrive were from Chino Valley, Tempe, Glendale, Phoenix, Kingman, and Tucson…

    Many people called from those areas, far too many to describe in detail. One of the most interesting reports, however, was from a young man, who identified himself as an "amateur astronomer," who resides in west Phoenix. His description of the object, which he saw to the west of his home, appeared to be a cluster of solid, unblinking lights, which moved in an unwavering procession from the north to south. He could discern, he thought, that each of the individual lights in fact was two smaller lights. Also, he reported that he observed two aircraft in the vicinity of the object, one of which appeared to turn away from the object to the west, and the other which turned to the east.

    Another interesting report was submitted by a young mother, who stood outside her home, located in Phoenix approximately 1 mile south of Camel Back Mountain, and watched the object with her children for 5 minutes. She reported that the object was directly overhead her house, and that it was larger than her clenched fist when held at arm’s length! The object appeared to have lights along its sides, such that the lights gave the viewers on the ground the impression of a "boomerang" or "arrowhead" shape.

    After approximately 5 minutes, the object began to move slowly to the south. However, before the object disappeared from sight to the south, it appeared to "fire" out to the front of it a red beam of "laser light" for an instant. Then, as it moved slowly to the south, the lights of the front and sides of the object seemed to dim and fade from sight. There were no lights visible on the aft end of the craft as it moved away from the observers. The object just disappeared from sight in the southern sky…

    The object was next seen in Tucson, where a man watched the formation of lights for what he estimates to be 15 minutes…from 8:45 to after 9:00 p.m., he estimates. He reported to us that the lights had come from the northwestern sky, maneuvered overhead for 5-10 minutes, and then moved off to the south in "nose to tail" formation, disappearing from sight as they moved over the mountains.

    The last location to report was Kingman, AZ, where a young man, enroute to Los Angeles, called from a phone booth to report having seen a large and bizarre cluster of lights moving slowly in the northern sky.



    What the object was is still unexplained, but there are some things that can be ruled out, based on the reports that have been submitted to us so far :

    Aircraft - The object could not have been any type of conventional aircraft, since 1) it was witnessed by many people to hover silently, and 2) because it apparently covered the distance between Paulden and Prescott, AZ - not less than 30 miles - in approximately 1-2 minutes. Also, the lights seen on it were not consistent with any type of strobe lights, or navigation lights on any type of known aircraft, either private or commercial.

    Balloon - The object moved too fast to be a balloon.

    Hale-Bopp Comet - The object moved over large portions of the sky in very short periods of time. This is not consistent with a comet, which is virtually stationary, relative to other heavenly bodies

    Hence, the object remains unexplained—and extremely bizarre-- at the time of this writing."

    And here is a witnessed account of jet fighters that were scrambled by the USAF in response to the object.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Here's is a video interview of a whole family's VERY detailed account of this object. Evidently this thing came very low over the neighborhoods, to within 1000 feet! Note the clarity of the description. This is NOT some manufactured memory.

  11. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Wikeup and Page, both got military Air Force bases...and the geolocation of this family falls into that are range as well.

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    The public view of middle of nowhere...
  12. zgmc Registered Senior Member

    Lets say that there was an unidentified craft flying over Arizona that day. What would be a good way for the military to coverup these sightings? Maybe they would scramble some jets and drop some flares?
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. No military base wants to be caught not knowing what just flew over in their airspace. So there's protocol for that sort of contingency: you send up planes, fly them in V formation, and drop flares. It obviously worked as the media's official explanation became "the flares" that the military dropped an hour after the ufo flew over. Everybody bought that except the actual eyewitnesses.
  14. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    If you watched the video dropping flares isnt going to cut it as a triangle shaped craft hovering slowly.
  15. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Pot = kettle = black
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Only quoting half my statements are we? Here's what I said:

    "You have no clue what was embellished and what was true simply because you are someone who wasn't there and are speculating based on your reading of a career skeptic."

    That's definitely not the pot calling the kettle black, troll...
  17. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    I don't think you recognized what I was focusing on and why. Anyway:

    Speaking of pots and kettles, should I whine to the moderators about your namecalling, troll? Seems to me you just made it OK for me to call you a troll whenever I want, troll. Right, troll?
  18. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

    I think you made some typographical error here somewhere. What do you mean, eyes?
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You're a big boy now. Choose your own actions, and take responsibility for them.
  20. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    I meant that simply dropping flares which are not controlled is not going to explain the family story of a triangular shaped object slowly hovering right above them.

    These are what flares dropped from a plane look like:

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    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
  21. zgmc Registered Senior Member

    The triangular shaped object was witnessed some time earlier than when the military dropped the flares. See how much confusion the simple act of dropping flares has caused?
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Those are counter-measure flares, designed to fool incoming threats such as missiles.
    What was reported to have been dropped were illumination flares, complete with parachutes that are designed to keep them aloft as long as possible, and might even appear to hover. These types of flares are, unsurprisingly, quite visible for a considerable distance, given the right weather conditions.
    As I understand it, comparisons between the second "Phoenix lights" event and the dropping of such flares are quite favourable indeed, in terms of luminosity and formation.
    Just google pics of illumination flares.

    As for the first event, I thought these were identified as high-altitude aircraft in formation?
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    The first event, as reported by hundreds of eyewitnesses, bears not the slightest resemblance to high-altitude aircraft in formation. Skeptics have taken one man's account of seeing aircraft in his telescope as sole proof they were aircraft in formation. No reports from Sky Harbor airport or Luke AFB confirm this and noone has come forward about it. OTOH, just look at the eyewitness reports themselves. Here' an extremely detailed one that is quite fascinating:


    By Mike Fortson
    March 1997
    © 1997-2006 "I awoke from a brief nap in my recliner and leaned over to tell my wife that I was going to bed. I glanced to the clock on the television, it was 8:30 pm. As I walked down the hallway to the master bedroom, I noticed the bedroom window was open. The weather was most pleasant this March 13 evening, temp. 75 degrees, clear and no wind.(Jim Schnebelt Fox 10 weather) Typical Arizona spring evening.

    As I pulled the window closed, my eyes were attracted to the three huge, bright white lights angled down and very low to the ground. "Plane crash!" I thought. These lights were way too low and angled in a way nothing I know of could pull out of.

    I ran down the hallway, grabbed my glasses off the bar and yelled to my wife, of 25 years, "get outside right now!" Without hesitation she followed me out the back arcadia door to the edge of our patio. (I have timed this since and it took app. 8-10 sec)

    Standing at the edge of our patio, facing west, and looking north, confussion struck me. For there was no plane crash, but coming from the north and heading south was one, single structure that looked like a giant boomerang. (the description of boomerang, chevron (best), and V shaped object all apply). This object stuck out like a sore thumb in the evening sky due to the fact we were looking north towards the Phoenix metro area, and the city lights gave us a grey background in which to view this huge black V shaped object. It was so low to the surface we could not believe it. I remember saying, "what the hell is that?"

    The huge V shaped craft was moving slowly to the south. At this point, still northwest of us, we both saw a 737 in landing approach pass over the object. The plane was coming in from the west heading east. The V shaped craft was heading south from the north. As the 737 passed over the V shaped object, I said, "did you see that! Why didn't the plane get the hell out of there?" But it didn't. The pilot nor the planes computers saw nothing. (Just like the radars at Sky Harbor and Luke AFB. Nothing was detected.)

    I would like to explain more on this incident. We live app. 23 miles ESE of Sky Harbor in Phoenix. Planes coming in to land (most of the time) will come out by us, bank to the north (left), proceed for app. 10-12 miles, bank left again (west) and land at Sky Harbor. This is normal landing pattern. I have talked to airline pilots, tower operators, and investigators about the altitude of planes coming in to land at Sky Harbor, at the point of the first bank north where we live. The altitude..1200'. The massive V shaped craft we saw was under 1200' altitude!

    As the huge V shaped craft proceeded south, it was almost in front of us, when my eyes followed the left wing to it's end. We live 1/2 mile south of Chandler Blvd. The end of the wing was well past that and at least half way to Ray Rd. (1 1/2 miles north!) I remember saying to my wife, "that son-of-a-bitch is a mile long! As it passed in front of us all we could see is the left wing. That's how low it was. At arm's length the object was at least 30"+ long. I reported it was app. 1 1/2 mile west of us, going down Alma School Rd. But the closest part of the huge V, the end of the left wing was much closer. Maybe within a 1/2 mile. One thing that I remember the most is how this craft "floated" app. 30-40 mph. There was no visual means of propulsion and absolutely no noise. The altitude and speed of the craft never changed.

    On March 13, 1997, at app.8:31 pm mst., there was a bright bottom quarter moon setting in the western horizon. I said to the wife, "we're gonna get more detail, look, it's going right into the light of the moon." But instead of greater detail of this huge V shaped craft, what we saw still amazes us. As the front of the V shaped craft entered the light of the moon, this black chevron shaped object became translucent in bright light! We could still see the bottom quarter moon thru the object, but instead of bright white, it (moon) was a dingy yellow. As the V shaped craft exited the bright moon, it became a solid black object again. We watched as the entire craft passed thru this. Seeing a solid object going into and coming out of, was black. But as the craft passed between us and the bright, white moon, it was translucent.

    (Something about bright objects...witnesses who had this pass over their heads claim that as the craft passed between bright stars, it was like looking thru...water)

    By the time the end (left wing still) was passing thru the light of the moon, the front of the craft was disappearing into the night sky to our south. It never changed course, speed, or altitude. Just faded off into the night sky to the south of us.

    During the whole sighting we never moved our feet. We never considered getting a camera. We never thought of yelling for a neighbor. There was no question in our minds that what we saw was not of this Earth. Our total sighting was app. 1 minute and 45 seconds."===

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