Who Forted? Magazine

New Eyewitness Account of the Phoenix Lights Surfaces Online

A new eyewitness account of the infamous 1997 Phoenix Lights incident in Arizona and Nevada has just surfaced online, describing the “massive lights” from a vantage point of almost directly underneath.

The Phoenix Lights were seen by thousands of people in the Southwest on March 17, 1997. From the hours of 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM eyewitnesses reported seeing a giant “carpenters square” shaped craft hovering in the air in a space of some 300 miles. The incident was phoned in by everyone from civilians, to police offers, to even the Arizona governor and has since been the subject of numerous books and movie.

The official government explanation for the strange sight was that the public had seen “illumination flares” from a training exercise. This might have been a satisfying explanation for some, but there are plenty, particularly those that witnessed the sight for themselves, who hold steadfast to the believe that these lights were no flares, but something far stranger.

Now, nearly two decades after the event, a user from the Above Top Secret forums has shared a portion of correspondance with someone who claims to have witnessed the Phoenix Lights in 1997 from almost directly underneath. The email, shared by “esteay812“, is as follows:

My family and I recall that night often. I had only lived in phoenix for about a year, year and a half at most. We were living on williams airforce base when we saw it. We actually saw it from two vantage points though. Williams was the second. 

We were at my aunts house when we first noticed it. That was about 10 miles to the north north west (roughly) near Mesa Dr. and I forget what other road. There was a middle school nearby my cousin went to. Anyway, it was just after sunset, or so it seemed, I was still young. My cousin John Doe spotted it and called me outside. Then i saw it and called out my dad and broth (sic).

It was very large to my memory. Not as high as a jumbo jet or anything, but it was at least 5,000 feet up and massive, in the shape of a V made out of lights. They weren’t regular sized lights, they were relatively larger than stadium lights while standing at the bottom of the pole they are mounted on, but thousands of feet in the air and not extremely bright either. They were more like a yellow, old school street lamp as it looks through a rainy fog, maybe even distorted, but you could dismiss that as being mesmerized at the time.

After seeing it and watching it move towards the south (ish) direction, we went back into my aunt’s house for five minutes and then left. My dad, my brother, and myself all drove home and we stared out the window at it, as we went. We were headed back south along the freeway, from Mesa Drive towards Williams AFB. (Sorry, I don’t know the cross streets, all i know is that it was within about 10 – 15 mins from our house at most)

There was a point where we kind of ended up not under it directly, but we could see less lights off to the side more. (im writing the story on here as it recalls in my head, trying to be honest as possible without deleting things)

We were talking a lot at this point and I don’t remember as many visual details. We got home a few minutes later. My dad got inside and made his bed and crap, while John Doe and I were watching.

At this point we were farther away and the vantage point changed. We saw the same V shape, but it wasn’t as large. Also, you could see the thickness of the lights now, very thin in comparison to it’s size. They looked like those weird battery powered, ‘as-seen-on-tv’ lights ~ the round ones that you slap or press to turn on. The lights still appeared as if they were under that same fog, the same thickness, but from a further distance.

We watched this thing move all across the city for about 20 – 25 minutes in total, just like we did when they were too far away to judge, but still visible.

I think it was a show, like going to a nocturnal fish or zoo exhibit and just shinning a flashlight down thinking “hey, they are probably too dumb to know whats going on”… maybe they are right, but who knows.

You can archive this, or do whatever you want to do with it. This is the same thing I have said, every time, to the best of my memory.

Granted, there’s no way to verify is this person is who they say they are, but the account seems to match up just the same. The unique description of the lights themselves is the most interesting part of the report, leading some forum posters to question whether or not the glowing objects were some sort of “propulsion exhaust”. You can read the entire thread (there’s a rumor the eyewitness may show up to discuss the event in person) here.

Four years ago another report came out from a man who claimed to have inside knowledge of the response to lights from the 56 Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, saying that the US Air Force was in a ”state of anxiety” due to the event, and the flares dropped were merely a distraction.

So, could this be another piece to the Phoenix Lights puzzle? Or is it just another wild goose chase put on by a forum user with too much time to kill? Do you believe the official government story of flares, or do you think the lights were something else entirely? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Greg Newkirk

Greg Newkirk

Senior Editor at Who Forted
Documentary film-maker, professional monster chaser, and mystery monger, Greg is the senior editor for Who Forted? 'Zine. When he's not occupied by writing about the wide world of the weird, he's busy directing and editing documentary films like The Bigfoot Hunter: Still Searching or writing about offbeat travel for Roadtrippers. He's currently in production on his new project: an original documentary web series titled Planet Weird. He currently lives in Cincinnati.
Greg Newkirk
Greg Newkirk

28 Comments

  1. S.

    01/10/2013 at 7:06 AM

    “or do you think the lights were something else entirely?” Considering the amount of witnesses and their testimony, sure I do! When one of the best explanations that the opposition can offer is “a bunch of rich guys in monoplanes” it really makes them sound desperate.

    That said, it could always have been a mass hallucination. Like meteors before the Royal Society would admit they existed.

    Then again, I also really believe my best friend saw Orson Welles in an Ohio diner a few years ago so I might not have the best credentials…

  2. R Emmet Lee

    01/11/2013 at 7:06 PM

    It might have been Orson Welles. He’s long been rumored to frequent Cincinnati.

    As to the lights, is it really believable that thousands of witnesses saw commonplace things and all reacted to them as though they were otherworldly?

    Furthermore, the fact that the primary and significant sighting accounts are of a giant, dimly lit V-shape but the “wag-the-dog” story somehow focuses on what is transparently a line of flares dropping below a ridge almost constitutes all the proof that is needed.

    Something weird happened, and it was weird enough that the disinformation agencies had to go to work undermining the otherwise obvious reality of the situation.

    • Mgk

      01/13/2013 at 12:15 AM

      I used to work with a guy that saw it too it flew over him and blocked out the stars he told me. He is one of those people that wouldn’t make up the story.

  3. Henry Paterson

    01/11/2013 at 9:18 PM

    The Phoenix lights are among the most enigmatic of UFO sightings, but so long after the fact when so much has been written and speculated about them? A “new witness” can hardly be given any credibility as an unbiased and uninflueced account.

    • James Kelly

      01/14/2013 at 5:03 PM

      Exactly.

      Witness contamination is a big problem in UFO cases. Anyone can claim that they saw the Phoenix Lights years later.

      Here is something interesting. I was an investigator for MUFON in Phoenix at the time of the Phoenix Lights incident and for many years later. About 5 years ago I was approached by a witness who said she saw the giant triangle along with another pilot witness at around 8:30 PM between Phoenix and tucson. Their small plane just cleared a mountain range when they sighted the huge triangle hovering in mid air not moving.

      The witness then stated that the craft just vanished, as though someone had hit a light switch and it was gone…

      Great story. We made plans to meet and she said she would show me the exact location on her aircraft map on where it happened.

      She never showed up to the meeting and I never heard from her again.

      In the end, it just is another story about UFO’s….

      • Kendra Bonds

        07/21/2013 at 11:13 PM

        Are you the James Kelly that worked at American Express? I saw a UFO during the day time a couple of months ago. Was silver in color and had red or orange and yellow flashing lights. Was hovering pretty low.Was around 49Ave/Tbird

  4. PurrlGurrl

    01/11/2013 at 9:30 PM

    The witness, still a child or young teen at the time of the sighting, estimates the thing was 5,000 feet overhead. What expertise could this boy have had to make that estimate and for it to be even close to accurate? I find that detail casts doubt on the story, as it does in all sightings accounts containing altitude statements. The average person doesn’t have the expertise to make an accurate estimate unless the object is in very close proximity to a structure of known height.

    • Anon

      01/12/2013 at 10:20 AM

      oh well thats it then, it was an hallucination brought on by a night of binging on cocaine & acid! Good call!!!

  5. Danger Dan

    01/12/2013 at 5:52 AM

    Has anybody dropped flares in the same area to see if they looked the same as the Phoenix lights?

    • Junior Seau

      01/12/2013 at 7:34 PM

      Yes, UFO Hunters did a program on it. It was totally different.

    • Jeff Johnson

      01/27/2014 at 5:09 AM

      The problem with the flares excuse is , where were the planes that dropped them ? Plenty of video footage that certainly did not show any form of ‘wordly’ aircraft in the area … Must not have liked them very much either since they haven’t been used since …….. That being said , even if the e mail is true , in a moment like that adrenaline is pumping and you almost may have a false sense of what is truly happening , memory is not reliable , it can change the size of a room or color of a car , you sub-consciously remember things the way you want to remember them instead of how they actually happened .

  6. DaveO

    01/12/2013 at 12:13 PM

    I saw this exact set of lights on July 4th, 1998 SE of Farmington New Mexico, minutes before a Fourth of July fireworks celebration commenced. Many sitting in an empty lot waiting for the fireworks started staring towards those lights beyond the bluffs which they were to launch off, totally immobile and were pointed downward. My father was the first to speak up, and said “is that a constellation?” About that time, the lights slowly started turning off, from the point at the bottom to the ones on top.It became quiet for a couple minutes, with onlookers not knowing what to say. The distance and altitude was very hard to determine, but I would say it was several miles away, hovering and pointed downward above the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) farm fields. FYI, many strange occurances happen there in the NAPI, especially at night and thruout the Navajo Indian Reservation.

  7. Press To Digitate

    01/12/2013 at 6:44 PM

    Given that there were far more eyewitnesses to the Phoenix Lights than there were to Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook, combined, it is mind boggling just how boggled some minds are about what all is actually encompassed in our reality. The deep psychological denial that most people seem to experience when dealing with the reality of the Extraterrestrial presence is more frightening – as a portent for our species – than the fact that ‘they’re here’ in the first place.

    Watching the National Geographic’s “Critter Cam” capture and monitoring initiative for large fauna in the wild truly raises questions about the probability of Alien Abductions, Medical Examinations, and Implanted Devices. All in all, it seems far more likely that most ufological lore is real than that so many millions of people of all cultures around the world throughout history were all curiously subject to the same bizarre unfounded delusion.

  8. Vicar Lee

    01/12/2013 at 8:27 PM

    Agreed. It seems likely that we are regularly buzzed by alien craft and related phenomena, but it should also be considered that we are collectively the most mentally ill of the primate species known to us on this planet. Given that this fundamentally means we have difficulty in coping with reality, we should hope that the alien visitors are trying to “cure” us of our various delusions – like rabid skepticism – before something really bad happens to us. It might be high time for the naysayers to open their eyes, take their fingers out of their ears, and stop shouting “There’s nothing strange happening!” over and over again.

    Of course, not all of the beings that humans may have had encounters with can have the same agenda… That would be a very unlikely consequence. It’s more probably a very Doctor Who or Lovecraftian universe we’re living in. Let’s hope whomever or whatever is protecting us from the various others who are aggressively disinterested in helping us doesn’t get bored or disgusted with us and wander off.

  9. Dave

    01/12/2013 at 10:16 PM

    The triangle with three orange orbs isn’t a ufo its a TR-3B owned by the US government. Its a partially, antigravity craft.

    • Jeff Johnson

      01/27/2014 at 5:14 AM

      And was able to slowly move throughout the sky for 3 hours without having to attain fuel ?

  10. Martin Truther

    01/13/2013 at 12:04 AM

    Just some wild (but intriguing, I hope) speculation: I wonder how this phenomenon of the Phoenix Lights would be described by ancient cultures of about 2000 years ago? “A host of angels” perhaps? And then, what if the meaning of the Phoenix Lights was similar to that earlier phenomenon described in the Bible and someone special was born that night in Phoenix? They’d be 18 on March 17, 2015. I wonder how many kids were were born in Phoenix that night?

  11. Rocketmissile

    01/13/2013 at 12:20 AM

    Those thousands of people didn’t see what they saw. Just ask any skeptic.

  12. Pingback: New Eyewitness Account of the Phoenix Lights Surfaces Online « Exothings

  13. Ranee psachos

    01/14/2013 at 2:33 AM

    I moved to Phoenix maybe a day or two days after the lights appeared. It was still all over the news. There was footage of the lights shown on the news a lot. The footage showed a large triangular shaped black craft with big lights centered along the angles of the triangle. The footage was strangely silent for such a big thing/craft in the sky. It seemed solid. You could see where it blocked stars and Phoenix city lights. It moved slowly,sort of hovered. It seemed like a special effect straight out of Hollywood. I had never given aliens a lot of thought but I remember it being a really exciting time in my life and I felt it was totally possible to see those light again. It seemed like first contact would happen shortly. It never did. 1/14/2013

  14. James Kelly

    01/14/2013 at 4:49 PM

    People are still confusing the 10:00 PM Flare event with the reported 8:30 PM sighting of a large triangular object floating over Phoenix.

    All video footage captured that night were either the flare lights or the V shaped object that were a group of aircraft moving across the sky. I was an investigator in training for MUFON in Phoenix and actually watched as the lead investigator proved to me that the V shaped object was nothing more than other planes in the formation. He did a frame by frame comparison to reach his conclusion.

    The only mystery is the 8:30 pm sighting of the triangle hovering close to the ground.

    It is hard for me to believe that in a city of almost 5 million people, no one took video or other camera footage of it.

    Many witnesses have come forth, but I fear they just saw the V shaped formation and assumed it was the large UFO triangle.

  15. Robert

    03/05/2013 at 12:42 AM

    I don’t know about the “triangle” shape lghts but, I have seen on multiple occasions the lights that resemble flairs. Moved to the metro Phoenix area what locals call the West Valley. I have seen and still see these lights over the desert about 20 miles West of Luke AFB most recently on or about March 1 2013. They do look very strange not normal flairs. I think they look more like the after-burners on a jet flying away from you. The AF activity in the area is constant and anoying. My 2 cents.

  16. Pete Rose

    03/14/2013 at 9:40 PM

    I was living in Phoenix on 3/13/97. I didn’t see anything, but I wasn’t outside looking. I was inside Sky Harbor waiting for a delayed flight to arrive for several hours. I heard, while I was in the airport that people were seeing strange things that night. My girlfriend, living in Scottsdale at the time, said her phone was ringing off the hook from people who claimed they saw the big V. I have done a fair amount of research on this incident – and it seems to me that it was a false flag operation. I think the US Govt purposely used hallogram technology to test out how people would react to it (PSYWAR). The light were last seen down by the border of Mexico. Fort Huachuca is down there and has an airport. They also do PSYWAR training down there along with other secretive stuff. It’s common knowledge that aliens and UFO tactics are done by militaries around the world to create hysteria and fear. These were not UFOs. These were tests. What’s the end game? Wait and see. Fife Symington is a crook and will always be one. This clown coming out ten years later claiming to “set the record straight” is a complete joke. He’s a liar – no two ways about it. Now in 2007 I’m supposed to believe him? Whatever – he owes the govt – they bailed him out and pardoned him from going to jail for 3 years. Come on people, wake up. Aliens are not real – worry about your corrupt govt instead. They’ve already used hallogram technology on you twice now 1) Phoenix Lights 2) 9/11.

  17. AnoNymous9

    04/02/2013 at 7:48 PM

    I was four at the time and nowhere near Phoenix or Arizona; but for what it’s worth, I agree with the French government that the extraterrestrial explanation is indeed the likeliest for at least a few limited UFO sightings, if not perhaps even a statistically significant minority of the cases.

    (Skeptics, read the COMETA report. No, actually read it, don’t just pretend that it’s some other half-wit hoax. If you can’t handle the original French, there are some unofficial English translations; in any case, this is an official document written primarily by French military officers and a few scientists and published by the actual French Republic. You know, the one based in Paris. Credible enough for you?)

    If we agree that the French have actually studied this and come to the conclusion that it is not beyond reason to believe in at least a few aliens, then I think the next course of action is clear; get proof of the kind that even the skeptics can cling to.

    Sadly, this particular thing in Phoenix will never be settled, will never provide such evidence no matter how many new witnesses appear. The trail has gone cold, the river run dry.

    Most of all the optical illusion theory is frankly rather convincing. I’ve heard skeptic anecdotes which claim that witnesses saw the formation turn “invisible” only while passing in front of the moon; this would tend to prove that the illusion was optical, an illusion of contrast that only made it look like there was a big black V. This anecdote is of course in complete opposition to the anecdote posted here, that some witnesses saw the craft actually blocking out the stars and more importantly the very lights of the city itself. From the person to person standpoint, ignoring what we non-gods think we know about the world, neither story is more inherently plausible than the other.

    What we really need now is to prepare for the next big sighting. The next Xiaoshan-airport-style closing needs to be documented and characterized. We need public, independent surveillance cameras posted on the top of our skyscrapers and around our air and military bases, running twenty-four seven watching our skies. Interested parties that own homes with prominent landscape views should take it upon themselves to monitor their home territories for signs of UFOs. Dash-mounted cameras like those that caught the recent Chelyabinsk meteor on tape would be a smart insurance idea even apart from potential ufological implications. Most of all, we should try to synthesize the collections of UFO anecdotes from across all the disparate agencies and organizations of the world, forming a shared database backed up in multiple, in order to improve cooperation among various research institutions with the goal of identifying useful patterns in purported UFO events.

    We should also refocus and start looking for the types of evidence that really matter. Odd lights are everywhere, in swamps, deserts, and microwaves. (Try this: light a match, put in in a microwave, push go, watch the plasma balls, and don’t sue me if you hurt yourself or break your microwave. Or find it on YouTube.) Flying dark spots with useful reference points, on the other hand are tricky to reproduce by natural means. If someone had caught a video of city lights winking out as the formation passed over them, this would have proven that the V-formation in Phoenix was a solid object rather than an optically illusory formation.

    Physical signs after purported UFO landings (as in the Rendlesham Forest case) are also much more major pieces of evidence than personal attestations; people hallucinate all the time, but hallucinations don’t cause random patches of grass to suddenly spike with unnaturally high levels of radiation, not without deliberate action by a technological force of some kind. If people claim to have been hurt or bodily altered by aliens, someone with an open mind needs to examine the physical symptom and illustrate why exactly it is not an injury likely to happen to a person accidentally. The string of sightings from Colares, Brazil comes to mind instantly as a case that should deserve much consideration. Dr. Carvalho knows far too well that the two patients who died there should not be dismissed lightly.

    Most of all, we should stop pretending that it this is not a phenomenon of at least cursory importance to national security. At the most skeptical, this phenomenon should be considered a new form of mental illness brought on by the stress of military aviation, given that so many UFO incidents are reported not by civilian but military aviators. (Again, the French COMETA Report authors were primarily military officers.)

    As illustration of skeptic interest in UFOs, I find it almost criminally irresponsible to say that when a bunch of nuke-armed Americans started hallucinating in Suffolk, that the matter was “not of defense importance” to Britain or her people. Likewise when a bunch of American nuclear weapons just suddenly stop working after a UFO sighting near a nuclear facility; America should want to know why exactly our nukes went down. How much more, then, if the ufologists have anything right about UFOs, anything at all, should the matter then deserve at least the smallest amount of attention and recognition by someone official, someone other than idealistic New Age romantics.

    In any case, that’s my two bits. Hope someone out there on this big blue ball of ours finds it useful, hilarious, or elucidating. To the extraterrestrials who may very well be tapping into our quite convenient network of telecommunications wires, I say this:

    Welcome to Earth. Please don’t kill us. I promise, someday we’ll grow up if you give us the chance.

  18. Adam

    06/04/2013 at 5:43 AM

    Some people would not believe in Et’s even if a mile wide spaceship hovered
    over a major city.

    Oh wait…..

  19. Phoenix

    06/21/2013 at 12:21 PM

    I’m a former USAF military pilot. I spent most of my career in the Air Force as an instructor pilot flying both the T-38 and T-37. I felt compelled to explain that nothing that happened that night was other worldly. The second incident on ‘Lights Over Phoenix’ was a formation of Canadian Air Force instructor pilots (IP’s) flying the Tutor training aircraft. They were on a weekend cross-country trip (flying away from home base) down in the States. This is very common for both them and us. They were flying from Nellis AFB, Las Vegas down to Davis Mathon AFB. Tucson. They flew this night time formation even though it’s against their rules to fly night formation knowing they wouldn’t get busted since they’re down in the States. When they fly night formation it’s their technique in the Tutor to shut off the navigation lights and turn on the large landing light located in the nose of the aircraft. This helps with not having to stare at bright blinking lights but the glow of the landing light is enough to position yourself with the leading aircraft to your left or right.
    How do I know all this? The day after the ‘Lights Over Phoenix’ documentary aired back in 98′ I was walking through the squadron and ran into our token Canadian exchange pilot who had been with us for a few months. He asked if I saw the documentary by chance and when I said yes he told me he was in this formation and gave me all these details and even showed me his logbook immediately after. I saw the documentary again and the date matched including the time of night. The Canadian pilots name was Julian Daintree and after all these years I think he still instructs at the training base near Regina.
    I currently fly for a major airline and there’s two pilots here who argue who was the one that shot the flares from their A-10 that was the first incident. If you believe me I hope this solves the mystery for you and others. Why the facts never came out I don’t know. But this incident makes me even more skeptical about what people believe they see, be it UFO’s or ghosts.

  20. Pingback: Your Opinions On These Two Reports Please. - Page 2

  21. Frank Thoughts

    02/03/2014 at 3:55 PM

    Seen by so many it was obviously a real thing. I’m guessing military.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>