Case File: Phoenix Lights
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: March 13, 1997
Description: The Phoenix Lights were a series of lights that hovered over Phoenix, Arizona, in a V-shaped formation.
History: At 10PM on March 13, 1997, Michael Krzyston shot a video tape of strange lights hovering above the city of Phoenix, Arizona. Another video tape was shot at around the same time fifteen miles away. The bizarre lights were seen by over a thousand people in Phoenix during that night, which was when the Hale-Bopp Comet passed over the sky. Soon afterwards, the military came forward with an explanation for the strange lights. Captain Drew Sullins claimed that fighter jets were doing a night training exercise in the vicinity of the sightings area. The jets dropped several flares, which were believed to be the lights.
However, the problem with the explanation was that the military claimed that they dropped flares between 9PM and 10PM, while the most impressive sightings of the lights occurred between 8PM and 9PM, making many believe that the lights were actually UFOs. At 8:10PM, nearly an hour before the military dropped flares, Ross Nickle and his family were driving along Highway 89, ninety miles north of Phoenix when his son saw strange lights from above. At first, Ross thought they were stars or an airplane. However, when they got outside of their car, the lights began moving and changing colors. The lights made no sound and were about 1000 feet in the air.
At 8:30PM, a half hour before the military began dropping flares, a commercial airline pilot and his wife were driving ninety miles south of the Nickles when they saw the strange lights in sky. Even though he was a pilot, he had no idea what the lights were. The couple noted that the lights made no noise, and were pointing downward, which is inconsistent with an airplane. He counted five lights in a V-formation.
Fourteen miles southeast of the pilot's sighting and five minutes later (still twenty five minutes before the military dropped flares), Ozma Linderman and her boyfriend saw the strange lights as well. The lights were traveling at the same speed and appeared to be connected to one large object. A few seconds later, the object turned red and oval-shaped. It then shot up into the sky and disappeared.
Truck driver Gary Morris was driving at 8:45PM, fifteen minutes before the military flares were dropped, when he and another trucker saw the lights about ten miles south of Ozma's sighting. Within one hour, the Phoenix lights flew a total of 300 miles across the state of Arizona. An hour would pass before Michael Krzyston would videotape the lights.
The military continues to stand by their claim that the flares that they dropped were the "Phoenix lights", and that Krzyston's videotape is proof. However, actual video of military flares being dropped looks nowhere similar to the lights that Krzyston filmed, and they also do not match any of the other sightings of the lights. For the military, the case of the "Phoenix Lights" is closed, but for the people that sighted the lights, they believe that what they saw were not flares, and were instead UFOs.
Background: The Hale-Bopp Comet was one of the most widely observed comets during the 20th century, and passed over Phoenix, Arizona, along with the rest of the Southwest United States, on March 13, 1997, when the Phoenix Lights occurred. The city of Phoenix is located in Arizona and has a population of 1,440,000.
Investigations: UFO investigator Richard Motsen has investigated the Phoneix Lights since the sightings occurred. Interestingly, Motsen agrees partially with the military's explanation, in that the 10PM event videotaped by Michael Krzyston were indeed flares, but he has no explanation for the sightings that occurred between 8 and 9PM.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 29, 1998 episode.
- The Phoenix Lights on Unsolved.com
- Phoenix Lights at Wikipedia
- 5 surprising things about the 'Phoenix Lights' sighting we learned at UFO Congress
- 20 years later: What were the Phoenix Lights?
- Kurt Russell claims he saw — and reported — the 'Phoenix Lights'