The history of mankind is riddled with the weird and the wonderful; bizarre people, strange places and odd events. For centuries, we’ve told each other fantastic stories around campfires and in darkened rooms. Tales of ghosts, UFOs, and conspiracies, but are these stories exactly that: Stories? There’s only one way to find out! Join me as I dive down the rabbit hole and into… the Unexplained Files.
This week: The Phoenix Lights
Phoenix, Arizona. March 1997. Across the city, hundreds of baffled residents gaze skyward as string of glowing orbs hang over the shimmering lights of Phoenix. It looks for all the world as though the glowing orbs are attached to one huge craft. The lights appear one by one and hang over the city (fooling anyone watching that they’ve tuned in to War of the Worlds) before eerily blinking out. It’s one of the most famous UFO videos of all time. Even if you have a passing interest in the field of ufology, you’ve seen it. By the time the event was over, hundreds of witnesses had become thousands, and copious numbers of Phoenixonians(?) who witnessed the event flooded the police with calls, because who the Christ are you supposed to call? In the days following, calls were made to nearby air bases, only for the air force to typically reply “Nope. Wasn’t us”.
So if not the air force, what the hell was over Phoenix that night?
You’re Kidding, Right?
A few days later, Arizona Governor Fife Symington held a press conference saying authorities were pleased to announce they’d caught the culprit. It would bring relief to large numbers, people who were genuinely shaken by what they'd seen. The town awaited with baited breath, only to see a dude appear dressed as an alien. Symington said the prank was designed to lighten the mood, but the nervy residents of Phoenix were far from impressed.
Then the Air Force changed their tune. They decided that actually, it was them. The official explanation was that the lights were military flares; similar to the ones you see cops using to light the roads after an accident in a movie, but these bad boys come with a cute little parachute. The military drops them to light areas at night for training exercises.
Flares? Weather balloons! Swamp gas! Yeah, right! How very convenient.
Well, actually, this idea was backed-up by a video analysis. Some clever shit took a film of the lights and superimposed it against a daylight video of the same backdrop. As the lights mysteriously blinked out one by one, it just so happened that the spot where they vanished was the same spot where the Estrella mountains stood in the daytime video. The flares were simply floating down behind the mountain. Pretty fucking conclusive, don’t you think?
Hold Your Horses!
For years after watching this video analysis, I was convinced that that was all there was to this story. The problem with that was I, like so many interested others, had only heard half of the story. The famous video may have been debunked, but what wasn’t so easily explained, was that dozens of witnesses actually reported a real live craft. A HUGE one. And not just on the horizon. This one drifted silently overhead. This was hours before the famous footage was shot. Reports were that this thing was so huge that as it passed overhead, both corners at the rear of the boomerang shape couldn’t be seen at the same time. It moved “too slowly” to stay airborne, and featured lights that shimmered in a colour witnesses found difficult to describe. Those that didn’t see the body of the craft were convinced that the triangular formation of lights was one object because as the lights passed overhead, it blocked out the stars.
Make Your Mind Up Time.
So what exactly were the Phoenix Lights? I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this: NOT flares. The first sighting actually came two years before the famous video was shot, and was caught on tape by a local doctor. As for the famous video; something was in the sky that night. It was seen over Paulden in the north, moved over Phoenix, and was spotted as far away as and Tucson in the south, a distance of over 230 miles. I'm pretty sure that the flares didn't float down from Paulden to Tucson, then float all the way back up to Phoenix just to duck behind a fucking mountain. And if they did, those flares are way weirder than any giant aircraft I can imagine. Maybe they'll get their own blog post one day*.
When Governor Symington retired, he actually came out and said that on the night in question, he’d witnessed something with his own eyes. A former pilot himself, he and a crowd of other witnesses saw a huge object the size of an aircraft carrier. A flying, silent aircraft carrier. He claimed that he kept the sighting to himself at the time because he didn’t want to cause a panic.
Phoenix itself is split since the incident, apparently if you ask a Pheonixite (?) it’s 50/50 whether they’ll say UFO or not. Maybe it was the military wanting to keep a shiny new top secret thing top secret; just testing the waters to see how the public would react upon seeing such an outlandish craft. Who knows how far advanced the toys they have are ahead of what we know about.
But it definitely wasn’t flares.
RATING: 1=Bollocks 2=Not convinced 3=Possibly… 4=Compelling stuff 5=Holyshittheskyisfalling
What do you think? Flares? UFO? Government experiment? Comment below!
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.