Next month we will observe the 24th anniversary of one of the most startling (and controversial, in at least some circles) events in the history of UAP sightings, the “Phoenix Lights.” Despite this much time having elapsed and a voluminous body of evidence, there are still questions that remain about not only the sighting but the government’s response to it at many levels.
For newer followers to the topic, if you’re not familiar with the Phoenix Lights, there is a plethora of information available on the subject. On March 13, 1997 a series of lights apparently attached to some massive unidentified craft were seen by literally thousands of witnesses over Phoenix, Arizona. But the name itself is a misnomer since the sightings actually extended over multiple states and lasted for many hours. For a full refresher, if you’ve never seen the 2005 movie The Phoenix Lights from director and witness Dr. Lynn D. Kitei, it’s an excellent resource.
In the aftermath of the event, the government scrambled to discount the event. This was seen at the local, state and federal level. But one theory after another was shot down in convincing ways based on both video and witness testimony, including many law enforcement and professional civilian reports.
Government officials at every level followed suit, saying that there was nothing to see here, so everyone should move along.
One of the worst examples came from the Governor of Arizona at the time. Fife Symington, faced with growing calls for an explanation, held a press conference where he paraded out his Chief of Staff in an alien costume, saying he had “solved the mystery.” Other government officials at every level followed suit, saying that there was nothing to see here, so everyone should move along.
The reality, of course, was that vast numbers of people had seen something extraordinary. The initial claims by the government that the lights had been military flares were quickly shot down. One conversation between UAP researcher Mike Hamilton and witness Bill Fortson demonstrated how the government’s shifting explanations about military flares and the locations where sightings were reported demonstrated the failure of a such an explanation to hold water.
More damning was the admission of Governor Fife Symington, in an interview ten years later, that he had actually seen the UAP himself, but had played his “joke” to deny any potential extraterrestrial involvement in an effort to prevent any sort of “panic” among his constituents. He went on to eventually say that he believed that the observed phenomenon was “otherworldly” in nature and that he regretted his initial handling of the issue. But he admitted that he also feared the repercussions of talking about such a “taboo” subject publicly.
Many things about the Phoenix Lights event now seem clear. A number of craft that were at least the size of a football stadium, potentially up to a mile across, cruised at slow speeds across a number of states in the desert southwest of the United States. Both the federal government of the country and those of state and municipal entities studiously worked to shut down any discussion of the possibility of any sort of non-human intelligence being involved.
The question we are left with is… why?
The question we are left with is… why? Was Fife Symington truly acting on his own accord, trying to keep the public calm and prevent a mass panic, such as was reportedly observed during a radio broadcast of War of the Worlds many decades before? Or did Governor Symington have more information and marching orders from some higher entity at the federal level?
At a minimum, Symington has admitted that he lied when he put on his phony costume show at the press conference. He believes that what the thousands of his constituents observed and, in many cases filmed, was real. He saw it himself and lied to the public. This was a very real event and likely one of the most startling in the history of ufology. But was he following orders or simply his own instincts? There is still time for this question to be answered, as many of the players and witnesses are still alive. And the world deserves an answer.
How different might the ufology world be today if Governor Fife Symington had demonstrated the courage of his convictions to speak up in the moment? Imagine where we might be today if, rather than trotting out a staffer in an alien costume, he had said, “I saw what you saw. I don’t know what it was, but I think we all deserve answers.” It could have advanced the debate considerably.