Introducing… The Phoenix Lights – Part 2/2

A shot of the lights with a close-up. Credit:

By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness

Concluded from Part 1

According to MUFON, the most frequently viewed sequence of the lights seen over Phoenix (which can be distinguished from the lights that were seen over the Prescott area) shows them appear and disappear one by one.

“The most frequently seen sequence shows what appears to be an arc of lights appearing one by one, then going out one by one. UFO advocates claim that these images show that the lights were some form of ‘running light’ or other aircraft illumination along the leading edge of a large craft — estimated to be as large as a mile (1.6 km) in diameter — hovering over the city of Phoenix.

“Other similar sequences reportedly taken over a half hour period show differing numbers of lights in a V or arrowhead array.” (1)

Thousands of people reported witnessing a V-shaped craft that flew pretty low, and their descriptions of the lights themselves are interesting to say the least.

“Thousands of witnesses throughout Arizona also reported a silent, mile wide V or boomerang shaped craft with varying numbers of huge orbs. A significant number of witnesses reported that the craft was silently gliding directly overhead at low altitude, but skeptics say that the lights were more distant than the witnesses (along with UFO enthusiasts) thought.

“The first-hand witnesses consistently reported that the lights appeared as ‘canisters of swimming light’, while the underbelly of the craft was undulating ‘like looking through water’. However, skeptics claim that the video is evidence that mountains not visible at night partially obstructed views from certain angles, thereby bolstering the claim that the lights were more distant than UFO advocates claim.” (2)

A UFO enthusiast did a ‘spectral analysis’ on the photos that were taken and claimed that the lights couldn’t have possibly been manmade, pointing instead to extraterrestrial origin.

“UFO advocate Jim Dilettoso claimed to have performed ‘spectral analysis’ of photographs and video imagery that proved the lights could not have been produced by a man-made source. Dilettoso claimed to have used software called ‘Image Pro Plus’ (exact version unknown) to determine the amount of red, green and blue in the various photographic and video images and construct histograms of the data, which were then compared to several photographs known to be of flares.” (3)

I don’t consider myself a skeptic when it comes to UFOs, but it might have been better to either have a skeptic or someone who’s completely unbiased do the ‘spectral analysis’. I’m not saying Jim Dilettoso was biased, but the chance of bias is always there if the person doing the analysis is considered an enthusiast on the subject.

I know that being enthusiastic about UFOs (or wanting to prove they exist) doesn’t automatically make a person biased, but we can get the clearest picture from someone who doesn’t have a specific interest or agenda.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because Jim’s claims were eventually debunked due to the limitations of the technology he used.

“Several sources have pointed out, however, that it is impossible to determine the spectral signature of a light source based solely on photographic or video imagery, as film and electronics inherently alter the spectral signature of a light source by shifting hue in the visible spectrum, and experts in spectroscopy have dismissed his claims as being scientifically invalid.

“Normal photographic equipment also eliminates light outside the visible spectrum — e.g., infrared and ultraviolet — that would be necessary for a complete spectral analysis. The maker of ‘Image Pro Plus’, Media Cybernetic, has stated that its software is incapable of performing spectroscopic analysis.” (4)

We might not have Dilettoso’s word to go by, but we still have the word of all of the people who reported witnessing a V-shaped craft with multiple lights. It still stands that something bold, bizarre and potentially paradigm-shattering happened in Phoenix, and I think we should seriously investigate these lights and any other phenomena that could potentially point to some kind of advanced technology – whether it belongs to extraterrestrials or our governments, who hide things from us every day.

Others tests of the pictures and videos were done – one by the video laboratory ‘Cognitech’, and the other by a local news station.

“Cognitech, an independent video laboratory, superimposed video imagery taken of the Phoenix Lights onto video imagery it shot during daytime from the same location. In the composite image, the lights are seen to extinguish at the moment they reach the Estrella mountain range, which is visible in the daytime, but invisible in the footage shot at night.

“A broadcast by local Fox Broadcasting Company affiliate KSAZ-TV claimed to have performed a similar test that showed the lights were in front of the mountain range and suggested that the Cognitech data might have been altered.

“Dr. Paul Scowen, visiting professor of Astronomy at Arizona State University, performed a third analysis using daytime imagery overlaid with video shot of the lights and his findings were consistent with Cognitech. The Phoenix New Times subsequently reported the television station had simply overlaid two video tracks on a video editing machine without using a computer to match the zoom and scale of the two images.” (5)

An airplane at night. Credit:

One explanation for the first event – the lights that were witnessed over Prescott – is that they were simply airplanes. This explanation comes from a man who used his telescope to look at the lights, only to see regular airplanes up in the sky. Some witnesses argue that he didn’t actually see the lights everyone else saw.

“Proponents of two separate events propose that the first event still has no provable explanation, but that some evidence exists that the lights were in fact airplanes. According to an article by reporter Janet Gonzales that appeared in the Phoenix New Times, videotape of the v shape shows the lights moving as separate entities, not as a single object; a phenomenon known as illusory contours can cause the human eye to see unconnected lines or dots as forming a single shape.

“Mitch Stanley, an amateur astronomer, observed high altitude lights flying in formation using a Dobsonian telescope giving 43× magnification. After observing the lights, he told his mother, who was present at the time, that the lights were aircraft. According to Stanley, the lights were quite clearly individual airplanes; a companion who was with him recalled asking Stanley at the time what the lights were, and he said, ‘Planes’.

“When Stanley first gave an account of his observation at the Discovery Channel Town Hall Meeting with all the witnesses there he was shouted down in his assertion that what he saw was what other witnesses saw.

“Some have claimed that Stanley was seeing the Maryland National Guard jets flying in formation during a routine training mission at the Barry M. Goldwater bombing range south of Phoenix. It is possible that the Phoenix Lights Vee is actually a group of planes based on the explanation of a similar sighting in South California.” (6)

Like I’ve said before, we have to be willing to consider every side of the story when it comes to things like this, and as much as I’d love to automatically believe the Phoenix Lights were from genuine ET or government craft, we have to remember Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor is the practice of finding the simplest explanation before going wild with assumptions or explanations we want to be true. The simplest explanation is usually correct, and while it can be used as an excuse for closed-mindedness or unnecessary skepticism, it’s still helpful when it comes to investigating UFO sightings or anything else that, if proven genuine, would change the world overnight.

We have to consider Mitch Stanley’s theory just like we’d consider any theory that claims the lights were part of a large craft, and by getting the whole picture, we’ll come closer to understanding what truly happened that night.

I have to admit that the Air Force’s explanation of the second event really doesn’t resonate with me. They debunked the sighting in the same old tired way you’d expect by telling people that the lights were flares that quickly burned out, despite some of the witnesses’ amazing testimony.

“The second event was the set of nine lights appearing to ‘hover’ over the city of Phoenix at around 10 pm. The second event has been more thoroughly covered by the media, due in part to the numerous video images taken of the lights. This was also observed by numerous people who may have thought they were seeing the same lights as those reported earlier.

“The U.S. Air Force explained the second event as slow-falling, long-burning LUU-2B/B illumination flares dropped by a flight of four A-10 Warthog aircraft on a training exercise at the Barry Goldwater Range at Luke Air Force Base.

“According to this explanation, the flares would have been visible in Phoenix and appeared to hover due to rising heat from the burning flares creating a ‘balloon’ effect on their parachutes, which slowed the descent. The lights then appeared to wink out as they fell behind the Sierra Estrella, a mountain range to the southwest of Phoenix.” (7)

Lt. Col. Ed Jones claimed to have flown the craft that was responsible for the flares that were ‘mistaken’ as a UFO.

“A Maryland Air National Guard pilot, Lt. Col. Ed Jones, responding to a March 2007 media query, confirmed that he had flown one of the aircraft in the formation that dropped flares on the night in question. The squadron to which he belonged was in fact at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona on a training exercise at the time and flew training sorties to the Barry Goldwater Range on the night in question, according to the Maryland Air National Guard.

“A history of the Maryland Air National Guard published in 2000 asserted that the squadron, the 104th Fighter Squadron, was responsible for the incident. The first reports that members of the Maryland Air National Guard were responsible for the incident were published in The Arizona Republic newspaper in July 1997.” (8)

The government lies. Credit:

Personally, I trust the eyewitness accounts more than I trust the government. I think we should listen to the common man over the people who, in my opinion, want to keep us in the dark about a lot of things. I’m not saying I don’t believe the ‘official’ story, and I wasn’t there and couldn’t tell you for sure what happened. I am saying that these hurried explanations leave me convinced that some kind of cover-up is indeed taking place.

But again, we can’t ignore any of the evidence or the explanations that were given, and there were a few factors that support the idea that these lights were little more than flares.

“Military flares such as these can be seen from hundreds of miles given ideal environmental conditions. Later comparisons with known military flare drops were reported on local television stations, showing similarities between the known military flare drops and the Phoenix Lights. An analysis of the luminosity of LUU-2B/B illumination flares, the type which would have been in use by A-10 aircraft at the time, determined that the luminosity of such flares at a range of approximately 50–70 miles would fall well within the range of the lights viewed from Phoenix.” (9)

Fife Symington III, the aforementioned governor of Arizona at the time, publicly debunked but later supported the idea that the lights were not manmade. He made light of the whole thing by presenting his aide in an alien costume during the press conference where he said that the identity of the Air Force personnel responsible for the apparent flares were discovered, but he stated a few years later that he believed the lights were genuine UFOs.

“Shortly after the lights, Arizona Governor Fife Symington III held a press conference, stating that ‘they found who was responsible’. He proceeded to make light of the situation by bringing his aide on stage dressed in an alien costume. (Dateline, NBC).

“But in March 2007, Symington said that he had witnessed one of the ‘crafts of unknown origin’ during the 1997 event, although he did not go public with the information. In an interview with The Daily Courier in Prescott, Arizona, Symington said, ‘I’m a pilot and I know just about every machine that flies. It was bigger than anything that I’ve ever seen. It remains a great mystery. Other people saw it, responsible people. I don’t know why people would ridicule it’.

“Symington had earlier said, ‘it was enormous and inexplicable. Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too. It was dramatic. And it couldn’t have been flares because it was too symmetrical. It had a geometric outline, a constant shape.’” (10)

I hope I’m not the only one who’s bothered by the fact that the same governor who later admitted he believed these sightings were genuine and “didn’t know why people would ridicule it” ridiculed it himself by having his aide dress up as an alien. This too reeks of the kind of government “make fun of it” propaganda that makes people feel silly or naïve for considering that something real could’ve happened, but at least he eventually came forward with his truth.

A still from a video that was taken of the lights. Credit:

I can’t tell you whether or not the Phoenix Lights were genuine, but I can say that they’re one of the most interesting potential UFO sightings in our recent history. I’m sure the truth will come out in time, but for now, all we can really do is research these subjects, draw our own conclusions, and share what we learn with everyone who wants to hear it.

Who knows – we could learn the truth about the lights in the near future, especially if disclosure really happens, and I look forward to seeing what other interesting phenomena we witness in the years ahead.


  1. “The Phoenix Lights – 1997”, MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) –—1997.html (all other references for this report come from here)
  2. Loc. cit.
  3. Loc. cit.
  4. Loc. cit.
  5. Loc. cit.
  6. Loc. cit.
  7. Loc. cit.
  8. Loc. cit.
  9. Loc. cit.
  10. Loc. cit.

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