Phoenix, AZ

The Unexplained Case of the Phoenix Lights

Herbie J Pilato


According to journalist Maryn Liles and, "On March 13, 1997, a string of five lights in a V formation appeared in the sky above Phoenix, Ariz. The National UFO Reporting Center reported that the first call about the lights came in at around 8:16 pm from a retired police officer in Paulden, Ariz., which is about two hours north of Phoenix. After that, the National UFO Reporting Center began to receive a slew of calls south of Paulden, suggesting that the lights were moving in a southeastern direction."

As Liles continued to report, "There were more than 700 alleged witnesses who saw the lights, including pilots, police officers and military officials who lit up the National UFO Reporting Center’s switchboard, demanding explanations. Some described the lights as orbs, others said triangles. However, a large number of witnesses described the lights as part of a singular massive craft that made no noise. Around 10 p.m., a second set of as many as nine lights appeared in the sky. A laser printer technician named Dana Valentine claimed to have witnessed the craft from his yard in Phoenix.

“We could see the outline of the mass behind the lights, but you couldn’t actually see the mass,” he noted. “It was more like a gray distortion of the night sky, wavy. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I know it’s not a technology the public has heard before.”

"Air traffic controllers could not see the lights on the radar," Liles documented, "...despite seeing them in the sky with their own eyes. Frances Barwood, the 1997 Phoenix city councilwoman who launched an investigation into the event, said that of the over 700 witnesses she interviewed, 'The government never interviewed even one.'"

"To this day," Liles concluded, "...the unexplained Phoenix lights remain a mystery."

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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