The mystery of the 1997 "Phoenix lights" incident seems to continue. TV shows, films, research articles and other explorations of the case still fascinate us - and still raise many questions.
As the 13th anniversary of the strange incident approaches on Saturday, March 13, 2010, it does seem an appropriate time to take a new look at clues about this case.
The theory that the Phoenix lights were a U.S. psychological operation of some kind gained new attention late last month when experienced researcher and writer Randall Fitzgerald published a thought-provoking article online titled "Were the 1997 Arizona Lights a psychological warfare experiment?"
This unique hypothesis was based on Fitzgerald's two-month fulltime investigation and interviews with more than 50 witnesses in 1997 funded by Reader's Digest magazine.
Fitzgerald reviewed points that most people are generally aware of. The lights were first seen in southern Nevada in the early evening and then mid-evening across the state line in west-central Arizona, moving in generally a south-southeast direction.
The lights were large and bright. They did not resemble normal aircraft lights to many observers. Some witnesses, but not all, saw five lights in a V-shaped formation.
Steadily making their way south-southeast, the lights entered the metropolitan Phoenix area in mid-evening and crossed the area diagonally, entering from the northwest and exiting the metro area on the southeast. The lights reportedly continued all the way to Tucson, Sierra Vista and possibly the Mexican border.
During this general time frame, out-of-state Air National Guard units training at Luke Air Force base on the western edge of metro Phoenix dropped flares in an area of the Barry M. Goldwater Range. The site of the flare drop was reportedly in an unusually far north part of the range and within sight of metro Phoenix.
Many factors in the case led to much speculation then, and over the years.
Did people see military flares from the training exercise? Was there something else that was not over the Goldwater Range but was directly over the city and surrounding communities (as well as other parts of Arizona and Nevada)?
Were both happening that night? And, if so, was this a coincidence?
It seems clear that something apart from the flares did fly directly over Phoenix. Were there five or more individual objects or aircraft? Or, was there one huge object with five or more bright lights on it?
This question is a main focus of Fitzgerald's article. Some witnesses saw distinctly separate objects and lights. Others are sure they saw one huge solid craft with multiple lights. Some witnesses thought they saw a translucent aspect of the object where they could see stars or the moon in a hazy and altered way through the craft. Other people said it was so solid that it blocked out the stars.
These and other interesting elements led Fitzgerald to speculate that this incident could have been a U.S. psychological operation (PSYOP) of some kind. He wondered in his article if several aircraft could have been equipped with holographic projection equipment that could create the illusion of a large craft.
He pointed out that the lights were first seen in the region around Area 51 in southern Nevada and last seen near the Army's Fort Huachuca (a major intelligence facility), southeast of Tucson near the Mexican border.
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