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There were allegedly two distinct events involved in the incident: a triangular formation of lights seen to pass over the state, and a series of stationary lights seen in the Phoenix area. The United States Air Force identified the second group of lights as flares dropped by A-10 Warthog aircraft that were on training exercises at the Barry Goldwater Range in southwest Arizona.
Witnesses claim to have observed a huge carpenter's square-shaped UFO, containing five spherical lights or possibly light-emitting engines. Fife Symington, the governor at the time, was one witness to this incident; he later called the object "otherworldly."
The lights were reported to have reappeared in 2007 and 2008, but these events were quickly attributed to (respectively) military flares dropped by fighter aircraft at Luke Air Force Base and flares attached to helium balloons released by a civilian.
At about 18:55 PST (19:55 MST), a man reported seeing a V-shaped object above Henderson, Nevada. He said it was about the "size of a (Boeing) 747", sounded like "rushing wind", and had six lights on its leading edge. The lights reportedly traversed northwest to the southeast.
An unidentified former police officer from Paulden, Arizona is claimed to have been the next person to report a sighting after leaving his house at about 20:15 MST. As he was driving north, he allegedly saw a cluster of reddish or orange lights in the sky, comprising four lights together and a fifth light trailing them. Each of the individual lights in the formation appeared to the witness to consist of two separate point sources of orange light. He returned home and through binoculars watched the lights until they disappeared south over the horizon.
Prescott and Prescott Valley
Lights were also reportedly seen in the areas of Prescott and Prescott Valley. At approximately 20:17 MST, callers began reporting the object was definitely solid, because it blocked out much of the starry sky as it passed over.
John Kaiser was standing outside with his wife and sons in Prescott Valley when they noticed a cluster of lights to the west-northwest of their position. The lights formed a triangular pattern, but all of them appeared to be red, except the light at the nose of the object, which was distinctly white. The object, or objects, which had been observed for approximately 2 to 3 minutes with binoculars, then passed directly overhead the observers, they were seen to "Bank to the right", and they then disappeared in the night sky to the southeast of Prescott Valley. The altitude could not be determined, however it was fairly low and made no sound whatsoever.
The National UFO Reporting Center received the following report from the Prescott area:
At the town of Dewey, 10 miles (16 km) east of Prescott, Arizona, six people saw a large cluster of lights while driving northbound on Highway 69.
First sighting from Phoenix
Tim Ley and his wife Bobbi, his son Hal and his grandson Damien Turnidge first saw the lights when they were above Prescott Valley about 65 miles (100 km) away from them. At first they appeared to them as five separate and distinct lights in an arc-shape like they were on top of a balloon, but they soon realized the lights appeared to be moving towards them. Over the next ten or so minutes they appeared to be coming closer and the distance between the lights increased and they took on the shape of an upside down V. Eventually when the lights appeared to be a couple of miles away the witnesses could make out a shape that looked like a 60-degree carpenter's square with the five lights set into it, with one at the front and two on each side. Soon the object with the embedded lights appeared to be coming right down the street where they lived about 100 to 150 feet (30 to 45 meters) above them, traveling so slowly it appeared to hover and was silent. The object then seemed to pass over their heads and went through a V opening in the peaks of the mountain range towards Squaw Peak Mountain and toward the direction of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Witnesses in Glendale, a suburb northwest of Phoenix, saw the object pass overhead at an altitude high enough to become obscured by the thin clouds; this was at approximately between 20:30 and 20:45 MST.
Arriving in Phoenix
When the triangular formation entered the Phoenix area, Bill Greiner, a cement driver hauling a load down a mountain north of Phoenix, described the second group of lights: "I'll never be the same. Before this, if anybody had told me they saw a UFO, I would've said, 'Yeah and I believe in the Tooth Fairy.' Now I've got a whole new view and I may be just a dumb truck driver, but I've seen something that don't belong here." Greiner stated that the lights hovered over the area for more than two hours.
A report came from a young man in the Kingman area who stopped his car at a public phone to report the incident. "[The] young man, en route to Los Angeles, called from a phone booth to report having seen a large and bizarre cluster of stars moving slowly in the northern sky".
Reappearance in 2007
A repeat of the lights occurred February 6, 2007, and was recorded by the local Fox News television station. According to military officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, these were flares dropped by F-16 aircraft training at Luke Air Force Base.
Reappearance in 2008
On April 21, 2008, lights were again reported over North Phoenix by local residents. According to witnesses, the lights formed a vertical line, then spread apart and made a diamond shape. The lights also formed a U-shape at one time. Tony Toporek video taped the lights. He was talking to neighbors at 8 p.m. when the lights appeared. He went and grabbed his camera to get the lights on video. A valley resident reported that shortly after the lights appeared, three jets were seen heading west in the direction of the lights. An official from Luke Air Force Base denied any United States Air Force activity in the area. On April 22, 2008, a resident of Phoenix told a newspaper that the lights were nothing more than his neighbor releasing helium balloons with flares attached. The following day a Phoenix resident who declined to be identified in news reports stated he had attached flares to helium balloons and released them from his back yard. However, no name or pictures of the reported hoaxter were ever released, nor was anyone cited, ticketed or charged from the supposed releasing of flares over a residential area that at the time was enduring a record drought.