Interesting revelations from Fife Symington!
Regarding the proposed explanation from the amateur astronomer for the 1997 UFO sightings, it's important to remember that A-10 'Warthog' aircraft are common in Arizona. They train in anti-tank warfare west of Tucson.
I remember once being startled by an A-10 flying at saguaro-top levels on the road out to Ajo. Usually, A-10's fly over Tucson in slow, stately formation, two by two, as they travel to and from Davis-Monthan AFB and the training grounds, but that day, the aircraft was in killer mode. It was like discovering that my friendly dog Sparky is actually a mankilling wolf! Scary!
The A-10s rake abandoned cars out on the training grounds with gunfire. One time in the 1980's, a Fish and Game truck was annihilated by an A-10 because it was parked very near the boundary of the training ground. The pilot erred, attacked the truck, and two stranded Fish and Game employees had to hike seven miles out to a main road, on foot.
It's rarer when A-10s are over Phoenix, though - I believe they rarely stray far from the western reaches of the metropolis, near Luke AFB - so I wonder what was going on on that day in 1997?
In any event, former Arizona Governor Fife Symington is having none of the more-mundane explanations for what he saw:
Former Gov. Fife Symington says now that those strange lights that appeared over Phoenix a decade ago were from another world and that he had a close encounter with an alien craft on March 13, 1997.
"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," Symington said Thursday. "I don't know why people would ridicule it."
Symington, who was in his second term as governor of Arizona during the Phoenix Lights incident, recently told a UFO investigator making a documentary that he had kept quiet about his personal close encounter because he didn't want to panic the populace.
He repeated his story Thursday on CNN, saying the craft he saw was "enormous. It just felt other-worldly. In your gut, you could just tell it was other-worldly."
The governor didn't let on at the time, instead poking fun at the whole thing.
He hosted a press conference a few months after the mass sightings to announce that his Department of Public Safety had arrested the culprit responsible — a very tall bug-eyed creature brought before the media in handcuffs.
He then unmasked the creature to reveal his chief of staff, Jay Heiler, who at 6-foot-4 made an imposing, somewhat comical space alien.
...Heiler said Thursday he isn't surprised Symington believes in UFOs.
He said his boss was a "Trekkie" who enjoyed discussing space travel. Heiler said Symington was convinced that earthlings would be traveling to distant solar systems at speeds exceeding the speed of light "in our lifetimes."
...Tucson astronomer and retired Air Force pilot James McGaha said he investigated two separate sightings over Phoenix that March night and traced them both to A-10 aircraft flying in formation at high altitude.
McGaha said he talked to an amateur astronomer who observed the A-10s and to the National Guard unit that flew them.
"It was clearly aircraft in formation, flying at two different times and then dropping flares and it's clear to any rational person that's what it was," McGaha said Thursday.
McGaha said Symington "is not a trained observer and what he feels in his gut doesn't make any difference."
Symington said he's always believed that life existed elsewhere. "The universe is a big place and we're conceited to think we're alone."