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Look up: Remembering Phoenix Lights on World UFO Day

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PHOENIX — Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…UFO?

Long-time Valley residents may have said something like this to themselves almost 20 years ago when the Phoenix Lights were spotted in the night sky.

In honor of World UFO Day, which is Saturday, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at this event that has become a part of Valley lore.

According to the Mutual UFO Network, on March 13, 1997 between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., thousands of people reported seeing strange, bright lights flying over Nevada, Arizona and part of Mexico.

According to witnesses, there were two major events connected with the flying lights.

The first event was described as a V-shaped object the size of a commercial plane soaring through the sky.

The second event was reported by an unidentified former Arizona police officer who claimed he saw a series of stationary, orange and red lights hanging over the Valley.

The orange and red lights were allegedly identified as flares dropped by military aircraft during a training exercise at the Barry Goldwater Range.

However, there has never been a clear explanation for the flying, V-shaped object.

Over the years, there have been reports of the lights returning to the Valley, especially in 2007 and 2008. Those sightings were later attributed to military flares that has been dropped by fighter aircraft from Luke Air Force Base and a person who released flares attached to helium balloons.

Those who witnessed the bizarre lights described them as “otherworldly” and the phenomena is remembered fondly each year since it — whatever it was — was spotted.

Although the Phoenix Lights may be one of the more infamous UFO sightings, Arizona is no stranger to odd things in the night sky.

According to a 2014 Washington Post article, Arizona has the highest number of UFO sightings per capita in the country.

Most recently, a Sky Harbor employee reported seeing white lights that “formed a chevron shape.”

Although nothing came of the Sky Harbor sighting, events such as that and the Phoenix Lights will keep Arizonans scouring the night sky for years to come.