If asked to describe the most famous UFO sighting in history, most people would immediately think of "The Roswell Incident" from 1947, but the most documented UFO sighting actually occurred 50 years later in Arizona when a formation of six to seven bright lights appeared over the city of Phoenix. Hundreds of eyewitnesses began filming the lights and calling local authorities, and theories about alien visitation quickly escalated.
Nearly 25 years later, there is still no conclusive answer to what has become known as the Phoenix Lights incident. While the US Air Force eventually gave an explanation, many who saw the lights firsthand are certain they witnessed something extraterrestrial. Even government officials who were in office at the time speculated that the Phoenix area was visited by a UFO.
This list breaks down the facts, theories, and rumors surrounding the largest - and perhaps most controversial - UFO sighting in history.
The First Part Of The Phoenix Lights Sighting Happened Around 8 PM On March 13, 1997Video: YouTube
The first Phoenix Lights sighting was witnessed by hundreds (if not thousands) of people across Arizona and parts of Nevada on the evening of March 13, 1997. Witnesses described the lights forming a V shape that seemed to be headed south towards the city of Tucson.
Eyewitness accounts also note the alleged UFO was completely silent, unlike typical aircrafts such as a plane or helicopter. An anonymous witness said the craft was so big that it "completely blocked out the stars."
The Second Round Of Mass Sightings Occurred A Few Hours Later
Around 10 pm on the evening of March 13, a second sighting of a "boomerang"-shaped object hovered over the city of Phoenix. Witnesses described the object's orange and red lights blinking in regular intervals and estimated it to be more than a mile long. Even air traffic controllers reported seeing the lights, but no aircraft were detected on their radar equipment.
The controllers later described the experience as "inexplicable" in an interview with USA Today. Whatever the aircraft was, many witnesses wanted answers, but those who sought out the answers were not taken seriously.
Kurt Russell Revealed In An Interview That He Was The Pilot Who Called In The SightingVideo: YouTube
In a 2017 interview, actor Kurt Russell claimed he was the first pilot to report seeing the Phoenix Lights as he flew into the city with his son, Oliver. Russell explained that Oliver asked about the formation of six lights, which formed the now-famous V pattern, but Russell had no idea what they were.
Upon reporting the lights to air traffic control, Russell received an abrupt response: "We don't show anything." After that, he let the incident go, and Russell never discussed the Phoenix Lights - not even with his son.
Years Later, Goldie Hawn Watched A Documentary On The Sighting, Triggering Russell's Memories
After seeing the Phoenix Lights, Kurt Russell said he completely put the event out of his mind. That changed just two years after the encounter when Russell came home to find his wife, actor Goldie Hawn, watching a documentary on UFOs. Russell's interest was piqued when the documentary began discussing the Phoenix Lights and how it had been initially reported by "a general aviation pilot."
Russell suddenly realized he was the pilot in question. As he put it in the interview, "Had I not seen the show, I never would've thought of it again. That, to me, was the weird part." Russell was even able to confirm he was at the airport at the time of the incident after referencing his flight logs.