Blinded By The Light

Look at that!  

Have you ever looked into the night sky for a UFO? How about searching for a strange light moving erratically? Truth be told, I do it all the time. However, I have never seen an unidentified object or dancing light, much to my disappointment. 

I envy those who have, but I'm also aware that those individuals have received a lot of criticism in the past. Today, I will share the story of the Phoenix Lights. It is a fantastic story with video footage to support it. Moreover, it involves a cover-up or dismissal from local and state authorities. 

Firstly, the Phoenix Lights were a series of widely sighted unidentified flying objects observed in the skies over the southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada on March 13, 1997.

The Flying - V

Thousands of people saw Lights of varying descriptions between 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm MST in the space of about 300 miles 

(480 km) from the Nevada line, through Phoenix, to the edge of Tucson. Some witnesses described seeing what appeared to be a huge carpenter's square-shaped UFO containing five spherical lights.

What in the actual, F#$%!

The most common sighting was of a large, V-shaped object over the town of Henderson, Nevada. The silent object moved slowly across the sky. It was then seen by thousands of people in Phoenix; the craft was as large as a football stadium. The object eventually disappeared over the horizon to the south.

There were also reports of other lights seen on the night of the Phoenix Lights. Some witnesses saw a series of lights that appeared to be moving in formation. Others saw a single, bright light that changed colors.

Most importantly, according to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), there were over 1,000 reports of the Phoenix Lights. These reports came from people all over Arizona, as well as from Nevada and California.

Likewise, a majority of the reports were consistent with the description of a large, V-shaped, silent object that moved slowly across the sky. Some witnesses also reported seeing a series of lights that appeared to be moving in complete formation.

The Emperor's new Cloths

The governor of Arizona at the time of the Phoenix Lights was Fife Symington III. I will provide some interesting information about him later in the article. Meanwhile, he initially stated that he believed the lights were flares dropped by military aircraft. However, he later changed his mind and said he was "unsure" what the lights were.

Symington held a press conference two days later, on March 15, 1997, to address the public's concerns about the Phoenix Lights. He joked that the government had found the "responsible party" and revealed an aide dressed in an alien costume. The aide wore a large oval-shaped mask representing the typical gray alien. This attempt at humor was widely criticized, and Symington was accused of making light of a severe situation. Similarly, the local politicians scoffed at the effort to review or look into the event.

We Care 

However, several State representatives were interested in learning more. For example, the Phoenix state representative who wanted further investigation of the Phoenix Lights was Jim Warnock. He was a Democrat representing District 22 in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001.

Warnock was among the many people who saw the lights on March 13, 1997. He was so impressed by what he saw that he introduced a bill in the Arizona legislature calling for a full investigation of the incident. Consequently, Warnock did not have the support, and the bill never passed, but it helped to keep the Phoenix Lights in the public eye.

Warnock continued to be interested in the Phoenix Lights after he left office. He served on the board of directors of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and was a vocal advocate for further research into UFOs. He died in 2018 at the age of 72.

In addition to Warnock, other politicians called for further investigation of the Phoenix Lights. These included Senator John McCain and Representative Ed Pastor. However, no support or inquiry occurred during their time in office. The US Air Force has always maintained that the lights were flares dropped by military aircraft, but many people remain skeptical of this explanation. As a result, the US Air Force later retracted their explanation but offered no other theories. 

Meet the New boss...

So, how does former Governor John Fife Symington III fit into all of this fascinating information? Fife was taken to court for bank fraud charges in 1996. Symington was indicted on 21 federal counts of extortion, making false financial statements, and bank fraud. he was convicted of seven counts of bank fraud on September 4, 1997 (seven months after the Pheonix Lights). In addition, he was charged with defrauding his lenders as a commercial real estate developer, extorting (not paying back) a pension fund, and perjuring himself in a bankruptcy hearing. Like most states, Arizona does not allow convicted felons to hold office, so Symington resigned from office the next day.

In 1999, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the conviction. The panel ruled that the trial judge had wrongfully dismissed a juror who disagreed with the others over Symington's guilt.

The juror, Mary Jane Cotey, was 76 and had served on juries before. She was dismissed by the trial judge, Roger Strand, after six days of jury deliberations. Strand said Cotey was "either unable or unwilling to deliberate with her colleagues."

Guilty, but not

The appeals court ruled that there was a "reasonable possibility" that Cotey was removed because she disagreed with the other jurors about Symington's guilt, not because she failed to participate in deliberations. The court said that Strand had not given Cotey a fair opportunity to explain her position and that he had not considered other options, such as reassigning her to a different jury.

The appeals court's ruling meant that Symington was entitled to a new trial. Subsequently, he never went to trial again, and the original charges against him were dropped. Fife was pardoned in January 2001 by President Bill Clinton, terminating the federal government's seven-year battle with the former governor.

Symington died in 2016 at the age of 82.

What the Frick! 

The rich get richer. Above all, Symington came from a wealthy and influential family. He was the great-grandson of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick. Who was Frick? H. C. Frick & Company and Carnegie Steel Company eventually became United States Steel. As a result, Henry's net worth at the time of his death was around $200 million, equivalent to $4.5 billion in today's dollars.

Why does this matter? Over the past three years, I have written about the men who rose to enormous wealth during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As I investigate stories ranging from healthcare, transportation, government, and UFOs, the offspring of these men still hold power today. 

Worthiness 

The Phoenix Lights incident remains unexplained. However, none of the "official" explanations have been able to account for all of the reports from the citizens who reported the sightings. I contend that UFOs are not about aliens but more about free energy and our ability to harness it. What do you see?  


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