Calls poured in to police and TV stations on February 6 after many residents of the metropolitan Phoenix region observed a line of four bright lights near the horizon in the western sky at approximately 8 p.m. Arizona time.
Videotape of the lights was taken and broadcast on local TV news programs shortly after the incident occurred.
According to news reports, military officials stated the lights were flares being used as targets during Marine Corps and Air Force pilot training operations nearby.
Officials said a training exercise was being conducted by the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma at the Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range west of Phoenix.
In addition, six Air Force F-16s based at Luke Air Force Base on the west side of metro Phoenix were also participating in training exercises that involved flares, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Military flares were also given as the cause of the recent Arkansas sighting when a retired Air Force colonel and F-16 pilot with 32 years of service reported several unusual lights that he was convinced were not conventional earthly aircraft or objects.
How a veteran Air Force officer and pilot could mistake military flares for extraterrestrial phenomena puzzled many who read about that incident and the official explanation.
When last night's reports surfaced on local TV stations, some initial speculation recalled the March 13, 1997, "Phoenix Lights" incident.
In that case, hundreds or possibly thousands of witnesses in Arizona and the Phoenix-area "Valley of the Sun" reportedly saw not only large bright lights but also a huge V-shaped, or some said boomerang or triangle-shaped solid craft.
The object was estimated to be one mile to two miles in length, according to some witnesses.
It slowly and silently cruised directly across the center of metropolitan Phoenix in a generally southeasterly direction in the early evening hours, approximately the same time as reports of last night's lights.
After the 1997 incident, government officials said military flares in the same area as last night's training activities were the cause of the case of mistaken identity.
Some researchers and citizens speculated that both a large unusual craft of some kind and military flares west of Phoenix both may have occurred.
The idea that the military rapidly sent up aircraft to drop flares as a cover story that night has also been suggested.
As the 10-year anniversary of what has come to be known as "The Phoenix Lights" incident approaches, much national and international attention has focused on upcoming films and conferences in Arizona exploring the subject of UFOs and extraterrestrial visitors.
Last night's apparent military flares, if that is what they were, come at an interesting time for Arizonans and people around the world curious about these kinds of topics.
The lights seen from Phoenix last night seem to have served dual purposes as a military training activity and a repetition of explanations that military flares are responsible for some "UFO sightings."
Even a local TV news chopper pilot and some of the TV station's on-air personalities indicated that last night's lights were clearly flares as were the 1997 lights.
In coming to this conclusion, the TV station news personnel apparently disregarded reports of the huge solid craft that was allegedly observed by large numbers of witnesses ten years ago.
By Steve Hammons
Used with permission of UFO Digest