The Phoenix Lights incident remains one of the world’s most perplexing mass UFO sightings on record, and still causes intrigue among the alien research community, even though many sceptics claim to have debunked the case.
The Phoenix Lights Incident will celebrate its 20th anniversary next month.
It became a phenomenon in March 13 1997 thousands of people began telling of seeing huge triangular UFOs drifting over Arizona and the city of Phoenix.
The size of them varied from a Boeing 747 to multiple football fields.
A panel of UFO experts discussed the case as part of the UFO Congress conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Several hundred people attended an event called The Importance of the Phoenix Lights-Mass UFO Sighting.
One element that emerged during the panel’s discussion was that there was a bizarre reaction to the sightings by a number of witnesses.
Some reported a temporary amnesia-like state, when immediately after seeing the lights, they went blank or failed to discuss it with anyone.
Panel moderator filmmaker James Fox, who investigated the case to produce a documentary, said that during interviews with hospice workers, they told how they “watched the lights appear and disappear over a period of time but didn’t say a word about it.”
One woman told him: “We went right back to our tea.”
Jim Mann, director of the Arizona Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) branch, which investigates UFO and alien sightings, told of similar accounts.
A man told Mr Mann he stopped his car to watched the UFOs with several other people and “a craft slowly glided overhead”.
The man said: “Not a word was spoken. After it went on by, everyone got in their car and drove home,” the panel heard.
The panel also included Richard Dolan, a UFO writer and researcher, and Dr Lynne Kitei, a witness to the incident who went on to write the book Phoenix Lights: A Skeptic’s Discovery That We Are Not Alone.
They looked at other claims, including that similar mysterious sightings had happened in the three months leading up to March 1997.
Witnesses to these earlier lights included Dr Kitei, she said.
The panel also heard that the mass sightings actually started outside of Arizona, azcentral.com reports.
They were first reportedly seen near Henderson, Nevada, and later in Mexico.
Mr Dolan said: “We call it the Phoenix Lights, but it’s really not completely accurate.
“You’re talking about two distinctive types of events. Could be related. Could be the same thing. Could be something different.”
Despite the unanswered issues, researchers remain loathed to say it means it must have been aliens.
Sceptics claim to have since proved that military flares, which were set off at the same time, were responsible for the multiple UFO sightings.
Though many UFO experts claim this does not satisfactorily explain all the accounts.
Mr Mann said: “Do we have evidence that it was an extraterrestrial event? No.
“We have evidence that it was an extremely bizarre event. We can’t put a label on it other than it was an anomaly.”
He said the MUFON branch investigated 325 new cases of UFO sightings in 2016, with most explained away.
However, 12 cases were filed away as unknown, adding to the mystery.