‘Phoenix Forgotten’: What’s the Deal With the Phoenix Lights UFO Sighting?

The Ridley Scott-produced horror film is based on a real 1997 UFO sighting, in which lights were seen floating over the Arizona desert city

phoenix forgotten found footage phoenix lights ufo sighting
Cinelou Films

This weekend marks the release of “Phoenix Forgotten,” a found-footage horror movie centering on the “Phoenix Lights.” The strange lights in the sky lead the protagonists of the movie to grab a camera and head out into the desert to investigate. Like all found footage movies, it doesn’t go well from there.

“Phoenix Forgotten” might not be a true story, but there’s at least some truth to its setting — the Phoenix Lights phenomenon really did happen. The 1997 sighting over Phoenix, Arizona, is the most famous single UFO sighting in history, and still being puzzled over.

The Phoenix Lights were a pattern of lights that appeared over the city on March 13, 1997, and were witnessed by thousands of people over the course of about two hours. It’s one of the most-reported sightings in history, and there are even four videos of the phenomenon shot by people on the ground.

The people who reported seeing the Phoenix Lights all described what they saw similarly: a group of lights that appeared to form something of a triangular shape in the sky, seemingly hovering over Phoenix before disappearing. Even in the years since tit happened, more people claiming to witness it have come forward, as detailed in this local Arizona news story:

For some people, there was more to the Phoenix Lights than just seeing something weird in the sky. Witnesses report strange feelings, and even a sort of temporary amnesia created by the event, as noted by The Arizona Republic.

Of course, there are official explanations for the Phoenix Lights. The U.S. military eventually told the public — four months later — the light sightings were not UFOs at all. Instead, the official story is those lights were flares, dropped over the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona during a training exercise called “Operation Snowbird.”

That hasn’t sat well with many people, though. To this day, people still wonder about the lights and still discuss what they saw and felt during the event. “Phoenix Forever,” and other movies made about the event, including the documentary “Phoenix Lights” and another found footage horror movie, “The Phoenix Tapes 97,” are a good indicator that there’s still at least some interest in the phenomenon.