Article sur Mitch Stanley, recontacté 10 ans apres 'Les lumières de Phoenix' par un journaliste, Richard Ruelas.
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Truth is out there but not believed
Mar. 12, 2007 12:00 AM
If he had seen alien craft, or even if he hadn't been able to distinguish what the objects were, he might have been one of those who cashed in on the whole Phoenix Lights phenomenon.
But darn the luck. Stanley, an amateur astronomer, had a telescope that magnified objects to 60 times what could be seen with the naked eye. And although he was just as creeped out as anybody about the five objects flying in a V-shape over the city, the mystery ended when he trained his telescope on them.
"They were airplanes," he said during a phone interview last week. "You see airplanes fly overhead all the time."
But Stanley's observation, which provided a simple and credible explanation for the objects, was not embraced.
And now, as the 10th anniversary of the Phoenix Lights approaches, what happened is still a mystery. On Web sites, televisions news and even in this publication, reporters still claim that no one can say for sure what happened that March 1997 night.
"People don't like to know what the boring answer would be," said Stanley, now 30 and a computer technician. "People like to know fantasy stuff. People like to think there could be things out there, I guess."
For a while, Stanley would attend meetings of people who saw the Phoenix Lights.
He wasn't popular.
"No one paid attention to me. They just didn't care," he said. "They completely dismissed (his sighting). No one asked me a question."
Stanley's story just wasn't as interesting as those who thought the objects were mysterious craft. Some stories had the objects flying silently and close to the ground. Another had the craft suddenly turning translucent as it passed.
"It was pretty weird," Stanley said, "I met a whole bunch of weird people with (a) bunch of strange ideas of what they were."
Complicating matters was the fact that, initially, people were talking about two separate events.
Thousands saw a giant formation of lights move north to south across the city sometime around 8 p.m.
Almost no one saw the mysterious orbs that floated in the sky west of Phoenix around 10 p.m. But a few people captured those lights on videotape, and television news played them extensively.
Those lights came to represent the Phoenix Lights.
It was later discovered that pilots training at the Barry M. Goldwater Range west of Phoenix had dropped an unusual amount of flares that night.
Again, that would have been the simple explanation. But by then, it was too late.
"People believe what they want to believe," Stanley said.
That belief has been turned into dollars.
There have been books, T-shirts and a documentary that was briefly shown at a movie theater.
Stanley was at a bookstore recently and saw a book that purported to tell the story of the Phoenix Lights. But it left out the best eyewitness.
"I skimmed through it and said, 'My name's not in here,' " Stanley said. "I know where this book is going."
Stanley still has the telescope he used to see the supposedly mysterious formation over Phoenix. But he doesn't use it much anymore.
"It's hard to see anything in the city here," he said, "other than planes."