Chopper Pilot Says UFOs probably balloons with flares

By Ray Stern

Red lights in the sky above Phoenix looked like flares dangling beneath helium balloons to a police helicopter pilot who was in the air last night when the sightings occurred.

Phoenix police said earlier today they would allow the media to interview pilot Bruce Bates, who claims to have had a good view of the mysterious lights observed and photographed by residents in the North Valley. Police spokeswoman Stacie Derge later canceled the meeting and minutes ago sent this e-mail to news reporters:

"After further consideration we have cancelled the 4:30 pm interview opportunity with Officer Bates. The lights are not in any way affiliated with the Phoenix Police Department and we are not doing any kind of investigation into them. Officer Bates saw them as well as many other people in the city. He said that they appeared to simply be some flares hanging from possibly a helium balloon or balloons. We absolutely advise that no one else try this as hanging flares like that would create a fire hazard and is very dangerous. We will not have any further comment about these lights."

This description seems to point to a hoax as the best explanation for the lights. Balloons would float in random formation with the prevailing winds. They would seem to disappear once the flares burned out. And airport radar equipment isn't made to see small, non-metallic objects like balloons.

Case closed, as far as I'm concerned.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.