Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington will be moderating a November 12 event at the National Press Club where he will discuss the Phoenix Lights incident. He says he will be joined by 14 former high-ranking military and government officials from seven countries who will share evidence from what they call their own UFO experiences and investigations.
Fife Symington says he nearly had a close encounter while governor of Arizona.
(CNN) -- In 1997, during my second term as governor of Arizona, I saw something that defied logic and challenged my reality.
I witnessed a massive delta-shaped, craft silently navigate over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix, Arizona. It was truly breathtaking. I was absolutely stunned because I was turning to the west looking for the distant Phoenix Lights.
To my astonishment this apparition appeared; this dramatically large, very distinctive leading edge with some enormous lights was traveling through the Arizona sky.
As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this craft did not resemble any man-made object I'd ever seen. And it was certainly not high-altitude flares because flares don't fly in formation.
The incident was witnessed by hundreds -- if not thousands -- of people in Arizona, and my office was besieged with phone calls from very concerned Arizonians.
The growing hysteria intensified when the story broke nationally. I decided to lighten the mood of the state by calling a press conference where my chief of staff arrived in an alien costume. We managed to lessen the sense of panic but, at the same time, upset many of my constituents.
I would now like to set the record straight. I never meant to ridicule anyone. My office did make inquiries as to the origin of the craft, but to this day they remain unanswered.
Eventually the Air Force claimed responsibility stating that they dropped flares.
This is indicative of the attitude from official channels. We get explanations that fly in the face of the facts. Explanations like weather balloons, swamp gas and military flares.
I was never happy with the Air Force's silly explanation. There might very well have been military flares in the sky that evening, but what I and hundreds of others saw had nothing to do with that.
I now know that I am not alone. There are many high-ranking military, aviation and government officials who share my concerns. While on active duty, they have either witnessed a UFO incident or have conducted an official investigation into UFO cases relevant to aviation safety and national security.
By speaking out with me, these people are putting their reputations on the line. They have fought in wars, guarded top secret weapons arsenals and protected our nation's skies.
We want the government to stop putting out stories that perpetuate the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth conventional terms. Investigations need to be re-opened, documents need to be unsealed and the idea of an open dialogue can no longer be shunned.
Incidents like these are not going away. About a year ago, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport experienced a UFO event that made national and international headlines.
What I saw in the Arizona sky goes beyond conventional explanations. When it comes to events of this nature that are still completely unsolved, we deserve more openness in government, especially our own.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend