Flares or UFO? Jury Still OutJuly 19, 2001 -- A set of golden lights hovering silently in the night sky in a "V" formation stopped traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, but were the drivers seeing visitors from outer space or just a set of military flares flaming out?
By DEAN SCHABNER
By DEAN SCHABNER
More than a dozen people, including two Carteret, N.J., police officers, saw the lights last weekend, and several of the witnesses described a sense of serenity that seemed to emanate from the celestial display. The gold lights hovered for awhile, according to the witnesses, and then disappeared.
To some, the description sounded very much like the so-called Phoenix Lights, another V formation that appeared in the sky near Phoenix in March 1997. Like the apparition in New Jersey, the Phoenix lights were caught on videotape.
The formation also matches reports of unexplained lights in the sky from all across the United States, as well as England and Europe.
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said that there were no planned military operations in the area and that air traffic was light at the time of the reported sightings. He also said that no pilots flying in or out of Newark Airport reported seeing anything out of the ordinary.
To Michael Hathorne — who has written several books about UFOs and hosts a program on community television in the Tampa, Fla., area and a weekly Webcast about unexplained sightings — what was seen in New Jersey certainly was extraordinary.
"It's certainly unusual," Hathorne said. "From my experience it sounds like something very anomalous, a true UFO or even an extraterrestrial craft. But of course it could turn out to be something else. Most of them do."
A Work in Progress
He said that of the more than 1,000 sightings reported to him each year, more than 80 percent turn out to have earthly explanations.
Colm Kelleher of the National Institute of Discovery Science says that from what he's heard, this one fits into that category. He said based on a preliminary investigation, it sounds like the Jersey Lights were a set of military flares.
More . . .
See Also: Eye Witness Mike Fortson's Original Report of The 'Phoenix Lights'
New Jersey Mystified by Strange LightsCARTERET, N.J., July 17, 2001 -- Something dazzled the people of New Jersey this weekend. Something bright, high in the sky.
"It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen," said eyewitness Joe Malvasio. "They were just hovering, and then they just disappeared. One at a time, each one started to fade until they were gone."
Some witnesses thought the phenomenon may have been a sign of an alien presence. Others called it a miracle. But no one knows just what it was — all they can do is attempt to describe it.
"I saw 16 golden-orange colored lights, several in a V-type formation," said Lt. Daniel Tarrant of the Carteret Police Department. "Others were scattered around the V."
See Chris Wallace's Internet Exposé on the UFO phenomenon.
At Least 15 Report Lights to Police
At least 15 people contacted Tarrant's department to report the strange lights. But Tarrant and other police officials are at a loss to explain just what it was hovering in their skies.
Most callers described the same scenario: golden-orange lights moving quietly, some say beautifully, across the night sky over the Arthur Kill river. They described how the lights flickered and how they seemed to vanish into the night, one by one.
Some drivers even pulled off the New Jersey Turnpike for a better look.
But even more amazing is the explanation: there is none, not as of yet. According to The Associated Press, nearby Newark Airport reported no unusual flight patterns, and a National Weather Service meteorologist could find nothing in the weather to explain the lights.
Peaceful, Easy Feeling
"It's really amazing," said Veronica Bagley, whose family captured the lights on video.
Paulette Holmes said whatever it was, she was unafraid.
"I wasn't alarmed because it was peaceful," she said.
Patty Ercallino, another witness, took it a step further.
"Very peaceful, very serene, very beautiful," she said. "I think we witnessed some type of miracle."
More . . .
See Also: The Fortsons Recount Their 'Phoenix Lights' Experience On This Nine Year Anniversary