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There were two distinct events involved in the incident: a triangular formation of lights seen to pass over the state, and a series of stationary lights seen in the Phoenix area. The United States Air Force (USAF) identified the second group of lights as flares dropped by A-10 Warthog aircraft which were on training exercises at the Barry Goldwater Range in southwest Arizona. Notable among those who reported they had observed a huge carpenter's square-shaped UFO, having lights or light emitting engines, is Arizona Republican governor at the time of the incident, Fife Symington.
Wikinews has related news: Former Arizona Governor says he saw a UFO during the 1997 Phoenix Lights
In March 2007, former Arizona Governor Fife Symington III said that he had witnessed one of the "crafts of unknown origin" during the 1997 event, but noted that he didn't go public with the information. Shortly after the lights, Symington held a press conference, stating that "they found who was responsible". He proceeded to make light of the situation by bringing his aide on stage dressed in an alien costume. (Dateline, NBC). In an interview with The Daily Courier in Prescott, Symington said:
I'm a pilot and I know just about every machine that flies. It was bigger than anything that I've ever seen. It remains a great mystery. Other people saw it, responsible people. I don't know why people would ridicule it.
—Fife Symington III, 
It was enormous and inexplicable. Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too. It was dramatic. And it couldn't have been flares because it was too symmetrical. It had a geometric outline, a constant shape.
—Fife Symington III, 
Symington also noted that he requested information from the commander of Luke Air Force Base, the general of the National Guard, and the head of the Department of Public Safety. But none of the officials he contacted had an answer for what had happened, and were also "perplexed."
Later, he responded to an Air Force "explanation" that the lights were flares.
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.
—Fife Symington III
Frances Barwood, the 1997 Phoenix city councilwoman who launched an investigation into the event, said that of the over 700 witnesses she interviewed, "The government never interviewed even one."