Flares or UFO? Jury Still Out

ByABC News
July 19, 2001, 3:13 PM

July 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?

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."

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.