Governor's alien probe is one for the `J-Files,' as in joke

Associated Press, 06/20/97 06:55

PHOENIX (AP) - The promise from Gov. Fife Symington sounded strange but sincere, coming as it was from a ``Star Trek'' fan: a state probe into the mysterious lights reported over Phoenix three months ago.

``We're going to get to the bottom of it,'' Symington said during a lunch break Thursday from his federal fraud trial. ``We're going to find out whether it was a UFO or whether it was an IFO - an identified flying object. We will get to the bottom of it.''

Reporters were skeptical, but aides said Symington really was putting the Department of Public Safety on the case. Reporters were even encouraged to ask about UFOs and the boomerang-shaped formation of lights.

While the obviously confused public safety agency promised information when they had it, Symington's office said the Republican governor would discuss the UFO business after his trial had recessed for the day.

So the reporters came. And at least two television stations were carrying the event live when Symington announced that a suspect was in custody.

In came the alien, a glittery pink and silver one with a big head and big googly eyes. Underneath the costume was Symington's chief of staff, Jay Heiler.

``This just goes to show you guys are entirely too serious,'' Symington said as aides laughed heartily.

On the evening of March 13, many people in the Phoenix area and as far north as Prescott reported seeing the lights. The Federal Aviation Administration reported nothing unusual on its screens.

This week, various media outlets have run stories on the lights. Between TV and Hollywood, aliens have been hot. And July 8 marks the 50th anniversary of the day a rancher near Roswell, N.M., found debris that many UFO buffs believe was from a flying saucer.

An Air Force investigation found that the debris probably came from a once top-secret balloon designed to monitor the atmosphere for evidence of Soviet nuclear tests.

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