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If you’re looking for stars with kind of out there, whacky reputations, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 co-star Kurt Russell isn’t one of them. He’s no Randy Quaid, is what we’re saying. So it came as a real surprise to learn via a recent guest appearance on the BBC to talk about Guardians that Russell was likely one of the pilots who first reported an event that eventually became known as the Phoenix Lights.
The Lights remain one of the most interesting UFO sightings in history. On the night of March 13, 1997, several thousand witnesses in Phoenix, Arizona and in northern Mexico reported weird formations of lights in the night sky. The most famous description was of a gigantic, soundless V-shaped object that moved slowly across the sky like a sailing ship.
Witnesses even included Arizona governor Fife Symington—and yes, Kurt Russell.
As seen in the video, after the BBC interviewer read an account of a UFO report which came from a pilot flying his son into Phoenix on a private plane, Russell said, “I was the pilot.” Russell said he and his son Oliver were approaching and he “saw six lights over the airport in absolute uniform in a V-shape.”
“I was just looking at them and I was coming in, we were maybe a half mile out,” Russell continued, and his son asked him what the lights were. “I kind of came out of my reverie,” Russell admitted, “and I said, ‘I don’t know what they are.’ [Oliver] said, ‘Are we okay here?’ I said ‘I’m gonna call,’ and I reported it. They said…‘We don’t show anything.’”
Russell declared the object “unidentified,” he said, and “landed, I taxied, dropped him off, took off and went back to LA.”
Weirdly, he didn’t think much more about it till a few years later, when his wife Goldie Hawn was watching a report about the event. He joined her and began “feeling like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I go, ‘What, why do I know this?’ And it’s not clear to me. And finally they said a general aviation pilot reported it on landing.”
The not thinking much more about it part was what struck Russell as “weird” later, he said.
There have been plenty of credible explanations for the Phoenix Lights through the years including jets flying in formation—but as you see if you watch the documentary in the third video above, they remain annoyingly just questionable enough to leave the mystery hanging there.
And now we know we have Kurt Russell to thank—at least partially—for putting that mystery on the map.