Mysterious lights in the sky witnessed and photographed by an Air Force colonel who described them as "not of this world" apparently have an explanation of this Earth after all, WND can reveal.

Officials say the colorful illuminations seen Jan. 9 over western Arkansas came from special military flares that slowly parachuted to the ground as part of an Air Force training mission involving A-10 aircraft pilots at nearby Fort Chaffee, a base used for testing weaponry.

"We were flying A-10s in that area and they were using flares," Jessica D'Aurizio, chief of public affairs at the 917th Wing of the Air Force Reserve at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, told WND.

She says the flares, which stay lit for about five minutes, produce nearly 2 million candlepower.

"It brightens up the target area," D'Aurizio said. "They go down in parachutes, so they're very bright. That had to be what it was, I'm sure."

As WND exclusively reported last week, F-16 fighter pilot Col. Brian Fields, now retired at 61, was at his Van Buren, Ark., home Jan. 9 when just before 7 p.m., he observed two intensely bright lights as he looked to the southeast close to the horizon.

"At first I thought they were landing lights from an aircraft," he said. "As I continued to observe them they began to slowly disappear, then suddenly one reappeared, followed by two, then three. On at least one occasion four or five appeared. Each time they would slowly fade and eventually disappear. This occurred several times and when they would reappear they might do so in differing numbers and in different positions, sometimes in a triangular shape, sometimes stacked on top of each other, sometimes line abreast, etc. When the objects appeared they might stay illuminated 10 or more minutes."

He added, "I believe these lights were not of this world, and I feel a duty and responsibility to come forward."

Lt. Col. Pete Gauger, executive staff officer at the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, confirmed A-10s were on the Fort Chaffee bombing range dropping suspended flares at the time Fields documented the lights some five to ten degrees above the horizon.

"They would drop multiple flares," he said. "That probably solves your mystery. It's beyond coincidence."

Gauger said WND's initial report caused a lot of interest among media outlets, especially after being featured on the Drudge Report.

"It was widely read," he said. "I read it, and I didn't immediately tie it in [to the training]."

Fort Chaffee, which is run by the Arkansas Army National Guard, is situated on approximately 61,000 acres not far from Fields' residence in Van Buren.

"Just a small portion of it is for the Air National Guard to fire and test weapons," said Kim Kimmey, chief warrant officer at Fort Chaffee.

According to the Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network, A-10 aircraft "have excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and are highly accurate weapons-delivery platforms. They can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings with 1.5-mile visibility. Their wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10/ OA-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness."

D'Aurizio at Barksdale AFB told WND there were four A-10 planes as part of the training mission the night of Jan. 9, and they used LUU-2 flares.

According to, "The mechanism has a timer on it that deploys the parachute and ignites the flare candle. The flare candle burns magnesium which burns at high temperature emitting an intense bright white light. The consumption of the aluminum cylinder that contains the flare 'candle' may add some orange to the light."

"I did not know that such 'parachute flares' existed and never considered the possibility," Col. Fields told WND upon learning the reason behind the mysterious lights. "I am grateful, however, that the truth has been determined and those that may have been disturbed by this event will be able to rest."

Fields, a Christian who originally speculated his sighting might have had something to do with End Time prophecies from the Bible, still wants people to remain vigilant.

"Because this event was explained does not change the fact that we live in perilous times - and we must still be awake, alert, and know that a great deception is still coming."

WND's original story sparked a flurry of interest in unexplained phenomena and UFO activity, with many readers saying they had seen or experienced lights similar to those witnessed by Fields.

D'Aurizio said when the flares are deployed, "It's not unusual to have people think there's something strange going on."

Not everyone is quick to accept the Air Force's explanation.

"Are you trying to tell us that a retired Air Force colonel doesn't know the difference between flares and lights from a UFO? But the Air Force trusted him enough to fly F-16s, multi-million dollar jets?" asks Jim Chadbourne of Waterford, Conn. "When are the media going to stop listening to the government's crap and report the truth?"