11:00 A.M. - April 18, 1961: While having his own breakfast, Wisconsin chicken farmer Joe Simonton is attracted outside by a peculiar noise similar to "knobby tires on a wet pavement." Stepping into his yard, he faces a silvery saucer-shaped object "brighter than chrome," which appears to be hovering close to the ground without actually
touching it. The object is about twelve feet high and thirty feet in diameter. A hatch opens about five feet from the ground, and Simonton sees three men inside the machine. He estimates that these men are about 5 feet tall and between twenty-five to thirty years of age. They wear clinging dark-blue uniforms with turtleneck tops and have on
apparently knitted headgear, such as is worn under crash helmets. None of them speak during the brief episode that follows. One of them is dressed in a black two-piece suit. Smooth shaven, they appear to "resemble Italians" as they have dark hair and skin.
One of the men holds up a jug apparently made of the same silver-like material as the saucer. His motions to Joe Simonton seem to indicate that he needs water. Simonton takes the jug, goes over to his pump, and fills it up. As he returns, he sees that one of the men inside the saucer is "frying food on a flameless grill of some sort." The interior of the ship is black, "the color of wrought iron." Simonton can see several instrument panels and hears a slow whining sound, similar to the hum of a generator. When he makes a motion that indicates that he is interested in the food that is being prepared, one of the men, who is also dressed in black (but with a narrow red trim along the trousers), hands him four pancakes, each about three inches in diameter and perforated with small holes. Still hot from the griddle, Simonton tries one and says that it tastes like cardboard.
The whole affair lasts about five minutes. Finally, the man closest to the witness attaches a kind of belt to a hook in his clothing and closes the hatch in such a way that Simonton can scarcely detect its outline. Then the object rises about twenty feet from the ground before taking off straight south, causing a blast of air that bowed some nearby
Along the edge of the saucer, Joe could see some exhaust pipes six or seven inches in diameter. The hatch is about six feet high and thirty inches wide and its shape is similar to two inverted bowls.
At about roughly that same time, an insurance agent named Savino Borgo is driving along Highway 70, about a mile from Simonton's farm. He sees what he later describes as a saucer rising diagonally into the air and then flying parallel with the highway.
Two deputies are dispatched to the Simonton Farm by Sheriff Schroeder (who has known Simonton for fourteen years). When they arrive on the scene, they can not find any corroborative evidence. The sheriff affirms that the witness obviously believes the truth of what he is saying and talks very sensibly about the incident.
Astronomer J. Allen Hynek is dispatched by the US Air Force to investigate. He takes one of the pancakes away for government analysis at the Air Force Technical Intelligence Center amid rumors that the wheat in the pancakes was of an unknown type. But upon analysis, they find them to be made from flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt,
hydrogenated oil and grease.
Simonton turned one over to a local judge named Carter who, incidentally, vouched for his honesty and reliability, as did everyone else who knew him. Dr. J. Allen Hynek was given the second one, and a third went to the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena, which turned it over to a New York researcher, Alex Mebane. Simonton held onto the fourth one.
Eagle River is in a thinly populated section of northern Wisconsin, just a few miles south of the Michigan border and surrounded by forests and small lakes. About a month later, on May 25, there was a widespread power failure throughout the area that also affected local telephone service. On February 24 of that year a B-47 bomber had crashed near Hurley, Wisconsin, about sixty miles northwest of Eagle River. Another B-47 crashed on May 2 only two miles from the site of the February accident. The pilot of the second plane was later quoted in the press as
saying that, "I felt this weightlessness and I was hanging by my straps," just before his craft went out of control and headed for the ground. There were numerous other incidents and UFO sightings in the area during that period which was the "lull" from 1959 to 1963.
Simonton's story got a big play in the national press, and NICAP capitalized on the publicity by issuing statements about their "thorough investigation" which was "under way," etc. But when the press interest died, NICAP dropped the whole thing. The Aerial Phenomena Research Organization investigators stuck with it, however, and when an Eagle River businessman made a joking reference to Simonton having been hypnotized (he later denied this), some leaped on that as the explanation. Cecile Hess, APRO's man in nearby Rheinlander, Wisconsin, didn't buy the hypnotized theory.
The Eagle River case has never been solved. The Air Force believes that Joe Simonton, who lived alone, had a sudden dream while he was awake and inserted his dream into the continuum of events around him of which he was conscious. I understand several psychologists in Dayton, Ohio, are quite satisfied with this explanation, and so
are most serious amateur ufologists.
Two weeks after the sighting, Joe Simonton told a United Press International reporter that "if it happened again, I don't think I"d tell anybody about it."