Editor's Note: Much of the same material found in Vallee's account is recycled through John A. Keel's Operation Trojan Horse. This book, and his The Mothman Prophecies, are two classics in Ufology, and are highly recommended. No wide-eyed optimist is Keel ...
Simonton, a sixty-year old chicken farmer outside of Eagle River, Wisconsin, said he heard a strange sound outside his farmhouse at 11 A.M. on Tuesday, April 18, 1961. He looked out of the window and was startled to see a silvery metallic machine descending in his yard. As he stepped outside, some kind of hatch slid open in the upper part of the object and three dark-skinned men became visible. He estimated that these men were about 5 feet tall and between twenty-five to thirty years of age. They wore clinging dark-blue uniforms with turtleneck tops and had on apparently knitted headgear, such as is worn under crash helmets. All were clean-shaven, and none of them spoke during the brief episode that followed.
One of them stepped to the hatch, Simonton said, and held out a shiny bucket-like affair which had a handle on either side, indicating that he wanted the farmer to fill it with water. Simonton took it, filled it from his pump, and returned it to the silent man. He noticed that the interior of the craft was black, "like wrought iron," and that one man was busy at some kind of instrument panel, while the other was working at what seemed to be a stove. A pile of pancakes sat nearby. Simonton says he gestured at the pancakes, and the man with the bucket turned, picked up four of them, and handed them to him. He then attached some kind of rope to his belt, and the hatch slid shut. Joe Simonton stood with his mouth open, four warm pancakes in his hands, as the object, which had been humming throughout, began to make a sound like "tires on a wet pavement" and rose slowly into the air, moving off to the south.
At about that same time, an insurance agent named Savino Borgo was driving along Highway 70, about a mile from Simonton's farm, when he saw what he later described as a saucer rising diagonally into the air and flying parallel with the highway.
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 – 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.
So once again we have a series of sightings and incidents that corroborate an unusual story. But, unfortunately, we also had those four miserable pancakes. 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 Hyneck 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. He said he took a nibble out of it, and "it tasted like cardboard."
Were the pancakes made out of exotic Martain mush? Of course not. They were plain old cornmeal, salt, and hydrogenated oil. 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. "If I ever saw a sincere and honest man, it was Simonton," Hess commented.
"If it happened again," Simonton told a UPI reporter in early May, "I don't think I"d tell anybody about it."
John A. Keel, Operation Trojan Horse, New York, NY: Putnam, 1970; reprinted: Lilburn, GA: IllumiNet Press, 1996.