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UFO Case Report:

Police officer has repeat sighting

Date: April 22, 1976
Location: Elmwood, Wisconsin, United States

At about 11 p.m., George Wheeler, a relief policeman at the town of Elmwood, WI, encountered a strange glowing object which he estimated was about 500 feet distant and hovering about 100 feet off the ground. There were six bluish-white lights, windows or portholes on the side and he could see shadows as if someone was moving inside of it. This case involves apparent electro-mechanical effects, multiple witnesses, and possible animal reaction.

Original sketch by witness George Wheeler.

The object that George Wheeler saw. (credit: APRO Bulletin)

George Wheeler indicating the approximate position of UFO observed on Thursday evening, April 22, 1976. Picture taken May 27, 1976. (credit: APRO Bulletin)

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: CE1
Special Features/Characteristics: E-M Effects, Police, Animal Reaction, Multiple UFOs, Witness Photo, Witness Sketch, Portholes/Windows

More Articles on this Case

George Wheeler's close encounter, 1976

Ufologie.net (UFOs at Close Sight), Patrick Gross

Excerpts from articles and press reports on George Wheeler's close encounter.

A Fatal Encounter

Frank Joseph, excerpt from article

More serious was an encounter of the worst kind experienced on the night of April 22, 1976, when police officer George Wheeler investigated a flaming red object hovering a hundred feet or so over central Elmwood.  R

Full Report / Article

Source: APRO Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 10 (Apr 1976)

The report we are about to examine has been exhaustively investigated by several individuals including Robert Pratt, who did exceptionally thorough interviews with all individuals important to the case, and Mr. Jack Bostrak, a Professor of Biology at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.

The important elements of this case are:
(1) The primary witness reported a UFO in April 1975, thus making him a "repeater". (Some researchers, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek in particular, have reservations concerning the believability of witnesses where they claim more than one sighting. It is our contention that during heightened UFO activity in a particular area, an individual could easily have more than one sighting.) (2) The object, or the glow from it, was seen by at least two other witnesses. (3) There apparently were electro-mechanical effects on an automobile and possibly on television reception, and (4) possible animal reaction.

At about 11 p.m. on April 22, 1976, George Wheeler, a relief policeman at the town of Elmwood, population 737, located in west central Wisconsin about 60 miles east of the Mississippi River, spotted an orange glow at the top of Tuttle Hill. Mr. Wheeler is a veteran of 30 years police work in New York state and Wisconsin, and the former one-man police force in Eimwood where he now performs as reserve officer, filling in for the present chief when necessary. He was also a combat pilot in World War II.

Thinking that the glow was a large fire, he drove to the top of Tuttle Hill, but when he arrived there he found a strange glowing object which he estimated was about 500 feet distant and hovering about 100 feet off the ground. He said it was between a limestone quarry and a farmhouse in the area. Wheeler later said that there were six bluish-white lights, windows or portholes on the side and he could see shadows as if someone was moving inside of it. In the middle of the side facing him there appeared to be some kind of a panel that was open and Wheeler said that inside he could see something which was revolving slowly and had fin-like parts on it similar to a turbine.

What Wheeler interpreted to be legs on the craft were partially extended from the main body of the object and there was a long, black, hose-like appendage on the bottom. The main part of the craft was silver in color.

All the while he was observing, Mr. Wheeler remembered some advice given him by Bostrak the preceding April when he had his first experience: if he should have a similar experience in the future, he should attempt to observe as many details as possible.

When Wheeler first saw the object as he arrived at the top of the hill he radioed the sheriff's department headquarters in Ellsworth and described what he was observing. Suddenly the object started to rise straight up at extremely high speed and at this time there was a bluish flash, whereupon the squad car, the lights, and the radio went dead. Wheeler claims that he doesn't remember any more until somebody asked him if he needed any help. He thinks he recalls saying something of this nature when he radioed the sheriffs office: "My God, it's another one of these UFOs or spacecraft." He estimates that he observed the object for perhaps 45 seconds, and recalls that it made a "whooshing" sound when it left. Although the main body of the craft was silvery in color, the top of it glowed an orangish-white, and so brilliant that it was difficult for him to look at that part because it was "like looking into the sun." He could not discern whether the hose-like appendage was touching the ground because it extended down to where it was obscured by trees.

The limestone quarry where the object was hovering is an active quarry, that is, it is still being worked. In the neighborhood, the nearest farm is that of the O'Bryan family and when Bostrak interviewed Mr. O'Bryan he said that he hadn't seen anything because he was watching television, and casually noted that he recalled the time because he was watching the Perry Mason show which comes on at 11 p.m. and that several minutes after 11, his television set quit for a short time. When Bostrak visited another farm with Wheeler they learned nothing from the adults, but the 9-year-old boy said something about his sister coming home from "some doings" in town and when she came into the yard the dogs did not act normally. Always before, the dogs would run up to her and jump up for attention and petting but on that night they would not respond to her calls and merely barked for some time.

The first person to see George Wheeler after the accident was David Moots, 36, a dairy farmer at Elmwood. Moots had taken the babysitter home a few minutes before that and he had seen Wheeler's squad car parked elsewhere with lights on, etc., so when he saw the car parked on the top of the hill with the lights out and blocking that lane of the road, he decided to stop. Moots said that Wheeler was trying to get out of the car and there seemed to be something wrong with him. Knowing that Wheeler had once had a heart attack, he thought he might be having another so he stopped and asked what was wrong. Moots said that Wheeler said that he'd been hit. He responded with a question: "Hit by a car?7' Wheeler then said, "No, one of those UFOs."

When interviewed, Moots said that he'd heard that a iot of people had seen UFOs in the area before so that was no particular surprise but the being "hit" by a UFO took him aback a bit. He said that Wheeler appeared to be daz.ed, and because although he did not know him well, he had had sufficient contact with him to know that he was not acting normally.

A second witness to the incident is Mrs. Miles Wergland, a housewife who lives just outside of Elmwood to the North. She claimed that at about 11 o'clock she heard the cuckoo clock strike and got up to go to the kitchen to take some medicine when she happened to glance out the kitchen window and spotted a "bright orange moon-shaped" object on the hill (Tuttle). She said she observed it for a "few minutes", then went back to bed and did not even bother to wake her husband because she said she had seen strange things in the area before and he had merely told her to go back to bed, she was seeing the moon, without ever checking for himself.

The third witness to the actual object is Paul Fredrickson, who is administrator of the Heritage of Elmwood Nursing Home in Elmwood. Mr. Fredrickson was at his home when the police chief's wife called him and asked him to go to his front porch and look out the window and see what he could see. Fredrickson did as he was asked, and saw what he later described as "an orange glow, like a half-moon, like a moon cut in half" on Tuttle Hill. He said he knew it was not a house on fire as there were no flames leaping up. He went back to the telephone and by that time his wife had gotten out of bed and the two of them went back to the window and the thing was gone. Fredrickson feels that the length of time that he spent on the telephone might have been from 3 to 5 minutes.

In the course of the investigation, Mr. Pratt found that Mr. Fredrickson had had another experience along with his son in October, 1975, at which time they were in the same general vicinity, and driving home from the Nursing Home where Mr. Fredrickson had worked overtime. His son suddenly pointed out "something" coming up over the horizon. At the time, they were on Tuttle Hill and looking eastward "right over the top of our house". Fredrickson said his first impression was that it was the full moon rising but then realized it couldn't be because the object was'rising very rapidly. He stopped the car and they got out, the boy getting a better look because Mr. Fredrickson was busy with braking, turning off on to the side of the road, etc. Mr. Fredrickson described it at first as a big orange light coming toward them, but when it was overhead it looked like the bottom of a huge, gray plate which he estimated was about 100 feet across. He thinks perhaps it may have been between 500 and 1,000 feet in altitude and when it was directly overhead they could hear a roaring sound much like the roar of a waterfall. The Fredrickson boy said that the object gave off a blue and green beam from the side of it at one point, but this was while his father was engaged in stopping the car. The object faded into the distance rather quickly, they said; having originally come from the east, it disappeared into the west. Fredrickson did not make careful note of the date at the time, but feels it was around the 20th of October and that the experience took place between 10 and 10:30 p.m.

The next individual to become involved in the Wheeler incident was Police Chief Gene Helmer of Elmwood. He had been at home and monitoring the "police scanner" when he heard Wheeler say that he was watching a UFO. Helmer said Wheeler had started to describe the object but the radio went dead. The Sheriffs Department was trying to contact Wheeler by radio also, and Helmer tried to get Wheeler back, but to no avail. Helmer decided he had better go and see what was wrong when Wheeler came back on the radio momentarily and said, "Get somebody up here — I've been hit."

Helmer, who lives about a quarter of a mile from Tuttle Hill, left immediately and when he arrived at the scene, Moots was trying to soothe Mr. Wheeler. Helmer said that he had never seen a man as frightened as Wheeler was. He said further that he had worked with Wheeler under various trying conditions but had never seen him so upset. Another interesting aspect of Chief Helmer's interview was his description of the condition of the patrol car. Although they had had the car tuned up not long before the incident, it was necessary to replace all points and plugs in the car's engine. The starter is beginning to act up also, whereas they had had no problem with it prior to the incident.

Wheeler's wife arrived on the scene at about the time the Police Chief got there, as she had been listening to the police frequency on the Wheeler scanner. Wheeler was taken home and the family doctor, Frank Springer, was called. Mrs. Wheeler took her husband to Springer's home where he examined Wheeler and gave him a shot to calm him and help him sleep. After they got home, Chief Helmer arrived and questioned Wheeler for about an hour and a half. At about 1 a.m. Mrs. Wheeler called Dr. Springer and said that her husband was still quite upset and Dr. Springer instructed her to take her husband to the hospital.

Wheeler was in the hospital for three days where tests were taken but nothing could be found wrong with him. He stayed for three days, was released, but went back to the hospital for a second stay of 11 days because of headaches he was suffering, as well as nightmares.

Dr. Springer, who has been Wheeler's physician for 25 years, said that it was unusual for Wheeler to suffer headaches and the headaches he had which prompted him (the Dr.) to re-hospitalize him were continual and severe. Otherwise, however, Wheeler was rational and appeared normal.

One puzzling aspect of this case is the fact that although Wheeler recounted the entire experience to Helmer, who recorded it in writing, he could not recall any of the details of the experience later.

Case ID: 341 edit: 341

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