As a matter of fact, Wisconsin is home to annual UFO festivals. Yes, festivals where people dress up as aliens and wear tinfoil hats. It’s that big of a deal.
And all that’s because the state’s skies have been home to a great deal of strange sightings over the years. From the small towns of Elmwood and Dundee to the rural landscapes of Eagle River, ordinary folks have reported scenes that defy easy explanations.
Wisconsin’s history is rich with UFO reports. But even in this nest of remarkable, almost unbelievable stories, the following accounts stand out:
1947 Mount Rainier Sightings
On June 24, 1947, something strange stirred up the skies over Mount Rainier in Washington, marking a pivotal moment in the annals of UFO history.
Pilot Kenneth Arnold, an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation, was just cruising his small plane when he spotted something that would boggle minds and spark endless debates.
Arnold reported seeing nine peculiar objects flying in a V formation at an incredible speed. He gauged their speed at around 1,200 miles per hour, a speed unimaginable for the aircraft of that time.
Trying to describe their motion, he said they moved “like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water,” a phrase that unintentionally gave birth to the term “flying saucer.”
What makes this sighting stand out is not just the strange flying objects but the way it captured the public’s imagination. Arnold was a credible witness, a pilot with thousands of hours of flight experience. His account made headlines, and suddenly, everyone was talking about UFOs.
Kenneth Arnold’s historic sighting became the watershed moment that triggered the modern UFO craze. It wasn’t just about one man seeing something odd in the sky; it was about a collective realization that we might not be alone. The sightings set the stage for a cultural phenomenon, making us look up at the night sky and wonder about the mysteries that might be hiding up there
1950s – 1970s Lake Superior sightings
In the crazy expanse of the ’50s and ’70s, Lake Superior became a stage for a few curious UFO sightings. Multiple accounts surfaced during this era, adding an intriguing chapter to the annals of unexplained phenomena.
One particular incident was narrated by popular UFO author Budd Hopkins in his book Missing Time. This event featured a particular Virginia Horton, whom he believes was abducted at least twice by aliens.
Per Horton’s account, the first incident occurred when she was a six-year-old at her grandparent’s farm near Lake Superior. She could barely recall the details, and her only evidence was a huge cut on her leg.
Hopkin’s theories of alien abduction attracted massive skepticism, but they ushered in a whole new way of thinking about UFOs.
Another Lake Superior sighting involved a U.S. Air Force pilot, Felix Moncla, Jr., in 1953. Moncla reportedly disappeared while pursuing a UFO with his partner, 2nd Lt. Robert Wilson.
The U.S. Air Force later claimed that Moncla crashed while chasing down a misidentified Canadian Air Force plane. However, the Royal Canadian Air Force argued that their aircraft were nowhere near the area. Mystery, anyone?
These sightings weren’t isolated events. They formed part of a broader wave of UFO reports during this period. A wave that prompted the U.S. government to send pilots like Moncla and Wilson to investigate the area.
1961 Eagle River Sighting
One of Wisconsin’s most outlandish UFO stories yet features a chicken farmer, short aliens, and pancakes.
The legendary chicken farmer, Joe Simonton, was enjoying breakfast in his Eagle River home on April 18, 1961, when he heard some noises outside. Upon investigating, he saw what could be described as a flying saucer hovering above his house.
The saucer eventually landed in his yard. Simonton claims the saucer opened up to reveal three strange creatures with Italian features. He described them as small-sized and having dark hair and skin.
The “aliens” handed a large container to Joe and somehow communicated that they needed water. Joe obliged and, in return, was given pancakes. In his own words, the strange-looking pancakes tasted like cardboard.
This bizarre account gained attention to the extent that it was investigated by the U.S. Air Force. This curious, almost ridiculous incident remains a mystery and was classified by the Air Force as “unexplained.”
2003 Mayville Crop Circles
The small town of Mayville, Wisconsin, doesn’t see a lot of action. But in July 2003, it became the center of attention.
Local resident and retired truck driver, Arthur Rantala, was having a cup of coffee on July 4 when he saw the inexplicable. He first noticed the trees in his neighbor’s field had started to blow around violently.
Then he watched in awe as the wheat stalks in the field flattened into three circular formations. They seemed to do this on their own, and if there was any external force behind this occurrence, Rantala didn’t see it.
The most intriguing part was the intricate, precise patterns formed in these circles. The circles themselves looked perfectly shaped when seen from an aerial view.
The Mayville crop circles attracted a lot of attention, even prompting the U.S. Air Force and MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) to do some investigation. Four MUFON investigators reportedly conducted a scientific analysis and found a few anomalies.
They concluded that Rantala’s account was accurate and that the “circles were not flattened by human-mechanical means.”
The man of the moment himself, however, didn’t believe the event had anything to do with aliens. When asked, Rantala confidently stated, “I saw what I saw and I didn’t see any spaceships or aliens.”
2022 West-Bend Fredonia Lights
In the quiet town of West Bend, near Fredonia, Wisconsin, an unusual event lit up the night sky in December 2022, leaving residents both puzzled and intrigued. Witnesses reported a series of lights hovering in the darkness.
That evening, residents noticed a formation of bright lights, moving in a way that defied the typical patterns of conventional aircraft. The lights were not random; they formed a coherent shape against the canvas of the night.
Descriptions varied, with some observers noting a triangular arrangement, while others mentioned a more scattered but purposeful display.
One striking aspect of this peculiar sighting was the silence that accompanied it. Unlike the familiar hum or roar of engines from traditional aircraft, those who witnessed the West Bend Fredonia Lights reported an eerie quietness, intensifying the mystery.
Social media platforms, especially Twitter, buzzed with videos captured by onlookers. The footage showed the lights maintaining their formation, moving in ways that challenged the norms of earthly aviation.
As news of the sighting spread, so did speculation and theories. Skeptics dismissed the lights as signs of new military aircraft being tested. Others even suggested they were lights displayed by local Indian casinos to attract customers.
For UFO believers, however, this was simply one more in a long series of signs proving that, perhaps, we are not the only ones in the universe.