From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose.nul> Date: Fri, 08 Nov 2002 13:37:39 +0100 Archived: Fri, 08 Nov 2002 13:38:32 -0500 Subject: UFO Fever The Wisconsin Way Source: Wisconsin State Journal http://www.madison.com/wisconsinstatejournal/local/36265.php Stig *** Bar and patrons are open to UFOs 9:08 PM 11/06/02 Beth Williams, Wisconsin State Journal ** DUNDEE - Despite the pictures of aliens with their green eyes glowing eerily from behind the bar, the self-proclaimed UFO headquarters is all about acceptance. As the regular patrons filter into Benson's Hide-A-Way on Long Lake at the edge of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, they bring with them stories of UFO sightings, abductions, dimensional portals, missing time, crop circles, beings from the center of the Earth, government conspiracies and just about any other UFO theory ever discussed. And no one laughs, said owner Bill Benson. "The reason we started the UFO thing was people had this to share without being laughed at or scoffed at," Benson, 60, said. "The big scoffers, if they see something, they're the more die- hard people." Odds are decent that if someone spends time in the Dundee area, about a 100 miles northeast of Madison, they will see something. It all started with a crop circle on a nearby farm back in 1947, Benson said. Since then, area residents have reported strange lights in the sky and other mysteries. Back in 1978, for example, Benson was driving a milk truck between Plymouth and Kiel - a trip of about 13 miles. "It took me an hour and 15 minutes to get there - and I don't know why," said Benson, who isn't sure if he was abducted by aliens. Pulling his leg up onto the bar, he showed off a small red circular scar on his ankle that he says he didn't have when he got into that milk truck. "It's never gone away," he said. The bar, which Benson and his wife, Judy, have run for 22 years, is covered in alien souvenirs brought by his customers from around the world. Stuffed little green men in wizard-like capes, alien street crossing signs, plastic gray aliens wearing sunglasses, and posters of aliens with glow-in-the-dark eyes cover the wall behind the bar. Although there are sporadic sightings year-round, there's only one night each year the locals can depend on a light show. That's because local UFO guru Bob Kuehn uses his weekly radio program on Fond du Lac's KFIZ- AM to ask the aliens nicely for a performance on the third Saturday in July. "That's how they know to show," Kuehn, 71, of Fond du Lac said. "They only want to show once a year." And just because the sightings occur outside the bar doesn't mean they are booze-induced, Benson said. "It could be a catalyst," he said. "But I don't know if it is. Most of the people who go to watch for them don't overindulge." Benson is quick to show visitors a videotape of this year's performance, in which six small round lights apparently flitted across the sky. While Kuehn firmly believes that the lights were spacecraft piloted by aliens, others really aren't sure what the lights are. "They never stop to tell us," Benson said. "Are they from here or the center of the Earth? I don't know. All I do know is I've seen the lights in the sky." Shedding light on lights? John Hoppe and his wife, Jennifer, say they saw the lights in the sky this summer. The couple run a Web site, www.ufowisconsin.com, out of their Sheboygan home to record sightings across the state and Hoppe tries to investigate some of them. "We're trying to track UFOs over the state and see if there's a pattern," he said. "Hopefully, we can figure out what's going on. There's too much out there to say the phenomenon is not real." But they don't think the lights in the sky are necessarily spaceships with E.T. at the helm. The Hoppes simply define UFOs as unidentified flying objects - whatever they may be. In July, while the lights in the sky held everyone's attention, John Hoppe and a friend took off in a car to see if they could find the source. Finally, in a remote fire lane in the woods, two men chased them away. When Hoppe and his friend returned the next morning, they found candles and plastic bags - which, with the darkness of the forest, could have been made to appear like UFOs to the people standing across the lake at a lower elevation, Hoppe said. But he still isn't entirely sure what the lights were. "You listen to the locals out here," Hoppe said. "They have unique stories so obviously they have been seeing something." In a few cases, Hoppe has been able to identify some of the lights in the sky. For example, he discovered that a UFO spotted in Beaver Dam a couple of years ago was a delta-wing kite with a light on it. Research: 'A career killer' Enthusiastic amateurs, the Hoppes aren't paid for their work and getting professional researchers to devote their time to UFOs isn't easy. "It's a career killer," said Colm Kelleher, deputy administrator of the National Institute of Discovery Science, a privately funded group based in Las Vegas that scientifically investigates aerial phenomena. Kelleher, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Dublin, said scientists often shy away from UFO research because of fear their work won't be taken seriously and they'll be thought of as crazy. Believing in UFOs and even the possibility of extraterrestrial life doesn't make anyone crazy, said psychologist Al Harrison, and society can generally accept both those ideas. "The big jump is when you say they're here. That's what freaks people out," said Davis, a psychology professor at the University of California-Davis who has studied why people believe in UFOs and the effects extraterrestrial life would have on humanity. Studies haven't really been able to find many differences between those who believe in UFOs and those that don't, he said. People of all intelligence levels and backgrounds believe. "There are all kinds of people on both sides of the fence," he said. Basking in Belleville But still believing in UFOs can be a stigma of sorts. "I'd rather not be known as the UFO Capital, but that's my own personal preference," Belleville Village President Jo Ann Therkelsen said. "I don't think the chamber would want to give up the title." The village, on the Dane and Green County line, got the nickname after a series of sightings in 1987. They still hold an annual UFO Day festival, but Therkelsen said it's really just become a community event with an out-of-this-world theme. "I don't really think we're looking for UFOs anymore," she said. indentBut according to the Hoppes' data, based on reports to their Web site, Dane County is still one of Wisconsin's UFO hot spots often coming up in the top three counties for reported sightings. And as the banner on their Web site proclaims, Wisconsin has more UFO sightings than any other state except New Mexico, according to the Air Force's Project Blue Book, which studied UFOs from 1947 to 1969. indent"It seems to be a good time to see a UFO," John Hoppe said. "So if you can't sleep, go outside. You might see a UFO." ** Copyright =A9, Madison Newspapers, Inc.
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