George Wheeler’s close encounter, 1976

… and other Wisconsin sightings, 1976 – 1977. ufologie.patrickgross

This is an excerpt of an article titled “Valley of the UFOs” published in Fate Magazine, Volume 57 No. 2 Issue 646, February 2004.

Valley Of The UFOs
by Frank Joseph[…]
A Fatal Encounter
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. As he drove up beneath the craft, his radio abruptly ceased to function. Sometime later, David Moots, a local resident, saw the patrol car sitting silently and unlit in the middle of a downtown street. Inside, Officer Wheeler was barely conscious.In response to ambulance technicians trying to save his life en route to the emergency ward, Wheeler claimed he had been hit in the chest with a painful red ray that shot from the UFO through his windshield. As his health rapidly deteriorated for causes his doctors could not determine, he repeatedly told them, to their disbelief; that he was dying from the mysterious effects of internal injuries caused by alien beings. Within six months after his April encounter, Officer George Wheeler died of unknown causes.What is it about the Belleville-Ridgeland-Elmwood area that attracts visitors from another world? Whatever the reason or reasons, the relationship between extraterrestrials and the territories where they are sighted cannot be discounted. Investigators hoping to learn some answers may wish to camp out in Wisconsin’s Valley of the UFOs – if they dare.Frank Joseph is a regular FATE contributor and editor of Ancient American Magazine.

The article underneath has been published in the daily newspaper The Argus, Elmwood, Wisconsin, on June 3, 1976.

Whatever “They” Are, They Are Still Around HereThe “Somethings” are still around apparently. Those who see them hesitate to call them “UFO’s” because so many people just scoff at the idea. Any way you look at it, there is something that cannot be explained going on.On May 20, Mrs. Gayle Bock and Mrs. Kathy Holt were returning to Elmwood from the course in Emergency Medical Technician training that they are taking in River Falls. It was about 10:30 p.m.Just a little way out of River Falls on STH 29 they observed this object flying along side of them just above the tree tops. It was then obscured from their view for a short time and the next time they saw it, it was coming straight at them. There were two very bright lights, like beacons, in front of it and it made no noise.They drove on a short distance and then stopped. When they stopped, they realized that it was directly over them. Mrs. Bock estimated that it must have been 80 to 100 feet above them. She said she was a bit frightened and didn’t get out of the car, but put her head out the window to get a better look.She said they sat there for several minutes and the object stayed right over them. It was perfectly round and had red and blue lights in the bottom of the “thing” that alternately flashed off and on. There was no sound that they could hear and it stayed above them as long as they were parked. When they decided to continue on their way east, it went on west. She said it did not appear to be as large as the one George Wheeler described.This is the third time that the ladies have observed “something” on their return from River Falls. The first time they saw the “orange glow” when they turned off STH 183 onto CTH “G”. However, it was not nearly as close as the May 20 sighting.The second time that something was seen, the car ahead of them with Mr. and Mrs. Don Yauch and Paul Fredrickson, who are also taking the course at River Falls, had stopped and Mr. Fredrickson got out of the car. He stated that they were not positive what they had seen that time. It had the orange glow and seemed to be moving very slowly.Mrs. Bock and Mrs. Holt also stopped their car at that time to look at the object. They all agreed that they couldn’t be positive as to what it was, but there seemed to be a different operation than that of the usual aircraft that one sees.

The following summary was compiled by the personal of Elmwood Public Library in cooperation with the Indianhead Federated Library System and the Pierce County Library Service, from newspaper articles which appeared in The Pierce County Herald, The Elmwood Argus, and The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

Mysteries in the skies over ElmwoodPicture this idyllic setting: A small town nestled in a serene valley, cows grazing peacefully on farmland, streams filled with trout, and friendly, compassionate neighbors everywhere. Hardly the setting for UFO sightings.[Missing picture captioned:] First sighting as big as a football fieldThe sightings began in 1975 and would change the life of Police Officer George Wheeler forever. His first UFO sighting was described as a “flaming ball the size of a football field.” He was shaken, but he wouldn’t be caught unprepared if another chance encounter came his way. He equipped his squad car with field glasses and two types of cameras, one especially adapted to night photography.”I’m dying to get another chance at seeing one,” said George. His second chance came in April 1976.George was on duty when he noticed what “looked like a fire broken out” on top of the quarry hill. What George found was a UFO about 250 feet across and as large as a two-story building. He explained to the interviewers that he believed a blue light from the UFO struck his body and squad car. Upon inspection, the squad car needed a complete change of plugs and points; both had been burned out. His health suffered from that point on.Later, George would say, “I don’t know what I saw, but all I know is that I don’t want that experience repeated ever again.” At least he had the satisfaction of knowing that many others saw the flaming ball he did in April.[Missing picture captioned:] Second sighting scared the children“It was solid, the size of a car; it had sick legs. The light was so intense that we couldn’t look at it. Like a very bright star, except soft and bright. At one time it was as close as two cars away.”[Missing picture captioned:] UFO sighted by Carol Forster and her three children on March 2, 1975, at approximately 8 p.m.Another well documented sighting occurred on the evening of March 2, 1975, when Carol Forster and her three children noticed a particularly bright “star” while driving home. The object stayed alongside their car as they drove, at one point dipping down to hover above the tree tops. Carol stopped the car and concidered driving to a nearby farm house but felt foolish doing so. As the object came closer further down the road, she felt compelled to stop at the Weber home. Roger Weber observed the object as well, but they all determined it must be some kind of satellite. Feeling somewhat relieved, Carol continued on toward home.As they traveled on, the object attempted to settle down in front of the car and appeared to be landing. Carol reported the children were very frightened and were screaming and crying. She put the car in reverse and backed up to the Weber farm, honking as she drove. The object rose in the air above the trees but was still visable to the Webers when they came out of the house to investigate.In an attempt to get them to the house safely, Roger drove his car in front of the Forsters. The object did not come down again but was still visable and, reportedly, the lights glowed an orange color.Numerous other sightings by other residents occurred for several more years, but none as well documented as Wheeler’s or Forster’s.

Fame comes to Elmwood
As the word of the sightings spread and a landing pad project was unveiled by Tom Webber from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Elmwood gained worldwide attention. Not only were the UFO sightings retold on the Geraldo Show, but articles appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Oui magazine, to name just a few. Sidney Sheldon’s book The Doomsday Conspiracy has a footnote pertaining to Elmwood and the sightings.

Noteriety makes for a great festival
The village decided to get some mileage out of the publicity and created a theme for parades and community celebrations from the sightings. Hence, the first “UFO Days” were held in 1978 and continue to be held the last weekend of July every year.The serene, peaceful surroundings are set aside for one weekend of the year as area residents and other curious folk enjoy local camaraderie and entertainment and, of course, gaze upward for the annual group “UFO Watch.”Activities over the years have stayed much the same, with the highlight being the Sunday parade featuring 100 entries. On Friday, the food and beer tents open for the evening, and Miss Elmwood is crowned. The medallion hunt for a cash prize begins, and street dance with live music commences.Saturday and Sunday mornings begin with plate-sized hot pancakes smothered in locally produced maple syrup served up by the Knights of Columbus. Bake sales, thrift sales, softball and volleyball tournaments, games for children, horse-shoe throwing contests, a sanctioned pedal tractor pull and kiddie parade round out Saturday. The day ends with another live band playing for a street dance.Sunday is attendance at a church of your choice. The parade, cowchip throwing contest, water fights and plenty of barbequed chicken and “UFO burgers” are available throughout the day.

The article underneath has been published in the daily newspaper The Chronicle, Melrose, Wisconsin, on February 24, 1988.

UFO’s – Seeing is Believing for Local ResidentEarly in October 1977, Paul Fredrickson was driving home with his son near Elmwood, Wisconsin. Travelling up Tuttle Hill, his son Mark pointed to the southeast and asked, “Is that the way the moon comes up dad?”Paul, a North Bend native, who was working as a nursing home administrator in Elmwood at the time, related what followed next: “I took one look at the speed it was approaching, and knew it couldn’t be the moon. It was round and a bright orange, but as it came close, it turned out to be crescent shaped. The light was coming from the front end. As it hovered near us, we could see the underside very clearly. It was round, nearly saucer shaped, dark gray, and about 50 feet in diameter. Before it came over us it made no sound, but when it passed about 1,000 feet up from us, it made a whoosh as it passed over. It disappeared so fast, it was gone with a snap of your fingers.”This was one of three UFO sightings Paul Fredrickson had while living in Elmwood. (Paul and his wife Fran are now retired and living between Melrose and North Bend.) As he and his wife discovered after living in Elmwood for 12 years, seeing a UFO around the town of about 1,000 was not uncommon. In fact, he says, everybody looks for them in Elmwood. They even began UFO days in 1978, as the town’s yearly celebration. (Elmwood is 93 miles north west of North Bend.) To the best of Paul’s knowledge, there have been over 40 UFO sightings in and around the small community.So it didn’t come as a surprise for him to hear that Elmwood was being considered as a likely location to build a multi-million dollar facility to provide a safe landing for alien spacecraft. A newly formed UFO Site Center Corporation (a non-profit organization founded by Tom Weber), based in Chippewa Falls, is responsible for considering the site. The two month old organization, which has received international attention, recently held an informative meeting in Elmwood High School gym on February 13th. Paul and Fran attended the meeting, along with nearly 300 other people. Paul, along with other people in the community who had seen UFO’s, was later interviewed by a variety of media on his UFO experiences after the meeting.He showed reporters the location of his first and second UFO sighting. The first sighting was also on Tuttle Hill near his home. It was April 22, 1976, and Paul Fredrickson was at home with his family.The last UFO sighting for Paul Fredrickson was that same year in June of 1976.Paul says that after each of his sightings, “I felt elated and I felt frustrated. I wish I had a piece of the ship so I could have concrete evidence of what I say. It’s no fun walking down the street and having people look at each other and say, he’s really crazy, isn’t he. I don’t want to be made fun of.” At the age of 70, he says he doesn’t believe he should keep what he saw to himself just because of what other people might think.Even at his age, he would like to be open minded in order to learn more about UFO’s. He says until now, people have by and large taken it as a joke. At Elmwood he knows of many reputable people who have actually seen these objects. “There’s something out there,” he says with conviction. “If they’re human or human-like, we don’t know, but I think the country is ripe for learning more about them. Creating the landing site for UFO’s seems for him to be a good place to start.There’s no question people in the country are curious about UFO’s. Paul was asked to join several people from Elmwood who have seen UFO’s, along with the widow of George Wheeler, the Elmwood Village President Larry Feiler, and Tom Weber, President of the UFO Site Center Corporation, when they flew to New York to appear on the “Geraldo” show, hosted by Geraldo Rivera. Unfortunately, Paul was not feeling well at the time. The show is scheduled to be shown in the next couple weeks.

3 Comments on “George Wheeler’s close encounter, 1976

  1. Interesting read. One thing I found very interesting however, is the sightings started way before this post says. My first encounter was in 1968 in Elmwood.


      • After several days of thinking about opening up this can of worms…I decided to send an email which I will do shortly. Thanks! Would like to know your name though…


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