“COSMIC RAY” TAKES US TO THE INTERPLANETARY HOUSE OF PANCAKES (IHOP)
By Dr. Raymond A. Keller, a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray,” author of the international awards-winning VENUS RISING book series (Terra Alta, West Virginia: Headline Books), also available on amazon.com
Usually, Earthlings go to the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) when they are looking for a good breakfast, at any time of the day. Just ask an interstate trucker, if you still harbor any doubts about this. But where do you Venusians or other extraterrestrials go when they are cavorting through outer space in their flying saucers and suddenly come down with the munchies? In search for answers about this crucial question plaguing the ufology community, I searched through my extensive files and found an interesting account dating back to Tuesday, 18 April 1961.
On that momentous day, a little before 11 a.m., farmer Joe Simonton, who also served as the small town of Eagle River, Wisconsin’s auctioneer and plumber, had even sighted a flying saucer and its occupant, he heard what he described as a “terrible swirling noise” above his home. “At first,” he said, “I thought the whole house was going to blow away. Then I walked over to the window and saw this saucer come straight down, vertically. I ran out very quick then.”
Suddenly a flying saucer came down in the backyard of his farmhouse. Joe Simonton, standing all amazed and watching the UFO from his kitchen window come in for a landing, explained that, “The hatch opened underneath the saucer and a man in a black suit got out. He had this water jug and he gestured to me to give him some water, so I did.”
Filing the Initial Reports
Simonton did not immediately report this incident, however, as he was not sure how most of the local folks would take it. But two days after the incident, he did get around to revealing the full story to Vilas County, Wisconsin, Judge Frank Carter, whom he understood had long expressed an interest in the subject of “flying saucers” and “life on other planets.” Carter encouraged the local farmer to make additional reports to the District Attorney Calvin Burton and to the Sheriff John Schroeder, assuring Simonton that these gentlemen also kept an open mind on the subject of UFOs and possible alien connections with them; thus, the experiencer followed through with the judge’s advice.
Continuing with his account of his first contact with the five-foot extraterrestrial in the black suit with the water jug who disembarked from the flying saucer, Simonton reported:
“Once I was outside, I took the jug from the alien visitor and ran over to a pump to fill it up with water. When I went to return the now water-filled jug to the spaceman, I got a look inside the saucer and saw some other men. One of the men in the ship was frying food on a flameless grill of some sort. I motioned to indicate an interest in their food by pointing to some pancakes over by the grill, situated next to an instrument panel; and the man at the grill, also dressed in black but with a narrow red trim along his trousers, while still remaining silent, handed me three small pancakes. None of the men aboard the saucer said anything to me.”
“When I went over to get a look inside and saw the other men, they didn’t say anything to me; but I pointed to the pancakes by the instrument panel and they gave me a few.
“Then the first man got inside and the saucer rose slowly to a height of about fifteen feet; but in a matter of seconds, it zipped off at a 45-degree angle, moving so far away in a southernly direction, that I could no longer even see it. In taking off, it made such a ‘whoosh’ that the nearby pine trees were bowled over.”
Wisconsin farmer Joe Simonton thinks he can help his extraterrestrial friends make better pancakes, more round and less burnt. Samples from his pancake stack went to the Air Force and a civilian UFO group for detailed analysis.
Flying Saucer Description
Joe Simonton described the flying saucer as a “gleaming silver, brighter-than-chrome machine that appeared to hover over the ground instead of landing. I estimated that it was about twelve feet from top to bottom and about thirty feet in diameter. I noted exhaust pipes six or seven inches in diameter running along the edge of the saucer.” The farmer thought that perhaps these pipes were used in venting the grill and its heat.
The saucer’s interior was black, approximating the color of wrought iron. The farmer noted that, “From the interior of the craft came a slow, whining sound like the hum of a generator. The hatch through which I peered into the ship was about five feet off the ground; and when the craft lifted off, the large hatch snapped shut and was machined so smoothly I could scarcely detect where the hatch was after it closed.”
Flying Saucer Occupants
Simonton said that throughout his brief encounter he was aware of three occupants aboard the flying saucer, all seemingly males dressed in black, two-piece suits. He estimated that all of them were about five feet tall and weighing approximately 125 pounds each. All of the men had the appearance of being dark-skinned Hispanics. Of the cakes handed to the farmer by one of the occupants, Simonton was of the opinion that they tasted like regular pancakes, although a bit charred around the edges.
Both Air Force and Civilian Ufology Involvement
A portion of these slightly burnt pancakes was saved by Simonton for Air Force Project Bluebook investigators, who were dispatched to his Wisconsin farm. The investigators told the farmer that they would pass on the pancake samples to their staff chemists back at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where Project Bluebook was located. An entire pancake was also sent to the headquarters of the then largest civilian UFO investigations group, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), in Washington, D.C.
The pancakes were the only evidence that Simonton had for the visit of the extraterrestrials. After his encounter, he called the local sheriff from the kitchen telephone in his farmhouse, who sent out two deputies to the scene of the saucer landing. As they found nothing out of place anywhere on the farm, and no physical evidence for the landing of a flying saucer, they just went hack to the station and did not even file a report, thinking they would save the farmer a lot of embarrassment.
Simonton also called the nearest military facility, the Air Force radar center at Traux Field in Madison, Wisconsin, who took his report on an official form that eventually made its way to the Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center in Dayton and later to Dr. J. Allen Hynek, chair of the Astronomy Department at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago, who served as the scientific consultant for Project Bluebook. Hynek later verified that the Traux radar center picked up nothing unusual at or around the time of Simonton’s encounter.
Hynek later told Paul Foght, a correspondent for Fate magazine (Evanston, Illinois, August 1961), that, “Naturally, I was disappointed that Mr. Simonton was not able to take a photo of his visitors and their ship. In my twelve years of investigating UFOs and flying saucer contacts for the Air Force, I have never located a photo which could be identified beyond any doubt as a flying machine or mass of unknown origin.
“I do feel, however, that Joe Simonton’s Eagle River visitors present a good example of a saucer contact case; and consequently, as a result of my recommendation, a complete investigation was begun- even though the Air Force normally does not conduct extensive inquiries of reported sightings or contacts where only one witness was involved.”
Hynek felt sure that Simonton’s experience was real. The farmer’s neighbors assured the Northwestern scientist that they knew Joe Simonton to be a “sober and sensible person.” Up to the time of the report, Simonton lived in Eagle River for 30 years, served as the Chamber of Commerce Santa Claus each Christmas, and was highly esteemed by all local authorities. Sheriff Schroeder remarked that, “Joe really believes everything he says; and he isn’t a drinking man. He talks sensibly.”
County Judge Carter held a similarly high estimation of Simonton, declaring, “I am convinced that Joe actually saw the ‘saucernauts’ because I am unable to think of any way in which this man could profit if the story was a hoax.”
As a result of the Wisconsin farmer’s good standing, his UFO report was thoroughly checked out by Dr. Hynek, Air Force Major Robert Friend, and an unnamed officer from the K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Gwinn, Michigan.
Hynek, however, feared that Simonton might become the subject of ridicule from some quarters. “Speaking for myself and the other Air Force investigators in this case,” said the Illinois astronomer, “we are delighted that Mr. Simonton has come forth with his account. The Air Force hopes that other qualified and competent witnesses will, like Mr. Simonton, not be discouraged from making reports of flying saucer sightings to Project Bluebook, where such information regarding the UFO phenomenon will be properly processed through our clearing house at the Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.”
Other UFO Reports in the Eagle River Area
In the process of their investigation, Hynek and the other Air Force investigators discovered that there were four other independent reports of UFOs in the Eagle River area. Savino Borgo, an Eagle River insurance agent, sighted a flying saucer on Wisconsin State Highway 70 about one mile from Simonton’s farm at around the same time that Simonton alleged that the alien spacecraft came down on his farm. Additionally, Gibb Sanborn, the manager of the Wisconsin State Employment Service at Eagle River and Jack Long, a Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, merchant, said they also sighted flying saucers in the days previous to Simonton’s report. There was also a UFO report from five Rhinelander, Wisconsin, residents that attracted the interest of the Air Force investigators.
The details of this UFO report were published in correspondent Foght’s previously referenced Fate magazine article:
“At 6:45 p.m., on 27 April 1961, Brent Lorbetski, 20, and Tim Hunt, 17, were in an automobile near the Lorbetski home in Sugar Camp Township near Rhinelander.
“The young men spotted a high-flying, silver-colored, circular object. The object was passing overhead at considerable altitude and at high speed; but was making no noise.
“The youth called to the other members of the Lorbetski’s family who came outside in time to see the object. The family then reported the sighting to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. Brent Lorbetski’s father, who was not home at the time of the sighting, is chairman of the town of Sugar Camp. Inquiries to local authorities indicate the witnesses have excellent reputations for reliability and veracity.”
Secrecy and Fumbling
The Air Force, sadly, never released its findings to the public concerning the extraterrestrial pancakes from the chuckwagon IHOP saucer.
As for the civilian UFO group, NICAP, that also received extraterrestrial pancake samples, they totally dropped the ball with their investigation, or lack of investigation, in letting the sample get ruined. Unlike Dr. Hynek and the Air Force personnel investigating this case, Richard Hall, a spokesman for NICAP, upon receiving word of Mr. Simonton’s sighting and a sample of the alien food product, immediately announced that, “NICAP is highly skeptical of Joe’s story. Our investigating committee might analyze one of Joe’s cakes which was sent to us by the Eagle River judge; and will probably conduct a routine investigation.” NICAP’s Hall was totally oblivious to Joe Simonton’s outstanding community standing and credibility, and completely ignored the multiple sightings in the Eagle River and Rhinelander area with a circumference of 20 miles.
Unlike the competing civilian UFO investigating group, Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) in Arizona, NICAP was noted for its refusal to consider that any UFOs might be landing or occupants sighted or encountered by human beings. In the estimation of the NICAP director, Donald E. Keyhoe, a retired Marine Corps aviation major, the UFOs were simply conducting an aerial surveillance of our planet and our military capabilities, preparatory to an invasion.
Coral and Jim Lorenzen, the co-directors of APRO and also originally from Wisconsin, like Mr. Simonton, were of the more open-minded opinion that if the extraterrestrials wanted to conquer the Earth, they would have done it a long time ago. The flying saucer occupants, being scientifically advanced and curious, would certainly want to meet humans from all walks of life, especially after they travelled the vast distances between worlds and maybe solar systems, to get here.