By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Mar 16, 2008 at 5:27 AM
The next time you're out at night, and there is clear weather, you might want to spend some extra time looking up at the skies -- and understand that folks in New Mexico are doing the same thing.

Wisconsin ranks second to New Mexico in number of UFO sightings. The two states are considered hotbeds of interest for those fascinated by such phenomena, and who or what might be visiting.

BUFO Radio, and Burlington News, based in Burlington, are two of the leading media outlets for information on UFOs, paranormal events and other mysteries. Run by Brad and Mary Sutherland, the organization tracks and compiles information from all over the world.

Mary Sutherland also has authored books and many articles on UFOs and has earned a reputation among UFO chasers and those interested in sightings.

Wisconsin interest in UFOs does not stop there. Noah Voss maintains, which lists nine UFO sightings in the state in the last 15 months. One of the most recent reportedly came this January in Beloit. The site lists more than 1,000 sightings in the state overall.

While Wisconsin has its share of interest in UFOs, New Mexico is the front-runner. A conference on the topic will be hosted in Aztec, N.M., on March 28-30. Experts from around the world are on the agenda.

Many areas of New Mexico are remote, much more than most areas in Wisconsin, making it obvious why somebody or something wanting to visit earth, and remain as inconspicuous as they can, would pick the state. The skies often are crystal clear at night. New Mexico just doesn't get as many cloudy nights as we do in the Midwest.

Perhaps the most famous incident in New Mexico was a 1947 crash near Roswell. Reports are that the military cleaned up the site as quickly as possible and has been hush-hush about it ever since.

Wikipedia says this about the incident: "The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) issued a press release stating that personnel from the field's 509th Bomb Group had recovered a crashed ‘flying disc' from a ranch near Roswell, sparking intense media interest. Later the same day, the Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force stated that, in fact, a weather balloon had been recovered by RAAF personnel, rather than a "flying saucer." A subsequent press conference was called, featuring debris said to be from the crashed object that seemed to confirm the weather balloon description.

"The case was quickly forgotten and almost completely ignored, even by UFO researchers, for more than 30 years. Then, in 1978, ufologist Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel, who was involved with the original recovery of the debris in 1947. Marcel expressed his belief that the military had covered up the recovery of an alien spacecraft.

His story circulated through UFO circles, being featured in some UFO documentaries at the time. In February 1980, The National Enquirer ran its own interview with Marcel, garnering national and worldwide attention for the Roswell incident.

"Additional witnesses and reports emerged over the following years. They added significant new details, including claims of a large military operation dedicated to recovering alien craft and aliens themselves, at as many as 11 crash sites, and alleged witness intimidation. In 1989, former mortician Glenn Dennis put forth a detailed personal account, wherein he claimed that alien autopsies were carried out at the Roswell base."

Congressional hearings were held on the Roswell incident, and interest remains large in it today. The UFO International Museum and Research Center and an annual UFO festival are in Roswell.

Incidents actually pre-date the Roswell crash. Sightings have been reported as far back as the 1920s and '30s. Another one that gets a lot of publicity came on July 16, 1945, near San Antonio, New Mexico.

Dulce has become infamous for its cattle mutilations and an alleged underground alien base. On April 12, 1964, a Socorro police officer reported seeing a UFO south of that town. Mexican TV actually showed video of what were reported to be UFOs in the New Mexico skies a few years ago.

At least three movies -- "The Man Who Fell To Earth," starring David Bowie, in 1976, "2010" which was released in 1984, and "Contact" in 1997 -- have been shot in New Mexico because of the sightings and stories surrounding them.

New Mexico does not have a complete monopoly on sightings in the Southwest. The "Phoenix Lights" in 1997 have become perhaps the incident reportedly seen by the largest number of people. Reports of those sightings included people in Arizona, Sonora, Mexico and Nevada.

The Southwest, from Texas through Arizona, seems to have done more to promote UFO sightings as tourist attractions. Several communities publicize the fact sightings have occurred in their areas.

While BUFO and UFO Wisconsin have national reputations among those who are interested in UFOs, they have not received a lot of media attention in the state. Sightings in the state seldom make mainstream media.

Perhaps that's because of the natural skepticism among many Midwesterners. Many consider reports of sightings hoaxes.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.