By JESSICA HANSEN
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Web site tracks UFO appearances in state
Too big to be a firefly.
Too swift to be a super-secret government bomber.
Could it be a spacecraft from another planet?
While John R. Hoppe, 32, said he can't tell what all those unrecognizable bodies are in the
heavens, he has started a new Web site to track the appearances of such unidentified flying
objects in Wisconsin skies.
. We thought it would be easy for
people to remember," said Hoppe, director of the new Wisconsin UFO Reporting and Education
Launched Sept. 1, the site already has logged more than 1,200 hits, the Sheboygan resident
"My goal was to get 1,000 the first month, and we've exceeded that in five days," he said.
The site's main purpose is to provide a forum for those serious about identifying the
And, Hoppe said, to erase the images of little green men conjured when many think of UFOs.
"That term has changed over the course of history," he said. "In the past, it meant
unidentified flying object. Today it means alien spacecraft. I'm trying to get the term back to
where it was.
"We use the term UFOs as 'unidentified flying object.' We do not associate that with aliens."
Those who visit the site can file a UFO sighting report or read other's reports, filed by date
and county, Hoppe said.
"We have a Wisconsin county map, where you click on a county and it brings up the number of
sightings reported there," he said.
The site also features videos and pictures of reported Wisconsin sightings, as well as UFO
news, a message board, a library and links to other such state groups.
"There's a UFO education page that we're working on for people that are maybe curious about the
UFO phenomenon, to explain things in common terms."
Hoppe said he's been interested in UFOs since age 15, when he encountered a strange orange
light on a fishing trip.
"I thought it was a lantern that fell out of a boat," he said. "When I moved toward the light,
it moved. When I backed off, it followed me."
When it lifted out of the water and disappeared, Hoppe said he was hooked. He's been searching
the skies ever since.
"There's been too many reports all over the state of unexplained sightings," Hoppe said.
"If people do believe these are aliens and these are their craft, fine. If they think it's the military, fine," he said. "What I want to do is present the data as it is filed on our site. Then maybe somebody else can come up with the answer."
Hoppe said his ultimate goal is to record enough sightings to generate statistics showing which Wisconsin communities have the most UFO sightings and what their causes may be.
"Is there a military base there? Maybe an alien underground base? We don't know. But we can start to get statistics to point us in the right direction, to get the answers. And actually figure out what is going on in our skies."
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sept. 9, 2001.
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