Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Captured Flying Saucers: Black River Falls, Wisconsin July 10, 1947

There was a rash of flying saucers reports in the weeks following Kenneth Arnold's pivotal sighting in June 24, 1947. What many historians forget is that there was also a large number of reports of crashed flying saucers. What caused this frenzy of reports real and imagined, and the inevitable hoaxes? It may have been the cash rewards offered for $1,000 for proof that the flying saucers are real.

Black River Falls, Wisconsin July 10, 1947. Sigurd Hanson found a small unmanned flying saucer in a field near the fairgrounds, where it had apparently crashed. The earth was scarred from the landing, and object itself was clearly a technological device, streamlined for flight and the body of the saucer showed scorching form the engine exhaust. The Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol was called in to investigate.
Kenosha Evening News, July 11 1947.

There was a lot of excitement due to the physical evidence recovered, and this was indeed a saucer not scraps of tinfoil. As the story developed, further details emerged.

Sigurd Hanson
"Hanson hopes that the saucer will merit one of those $1000 rewards that he has been reading about in the newspapers lately, although he hasn't given it much thought."

The La Crosse Tribune, July 11, 1947

The story was so big, there were stories on the news coverage of the story itself. Saucers were selling papers, and photographers were eager to get a photograph of a real flying saucer.

July 11, 1947

July 12, 1947

Exploitation and Exhibition 

The investigation by the Civil Air Patrol revealed the saucer had been constructed on Earth, but they weren't certain it was the same kind of object that was being reported in the skies across the nation, and their interest in the disc diminished. The object was returned to the Black River Falls' Chamber of Commerce who saw an opportunity to capitalize on the publicity by charging viewers for admission to see the saucer.

"The Hansons, wondering if the saucer will merit the $1000 offered, are considering contacting officials at the World Inventors Congress in session at Hollywood, Calif. The inventors have offered the reward to the first disk finder."

? July 13, 1947 and Dubuque Telegraph Herald, July 13 1947.

The Saucer Crashes

The FBI's file has a document that discloses their analysis of the UFO's physical properties.

The disc might be made of a substance such as cardboard covered by a silver
airplane dope material. The contraption has a small wooden tail like a
rudder in the back and inside of the disc is what appears to be an RCA
photo-electric cell or tube. Also inside the disc is a little electric
motor with a shaft running to the center of the disc. At one end of the
shaft is a very small propeller. In ____ opinion that contraption might
possibly have been made by some juvenile. ____ stated that he desired
to return the contraption to Milwaukee and eventually turn it over to
the Army Air Forces, but that the finder, ____ apparently wanted to get
some publicity on his find and wanted it returned to him.
FBI Office Memorandum, Subject Flying Discs Sabotage, August 12, 1947 

Unlike so many of the most interesting UFO cases featured here at The Saucers That Time Forgot, Project Blue Book does have a file on this incident. Conclusion: Hoax.


In a newspaper story in 2004, Bob Huntley confessed how he, with the help of three friends, Bud Bowler and cousins John and Dan McDonald, built and staged the saucer crash.
"BRF's flying saucer mystery revealed as a hoax" by Autumn Grooms of the La Crosse Tribune Nov 18, 2004

They weren't the only kids up to saucer mischief, but we'll cover those in future installments.

The object was determined to be of Earthly origin, and the identity of the hoaxers was determined, so this is one of the few cases definitively closed as solved.


  1. Are you familiar with this hoax?


  2. I do have a tiny bit on it in my specialized "partnership hoaxes" file. It's mostly forgotten, so worth an entry here, which will be sure to include a bit of video Yvan found. Al those industrious pranking kids! I wonder if any of them became engineers with that talent.

  3. Black River Falls Wisconsin c/a 1947; continuing a heritage of greatness for over 50 years. See the movie Wisconsin Death Trip for more information:
    Mary Sweeney would be proud..

  4. My dad, Paul Ziemer, Radio News Editor at WKBH La Crosse, and a coworker chartered a plane to bring their new wire recording equipment to Black River Falls to record the siting of the flying disc. They got back to La Crosse in time for the 10 pm news and the report was repeated the next morning. It sounds from a La Crosse paper story on their report as if it was played on the national news as well!


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