Published: 1:19 PM 9/1/2013
The chamber of commerce talks about Hartford's small-town appeal, top-notch education, historic architecture and scenic location in the rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine.
But there is no mention of the mysterious spaceship; or the fact that the Washington County community made the list of the Top 10 UFO Cases of 2012.
I smell a cover-up! And the Sheriff's Department is in on it, too. They never called me back when I demanded to know what really happened the night of July 13, 2012, in a rural area just outside of town.
OK, I need to calm down and refrain from UFAs, unfounded accusations. Let me tell you what I know.
The list was released in August by the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, which is said to be one of the oldest and largest UFO investigative organizations in the United States. Their web site is mufon.com.
Robert Powell, director of research for MUFON, tells me they get more than 7,000 UFO reports a year, and 60% of those are dismissed as airplanes, meteors or something else easily explainable. Many of the rest are vague reports of distant lights in the sky.
The list is pared down to a few dozen sightings, and then the organization's science review boards, made up of what Iím assured are eight serious scientists, picks the Top 10. They weigh the credibility and kookiness of the witnesses, how close the object was and other factors.
I get paid to be skeptical, but I can't resist a good Top 10 list with a local angle. Guys like Powell know that columnists like me are inclined to ridicule UFOs and the people who take them seriously.
"You just see so many cases one after another," said Powell, who lives in Austin, Texas, and is retired from the computer chip business. "You just reach a point where you say, OK, there's something physical and real to this phenomenon. You can have different theories as to what's causing it, but you can't dismiss the phenomenon itself."
Here's Judy's theory. She's the 57-year-old Hartford woman who saw the Top 10 UFO hovering in her backyard. Her daughter was with her in the driveway that night and saw it, too.
"This was an actual mother ship, we assume. It was something very unexplainable. I don't believe it's anything from this Earth," she told me. We decided it might be best not to use her last name in this article.
"I have told my friends and family, and I didn't care that they thought I was crazy because I know what I saw," said Judy, who seemed pretty normal to me.
She describes a lampshade-shaped object a couple of hundred feet wide. It had lights. First it was over the house and then it moved past the trees in the backyard before zooming off to the east.
It was all over in less than 30 seconds, too quickly to even take a photo.
"And no sound. No sound at all. This was 10:15 at night, on a Friday night, and it just so happened to be Friday the 13th," Judy said.
She didn't call police or even report it to MUFON for two weeks. She had never heard of MUFON, but her husband watches UFO shows on TV and told her about it.
Mark O'Connell, of Fort Atkinson, is one of the half-dozen Wisconsin-based investigators for MUFON. His regular job is alternative fuels consulting.
He visited Judy's home and took down her story. He checked the weather from that night and whether an airport was nearby. He also interviewed neighbors who said they didn't see anything.
"Why would somebody make this up? I found it credible," O'Connell said. "As an investigator I can't help them process what they saw, but what's important to them is that someone takes them seriously."
So what happens now?
Well, nothing really. It's not like an answer to this UFO or any others is right around the corner. Just because an object, even a flying one, can't be identified doesn't mean we're under an invasion from space.
These days, a government spying program is probably more plausible.
Judy would love to hear from anyone who saw the same UFO that night. In the meantime, she said, she keeps one eye on the sky.