Date: November 2, 1971
Location: Delphos, Kansas, United States
16 year old Ronald Johnson was tending the sheep, accompanies by his dog, when the sighting happened. What he suddenly saw was a mushroom shaped object, illuminated by multicolored lights over its entire surface and hovering 25 yards away. Johnson and his family went around the house to the site of the near landing and were surprised... to observe a glowing ring in the ground. This is considered as one of the very best physical trace cases involving a UFO landing.
MUFON sketch showing sideview of the encounter. (credit: MUFON / Connelly)
Photograph of the landing ring left by the object.
Witness Ronald Johnson.
Type of Case/Report: MajorCase
Hynek Classification: CE2
Special Features/Characteristics: Physical Trace, Landing, Animal Reaction, Children
Source: Loy Lawhon, About.com
[go to original source]
The Ring: Delphos, Kansas 1971
One evening in 1971, November 2 to be exact, sixteen-year-old Ronald Johnson was tending the sheep on his father's farmn ear the small town of Delphos, Kansas. At about 7:00 p.m. Ronald and his dog Snowball were suddenly surprised to see an object hovering about two feet off the ground in a grove of trees some twenty-five yards from where he stood. The object, which he later estimated to be about nine feet in diameter and ten feet tall, was shaped like a mushroom with a short stem and was covered with multi-colored lights. It made a sound that Ronald described as like that of an old washing machine which vibrates. As he watched, it suddenly became very bright at the base and then it took off at an angle, temporarily blinding him. Ronald would later say that the dog was noticeably "very quiet", but that the sheep were bleating nervously.
Some minutes later, as Ronald's eyes once more adjusted to the light, he went into the house and told his parents, Durel and Erma Johnson, what he had seen. They got outside in time to see the object, which was now about half the full moon in size, before it vanished into the sky to the south.
...her fingers went numb.
Ronald and his parents then went to examine the place at which the object had been first seen. They were astonished to find a glowing ring on the ground, and some sort of glowing material on nearby trees. When Mrs. Johnson touched the glowing area, which had a crust-like texture, she found that her fingers went numb. She tried to wipe the substance off onto her leg, and her leg became numb where the material touched it. Her fingers reportedly remained slightly numb for about two weeks, although she never sought medical attention for the problem. Mr. Johnson fetched his camera and took a photo of the ring and then phoned the local newspaper, The Delphos Republican.
The next day, Durel and Ronald drove into town and spoke to a Delphos Republican reporter, Thaddia Smith. Mrs. Smith, her husband, and her son-in-law then accompanied the Johnsons back to their farm, where she found:
The circle was still very distinct and plain to see. the soil was dried and crusted. The circle or ring was approximately 8 feet across, the center of the ring and the outside area were still muddy from recent rains. The area of the ring that was dried was about a foot across and was very light in color.
The object had crushed a dead tree to the ground either when it landed or took off, and from appearance had broken a limb of a live tree when it landed. the broken limb was most unusual, it would snap and break as though it had been dead for quite some time, yet it was green under the bark, and the upper area still had green leaves clinging to its branches. However the lower area looked as though it had been blistered and had a whitish cast.
That afternoon, Sheriff Enlow, Undersheriff Harlan Enlow, and Kansas State Highway Patrolman Kenneth Yager investigated the ring after being called by Thaddia Smith. Harlan Enlow's report of the investigation stated:
...we observed a ring shaped somewhat like a doughnut with a hole in the middle. The ring was completely dry with a hole in the middle and outside of the ring mud. There were limbs broken from a tree and a dead tree broken off, there. There was a slight discoloration on the trees.
The soil sample taken was almost white in color and very dry.
...he had observed a bright light descending in the sky...
Enlow's report also stated that:
On 11-03-71 Mr. Lester Ensbarger of 416 Argyle St. in Minneapolis advised Deputy Sheriff Leonard Simpson that at approx. 7:30 p.m. 11-02-71 he had observed a bright light descending in the sky in the Delphos area.
The ring was still clearly visible thirty-two days later when examined by a UFO investigator named Ted Phillips, who specializes in physical-trace cases. The soil in the ring itself was still dry to a depth of at least twelve inches even though at this time it was covered by snow, whereas the soil outside the ring was wet and black. Phillips took several photos of the ring and collected soil samples from the ring and from the ground outside the ring.
A number of analyses were done of soil samples taken from the ring and from the surrounding soil. The ring soil was found to be resistant to water, to contain more calcium and more soluble salts, and to be more acidic than soil from outside the ring. In addition, the soil from the ring was found to contain an unidentified hydrocarbon and an organic material composed of white, crystal-like fibers.
According to Jacques Vallee, in his book Dimensions, a French biologist identified the white fibers as a fungus-like organism of the order Actinomycetales, whose growth can cause a circular pattern to form on the ground. In addition, this biologist, who asked not to be identified, stated that this fungus is often found growing with another fungus of the order Basidiomysetes, which may fluoresce under some conditions.
So... does that wrap the Delphos Ring up in a neat little package labeled "solved?"
Only if you're one of those debunkers who thinks that if you find an explanation for part of an incident, then you have "debunked" the entire incident. Remember, three witnesses saw a UFO, not just the ring, and their sighting was at least partly corroborated by a fourth witness eleven miles away in Minneapolis. The ring itself may not be directly related to the UFO sighting, and the presence of a fungus in the soil does not explain how the fluorescent material got onto the surrounding trees, nor how the branches got broken and the dead Chinese elm tree knocked down.
Both Thaddia Smith and Sheriff Enlow told Ted Phillips in 1972 that the Johnsons were well respected in the area and that they did not believe that it was possible that the family could be perpetrating a hoax.
The dog would furiously try to get into the house at nightfall.
The day after the incident, Ronald's eyes became red and watered as though from irritation. For a week after the incident he had nightmares from which he awoke screaming.
Even the animals were traumatized by the sighting. Vallee says:
For about two weeks, every evening at sunset, the sheep would jump out of the pen and run wildly. The dog would furiously try to get into the house at nightfall. He practically destroyed the screen door, and the only way to keep him outside was to replace it with a stronger metal door.
An adequate explanation for the Delphos incident has never been found.
Case ID: 192
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