Delphos UFO Incident: A Flying Object, A Bright Light & An Unexplained Landing Ring On The Ground

In 1971, 16-year-old Ronald Johnson claimed to witness a UFO landing on his family's farm in Delphos, Kansas. The markings left on the ground by the alleged craft have baffled researchers for decades.


The story of the Delphos UFO ring from 1971
The story of the Delphos UFO ring from 1971

A remarkable physical trace UFO incident took place near the tiny north-central Kansas town of Delphos on November 2, 1971.


At around 7 p.m. Ronald Johnson, 16, and his dog were tending sheep some 200 feet behind the family house when his mother, Erma Johnson, called him in for supper. He told her he would be finished soon. She and her husband Durel went ahead with the meal. When they had finished, Mrs Johnson called again for Ronald, but there was no response this time.



According to what he would tell his parents, shortly after his mother called him the first time, Ronald heard a "rumbling" sound. Then he saw, 75 feet away, in a small grove of trees on the other (northwest) side of the shed - an object become suddenly illuminated with a mass of blue, red, and orange colours. Nine feet in diameter and 10 feet high, the object looked something like the head of a mushroom with a small, fat portion of a stem beneath it. It was hovering two feet above the ground, and the illumination flowed down to the ground.


The light was so bright that it hurt Ronald's eyes when he looked at it directly. The sheep were bellowing as if disturbed. After several minutes the glow at the base grew more intense, and the object took off at an angle, clearing by no more than four feet a shed attached to the sheep pen. The rumbling sound ceased, to be replaced by a high-pitched wail.


At that moment Ronald lost his sight. Now he could only hear the sound of the object as it moved off toward the south, passing by the house. In a few minutes, Ronald's eyes cleared, and he looked up to the sky and saw the object there. He rushed into the house to tell his parents who, though they saw he was scared and frightened, refused to believe him. Mr Johnson did go outside, however, where he saw a bright light - half the apparent size of the full moon - in the southern sky. Mrs Johnson and Ronald joined him, and the three watched the object, with the bluish-white colour of an "arc-welder", move off into the distance.


They went over to the site where the UFO had first appeared. In the darkness, they observed a glowing, gray-white circle. Parts of the trees near the circle were glowing as well. Mr and Mrs Johnson placed their hands inside the circle and found that the soil was not warm, as they had expected it to be. It felt, however, as if it had been crystallized. Even more weirdly, the couple's fingers became numb. When Mrs Johnson tried to rub off the soil residue on her leg, the part of the leg she touched also went numb. The condition persisted for several weeks afterwards, according to her. Unfortunately, neither she nor her husband sought medical attention.

Mr Johnson retrieved a camera and took a picture of the circle and its surrounding environment. He then phoned Willard Critchfield, editor of the Delphos Republican. It was now 8 p.m.


Delphos UFO landing photo
Photo taken by the Johnsons approximately ten minutes after the alleged UFO landing

Investigations Into The Delphos UFO


Editor Critchfield did nothing about the call, so the next day Durel and Ronald Johnson drove into town to speak with Thaddia Smith, a Republican reporter. She, her husband, and her son-in-law accompanied the Johnsons to the farm. That afternoon she provided a statement to Ottawa County Sheriff Ralph Enlow. This is what Smith saw when she got there: "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 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 when it 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 was free of all leaves and some of the bark on the lower areas looked as though it had been blistered and had a whitish cast."


Having been alerted by a phone call from Smith, Sheriff Enlow, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Yager, and Undersheriff Harlan Enlow drove to the Johnson farm at 2 p.m. that day and interviewed the three. In his official report Undersheriff Enlow wrote:


"Mr Johnson took us out behind the hog house where we observed a ring shaped somewhat like a doughnut with a hole in the middle. The ring was completely dry with the 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. We were given a picture taken the previous evening which showed that the ring glowed in the dark. Undersheriff Enlow took a soil sample from the dried ring and photographed it.


The soil sample taken was almost white in color and very dry. We used a Civil Defense Radiological Monitor to determine that the soil was not radioactive. The soil sample and photographs are stored in the vault in the Sheriff's Office pending further investigation by the proper authorities."



On November 3, 1971, Mr Lester Ernsbarger of 416 Argyle Street in Minneapolis (11 miles south of Delphos) advised Deputy Sheriff Leonard Simpson that at approximately 7.30 p.m. the previous night (the same night as Ronald Johnson's sighting) he had observed a bright light descending in the sky in the Delphos area.

The Delphos UFO ring 42 months later
The Delphos UFO ring 42 months later

On December 4, Ted Phillips, a Missouri-based UFO investigator who specialized in physical-trace cases, met Sheriff Enlow in the latter's Minneapolis office. The sheriff gave Phillips a soil sample he had taken the day after the sighting. Then they went to the Johnson farm.


Evidence of the incident was still to be seen. According to Phillips: "As we approached the site we walked around a small shed and through scattered trees. To my amazement there was the ring, with snow melting from the ground in all the surrounding area, still to be seen after 32 days. It was perfectly outlined in the unmelted snow. Although the surrounding soil was extremely moist, we found that if the snow was removed from any portion of the ring the soil directly beneath the snow was dry and light brown in color, in contrast with the black, moist soil in the ring center and around the ring.


We removed snow from one section of the ring and introduced water into the exposed ring area: the soil would not permit the water to pass through the surface. This was most remarkable, as there had been several inches of rain and snow between November 2 and December 4.


Mr Johnson and I next removed a sample from the ring. The sample contained a high concentration of a white substance, and this white material was evident in all of the ring soil that we exposed. The particles were not to be found in the soil in the center of the ring, or in the surrounding soil. The ring soil was quite dry to a depth of at least twelve inches. The soil outside the ring was also sampled and was simply black and wet to a depth of at least eight inches. I cannot imagine soil exposed to the elements remaining so dry for such a long period of time."


Phillips made a second trip to the area on January 11, 1972. He discussed the possibility of a hoax with the sheriff and Thaddia Smith. Both discounted the idea. The sheriff called the Johnsons "well known and well respected," Smith agreed.


Seven separate soil analyses conducted by a university and other laboratories sought to compare control samples with samples taken from within the ring. The latter was found not to absorb water, had a higher acid content, and contained soluble salts as well as two to two and a half times more calcium. They also produced less seed growth and were coated with a hydrocarbon of low molecular weight that various analysts were able to remove only by heating to 100 degrees C, or washing with ethyl alcohol. Embedded in the ring soil samples was a second unusual organic material of higher molecular weight. This second substance was composed of white, crystal-like fibers. In other words, the results of the tests performed at the time were interesting but inconclusive, leaving several mysteries in their wake. "There seems to be," scientist Michael D Swords writes, "no question that the surface soil was hydrophobic (resistant to water), luminescent, and anesthetic, but to what this can be attributed is still unknown."



In the late 1980s British chemist, Erol A Faruk conducted his own independent analyses of Delphos samples. He concluded that probably something unusual and potentially significant had occurred:


"I would say that the data presented in this research do not lead to a definitive view on the origin of the Delphos ring. I would, however, still maintain that: (1) a simple hoax (as was proposed by debunker Philip J Klass) is almost certainly ruled out by the soil chemistry; (2) a fungal fairy-ring hypothesis (suggested as an explanation by some skeptics) leaves many questions unanswered; and (3) the model developed from the ring soil chemistry, and from characteristics that support the sighting of an unconventional aerial object, is the most tenable explanation for the ring - despite its implications."

Another fascinating UFO encounter that still remains a mystery over 40 years later. Let us know your thoughts on the Delphos UFO ring in the comments section below.


Now you have read about the Delphos UFO make sure you take a look at The 1976 Alien Abduction Case In Kentucky: Three Women Reported Being Abducted By Extraterrestrials.


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