November 2, 1971
Location: Delphos, Kansas, United States
Ronald Johnson was tending the sheep, accompanied 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
MUFON sketch showing sideview of the encounter. (credit:
Photograph of the landing ring left by the object.
Witness Ronald Johnson.
Loy Lawhon, About.com
Ring: Delphos, Kansas 1971
evening in 1971, November 2 to be exact, sixteen-year-old
Ronald Johnson was tending the sheep on his father's farm
near 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.
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
fingers went numb.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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."
soil sample taken was almost white in color and very dry.
had observed a bright light descending in the sky...
report also stated that:
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.
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.
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
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
does that wrap the Delphos Ring up in a neat little package
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.
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.
dog would furiously try to get into the house at nightfall.
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.
the animals were traumatized by the sighting. Vallee says:
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."
adequate explanation for the Delphos incident has never