Delphos UFO Incident: UFO Sighting By Ronald Johnson, Crystalized Ring On The Landing Site

A 16-year old boy, Ronald Johnson, from Delphos, Kansas, claimed to have seen a UFO land on his family’s farm in 1971. For decades, scientists and researchers have been stumped by the markings left by the UFO. The impressive UFO incident occurred on November 2, 1971, near the tiny north-central Kansas town of Delphos.

Ronald Johnson
Ronald Johnson

Nearly 200 feet behind the family house, Ronald Johnson and his dog were tending sheep around 7 p.m. when Erma Johnson, who was his mother, called him for supper. He replied that he would finish his work soon. Her mother, along with her husband, Durel, then went ahead and had the meal. Upon finishing their meal, Durel again called Ronald, but he didn’t reply this time.

As described by Ronald Johnson to his parents, he heard a “rumbling” sound just after when his mother called him for supper. On the other (northwest) side of the shed, there was a little grove of trees 75 feet away. Suddenly, there was an object lighted in blue, red, and orange. The object resembled the head of the mushroom and had a little fat piece of the stem underneath it. It measured nine feet in diameter and ten feet in height. The object illuminated the ground as it was just hovering two feet above the ground.

Ronald’s eyes were so irritated by the brightness that he had to look away from them. It seemed like the sheeps were disturbed by someone; as a result, they were bellowing. It took a few minutes for the glow at the bottom of the object to intensify before it launched off at an angle, nearly clearing a shed attached to the sheep corral by four feet. A high-pitched sound replaced the previous rumbling noise.

At this moment, Ronald’s vision went dark. Now all he could hear was the sound of the object traveling near his house on its way south. Ronald’s vision had now started to get clear after a few minutes, and now he spotted the object in the sky. He was looking frightened as he rushed into his house and told his parents about the incident, but they didn’t believe him. In the southern sky, Mr. Johnson noticed a dazzling light half the apparent size of the full moon when he went out. He was then joined by his wife and Ronald, and they watched the object, which had the bluish-white color of an “arc-welder,” as it traveled off into the distance.

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

In the dark, a dazzling, gray-white ring in the night was spotted by them when they went to the spot where the UFO had first appeared. The trees that were near the site were glowing as well. It was a surprise to both Mr. Johnson and his wife when they reached into the circle and felt that the soil was much cooler than they had anticipated. However, it seemed like the soil had been crystallized. Adding to the strangeness, the couple’s fingers went numb. According to Mrs. Johnson, the ailment lasted for a few weeks. Medical help was not taken by either Mrs. Johnson or her husband.

It was now 8:00 p.m. when Mr. Johnson dialed Willard Critchfield, editor of the Delphos Republican, after taking a picture of the circle and its surrounding environment.

Investigations Into The Delphos UF0 Incident

Editor Critchfield paid no attention to the call, so the next day, Durel and Ronald Johnson visited Thaddia Smith, a Republican reporter. Then Thaddia Smith, with her husband and her son-in-law, went to the Johnsons’ farm. She gave a statement to the Ottawa County Sheriff, Ralph Enlow, that afternoon.

“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.”

Thaddia Smith

Sheriff Enlow, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Yager, and Undersheriff Harlan Enlow were notified by a phone call from Smith and drove to the Johnson farm at 2 p.m. that day to question the three members of the Johnson family.

“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.”

Official report by Undersheriff Enlow 
The Delphos UFO ring traces 42 months later
The Delphos UFO ring traces 42 months later

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

Ted Phillips, a UFO investigator from Missouri who specialized in physical-trace cases, met Sheriff Enlow in his Minneapolis office on December 4. Phillips was given a soil sample obtained the day following the sighting by the sheriff. Then they visited the Johnson farm.

“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.”

Ted Phillips

On January 11, 1972, Phillips made a second visit to the site. With the sheriff and Thaddia Smith, he considered the potential of a hoax. Both disagreed with the idea. The sheriff called the Johnsons “well known and well respected.” Smith agreed.

In an effort to compare control samples with samples taken from within the ring, researchers from a university and other labs conducted seven separate soil analyses. In the result, it was found that the soil within the ring did not absorb water and had a higher acid content, as well as two to two and a half times the amount of calcium-soluble salts. It also contained soluble salts.

A coating of hydrocarbons of low molecular weight was also found on the soil, which was removed by scientists only by heating them to 100 degrees C or washing them with ethyl alcohol. Another odd organic substance with a larger molecular weight was found in the soil. This second substance was composed of white, crystal-like fibers. The experiment was interesting, but no conclusion was made out of it, which left many questions unanswered.

“There seems to be, no question that the surface soil was hydrophobic (resistant to water), luminescent, and anesthetic, but to what this can be attributed is still unknown.”

Scientist Michael D Swords

Another independent examination of the soil from the alleged UFO landing site was conducted in the late 1980s by British chemist Erol A. Faruk. He came to the conclusion that something out of the ordinary and potentially momentous had taken place.

“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.”

British chemist Erol A. Faruk

This UFO encounter remains one of the greatest mysteries of all time. Still, after so many years, nothing conclusive was found.

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