50 Years Ago, on November 2, 1971, sixteen year old Ron Johnson was tending sheep on the family farm in Delphos, Kansas. He heard his mom calling him for dinner and, as the story goes, when he turned to reply his attention was drawn to a strange mushroom-shaped object hovering in the air about 75 feet away, making a sound not dissimilar to an old vibrating washing machine.
I believe that’s the first time in UFO history such a description was used for the sound of a hovering object. If someone was sitting in this rattling contraption hovering above the earth, and if there were intelligent space beings that somehow made a harrowing trip across the cosmos in that thing, I hope they had a mechanic check it out before they drove it back home. Could have been a loose muffler or something.
Now back to the story…. Ronnie claimed the craft appeared to be about six to eight feet in diameter, which is pretty small when you consider it. That’s an awful cramped space to travel that far. Humans require huge RVs to go just a few thousand miles.
Anyway, according to the story (there’s even a book about it on Amazon.com with a massively long title: The Compelling Scientific Evidence for UFOs: The Analysis of the Delphos, Kansas UFO Landing Report) the object was hovering just a few feet above the ground and left a circular area of bare land where, from then on, grass refused to grow.
Upon investigation the affected soil was found to be resistant to water, and when compared to soil samples from outside of the ring it was found to contain more calcium, soluble salts, was more acidic, and apparently contained an unidentified hydrocarbon. There was also a white, fibrous, crystalline material found in the soil.
Let’s take a look at these chemical findings first. Off the bat we can exclude calcium, salts and acidic soil as evidence of some strange event. Those components are not uncommon in soil, and plants tend not to thrive in acidic soil so that could explain the bare spot. Hydrocarbons in the soil, especially in this situation (it’s a farm), can be explained by various agricultural operations including the use of pesticides, and regular use of farming equipment or vehicles.
Next, the white stuff. I read this thing (which is consistent with other reports on the Delphos ring, indicating that they’re all just regurgitating the same information), and according Jacques Vallée, a well known French astronomer who wears many hats including UFOlogist, the white material was analyzed by a French biologist and found to be actinobacteria, and referred to in the report as a form of fungus.
Just a note: Actinobacteria is not fungus. As the name not so subtly implies, it is bacteria. It is also common in soil, especially in forest areas (you know, around trees). The only thing fungus-like about actinobacteria is their tendency to form colonies and develop into whitish, stranded, branching formations called hyphae.
So, funny white fungus-like bacteria, trace forms of calcium, salt and acidic soil do not indicate that something weird happened. It means something rather normal happened. It happens all over the place. Soil isn’t just some inert stuff sitting there waiting for us to look at it. Natural processes are happening all the time.
But why is it shaped like a ring, and why doesn’t it absorb water? Since we have learned that the soil was not really that strange, those remaining factors can be relatively easily deduced. It may have been that the soil had be come too compacted to readily absorb water, and the things that compacted the soil could be the very same things that caused the ring and the acidic quality of the soil.
Remember this was a sheep farm, and sheep pee. Put a bunch of peeing sheep with trampling hooves around a circular bale feeder, day after day, and you’ll have compacted salty soil in no time.
That’s just my theory, but I think it’s a good one. It doesn’t take an unidentified hovering object to make a circle of dry dirt on a farm. Farm animals can do that with no trouble at all.
But why would a sixteen year old boy make up such a far-fetched tale about a hovering UFO? Come on now… telling stories is what humans do.