TRACECAT Case Directory
  Category 6, Physical Traces 
Rating: 5  


Van Horn Crop Circle
July 13, 1969
Van Horn, Iowa

Fran Ridge:
July 13, 1969; Van Horn, Iowa
11:00 PM. A high school girl was having her cousin [a beautician] over for a visit and a sleep-over. The two young women were still up when they heard a sound outside. Looking out their window, they saw an object above the field across the road. It was less than a mile away. The thing appeared to be a gray metallic disk, non-luminous, but with a orange-red band of light around the circumference. This light enabled the girls to see the shape clearly: like "a shallow inverted bowl with a curved bottom". The object was "clean" [no protrusions nor individual lights]. The object came directly over the farmhouse, its vibrations rattling the bedroom windows. [The parents were asleep already and did not awaken]. The girls felt that the disk was "the size of an automobile" and was rotating counter-clockwise as it rose and sailed away. The next morning they told the one girl's parents what had happened but were not believed. That morning however, the father was out walking the fields and came across a forty foot diameter circle of dried out soybean crop, which had not previously been there. This area was not only a "perfect" circle but in the proper location for the sighting of the UFO. The appearance of the affected crop was "all of the leaves of each plant were hanging wilted from the stalks" as if, the UFO field researcher hypothesized, "they had been subjected to intense heat". The spot was apparently the result of a "near-landing" rather than an actual touch-down, as the plants were not broken off nor crushed. A fine aerial photo of this circle has been made and is attached to this report. The UFO community was on the scene relatively early, with the APRO investigator taking the photos and soil samples, and Walt Andrus of MUFON/APRO interviewing the daughter [the only early interview of the cousin was by news persons]. As was almost universally the case APRO dropped the ball on the analysis of the samples and reported only that the plants were dry, shriveled, and not radioactive.  Dr. J. Allen Hynek even visited the site and was later quoted: "I still don't know what the hell this thing is all about... It looked as though a big heater had been held six feet above the ground". Neighbors of the family contributed the remarks that their dogs were making a racket that evening. Van Horne stands as one of the best "landing effects" cases on record. This is because it has multiple witnesses, an immediate corroberation of the trace by someone who knew exactly the state of his farm fields, no desire for publicity [in fact a parent who blocked almost all of it], no motivation [in fact, a loss of valuable crop], multiple, early-on-scene investigators with good track records for straight-shooting, and a fairly large and mysterious effect. On some scales of rating "trace" cases, this might be #1. [Mike Swords; References: a). APRO UFO Report Form (case field investigation), undated but c. September 1969 (Hynek/CUFOS files); "Saucer Near Landing In Iowa", SKYLOOK #23, October 1969; "UFO Over Iowa Bean Field", APRO Bulletin, July-August 1969: Kevin Randle, "The Iowa UFO Landings", Official UFO Fall 1976; [news note] DATA-NET V(9): September 1971; Al Swegle, "Sight UFO Over Benton County Farm", Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 15, 1969.]

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