At almost half past midnight on June 28, 1973, in Columbia, MO, four residents of a mobile home—James Richards, 41; his wife Shirley; daughter Vanea, 16; and three-year-old son Jamie—heard a “thrashing sound” through an open window. Outside, they could see two brilliant beams of light some 50 feet away projecting downward from above. The twin light beams were about five feet apart, silvery-white in color and curiously, wider at the top than at the bottom. According to James Richards, the surrounding area was “lit up as bright as day.”
Soon the lights began to fade, and a glowing oval object, 12 to 15 feet in diameter, could be seen close to the ground. Concurrently, the witnesses noted that trees around the object were shaking violently, as if in a heavy storm. One tree, however, seemed to be drawn toward the ground, one of its larger limbs eventually snapping off. Although there was a noisy commotion all around them, several dogs Richards owned were lying placidly on the ground outside the mobile home, oddly oblivious to events.
The UFO soon began to move north, still remaining so close to the ground that it passed below tree branches. Two hundred feet out it paused, hovering, and the witnesses were able to see its silvery surface, from which blue and orange lights shone. Alarmed by what he was seeing, Richards called the trailer count switchboard, directing the switchboard operator to call the police. Simultaneously, the lights in the trailer began to dim and, moments later, the telephone system began to malfunction. Five times the operator attempted to call Richards, but the phone did not ring, and the line appeared to be dead. Ultimately Richards reached the operator, who then contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at the regional airport.
By this time the UFO had maneuvered back to the original location from which it had been seen by the Richards'. Ominously, however, it now began to move toward the Richards’ house and then abruptly changed its heading and began to move away. It coursed among the trees, on a slightly rising trajectory, before hovering once more. The orange and blue lights began to fade and eventually disappeared altogether. When the police finally arrived at 1:45 A.M., the object was gone.
Although the police downplayed the event, the physical evidence remaining in the UFO’s wake was abundant and clear: damaged foliage, scorched leaves high above the ground, broken tree limbs. Two foot-deep impressions in the ground were discovered, as though something had landed there, and a search along the flight path of the UFO revealed an additional complex of imprints. The UFO’s passage also produced a delayed aftereffect in the form of healthy leaves that were later found to have become brown and withered prematurely. (30) (This latter effect presages the Trans-en-Provence case of 1981 wherein alfalfa leaves in a landing imprint were unaccountably aged.)
(R.P.S., see Acknowledgments.) [meaning this case was summarizied by Robert P. Swiatek—jw]
Phillips, Ted. “UFO Trace-Landing Cases” in MUFON 1974 UFO Symposium Proceedings. Sequin, TX: Mutual UFO Network, 1974, 45-68.
Phillips, Ted. “Physical Traces Associated with UFO Sightings. Chicago: Center for UFO Studies, 1975, 90.
Flying Saucer Review (November-December 1973): 18-26.