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Not Quite A Crop Circle, But…

Reports of Crop Circles chiefly date back to the late 1970s (with a few in the 1960s). There are, however, some reports that date back much earlier, such as these, which turned up in an old Second World War file created by MI5, which is the U.K.’s equivalent of the United States’ FBI. And, still on the matter of government agencies and Crop Circles, there is the following story that isn’t quite Crop Circle-based, but which is still interesting. It’s a story which can be found in an early-1950s-era U.S. Air Force file titled “Summary of Circumstances: Investigation of Possible Unidentified Flying Object – Arlington, Virginia 1-2 September 1952.” Prepared by the USAF Office of Special Investigations, it begins as follows:

“At 1600 hours on 3 Sep 52, the Directorate of Intelligence HQ USAF received a telephone call from Mr. Storm, SE, Washington, that an unusual circle was found marked on the lawn of his father, Mr. Storm on the morning of 2 Sep 52 and that he believed it might bear some relation to the USAF investigation of unidentified flying objects. Major Fournet, of the D/I called on the elder Mr. Storm at his residence, Arlington Va., during the evening of 3 Sep 52.”

The document continues: “The following was found on Mr. Storm’s rear lawn: A circle 18 feet in diameter and nearly perfectly formed was marked on the lawn by a deposit of some unknown gray substance which was adhering to the grass in clusters of fine globules. The band of the circle (around the periphery) was an average of approximately 6 inches wide. The deposits in the band were less pronounced and sometimes absent for short distances where depressions or unevenness in the ground surface occurred.”

Major Fournet continued: “A small evergreen bush was located at a point about 40 inches inside the circle and did not appear to have been disturbed in any way nor were any deposits present on around it. A clothes line frame located on a central pole overhung the circle somewhat and had been in place on the night in question. An antenna wire about 40 feet above the ground overhung the circle, exact amount undetermined. No other vegetation in the area contained any deposits or marks (small trees were present, as close as 6 or 8 feet from the circle). Three types of fertilizer were stored in covered drums near the garage about 15 feet away from the circle.”

Typical modern crop circle

And, there was much more to come: “Mr. and Mrs. Storm were interviewed and offered the following information: a. Mr. Storm cut the grass in the area in question around 1800-1900 hours on 1 Sep 52. The clippings were left where they fell. At 2300 hours on 1 Sep 52, Mr. Storm put his dog in the basement for the night. (Note: the dog barks at anyone who comes into the yard, and, until that time, had not sounded off). (As related to Mr. Storm later by Mrs. [Deleted] a neighbor immediately in the rear of the Storm residence and adjacent to the lawn in question.) Mrs. [Deleted] was awakened at about 0400 hours on 2 Sep 52 by barking of dog ‘which seemed to be in distress.’ She looked out of a window in the rear of her house but failed to see anything (it was a rather dark night).

The report adds the following: “Upon going out to his car at 0730 hours 2 Sep 52, Mr. Storm noticed the circle and walked over to examine it. He describes it as having at that time a brown, oily-sandy appearance with what seemed to be a very fine granular structure (as though a fine sand mixed with light oil had been spread to form the ring). He rubbed some of the substance between his fingers and found it faintly gritty and definitely oily. Mrs. Storm corroborates this description.”

As for the next day, we’re told: “During mid-afternoon of 2 Sep 52 Mrs. Storm reexamined the ring and found that the color had changed to grayish blue, and it no longer appeared to be oily. However it still felt oily but no longer felt gritty. She detected no odor upon smelling it. Upon returning from work at 1700 hours 2 Sep 52, Mr. Storm again examined it with his wife. He describes the color as purplish-gray; Mrs. Storm describes the color as bluish gray. Both agree that the substance had begun to form small, closely-packed globules on the blades of grass and that it had begun to ‘crystallize.’ Mr. Storm states that it then felt slick (like graphite) when rubbed between the fingers; Mrs. Storm describes it as a powdery feel. (NOTE: There has been no rain since before the evening of 1 Sep 52, and there was a hot sun all day on 2 Sep 52. However, there was a heavy rainfall during the night of 2/3 Sep 52).”

A further section of the document states the following: “During the morning of 3 Sep 52, Mr. Storm reexamined it and ‘was surprised to find it there after so much rain.’ He describes its appearance as darker (a slate gray) and still formed in globules on the grass blades. It still felt about like graphite. Perhaps a bit ‘thinner’ than the preceding evening. Mr. And Mrs. [Deleted] were not at home and, therefore, were not interviewed.. Samples of grass, leaves and soil, and of three types of fertilizer stored nearby were removed for analysis. Mr. And Mrs. Storm were very cooperative and appeared to be completely sincere. They stated that they have not recently evinced much interest in the subject of unidentified flying objects nor had they discussed the subject with anyone, thereby eliminating any obvious motive for a practical joke.”

Fairy ring

The USAF forwarded various samples to the FBI for analysis. While the results weren’t conclusive (the fertilizer was one issue addressed carefully), the likelihood is that this particular circle had a down-to-earth explanation. Namely, fungi. Consider the following: “Fairy rings are caused by a diverse family of soil-inhabiting fungi called basidiomycetes. They typically appear as dark green circles in the lawn ranging in size from a few inches to 200 feet or more in diameter. Lush rings of turf are formed by the release of nutrients, in particular nitrogen, from the activity of the fungus living on organic matter in the soil. A circle of mushrooms usually develops around the edge of the infected area.”

Of course, some might disagree with the tentative conclusions of the USAF and the FBI, but the likelihood is that in this case the answer was not to be found in the world of the unknown.


Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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