Everyone one has heard of Unidentified Flying Objects or UFO for short, if not you would have to, being politically correct; living under a rock. I have heard of UFO's since I was a young boy watching old, black and white, movies; It Came From Outer Space, Invaders from Mars, War of The Worlds, Red Planet Mars, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Even before these classics, on Saturdays I would sit in the Circle Theater in Whittier Square in Tulsa watching such monotonous serial thrillers with Buck Rogers, Dr. Zarkov, Dale Arden, Emperor Ming and the planet Mongo. Many a night when outside I would look up at the stars and watch something moving across the sky, not knowing if it were a plane or some mysterious alien space ship? Only once did I see what I thought was a space ship otherwise know as a UFO to coin a modern phrase. It was big, covered with pulsing, bright, colored lights and caused the farm tractor that my two cousins and I were riding on to die stop running. It was about ten o'clock at night, summertime in central Kansas. We were planting Bermuda grass sprigs off a contraction attached on the back of the big A-model, John Deere tractor. We saw it at a distance, maybe a mile or so over the trees at the far end of the plowed field. It swooped down and seemed to hover before slowing moving over the sparse clump of trees in the fence row and then over the field closer to us. It hovered for a moment maybe half way between the fence row and our tractor before shooting off to the west in an almost unbelievable speed. My two cousins and I talked about it, all trying to bolster our bravado with bold talk. The driver of the tractor was about seventeen, his brother riding beside me was less than fifteen and I was only ten months older than he.
Suddenly far to the south the UFO, for no better word or explanation appeared on the horizon and raced towards us, stopping even closer the second time of our encounter. Up close the lights became so bright it was almost impossible to see any shape of the hovering craft; the engine on the tractor died, the lights died. It was dead quite, there seemed to be no sounds other than the sound of my heart beating in my throat. The blood rushed through my ears in gushing whooshes of pure fear. At this point, all bravado ended as the three of us bailed from the tractor and ran headlong into the darkness of the field. Feeling safe, we lay wide eyed in the freshly, disk and sprigged dirt on the Kansas prairie. What seemed to be an eternity, was over in a flash as the UFO darted away with such rapidity the void turned dark in a wink. We lay there, no one moved, no one spoke and then suddenly the weak headlights, and one work light over the Bermuda grass sprigger came to life, just as the big green, “pop'en-johnny” bellowed to life. In his hurry to jump off the tractor my older cousin had left the ignition open and a hand throttle open on the John Deere. It lurched forward and with no one to steer it, it began a wobbly path that would have made an earth worm proud.
My older cousin jumping up and made a mad dash across the plowed field, and somehow was able to get on the moving tractor and got it stopped. Killing the tractor's engine caused its lights to go out as well, and once again it was dark. Sitting in the dirt, darkness now surrounded us once more and the absent of any sounds seemed only to heighten the suspense. We three sat in there starring into the summer night, watching the stars, waiting and trying to understand what had just happened. I do not remember how long the three of us sat there in the dark, talking in hushed voices, building up our courage and questioning our eyes. My older cousin who ran the crew stood and said we get back to work on the sprigger. Climbing into the tractor's seat he started the engine and we quickly fell back into the routine of planting grass sprigs.
My cousin, the driver methodically dropped the tractor's rear tire into the freshly cut slit left by the cutting disc from the previous pass. While driving the tractor he faced forward and it was his job to keep the rows straight. His younger brother and I sat atop the wire caged sprigger. We sat with our backs to the rear-axle assembly of the tractor, looking down from where we had been. The sprigger was attached to the tractor's three-point hookup. At the end of a row, the driver would pull a lever and the three-point hook up with us seated side by side would be picked up in entirely. The tractor would make a sweeping turn with up bouncing atop the sprigger assembly. The driver would then line up the next row before unceremoniously dropping up back to the ground where we would begin feeding the every spinning rubber mouth of the planter.
Even though the sun had set some hours earlier, it was still hot there in Kansas on that August night. We pulled Bermuda grass twigs sprigs from the overhead basket and fed the spring loaded mouth that was one continuous wheel, all the time we search the horizon with wary eyes. Then it happened. The UFO came over the trees from the east, moving at a high speed, no sound barely missing the tops of the fence post, and seeming oblivious to the scrub oaks that dotted the area. It was now closer to us than before, its shape blurred by bright pulsing lights and no sound other than the John Deere's popping, song sung out on two cylinders. Before the tractor's engine could die, my cousin had switched off the magneto, dumped the clutch and the three of us were running towards the one-ton flatbed Chevrolet truck parked at the edge of the field. The area around the truck was dimly lit by the glow from the UFO's lights, we piled in the truck. The engine would not start, and then as quick as it had come the UFO seemed to rocket upwards at an angle into the heavens with lighting speed. The truck engine started and the three of us headed for our motel in Cherryvale.
Across the parking lot from the motel, near the street, was a telephone booth bumped up against a utility pole. We talked for a moment and then decided to make a phone call. The oldest of the three of us, put a nickel in the slot and dialed “O” for operator, and waited for nickel to makes it clanking trip back to the coin return slot. My cousin told the operator we wanted to be connected to the sheriff's office or the highway patrol. She asked what the problem was, and he said he wanted to report a flying saucer. The operator became very irritated and threatened to have charges files on him for playing a prank. Trying to explain to the operator what had happened only brought on more of her sarcasm and threats, before she hung up. The nickel dropped into the return coin slot.
The three of us made a PAC and we decided to not ever speak of this event, and until now I have never revealed the story. That was over fifty years ago that I saw my first UFO. Was it really a flying saucer from another world, or just a military experiment? Maybe it was mass hallucinations brought on my breathing too much dust, gasoline exhaust fumes, dehydration or lack of proper sleep. Needless to say only once more in my life have I seen something like this that I could not explain. This time, however, it was something that shook my beliefs to the core, it made me have to completely reevaluate my perception of reality, more so than seeing a UFO.