Summary: One of Great Britains most significant Military-UFO incidents happened at Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk on three consecutive nights in late December 1980. An overview of the incident.
One of Great Britains most significant Military-UFO incidents happened at Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk on three consecutive nights in late December 1980. Rendlesham is a vast pine forest east of Ipswich that is near Orford Ness. There is a prominent lighthouse (of which we will discuss later),as well as some other buildings that were situated on this island. In 1980, they were rumoured to be operated by the National Security Agency (NSA) - one of the US's most covert intelligence units. Stories of Top Secret experiments were rife, although the official function of the buildings was given as a site for research into 'over the horizon' radar. Gordon Levitt lived in an isolated house on the edge of the forest in Sudbourne. On December 26th, 1980, he had been out in the garden with his dog when he suddenly looked up and spotted a peculiar object flying towards them. The UFO looked like an upturned mushroom with a greenish-white glow.
The craft soon silently passed them and carried on towards the twin NATO air bases of RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters. The next morning, Levitt's dog became ill - cowering in its kennel as if afraid to come out. Its condition worsened and it died a few days later.
By the east gate of RAF Woodbridge that night were US Air Force security patrolmen John Burroughs and Budd Parker. They soon spotted the strange craft and at first thought that it may be a plane about to crash, however they soon realised that the craft was hovering downwards and eventually landed in the woods. They could see a pulsating mass of coloured lights, described by witnesses as looking like a Christmas tree. Burroughs quickly phoned the base. It was 2 a.m. and there should not have been any aircraft in the vicinity. Within minutes, security patrol sergeant Jim Penniston was on his way by jeep, driven by Herman Kavanasac.
Once they arrived, they too saw the strange craft, lights were flickering through the trees and Penniston, who took command, tried to persuade Burroughs and Parker that a plane had crashed and was blazing out of control. But the two patrolmen knew that what was out there had landed and not crashed.
Budd Parker stayed at the gate while the others entered the forest. There was some kind of strange electrical field pervading the woods, the radio contact with the base began to break down. Penniston ordered Kavanasac to stay back near the road so they could use him to relay messages to the main base. Penniston and Burroughs continued deeper into the forest, it was at this point that the air became alive with energy - crackling as if within a thunderstorm, even the mens hair stood on end, and their skin began to tingle.
Penniston has said since the incident 'It was definitely not in the Jane's book of World Aircraft,'. He described it as a conical object about the size of a small car, floating on beams of light (others reported seeing thin legs) only 30 cms or so above the ground. It had a strange, misty aura and on its side were black marks that could have been writing.
As the men tried to get closer to the object they described it as like trying to walk through treacle, as they could not seem to close in on the object. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and the craft soared up into the air.
Penniston and Burroughs claim they came close to an object that was like nothing they had ever seen before. As Airman (later Sergeant) John Burroughs insisted 'I do not now whether this was some kind of machine under intelligent control or a fantastic natural phenomenon - some rare kind of energy. What I do know is that it was nothing mundane. There are no words that can adequately describe the wonder of what we saw'
The UFO Returns
The following morning signs of the UFO's presence were found in the forest. Many trees had their tops broken and three holes were found in the frozen soil in a triangular formation, matching the location of the legs seen beneath the UFO the previous night. An A-10 plane which flew over the site at dawn picked up infra-red radiation pouring from the forest.
That night there was an officers' party at RAF Bentwaters. Not long into this event Lieutenant Bruce Englund entered the room and told the base commander Ted Conrad that 'it' was back. As Conrad was just about to present an after-dinner speech, he asked his deputy, Lt Col Charles Halt, if he could sort out the matter. Deputy Base Commander Halt (later promoted to Lt Col Halt) gathered a team of skilled men, including Sergeant Nevells of the 'Disaster Preparedness' team and took a Geiger counter to measure radiation. Halt also took a dictaphone to help him make notes. Englund gathered light-alls (gas-powered arc lights), and the small party of men ventured out towards the edge of the base.
A security cordon was set up around the perimetre of the woods to prevent any curious airmen or local villagers from getting in the way. An hour earlier a security patrol had spotted strange lights floating in the sky above the forest. But these lights had quickly disappeared. On entering the wood, the colonel was told that the UFO was no longer visible. However, the light-alls seemed to keep cutting out and he had to send someone to get more from the base.
The team's radio communication (transcribed further in this article) both to the base and with each other were showing static interference, similar to that experienced the night before. Burroughs - hearing what was happening - decided to to join the group. But there was nothing unusual to see, except for a few stars and the pulsating light of the Orford Ness lighthouse and the Shipwash lightship further to the south. The men took several soil and tree bark samples as well as making radio observations of what they found.
Out of nowhere all hell broke loose. Noises could be heard in the background as Halt cut in sharply telling his men to 'slow down' and take it carefully. The UFO was back. It had been spotted at 1.48 a.m. by a group of men who had ventured deep into the forest, which included John Burroughs and Sergeant Adrian Bustinza - who describes how the glowing light rested on a pillar of yellowish mist and split in the middle like a rainbow produced by a prism. Halt and his team had spotted the craft by now and said he initially considered mirages or weather-induced temperature inversions. Now the area of light resembled a huge eye with a dark centre. The group of men followed the light through the woods, crossing a farmer's field and stumbling through a small brook.
They chased it for more than an hour when, suddenly the object shot skywards, Halt reported 'Now we observe what appears to be a beam coming down towards the ground - this is unreal.' Soon after, tired and wet, Halt led his men home. Strange lights were still seen above the Woodbridge base, flashing laser-like beams down into the security area of the base. Hundreds of personnel were said to have witnessed them. Local residents - such as Sarah Richardson, whose bedroom overlooked the base - saw them too. She later described them as 'bands of rippling colour.'
Files detailing the Geiger counter readings taken at the scene were shown to experts by Nick Pope in 1994 who asses radiation levels for the government. According to Pope, they expressed surprise at the recordings and confirmed that the figures were ten times the expected background levels.
Suspicion centred on the presence of nuclear weapons at RAF Bentwaters - which was denied by the base and the British government at the time. More than a decade later, it was admitted that this denial was untrue.
Larry Warren, a member of the US Air Force Security Police, was posted to England on 1st December, 1980. Just a few weeks later, he was involved in the bizarre encounter that occured in Rendlesham Forest. He says ' I was taken off my post to the forest, with a number of the other personnel who were bringing lighting equipment out used to illuminate large areas, but it wouldn't work because of a mechanical malfunction. We still had no idea what we were up to. A dim red light, opposite the Orford lighthouse, stopped over a strange mist on the ground.
It quickly transformed into a triangular object covering approximately 30 feet (10 metres), going to a sharp pyramid about 20 feet (6.6 metres) in height. It had a solid structure, with a rough surface. Some of the group ran away, others stayed put, like myself. I couldn't move - i don't know whether it was shock or if it was outside influence. It was dreamlike... i think time was distorted and perceptions were intentionally affected by this intelligence. There was one reality and in front of you was another. I felt slower on that night. Everything was on half speed and something was wrong - something was out of place.
Caught On Radar
East Anglia has always had extensive radar coverage, ever vigilant for a possible invasion from across the North Sea. This ensured that the object seen on 26th of December was detected. At RAF Neatishead, an unidentified object appeared on the radar and created panic in the control room. It returned no signal and was outperforming the RAF's finest aircraft. As they lost it off screen at a phenomenal speed, the matter was subject to a major investigation. The Neatishead radar tapes and those from nearby RAF Watton were requisitioned three days later. Remarkably, when USAF intelligence officers visited Watton to collect the film, they claimed that a UFO had crashed into the forest. Senior officers from a nearby USAF airbase witnessed the event, they said, and they had even seen aliens floating in beams of light underneath the spacecraft. Incredibly, the radar officers were not even told to keep this extraordinary story secret.
Blanket Of Silence
By the end of 26th of December, US Deputy Base Commander Charles Halt and his British liaison officer - Squadron Leader Donald Moreland - were in discussions with their respective governments. A 'stand-up' meeting involving senior staff was held, and it was decided not to make any public revelations about the case. Soon, top-secret flights were arriving at the twin bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge, and staff from covert US intelligence agencies were involved. Officers Burroughs, Penniston, and the other witnesses, were cut out of the loop. So too were seniot personnel at the base - even deputy base commander Charles Halt was not allowed to know what was going on.Had the cover-up begun?
Some sceptics have suggested various explanations for this event, including the lighthouse being seen from the forest, an experiment to see what the mens reaction would be to a threat close to a nuclear base, and even a meteor. If this is indeed the case, how can they explain the radar sightings?