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The 1980 Rendlesham Forest Incident


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Summary: Rendlesham Forest will always be remembered as the UK's answer to Roswell, being as it is the only other UFO incident that has received official recognition from the government and military. It is the most significant UFO incident ever to have occurred in the UK and one of the most significant anywhere in the world.

Rendlesham Forest will always be remembered as the UK's answer to Roswell, being as it is the only other UFO incident that has received official recognition from the government and military. It is the most significant UFO incident ever to have occurred in the UK and one of the most significant anywhere in the world.

The incident spanned four days in 1980 from late on December 26 to December 29. Rendlesham Forest is a large pine forest, east of Ipswich, in Suffolk, England. Nearby are the twin NATO air bases, RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge; at the time both bases were being leased to the United States Air Force.

Mr. Gordon Levitt was the first person to report seeing a UFO on the night of December 26, 1980. He lived in Sudbourne, on the edge of Rendlesham Forest. He was out in his garden with his dog when he saw a UFO that looked like an upside-down mushroom with a greenish-white glow. The craft was silent and heading in the direction of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. Levitt's dog later started acting strangely and refused to come out of it's kennel. The dog's condition got worse and it died before the New Year.

At RAF Woodbridge, where the UFO was headed, were two US Air Force security patrolmen, John Burroughs and Budd Parker. They watched the craft reduce altitude and land in the woods before Burroughs called the base at 2am. He reported seeing a Christmas tree like pulsating mass of colored lights. Jim Penniston, a security patrol sergeant and Herman Kavanasac drove in a jeep to join the two patrolmen.

Penniston, being the ranking officer took command of the situation which he believed to be a plane crash after seeing lights filtering through trees. Parker continued his patrol at the east gate of RAF Woodbridge while the other three men entered the forest on foot. Radio contact with RAF Woodbridge started to break down as the men entered the woods so Kavanasac was ordered by Penniston to stay at the edge of the forest to relay messages.

The two men who went deeper into the forest towards the lights reported that the air became alive with energy and crackled as though they were in a thunderstorm. The energy caused the mens' hair to stand on end and their skin to tingle.

Penniston's description of the object was a conical object about the size of a small car, floating on beams of light just 12" above the ground. He also reported a mist surrounding the craft and black marks like writing on one side. The men founded that getting any closer to the object was like walking in slow motion, some force was trying to hold them back. Before the men got close enough for a detailed look the craft rose rapidly into the air in a flash of light and disappeared. The men reported hearing a women screaming and animals in a nearby paddock became frenzied. Penniston retired from the air force in 1993 with 27 medals and much experience of recovering crashed aircraft. He is alleged to have taken many photographs of the craft but after handing them over to the USAF he never saw them again.

The next day, three small depressions 1.5" deep and 7" in diameter were found along with tree which had had their tops broken. The three depressions were checked and found to be in a very regular triangular pattern and radiation readings were ten times the normal background level. The side of a tree facing the triangle was also found to have higher than normal radiation levels.

That night was the officers' part at RAF Bentwaters. The base commander Ted Conrad was just about to make a speech when Lieutenant Bruce Englund informed him that 'it' [the UFO] was back. Deputy Base Commander Charles Halt (later Lt. Col. Halt) was given charge of the matter and he took a team down to the woods including Sgt. Nevells who took a Geiger counter to measure radiation. Other equipment taken into the forest was a Dictaphone by Halt and gas powered arc lights, known as light-alls by Englund.

The UFO appeared to have already left when Halt and his men entered the forest but the light-alls were malfunctioning, Halt called for replacements to be sent from the base. The radio was being disturbed by static interference in a similar way to the night before but there was nothing to be seen or heard except the lights from two distant lighthouses.

Suddenly the situation changed completely. Halt's dictaphone recording has noises in the background prompting him to tell his men to slow down and move carefully.

Another group of men, which included Burroughs, the patrolman from the previous night and Sgt. Adrian Bustinza were much deeper into the forest. At 1.48am they described seeing a light on a pillar of yellowish mist. Halt and his men could now also see the UFO which Halt thought could be a mirage because it was split like a rainbow from a prism, but it changed to be more like a huge eye with a dark center. The group of personnel chased the craft for over and hour through the woods, a field and over a stream before it shot skywards and was lost from view. Halt then recorded the following: "Now we observe what appears to be a beam coming down towards the ground, this is unreal." All of the men then returned to base but hundreds of personnel and a civilian, Sarah Richardson saw strange lights over the base.

Larry Warren was another major eyewitness that night; he had only been posted to England at the start of December that year as part of the US Air Force Security Police. His account of the incident at Rendlesham Forest that night is as follows: "I was taken off my post and to the forest with a number of 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, going to a sharp pyramid about 20 feet 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 the shock of it 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.

In 1984 a former RAF Woodbridge commander released the dictaphone recording made on that night by Halt. The tape was 18 minutes long and Halt detailed everything that happened during their encounter in Rendlesham forest. Much of the tape is just about the men taking radiation readings the following is a cut down transcript of the actual sighting.

Halt: Yeah, it's a strange small red light, looks to be maybe a quarter to a half-mile, maybe further out. I'm going to switch off for a while. The light is gone now; it was approximately 120 degrees, is it back again?


Soldier: Now it's stopped. Now it's coming up, hold on, there we go. About 4 foot off the ground with a compass heading of 110 degrees.


Halt: The woods are just deadly calm. There is no doubt about it, there's some type of strange flashing red light ahead.

Soldier: There, it's yellow.

Halt: I saw a yellow tinge in it too. Weird, it, it appears that he may be moving it this way? It's brighter than it has been.


Halt: It's coming this way! It's definitely coming this way. Pieces of it are shooting off. There is no doubt about it, this is...weird. It is definitely...

Soldier: Two lights, one light to the right, one light to the left.


Halt: Pieces are falling off it again.

Soldier: And it just moved to the right.


Halt: OK, we're looking at the thing, we're probably about 2 to 300 yards away, it looks like an eye winking at you. It's still moving from side to side, and when you put the star scope on it, it sort of has a hollow center, a dark center. It's, you know, like the pupil of an eye looking at you, winking. And the flash is so bright to the starscope that, it almost burns your eye.


Halt: 0305, we see strange strobe like flashes to the, rather sporadic but there's definitely something, some kind of phenomena. At about 10 degrees to the horizon, directly North, we've got two strange objects, uh, half-moon shaped, dancing about colored lights on them. At, uh, what I would guess to be about 5 to 10 miles out, maybe less. The half-moons are now turning full circles. It's as though there was an eclipse or something there for a minute or two. And they're both heading north. Here he comes from the south; he's heading toward us now. Now we're observing what appears to be a beam coming down to the ground. This is unreal.

The following is Halt's official report on the Rendlesham Forest incident.

Department of the Air Force
Headquarter 81st Combat Support Group (USAFE)

13 Jan 81
Reply to Attn of: CD
Subject: Unexplained Lights


1. Early in the morning of 27 Dec 80 (approximately 0300L), two USAF security police patrolmen saw unusual lights outside the back gate at RAF Woodbridge. Thinking an aircraft might have crashed or been forced down, they called for permission to go outside the gate to investigate. The on-duty flight chief responded and allowed three patrolmen to proceed on foot. The individuals reported seeing a strange glowing object in the forest. The Object was described as being metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two and three meters across the base and approximately two meters high. It illuminated the entire forest with a white light. The object itself had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath. The object was hovering or on legs. As the patrolmen approached the object, it manoeuvred though the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals on a nearby farm went into frenzy. The object was briefly sighted approximately an hour later near the back gate.

2. The next day, three depressions 1 1/2" deep and 7" in diameter were found where the object had been sighted on the ground. The following night (29 Dec 80) the area was checked for radiation. Beta/gamma readings of 0.1 milliroentgens were recorded with peak readings in the three depressions and near the center of the triangle formed by the depressions. A nearby tree had moderate (.05 - .07) readings on the side of the tree toward the depressions.

3. Later in the night a red sun-like light was seen though the trees. It moved about and pulsed. At one point it appeared to throw off glowing particles and then broke into five separate white objects and then disappeared. Immediately thereafter, three star-like objects were noticed in the sky, two objects to the north and one to the south, all of which were about 10 degrees off the horizon. The objects moved rapidly in sharp angular movements and displayed red, green and blue lights. The objects to the north appeared to be elliptical through an 8-12 power lens. They then turned to full circles. The objects to the north remained in the sky for an hour or more. The object to the south was visible for two or three hours and beamed down a stream of light from time to time. Numerous individuals, including the undersigned, witnessed the activities in paragraphs 2 and 3.

Charles I. Halt, Lt. Col. USAF
Deputy Base Commander

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