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The Rendlesham Forest Incident

UFO Area

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Summary: Something strange and unusual did happen on the nights 26-29 December 1980 in Tangham Woods, a part of the Rendlesham Forest near Woodbridge, Suffolk, England. Rendlesham Forest case is undoubtedly one of the best documented and most significant military encounters with a UFO. It is also very credible incident.

Something strange and unusual did happen on the nights 26-29 December 1980 in Tangham Woods, a part of the Rendlesham Forest near Woodbridge, Suffolk, England.

Rendlesham Forest case is undoubtedly one of the best documented and most significant military encounters with a UFO. It is also very credible incident. The region of Rendlesham Forest separates two US air bases, RAF US Air Force Bentwaters, one of NATOs largest tactical nuclear-weapon stores in non-communist Europe and RAF US Air Force Woodbridge, base was the home of the 67 th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. The 67th was a special unit that answered directly to the Department of Defense in Washington. The unit was one of few to be equipped with spacecraft-recovery Hercules HC-130 aircraft, and was trained in satellite recovery.

It was on December 26, 1980 at around 2:00 am just after Christmas.
An target" appeared on radar at RAF Watton in Norfolk, England, which later went off the radar scopes in the area near the Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk. The same, unidentified object, crossing the coast of Lowestoft in the direction of Rendelsham Forest, was also spotted by radar at RAF/US Air Force Bentwaters.

The patrolmen, three security officers saw the unusual light in the forest and thought that any military plane had crashed, or perhaps made a forced landing.
Almost immediately, assistance arrived, with a fully equipped armed unit, which included senior officers of the base. Later the base headquarters had been informed.

The U.S. Air Force had refused comments on the events at Rendlesham Forest, stating that since the events occurred outside the gates of Woodbridge base, the British Ministry of Defense had jurisdiction.
The British Ministry of Defence commented the incident as follows:
The Department satisfied itself at the time that there was no reason to consider that the alleged sighting had any defense significance.

But it was not the end of the story.
The Deputy Base Commander, at Woodbridge Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Halt, had submitted a report for the British Ministry of Defence to investigate. This document dated on 13 January 1981 is known as the Halt´s memo.

Thanks to Robert Todd of the Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) and other American UFO researchers a copy of an official report of the events under the Freedom of Information Act, reached the public opinion.
The details of the Rendlesham Forest incident (through Colonel Charles Halt´s memo) did reach the public opinion first after one and a half years later.
Except the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Halt´s testimony, which was treated as "a threat to National Security". Also all radar recordings regarding those nights in December 1980 were missing as the US Air Force personnel removed them already two days after the incident occured.

Colonel Charles Halt´s report regarding the incident:
Unexplained Lights
To: RAF/CC 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 to three meters across the base and approximately two meters high. It illuminated the entire forest with a white light. The object itself had a pulsating red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath. The object was hovering or on three legs. As the patrolmen approached the object, it maneuvered through the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals on a nearby farm went into a frenzy. The object was briefly sighted approximately an hour later near the back gate."
Halt's Report continued:
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 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."
Lt. Colonel Halt insisted that an appropriate entry be made in the security police log. But his report did not end there. The next night more activity occurred in Rendlesham Forest.
3. "Later in the night a red sun-like light was seen through 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 disapppeared. 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° 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 (Halt himself), witnessed the activities in paragraphs 2 and 3".

Sketch with notes by USAF law enforcement patrolman John Burroughs of the UFO he encountered at the Rendlesham Forest after Christmas 1980. Courtesy of Antonio Huneeus.

There were two important witnesses in this case:
Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston, and
Airman First Class John Burroughs.
Both men served with the 81st Security Police Squadron.
John Burroughs was on security patrol with a colleague on that first night, when it happened. He later reported that, as they come closer to the object:
"The air was filled with electricity. You could feel it on your skin as we approached the object".
"On the upper left side of the craft, was an inscription. It measured six inches high, of symbols. They looked familiar, but I couldn't ascertain why."
He recalled:
"There were strange lights out in the forest. To me, it almost looked like Christmas lights at first, a Christmas display. At that point we looked at each other and we decided that we'd better go out and take a closer look 'cause we weren't sure what we were dealing with. What we were looking at wasn't real".

Burroughs informed the Security Controller and he in turn contacted Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston.
He said:
"I received a call from the Control Centre to go on down to the East Gate and contact John Burroughs. And I asked them what was the nature of the problem down there and they said that they'd rather not tell me, they'd rather have me go down there and talk to the patrol man on the scene. The first thing that came to mind was an aircraft crash".
So he contacted the Control Centre again and reported a possible crash.
"They notified me that they were tracking an unidentified bogey about 15 minutes ago and they confirmed it with contact with eastern radar and Heathrow in London and the approximate location was about 5 miles off base when they lost contact with it. It was Christmas time and there was no scheduled flying for that night. I got permission to proceed off base to investigate".
He approached the crash site.
"I started to see a defined shape and at that point I realised it wasn't an aircraft crash, a fire, or anything of that sort. The air was filled with electricity. You could feel it on your skin as we approached the object".
Burroughs commented:
"You felt like you were moving in slow motion, your hair on the back of your head was standing up, you felt like you had very little control over your body". Sensing no hostility, Penniston approached the object and examined it further: "It was about the size of a tank, it was triangular in shape. Underneath the craft, was a high intensity white light emanating out of it and it was bordered by red and blue lighting, alternating". "On the upper left side of the craft, was an inscription. It measured six inches high, of symbols. They looked familiar, but I couldn't ascertain why".
He observed the object during about twenty minutes.
"It slowly started moving back, weaving in and around the trees... it raised up into the air and it shot off as fast as you could blink".
The following day, Penniston and Burroughs examined the area. The local Suffolk police had also received a call concerning lights in the forest and were investigating the scene. On seeing indentations, one of the police officers advised that he would be recording these as rabbit diggings. Penniston disagreed:
"I asked him why and he said, because he's not going to put anything other than that in his report. We found that just totally absurd. The ground was frozen and it was just impossible for that to happen".
Burroughs and Penniston measured the distance between the ground markings and claim that the area formed a perfect triangle. Lieutenant-Colonel Halt was by this time aware of the reported events and although somewhat sceptical, insisted that an appropriate entry be recorded in the security police log.
"I personally knew the individuals that had reported and I knew they were very credible people. I was sure something had happened, there was obviously something".
Lieutenant Colonel Halt recalls what did happen two nights after the first incident:
"The duty Flight Lieutenant came in and he was quite shaken and insisted upon speaking to myself and the Base Commander about a matter of utmost urgency.
He said: "It's back".
I assembled a small team of experts and we set off in the forest, ready to debunk it".
Halt had taken with him a portable tape recorder.
"I'm certainly glad we made the tape, because if we hadn't made the tape, even I would have trouble believing what happened that night". "We had time to put this thing to bed. I knew there was something there, there had to be something there, but I was also firmly convinced there was a logical explanation for what was going on". "It's very unusual to have a problem with the light-alls. That night, the light-alls wouldn't work, even when they swapped out and got other ones from the base. In addition, we had problems with our radios. All three frequencies we were using were intermittent and did not work properly that night".

An extract from Halt's tape recording was subsequently released. This is a testimony to a range of apparently anomalous phenomena. An unidentified flashing light was seen to be apparently moving through the forest. Halt said:
"It pulsated, although it were an eye winking at you and around the edges, it appeared to have molten metal dripping off it, just like falling to the ground, but I didn't see any evidence of anything on the ground. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing, none of us could. Here I am, a senior official that routinely denies this sort of thing and diligently works to debunk them and I'm involved in the middle of something I can't explain". "The object suddenly exploded. A silent explosion and broke into three to five white objects and rapidly disappeared".
John Burroughs recelled later:
"All of a sudden, out of the distance, a blue light streaked past us. Passing the light-alls, they came on. It passed through the open window on the truck, going off into the distance, and the light-alls went out".
Halt explained:
"As we moved out of the forest, we noticed three objects in the sky. The objects in the sky were moving about, sharp angular movements, very high speed. I kept getting on the radio and calling the command post. I wanted to know if they were finding anything on the radar scope. One of the objects in the sky was sending down beams, beams of light, beams of energy, I'm not sure what they were. At that same time I could hear on the radio, voices talking about the beams coming down on the base".
Suddenly, a beam of light came down directly in front of him, he commented:
"At this stage, my scepticism had definitely disappeared. I was really in awe".

Another witness, a forest worker, found the supposed crash site a day after the events. The trees were destroyed and there were strange marks on the ground. He reported it to the local authorities. But when he visited the same place the next day, there was no trace after damages.

Ten years later the indispensable tests were done on the affected soil of the terrain. Despite ten years period of time, the results were still quite remarkable. Higher degrees of silicate or glass globules were found in the samples of the soil from the landing site. The soil from the landing site also showed no microbial growth of any kind, even after 10 years period. Unfortunately because of the censorship, the Rendlesham Forest incident had beem made public very late and of course too late for making more detailed analysis of the affected place.

Read more articles on this topic:

Rendlesham Forest / Bentwaters