Summary: It could have been an "X-Files" episode: More than 20 years ago, U.S. airmen reported seeing a "strange glowing object" near a British air base. The report, dozens of pages long, is only now being released as part of an opening-up of the inner workings of the UK government.
LONDON, England -- It could have been an "X-Files" episode: More than 20 years ago, U.S. airmen reported seeing a "strange glowing object" near a British air base.
The bizarre sighting, which occurred near RAF Woodbridge in eastern England in the early hours of December 27, 1980, is detailed in the government's restricted "Rendlesham File."
The report, dozens of pages long, is only now being released as part of an opening-up of the inner workings of the UK government.
In the report, entitled "Unexplained Lights," a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel told how he witnessed an object emitting a "red sun-like light" moving through the trees of Rendlesham forest.
Two U.S. security patrolmen first spotted "unusual lights" outside the back gate of RAF Woodbridge, according to Lt. Col. Charles I. Halt's report.
After gaining permission, the two men and a third patrolman investigated the lights.
"The individuals reported seeing a strange glowing object in the forest," wrote Halt, who was deputy base commander at RAF Bentwaters, adjacent to Woodbridge.
"The object was described as being metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two to three metres across the base and approximately two metres 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 through the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals on a nearby farm went into a frenzy."
An hour later, the UFO was spotted near the back gate to the base.
Halt's report continued: "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 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."
The next morning, Halt and his men discovered three circular depressions, seven inches in diameter, in the ground.
Radiation measuring 0.1 milliroentgens was recorded in the depressions -- a level 10 times higher than normal, according to the file.
The airmen tried unsuccessfuly to capture the sightings on camera, according to another document that said the film was at fault. Also, nothing showed up on RAF radar.
A Ministry of Defence memo included in the file shows some scepticism about the sightings, although it said the department was "open-minded" about them.
"No evidence was found of any threat to the defence of the United Kingdom, and no further investigations were carried out," the memo said.
"No further information has come to light which alters our view that the sightings of these lights was of no defence significance.
"No unidentified object was seen on radar during the period in question, and there was no evidence of anything having intruded into UK airspace, and landed near RAF Woodbridge."
The airmen could have seen the beam of the Orford Ness lighthouse, the MoD theorised, "with distortions being caused by the beam having been seen through the trees."
"There were also suggestions that fireball activity might explain some of the lights. In the absence of any hard evidence, the MoD remains open-minded about these sightings."
Before this week, the document has only been seen by about 20 people who requested access to it through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.