The Unresolved Rendlesham Forest UFO Sightings
Article by B.B. Wagner October 7, 2020 (ancient-origins.net)
• The Rendlesham Forest UFO incident at the joint British-American air base RAF Woodbridge/RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk, England is one of the most famous UFO sightings ever recorded. It has created a wide range of first-hand sightings, audio recordings, multiple reports, and continuous testimony – sometimes contradictory. With so many angles and perspectives to this story, which are actually correct and what happened exactly?
• On December 26, 1980, at the east gate of the RAF Woodbridge base, US Air Force security patrol Budd Stevens and Sergeant Jim Penniston saw strange, intensely bright fiery-red lights gleaming through the trees of the nearby Rendlesham Forest . They reported their sightings to their commanding officer. At 3:00 am, Penniston was ordered to investigate while Stevens stayed at his post.
• Penniston was accompanied in a jeep by John Burroughs to where the “bogie” reportedly landed. It was here that Burroughs and Penniston saw a mysterious glowing but silent craft whose movement and rapid speed defied the laws of physics. In his statement, Penniston said: “[T]he craft was three meters tall, and about three meters wide at the base… No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed legs… I moved a little closer… I walked around the craft, and finally, I walked right up to the craft. I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque, black glass…” Suddenly, the craft took off at full speed, heading towards a barn where its bright lights disturbed the farm animals and wildlife. Burroughs and Penniston raced after it, climbed over a fence, and watched as the red and blue lights shining from the craft vanished as it passed the barn.
• When Penniston and Burroughs returned to the base, they both decided to downplay what they had seen in their incident report. They simply stated: “[S]aw a mechanical object with red, blue and white lights, but the craft disappeared before we could get a better look…” They were both ordered to keep silent about what they saw.
• The next day, Penniston returned to the landing site and discovered circular impressions on the ground made by a heavy object, spaced three meters apart. He made plaster cast impressions of the landing marks. There was also burn damage and broken branches at the site. Other USAF servicemen on the base became interested in the encounter and the Rendlesham Forest site became a curious hot spot.
• Two days later, on December 28, 1980, deputy base commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt was informed that the UFO had returned near the original site. Lt Colonel Halt assemble a team of personnel armed with floodlights, night scopes, audio recording devices, and radiation detectors, and set out for the UFO site. He ordered floodlights to be set up around the perimeter of the site. But the floodlights malfunctioned, so the men used their night vision scopes. The scopes revealed abrasions on surrounding trees. The Geiger counters recorded high radiation. Then the UFO appeared again, approaching from the south. It flew by at an incredible speed, pulsing a vibrant red light through the branches of the trees. In Lt Colonel Halt’s audio recording, he is heard to say, “(The UFO) looks like an eye winking at you…Here he comes from the south, he’s coming towards us now…now we’re observing what happens to be a beam coming down to the ground. This is unreal…” The lights continued to hover and beam over the forest and the field, but as the craft moved it seemed to fall apart.
• When Lt Colonel Halt shared his story with the Office of Special Investigations, he too was told to keep quiet about the experience to protect his own reputation and, more importantly, the reputation of the US Air Force. Boroughs and Penniston were sworn to secrecy. Lt Colonel Halt was allowed to write a memo to the British Ministry of Defense about the events that had occurred. Thanks to the US Information act of 1983, Lt Colonel Halt’s memo is on public record, for anyone to read.
• On January 25, 1985, The Guardian published an article on the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. But a mysterious U.S. airman named Larry Warren, using the alias “Art Wallace”, had been giving interviews about the incident to local newspapers and television shows. Warren claimed to be an eye-witness, alongside Burroughs, Penniston, and Halt. However, in Warren’s version, he claimed that Lt Colonel Halt and a few other officers at the landing site actually introduced themselves to the tiny aliens that emerged from the spacecraft. This account wildly contradicted the other USAF officers’ accounts. Warren claimed that the USAF Office of Special Investigations had brainwashed him by injecting him with truth serum while forcing him to watch films about UFOs, in order to frame him as a mentally disturbed individual. Lt Colonel Halt, Burroughs, and Penniston avoided Warren.
• In June 2010, the now retired Lt Colonel Halt committed his memories of the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident to a two-page affidavit. But Halt’s recollection of the numbers of objects, the lights’ direction, and the positions of the landing marks were imprecise and only cast more confusion and doubt on the story. So in 2015, to re-establish his reputation, the elderly Lt Colonel Halt obtained written statements from the RAF Brentwater radar operators working on the nights in question.
• The radar operators admitted to tracking the objects on the 26th and 28th of December 1980, but they wanted to put off discussing the matter until after they too had retired from the military. They did say that they saw lights that traveled 60 miles in three seconds, rotate and come to a sudden stop by a water tower, and return again to the forest where Lt Colonel Halt’s team were on the ground investigating. Other witnesses also came forward to confirm the servicemen’s accounts as they retired from the military, sometime with contradictory details.
• Skeptics have seized on the contradictions, claiming that the lights seen by USAF personnel was due to an intensely bright meteor shower over southern England. Others claim that the servicemen had caught glimpses of light from the Orfordness Lighthouse, considered to be ‘the brightest lighthouse in the U.K.’
• But according to an anonymous source of UFO researcher Dr. David Clark, the entire Rendlesham Forest UFO incident was nothing but a “revenge hoax” by the British Special Air Service (SAS) on the US Air Force personnel stationed at RAF Woodbridge/ RAF Bentwaters. Knowing that the American servicemen might be influenced by recent revelations of the Roswell UFO incident in 1947, several SAS personnel allegedly parachuted onto the base to simulate an alien invasion as a joke. The US servicemen, however, captured the SAS soldiers; abused, beat, and humiliated them; and identified them as “unidentifiable aliens”. The SAS were angry at the treatment of their men and decided to plot their revenge by staging a real “alien invasion.” The SAS devised multi-colored flares rigged to go off at certain times in the forest while certain SAS personnel remote-controlled dark-colored helium balloons along with gliders and controlled kites to mimic a single moving craft.
• In spite of the first-hand accounts recorded by US military personnel, and discussions of these events by senior officers, the UK Ministry of Defense accepted the explanation that the Americans only saw glimpses of light from the Orfordness Lighthouse. The Brits deemed the incident as insignificant, posing no threat to national security, and therefore requiring no further investigation.
• The truth behind the Rendlesham Forest UFO incidents is not easy to unravel. The accounts from USAF personnel Sargent Jim Penniston, officer John Burroughs, officer Budd Stevens, Lt Colonel Charles Halt and others include descriptions of supernatural lights, triangular spacecraft as dense and as glossy as obsidian, and burned marks in the ground. What the witness reports suggest may be hard to comprehend, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a hoax.
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The Rendlesham Forest UFO incident is without question one of
the strangest tales, defined by considerable evidence and also serious questions. On December 28, 1980, US Air Force deputy base commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt received word of bizarre sightings near and around the RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge airbases. These multiple first-hand observations of supernatural lights and craft sightings occurred during the dead of night and the truth behind these facts is by no means easy to unravel. What the Rendlesham Forest UFO incidents suggest are still hard to comprehend but that doesn’t necessarily make them a hoax.
The accounts from airmen personnel Sargent Jim Penniston, officer John Burroughs, officer Budd Stevens and others included vague descriptions of sightings ranging from unusual supernatural lights, triangular spacecraft as dense and as glossy as obsidian and burned marks in the ground. Although Penniston and Burroughs were perfectly clear about what they saw, their commanding officer told them to remain silent and not mention the full story in their report . . . until the sightings happened again. The second time word was sent directly to deputy base commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, who was eating in the mess hall. The Lieutenant Colonel had no choice but to put aside his dinner and his doubt, grab his tape recorder, and see what was happening outside for himself.
The First Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident: What Was Seen?
The Rendlesham Forest UFO incident is one of the most famous UFO sightings ever recorded, almost as well covered as the Roswell crash of 1947. The Rendlesham incident has created a wide range of first-hand sightings, audio recordings, multiple reports, and continuous testimony. And this has created a popular phenomenon that keeps bringing UFO enthusiasts back to this forested area for more. But with so many angles and perspectives to this story, which are actually correct and what happened exactly? To understand all the evidence related to this extraterrestrial mystery, it is essential to review the key figures, variations to the story, and the primary alternative explanations of other experts. Only then can anyone reach an objective conclusion about what these reports are saying and what, ultimately, lies behind them.
Of all the accounts that exist, the most notable experiences came from Jim Penniston, John Burroughs, and Colonel Halt. They recounted bright burning multi-colored lights, mimicking a kaleidoscopic collage of red and blue lights, coming from a mysterious aircraft . This event took place on two consecutive days starting on December 26, 1980, for Penniston and Burroughs, and then again on December 28, 1980, for Colonel Halt and his team of soldiers. In both encounters, the mysterious aircraft reflected lights, hovered, landed, took off at alarming speed, and then appeared to “magically” dissolve or fade.
The First Incident: What Penniston And Burroughs Saw
On December 26, 1980, at the east gate of the RAF Woodbridge base, security patrol Budd Stevens and Sargent Jim Penniston saw strange, intensely bright fiery-red lights gleaming through the trees of Rendlesham Forest . When they reported their sightings at the guard shack, their commanding officer confirmed that something was detected descending into a small clearing near the forest’s eastern edge. It was then, at 3:00 am, that Penniston was given the order to investigate what was seen. Though Stevens stayed at his post, Penniston was accompanied by John Burroughs in a jeep to where the “bogie” reportedly landed. It was here that Burroughs and Penniston saw a mysterious glowing craft whose movement and speed defied the laws of physics . Despite its rapid speed hardly any sound was made by the craft. Of the two men, only Penniston provided a report on the sighting. In his statement, he said:
“…The craft was three meters tall, and about three meters wide at the base […] No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed
legs… I moved a little closer… I walked around the craft, and finally, I walked right up to the craft. I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque, black glass…” (Young 2020)
But as they observed the craft it suddenly took off at full speed, heading towards a barn, causing further havoc as its bright lights disturbed the local wildlife and farm animals. Burroughs and Penniston raced after it, climbed over a fence, and then watched as the red and blue lights shining from the craft vanished as it passed the barn.
When both Penniston and Burroughs returned to the base, they were wary of writing their report of the incident for their commanding shift officer. Both decided to write a version that downplayed what they had seen. In their testimonies, they simply stated:
“…Saw a mechanical object with red, blue and white lights, but the craft disappeared before we could get a better look…” (Cutler and Castro 2019).
To their dismay, both Penniston and Burroughs were ordered to keep silent about what they saw. However, this command did not stop Penniston from returning to the area the next day to examine the landing site. On the forest floor, Penniston discovered circular impressions made by a heavy object, which were spaced 9.8 feet (3 meters) apart. He immediately made plaster cast impressions of the landing marks. Burroughs and Penniston also revealed that burn damage and broken branches were present near the indentations in the ground. Though their commanding shift officer told them to remain silent, the plaster casts and the tree damage made other servicemen extremely curious, turning the sight into a curiosity hotspot for military personnel.
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British Special Air Service, Budd Stevens, Charles Halt, Dr. David Clark, Jim Penniston, John Burroughs, Larry Warren, Office of Special Investigations, Orfordness Lighthouse, RAF Woodbridge/RAF Bentwaters, Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, Suffolk England, UK Ministry of Defense