Creepy Mysteries: Rendlesham Forest Incident
Forty years ago this month, the forests surrounding US military base became the center of one of the strangest events of the 20th century and a landmark event in Ufology. Near Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, the United States Air Force was leasing the military base RAF Woodbridge. Over the course two nights this wooded area was seemingly visited by beings not of this world. While encounters with UFOs are usually dismissed by skeptics, the fact that these events were witnessed by a number of dependable Air Force personnel has made this one much harder to write-off.
On December 26, 1980, guards at the east gate of the base became the first to witness the strange events of Rendlesham Forest. At around 3:00AM, they saw lights falling from the skies into the nearby forest. Granted the skies over Southern England at this time was experiencing an abnormal amount of natural space debris falling at this time, this was different. Suspecting that this could be a downed aircraft, two guards were dispatched into the woods to see what had fallen. What these two men claimed to have found was a triangular metal craft covered in lights, about 9 feet across as the base. Whatever this object was, it was emitting what they described as an electrical charge in the air which drove any nearby wildlife into a frenzy. One of these men, TSgt. James Penniston, actually approached this unknown aircraft and got close enough to see a series of hieroglyphics on its hull. Succumbing to curiosity, Penniston touched these glyphs and his mind was flooded with images of binary code.
For the next two nights, servicemen at Woodbridge would report seeing bright lights floating among the trees in the woods. Hoping to get to the bottom of things and find a logical explanation, the base’s second in command, Lt. Colonel Charles I. Halt, took a team into Rendlesham Forest to inspect the site the unidentified object was found. It was here that the hopes he held of finding a reasonable explanation faded away. Right where Penniston and his fellow soldier had their encounter was a three-pronged indention clearly left by landing gear, in addition to this the Geiger counters USAF personnel brought with them picked up a level of radiation far higher than normal. But it was what happened next which forever convinced Halt, that he was not dealing with anything terrestrial.
In the skies above, he and his men watched as a series of 4-5 UFOs covered in bright lights moved in a grid formation over the forest. According to the high-ranking officer has given over the years, they maneuvered in a way which was impossible for any known aircraft. Given that Halt had served in the Air Force for decades in a number of war zones, it is safe to assume he knew the limits of manmade aircraft. As the soldiers observed these aircrafts, a couple of them began to emit concentrated beams of light which eventually found their way onto the base where they concentrated on the storage area for weapons. Many have assumed that whoever, or whatever, was behind these UFOs were deploying a scanner of some kind.
In the years that followed, Freedom of Information requests and leaks from government officials, revealed the extent of Lt. Col. Charles Halt’s thoughts as to what happened in Rendlesham Forest. Not only was the seasoned military man convinced that what he saw was of extraterrestrial origin, but that the governments of United States and Great Britain were trying to cover-up the truth. One of the most interesting piece of evidence to come from this was “The Halt Tape” released by Colonel Sam Morgan, who succeeded in taking command of RAF Woodbridge. This is Halt’s real-time audio recording of his investigation into the woods where the UFO was seen.
In 1984, Suffolk-resident Brenda Butler brought the events of the Rendlesham Forest Incident into the mainstream. Living near the base and having many friends who were employed at RAF Woodbridge, she had heard from multiple people what had occurred on those two nights in 1980. Along with her friend Dot Street and writer/UFO researcher Jenny Randles, she delved into what exactly happened when aircraft of unknown origin made their presence known. About a month after Lt. Col. Halt’s report to the UK Ministry of Defense, they released Sky Crash. Allegedly, they received assistance from a mysterious Ufologist named “Steve Roberts” who guided them through this web of conspiracy filled with shady cover-ups and men in black suits. While one should of course cautiously accept the literalism of their story, there is little doubt the governments of two nations have attempted to cover-up what happened.
There has been no shortage of excuses trotted out as to what “really” happened in Rendlesham Forest. The main element of the explanation lies in the Orfordness Lighthouse about 7 miles away. To the credit of those who push this idea, the timing as to when Lt. Colonel Halt and his men had their encounter and when the illumination from the lighthouse would have shone in that direction do match. But I for one have never seen the point of light from a lighthouse project a secondary beam of light, much less a concentrated one. In the 2000’s the files on the incident from the MoD came public and people were shocked at how little investigating into the incident actually took place. Defense Minister Lord David Trefgarne was dismissive in recommending against an investigation into the event stating “no addition action was required”. Since the UFO encounters at Rendlesham Forrest involved American soldiers it is safe to assume that the US Department of Defense would have files on it. But in the 90’s when, Nick Pope, who investigated UFO sightings for the British government found a dossier on American encounters with unidentified aircrafts overseas. To his surprise in the entire 490 page report, the accounts of the soldiers at RAF Woodbridge were missing.
The events at Rendlesham Forrest have become known by many as the “British Roswell”. While the two events are very different; what they share in common is that high-ranking, logic-minded, career military officers have gone on record saying that what they saw was not of this earth. While the government they served have put forth “official” explanations which come off as more far-fetched than extraterrestrials. Despite the British government’s denial that anything happened, the Forestry Commission established a trail covering many landmarks from the event. Since retiring from the Air Force thirty years ago, Charles I. Halt has consistently held to the story he reported back in the 80’s. Every account he has given has been clinical, consistent, and grounded as one would expect from a logic-minded military officer and not some layperson hoping for a few minutes of supposed fame. It is clear that 40 years ago, something unexplainable happened in the 3700 acres known as Rendlesham Forest.