The east gate at RAF Woodbridge, where the incident began in December 1980

The Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident

In late December 1980, there were a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights near Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, which have become linked with claims of UFO landings. The events occurred just outside RAF Woodbridge, which was used at the time by the United States Air Force (USAF). USAF personnel, including deputy base commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt, claimed to see things they described as a UFO sighting.

The occurrence is the most famous of claimed UFO events to have happened in the United Kingdom, ranking among the best-known reported UFO events worldwide. It has been compared to the Roswell UFO incident in the United States and is sometimes referred to as "Britain's Roswell". The Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated the event posed no threat to national security, and it therefore never was investigated as a security matter. Evaluation by scientific sceptic Brian Dunning and science and astronomy writer Ian Ridpath concluded that the UFO reports were due to misinterpretations of nocturnal lights: a fireball, the Orfordness Lighthouse and bright stars.

Around 3:00 a.m. on 26 December 1980 a security patrol near the east gate of RAF Woodbridge saw lights apparently descending into nearby Rendlesham Forest. These lights have been attributed by astronomers to a piece of natural debris seen burning up as a fireball over southern England at that time. Servicemen initially thought it was a downed aircraft but, upon entering the forest to investigate they saw, what they described as a glowing object, metallic in appearance, with coloured lights. As they attempted to approach the object, it appeared to move through the trees, and "the animals on a nearby farm went into a frenzy". One of the servicemen, Sergeant Jim Penniston, later claimed to have encountered a "craft of unknown origin" while in the forest, although there was no publicized mention of this at the time and there is no corroboration from other witnesses.

Shortly after 4:00 a.m. local police were called to the scene but reported that the only lights they could see were those from the Orford Ness lighthouse, some miles away on the coast.

After daybreak on the morning of 26 December, servicemen returned to a small clearing near the eastern edge of the forest and found three small impressions on the ground in a triangular pattern, as well as burn marks and broken branches on nearby trees. At 10:30 a.m. the local police were called out again, this time to see the impressions, which they thought could have been made by an animal.

The deputy base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, visited the site with several servicemen in the early hours of 28 December 1980 (reported as the 29th by Halt). They took radiation readings in the triangle of depressions and in the surrounding area using an AN/PDR-27, a standard U.S. military radiation survey meter. Although they recorded 0.07 milliroentgens per hour, in other regions they detected 0.03 to 0.04 milliroentgens per hour, around the background level. Furthermore, they detected a similar small 'burst' over half a mile away from the landing site. Halt recorded the events on a micro-cassette recorder.

It was during this investigation that a flashing light was seen across the field to the east, almost in line with a farmhouse, as the witnesses had seen on the first night. The Orford Ness lighthouse is visible further to the east in the same line of sight.

Later, according to Halt's memo, three starlike lights were seen in the sky, two to the north and one to the south, about 10 degrees above the horizon. Halt said that the brightest of these hovered for two to three hours and seemed to beam down a stream of light from time to time. Astronomers have explained these starlike lights as bright stars.

Rendlesham Forest is owned by the Forestry Commission and consists of about 5.8 square miles (15 km2) of coniferous plantations, interspersed with broadleaved belts, heathland and wetland areas. It is located in the county of Suffolk, about 8 miles (13 km) east of the town of Ipswich.

The incident occurred in the vicinity of two former military bases: RAF Bentwaters, which is just to the north of the forest, and RAF Woodbridge which extends into the forest from the west and is bounded by the forest on its northern and eastern edges. At the time, both were being used by the United States Air Force and were under the command of wing commander Colonel Gordon E. Williams. The base commander was Colonel Ted Conrad, and his deputy was Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt.

The main events of the incident, including the supposed landing or landings, took place in the forest, which starts at the east end of the base runway or about 0.3 miles (0.5 km) to the east of the East Gate of RAF Woodbridge, from where security guards first noticed mysterious lights appearing to descend into the forest. The forest extends east about one mile (1.6 km) beyond East Gate, ending at a farmer's field at Capel Green, where additional events allegedly took place.

The first piece of primary evidence to be made available to the public was a memorandum written by the deputy base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt, to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Known as the "Halt memo", this was made publicly available in the United States under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act in 1983. The memorandum, was dated "13 Jan 1981" under the title "Unexplained Lights". The two-week delay between the incident and the report might account for errors in the dates and times given. The memo was not classified in any way. thanks Dr. David Clarke, a consultant to the National Archives, has investigated the background of this memo and the reaction to it at the MoD. His interviews with the personnel involved confirmed the cursory nature of the investigation made by the MoD, and failed to find any evidence for any other reports on the incident made by the USAF or UK apart from the Halt memo. Halt has since gone on record as saying he believes that he witnessed an extraterrestrial event that was then covered up.

In 1984, a copy of what became known as the "Halt Tape" was released to UFO researchers by Colonel Sam Morgan, who had by then succeeded Ted Conrad as Halt's superior. This tape chronicles Halt's investigation in the forest in real time, including taking radiation readings, the sighting of the flashing light between trees, and the starlike objects that hovered and twinkled. The tape has been transcribed by researcher Ian Ridpath, who includes a link to an audio download and also a step-by-step analysis of the entire contents of the tape.

A 1983 Omni article says "Colonel Ted Conrad the base commander... recalls five Air Force policemen spotted lights from what they thought was a small plane descending into the forest. Two of the men tracked the object on foot and came upon a large tripod-mounted craft. It had no windows but was studded with brilliant red and blue lights. Each time the men came within 50 yards of the ship, Conrad relates, it levitated six feet in the air and backed away. They followed it for almost an hour through the woods and across a field until it took off at 'phenomenal speed.' Acting on the reports made by his men, Colonel Conrad began a brief investigation of the incident in the morning. He went into the forest and located a triangular pattern ostensibly made by the tripod legs. ...he did interview two of the eyewitnesses and concludes, 'Those lads saw something, but I don't know what it was'."

Summary of Events from The Sun, UK

The Rendlesham Forest incident took place in December 1980 over a series of at least two nights.

On December 26, 1980, military personnel at the twin bases of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk saw a strange light in Rendlesham Forest, which lies between the two bases.

Three men were sent out to investigate where two of them encountered a small, triangularshaped craft. One man, Jim Penniston, got close enough to touch the side of the object.

He and another of the airmen present, John Burroughs, made sketches of the craft for witness statements Two nights later Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt and his team then encountered the UFO.

He said later: "Here I am, a senior official who 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."

Despite an MOD investigation the Rendlesham Forest incident remains unexplained.

'IT WAS NOT FROM THIS WORLD' ...Witness to ‘Britain’s Roswell’ UFO incident at Rendlesham Forest breaks 36 year silence Retired U.S. Airforce officer finally speaks out about unsolved 'alien' mystery... from UK Sun... 6th December 2016, 10:30 amUpdated: 13th September 2017, 6:40 pm.

A NEW witness has broken his 36 year silence to speak out about Britain’s most famous UFO incident. Steve Longero was told to keep quiet by his superiors following the infamous Rendlesham Forest incident in Suffolk. But now the retired U.S. Airforce police officer has gone on the record for the first time and said: “I think it was something not from this world.”

The incident – dubbed the British Roswell – took place over three nights between 26 and 28 December, in 1980. Military personnel from nearby RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge, including the deputy base commander, witnessed strange lights in the forest and hovering above the twin NATO airbases which were on high alert as the Cold War was at its peak. Steve, who served as a police sergeant in the USAF, was guarding the weapons storage area when the alarms started going off. He said: “While on duty that night, we had a very sophisticated alarm system and everything just went off.

“And then I could see these lights over the treetops, and I was thinking, what’s going on? Then they started sending people out there and at first it was hard to believe, all these bright lights. It was hard to take in. "Well from what I remember the lights, fluorescent lights, kind of a glow, like a reddish glow. I remember going out there.”

Steve went out into the forest where he remembers seeing a large group of other military personnel had already gathered including Staff Sgt Jim Burroughs, Airman First Class Edward Cabansag and Airman First Class Larry Warren.

Describing the UFOs, he said: “They looked like fluorescent coloured lights, like red and green, glowing lights and that’s what they looked like.I could see them hovering over the treetops like an eye that was almost following everybody.”

He added: “It was real kind of quiet and this thing hovering over the trees, and you were like kind of tracking it and like ‘what is this?’. And it was like following, it was like watching us, that’s what it looked like to us. It seemed like something watching us.

“From what I remember it was like aglow, it was really glowing like a reddish, greenish light. It was really glowing, like something was really hot and it was just glowing.”

He also recalled seeing Colonel Charles Halt there, who made a tape recording describing how beams of light were being shone down by the UFO. He has written an explosive new book called The Halt Perspective describing his close encounter.

Mr Longero said: “Col Halt came afterwards, after all that was called in. I remember him turning up, that’s when they kind of gathered everyone around and said this is what we are going to do, and everybody kind of dispersed and did what they were told to do.

"I remember we had a little briefing right there and everybody was just like, we just could not believe what we were seeing. Your adrenalin was flowing and I remember people saying like ‘what is that?’.

“And then, as people were getting close to this thing it kind of came nearer to us and then it would go forward and then go back and all of a sudden it just disappeared, like something out of Star Trek, it was like warp speed and we were all ‘what was that?’ it was gone and then that’s when they started doing all their investigations. After we secured the area they said okay, you’re gone, get out of here.”

Steve said he was debriefed a few days later and was told not to talk about what he saw as the base had nuclear weapons on site.

UFO investigator Philip Mantle, who interviewed Steve for Outer Limits Magazine, said: “Steve does not claim to be anything special but he wanted to emphasise that there were a lot of others involved who were witness to the events in question, many of whom have yet to add their voice to these events.

“Steve has confirmed the open secret that nuclear weapons were stored at RAF Bentwaters at the time although he did not personally witness any lights being shone onto the WSA.

“He has confirmed much of what Colonel Halt has already said on the record and he is in no doubt that Larry Warren was there.

“What is clear is that despite the best efforts of some this case will continue to be hotly debated for many years to come.”

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