Rendlesham Forest Incident – 26th /29 th Dec 1980

In the closing days of 1980 the Cold War had just got even colder as protests in Poland were reaching a peak. The Soviet Union, already having invaded Afghanistan, in 1979, were ready to move if their precious Eastern satellite state did not fall in line. Back home in the UK people were still mourning the death of John Lennon. There was no cable or satellite TV in Britain of the early 80s, mobile phones were almost non-existent and home computers were in their infancy.

As Christmas day came and went something very strange happened to a group of US airmen (if their stories are to be believed). They were based at the twin bases of Woodbridge/Bentwaters in Suffolk, England. Bases leased to the USAF and a vital part of the defence of Western Europe against the Warsaw Pact. It is fairly common knowledge that nuclear weapons were housed at the bases (in direct violation of the treaty with the United Kingdom) at the time.

This incident is highly unusual in that a large number of military personnel are the main witnesses to the case and also that the events happened over the space of 2 or even 3 days/nights. There is a lot of documented evidence available and even an audio tape of the investigation recorded as it happens on the second night of the incident. A number of radio and TV programmes have been made regarding the incident and the story is the feature of a number of books.

A basic summary is that late on Christmas night/early Boxing day morning in 1980 odd lights were seen over the treetops of Rendlesham Forest from Bentwaters by the security patrol. Believing that an aircraft may have crashed a 3 man team was organized and went "off base" to investigate.

All 3 airmen claim to have seen something out in the forest that they could not explain. Whilst one of the airman, Ed Cabansag, stayed back to relay information to the base, John Burroughs claims to have seen a sudden flash of light as something zoomed into the trees and disappeared at tremendous speed into the night sky.

Sgt. James Penniston's initial statement is similar in content to Burroughs up until the point where the craft comes into view'. However his sketch does not correspond with the one made by John Burroughs. His story has also expanded somewhat since the initial reports in 1980 and 1981.

The following night/early morning further reports of lights in the forest were reported to the Deputy Base Commander Lt. Colonel Charles Halt. Halt was at a Christmas awards party at the time and with the initial idea of de-bunking "the nonsense" donned his fatigues, organized a team with radiation detectors and a star scope (night-vision detector), to accompany him into the forest. Once out there he spotted a glowing object that appeared to be dripping molten metal at times. Damage to the tree line was noted and radiation was detected in areas of the forest. The Lightalls (vehicle mounted floodlights) taken out into Rendlesham forest also began to malfunction. The object was later reported to be splitting off into other objects in the sky and even shining beams of light down onto the weapons storage areas of Bentwaters.

Portions of this part of the investigation were caught on audio tape as Halt took a micro-cassette recorder with him. It is now in the public domain. Another tale is told by Larry Warren who makes claims that he witnessed alien beings landing in the field on the second or perhaps a third night of the incident. Although none of the other witnesses agree with this.
But what caused these strange events?

Let's first look at the story as the witnesses told it in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

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