1st Event: The date was 26th December 1980 near 2 RAF bases in Suffolk.
RAF Bentwaters & RAF Woodridge. These bases however at the time were in fact USAF bases in UK.staffed by USAF personnel whom most were witnesses to the events that took place.
This just in from Nick Pope 7th March 2006
MOD Magazine UFO Article
I recently sought and obtained a commission from the Ministry of Defence's
magazine Focus, to write a feature on UFOs. In particular, I wanted to get
across to the military and civil service readership some information about
the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident of 1980. Dubbed 'Britain's Roswell',
this is the UK's most significant UFO event but has sometimes been
misrepresented as the sighting of lights. In fact, as the United States Air
Force witness statements make clear, the security police personnel saw a
metallic craft with strange symbols on the hull. The article ran in the
March issue of Focus with only very minor editorial changes:
The Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident - By Nick Pope
The Ministry of Defence's UFO Project has its roots in a study commissioned
in 1950 by the MOD's then Chief Scientific Adviser, the great radar
scientist Sir Henry Tizard. As a result of his insistence that UFO
sightings should not be dismissed without some form of proper scientific
study, the Department set up arguably the most marvellously-named committee
in the history of the civil service, the Flying Saucer Working Party. The
committee's conclusions were sceptical; UFO sightings were
misidentifications of ordinary objects, or hoaxes. They recommended no
further action. But in 1952 there was a series of high-profile events where
UFOs were tracked on radar and seen by RAF pilots, and this forced the MOD
to think again. UFO sightings were to be collated and sent to the
Department for investigation, so that a determination could be made as to
whether anything of any defence significance might have occurred. Since
then, over 10,000 UFO reports have been received. From 1991 to 1994 I
worked in the department responsible for this bizarre subject. It was among
the most fascinating of my postings in 20 years in the Department.
Most UFO sightings received by the MOD had prosaic explanations: aircraft
lights, weather balloons, meteors, airships, etc. But in all of this, a
small percentage looked more interesting and one case in particular stood
out. This was the so-called Rendlesham Forest incident. Last December saw
the 25th anniversary of what is universally accepted as Britain's most
famous UFO sighting. There was extensive media coverage of this bizarre
anniversary, a commemorative Boxing Day event organised by the Forestry
Commission at the site of their 'UFO Trail', and several unofficial
'skywatches' where UFO enthusiasts came together to mark the event, swap
stories, and generally stand around getting extremely cold. So why the
interest? What happened in the forest all those years ago and why is it
still generating so much interest?
Rendlesham Forest lies between the twin bases of RAF Bentwaters and RAF
Woodbridge in Suffolk. In 1980 both facilities were operated by the United
States Air Force (USAF). The Cold War was still decidedly frosty. The
Solidarity Movement was taking hold in Poland and Soviet forces were
building up on the border. It was against this background that a strange
series of incidents occurred.
In the early hours of 26 December 1980 military personnel at the twin bases
saw strange lights in the forest. At first they thought an aircraft might
have crashed, so they went out to investigate. What they found was not a
crashed aircraft, but what they could only categorise as a UFO. Nearby farm
animals were going into a frenzy. One of the security police officers got
close enough to touch the side of the object. He and another of the airmen
present attached a sketch of the craft to their official USAF witness
statements. One of these sketches even details the strange symbols seen on
the craft's hull, which the witness likened to Egyptian hieroglyphs. "I
wish I'd had my weapon, because I felt totally defenceless," one of the
young airmen, John Burroughs, subsequently remarked.
Two nights later the UFO returned. The Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant
Colonel Charles Halt, was informed and went out into the forest to
investigate. He too saw the UFO, which at one point fired beams of light
down at his party and at the Woodbridge facility. "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",
he subsequently commented.
The MOD's investigation included an inconclusive search for radar evidence
that might have corroborated what was seen. Of far more interest, however,
was an assessment of radiation readings that had been taken from the landing
site with a Geiger counter. The readings had peaked in three holes in the
ground which formed the shape of an equilateral triangle, as if the UFO had
landed on a tripod of some sort. The Defence Intelligence Staff stated that
the readings seemed "significantly higher than the average background".
Their report suggested that the radiation level was around seven times what
would have been expected for the area concerned.
There are various sceptical theories for what was seen, the most prevalent
one being that the various witnesses were somehow misled by the beam from
Orfordness lighthouse, shining through the trees. "If the USAF really are
capable of hallucinations induced by a lighthouse which must surely be
familiar to them, then I shudder for that powerful finger which lies upon so
many triggers," remarked Ralph Noyes, a former MOD Under Secretary who took
a close interest in the case after his retirement. Charles Halt's reaction
to the theory was blunter. "Lighthouses don't fly," he said. Ralph Noyes
was not the only senior figure to take an interest in the case. Former
Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Hill-Norton corresponded with the Department
extensively about the incident, and tabled a number of Parliamentary
Questions in the House of Lords.
Many UFO researchers believe that information about UFOs is being covered
up. They see a vast conspiracy to keep the truth from the public. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Requests concerning UFOs are among the
most frequently submitted under the Freedom of Information Act and the MOD
has made great efforts to be as helpful as possible. Information has been
made available under the Publication Scheme, in the FOI 'Reading Room' and
at the National Archives in Kew. The entire file of the Rendlesham Forest
incident has been scanned in and is available on the MOD's website.
The official position is that these events were of no defence significance,
but the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident remains unexplained to this date. I
hope that we have some answers before the 50th anniversary of one of the
most extraordinary incidents ever investigated by the MOD.