These articles will give you some background to this one: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/05/more-british-ufo-files-released.html
The Rendlesham Forest Incident is one of the most exciting UFO encounters ever reported. It’s not quite as famous as Roswell, but it should be. The good thing about Rendlesham Forest is that, unlike Roswell, it is backed up by a lot of official contemporary documentation. People sometimes lament that UFOlogy is male-dominated and that not enough women are involved in it, but in this case it was four female investigators who have done most of the legwork! Two authors, Jenny Randles and Georgina Bruni, have written books about it and they’ve been assisted by local researchers Dot Street and Brenda Butler.
The incident took place at a spot near the twin NATO Air Force bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge in Suffolk, not far from the secret nuclear and radar research centre at Orford Ness. Also American nuclear weapons were stored at the bases. It began on Christmas night 1980. USAF police guards spotted a light in the forest a short distance from the base. Thinking a plane had crashed, they dispatched two policemen in a car Sgt. Jim Penniston and Airman 1C John Boroughs. The two men parked their car as closely as possible and walked into the woods to investigate. As they got closer they realized that this was no plane crash! They saw a brightly-lit, triangular-shaped object sitting on the ground between the trees. They were very afraid, but too curious to turn away. They took photographs and notes (Although according to Penniston the photographs didn’t come out, funnily enough!). I’ve seen a copy of Penniston’s notebook and his writing is terrible because his hand was shaking so much! One of the men even touched the object’s hull and described it as like nothing they’d ever felt before. This is common in UFO close encounters; it’s as if these phenomena are not made of the same kind of matter as familiar things are. They also report seeing strange markings on the hull that they describe as like Egyptian Hieroglyphs; such strange markings are also reported by Roswell and Kecksburg Incident witnesses. The craft then took off and shot up into the sky out of sight at a tremendous rate. The next day, Penniston went back and made plastercasts of three indentations under the place where the object landed. Some say this is the landing gear of the craft; others that they are just rabbit-scrapings. They reported their encounter to the base’s deputy-commander Lt. Col. Charles Halt, a pivotal figure in the story of the incident. Halt didn’t take it seriously at first, but two evenings later while he was at a Christmas party, he was called away when the guards reported that the UFO was back. Halt took a squad of patrolmen and left the base for the forest. What follows is one of the most remarkable occurrences in all of UFO history. Halt and his team moved into the woods and saw a bright reddish-yellow flashing light shining through the trees. The light moved closer towards them. It appeared to be dripping a glowing molten substance off it (rather like the Maury Island UFO’s. See Kenn Thomas’ address: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/05/beyond-knowledge-conference-2008.html ). When it got very close it shone a beam of light towards the ground near the feet of the terrified American airmen. The object then moved away and the airmen chased it. It flew over a nearby farm and Halt heard the farm animals screaming with fear. He could also hear deer in the forest disturbed by the presence of the UFO. The craft then flew directly over the base and shone its light down onto “Hot Row”, Woodbridge’s nuclear armoury. This is typical behavior for UFO’s; they seem to be fascinated by nuclear energy and weapons and are often seen around nuclear bases and power stations. (I personally took a photo of a UFO near Faslane Port in Scotland where Trident submarines are based, although I didn’t see anything strange at the time). The main reason Halt’s testimony is so interesting is that he took a Dictaphone with him on the expedition into the woods and made a voice-log of everything that happened. Although you can hear the fear in his voice his speech is very lucid. The recording is available online: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1353999273966401244&q=charles+halt+ufo&ei=ZmowSPmqMoumqgOyxryoCQ&hl=en If only he’d taken a camera with him too! When Halt got back to base he wrote a report to the Ministry of Defence. He never received a reply. The incident was immediately classified and filed for analysis. Reading between the lines it was obvious they were telling Halt to forget about it.
The report, known as the “Halt Memo”, would probably still be classified today and the UFO incident reduced, like so many others, into a series of vague and unconfirmed eyewitness reports; if it wasn’t for the work of a group of UFOlogists, the four women I mentioned above. Brenda Butler was friends with one of the base staff and she heard about the incident from him in a proverbial pub. Many other local people saw strange things in the sky that night and she wanted to get to the bottom of it. She and the other women campaigned for the MoD to reveal what they knew, but were stonewalled at every move. The impasse was broken by the women’s American contact. Although the MoD was keeping the Halt Memo secret, he managed to get a copy of it in the American archives released under the US Freedom of Information Act. The cards had fallen to the table! The women contacted Lt. Col. Halt and interviewed him. They went to the press and just two years after the incident, the Rendlesham Forest UFO was front page news.
With the publication of the story, more eyewitnesses came forward. It soon became clear that the publication of Lt. Col. Halt’s report was not the end of the story; in fact it’s come to look like it’s only the first step. Larry Warren was another airman stationed at Bentwaters-Woodbridge and has come out with an additional and conflicting account. According to him there was a second landing in a field near the forest and (I’m not 100% sure it was Warren who said this) beings decamping from their craft and communicating with some of the senior officers. Halt, Randles and the others dismiss this.
As with any event like this, an alternative “rational explanation” is soon tossed onto the table. The lapsed UFOlogist Ian Ridpath teamed up with one of the wardens at the forest, Vince Thurkettle, to concoct a Skeptical narrative. It’s well worth looking at the Skeptical articles because they are very revealing about the mentality behind those fixated on debunking. No matter how wild and wacky the “Woo’s” get, your average Skepolata will come up with something crazier; the more convincing the story, the crazier the Skepticism. Ridpath and Thurkettle claimed that what Halt and the others really saw that night was not a UFO, but simply Orford Ness lighthouse shining through the trees. The lighthouse flashes every six seconds like the UFO and looks very strange from inside the wood. The lighthouse can only be seen from one corner of the woods and that corner is exactly where the UFO was. The psychologist Chris French (I’ve written about him before: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/01/chris-french-mba-gold.html and http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/01/who-really-runs-world.html ) reckons that Halt’s team were psyched-up into a kind of “believer mode” mentality that made them eager to misidentify something like that (This is one of the best documentaries on Rendlesham Forest and it includes and interview with French http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xt5AMBTQPs ). The ground beneath this rebuttal is so shaky that I hardly know where to start! Halt was not a hippy on a night time retreat, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force, therefore a highly-trained observer; something which is very obvious in his tape. (Besides, even the so-called “most gullible members of society” have turned out to be much better witnesses that the Skeptics claim they are. A few years ago, some engineers built a fake UFO out of a model plane and flew it over Avebury, a gathering place for mystics and pagans. This was a “Carlos”, the intention being to fool them and therefore show them up for being dupes, but in a way the plan backfired. The hippies at Avebury did indeed report seeing a UFO, but they reported pretty much what they saw, describing the craft accurately. There were none of the embellishments and exaggerations the hoaxers were banking on.) Halt adamantly sticks to his story. He was most certainly not in “believer mode”. He went into the forest hoping to debunk the story. He actually states in the documentary that I posted above that he wanted this whole problem to go away. He was worried about how his report on the UFO would damage his career prospects. As you can hear on the tape, the object moved around the airmen sometimes spotted to the north and sometimes the south. Orford Ness lighthouse is of course fixed in one direction: the east. The lighthouse also cannot account for the UFO that Pennniston and Boroughs saw on Boxing Day morning. But, as I said, when one debunker fails an even more bizzarre and outrageous one is wheeled out to fill the gap: In this case it was the joy-riders and their runaway ice cream van! Apparently some local louts had stolen an ice cream van and were driving it round in circles nearby with its lights and jingles blaring out into the night. This is what Halt saw! You couldn’t make it up! But a Skepper could, and they do frequently! Halt also said during a live televised debate on UFO’s a few years ago, that he could see the Orford Ness lighthouse at the same time that he could see the UFO and the two were definitely not the same. The most irritating aspect to the Skeptics’ debunking is that it is definitely a case of “raising the bar”. As I wrote here: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/05/debating-with-skepster.html
1.) RAISING THE BAR (Or IMPOSSIBLE PERFECTION): This trick consists of demanding a new, higher and more difficult standard of evidence whenever it looks as if a skeptic's opponent is going to satisfy an old one. Often the skeptic doesn't make it clear exactly what the standards are in the first place. This can be especially effective if the skeptic can keep his opponent from noticing that he is continually changing his standard of evidence. That way, his opponent will eventually give up in exasperation or disgust. Perhaps best of all, if his opponent complains, the skeptic can tag him as a whiner or a sore loser. Skeptic: I am willing to consider the psi hypothesis if you will only show me some sound evidence. Opponent: There are many thousands of documented reports of incidents that seem to involve psi. S: That is only anecdotal evidence. You must give me laboratory evidence. 0: Researchers A-Z have conducted experiments that produced results which favor the psi hypothesis. S: Those experiments are not acceptable because of flaws X,Y andZ. 0: Researchers B-H and T-W have conducted experiments producing positive results which did not have flaws X,Y and Z. S: The positive results are not far enough above chance levels to be truly interesting. 0: Researchers C-F and U-V produced results well above chance levels. S: Their results were achieved through meta-analysis, which is a highly questionable technique. O: Meta-analysis is a well-accepted method commonly used in psychology and sociology. S: Psychology and sociology are social sciences, and their methods can't be considered as reliable as those of hard sciences such as physics and chemistry. Etc., etc. ad nauseum.
Before Rendlesham Forest, the Skeppers’ biggest hobby horse over UFO close encounters was the lack of documentary evidence; no government files, no official testimony, no state-sanctioned eyewitness reports from qualified observers like military personnel. This was what they always said about Roswell and all the other similar events. Now we have a case that meets those demands: official government reports from the deputy commander and many other staff of a NATO air base, they’re now saying; “Nah, that won’t do. These witnesses are unreliable.” You can’t win!
Today Rendlesham Forest is a common haunt for skywatchers and Disclosure Project buffs doing “CE5 Protocols”, hoping to see another UFO there. The Forestry Commission has even put up a signboard showing visitors the way to the landing site, a bit like the one at the Roswell crash site. It’s possible that they will see one again, but I doubt if the area is likely to attract UFO’s today more than any other place. The thing is that since the end of the Cold War Bentwaters/Woodbridge has been closed down. Today it is simply a barracks and training centre. As I said above, UFO’s seem to be attracted to nuclear installations and there are no such installations on the facility now.
Rendlesham Forest is a cover-up that failed, but just think: This is one that failed, but how many others have succeeded?