Wednesday 11 June 2008

The Rendlesham Forest Incident

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: ). 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: 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: and ) 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 ). 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:
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?


Ben Fairhall said...

Even more interesting is the rash of disclosure emanating from some unlikely sources: including MoD and the Vatican. I take your point about the ET cover-up; but with insiders as reliable as Mr Spielberg batting for you, and the signs- see above- of a distinct change in philosophy in the halls of power, Ufology may soon seem distinctly anachronistic if we continue peddling the cover-up line. Great article/s though, see you soon.


Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Cheers, Ben.

I actually saw Spielberg's latest film the other day, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". As I said on the forum, I really enjoyed it, but I know very well that it's not there to drop any hidden information to us about UFO's; more it panders to the pop-status of Roswell. Good to see "Battling the Behemoth" is now back on open-access.

See you soon,


Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

What the effin' hell is going on!? In part 3 of this vid:

we see the brilliant "UFO Hunters" interviewing Vince Thurkettle! Thurkettle says he encountered MIB at the time of the UFO events. But if you read the article and watch the other vid I posted, you'll see that Thurkettle is the principle UFO debunker! He's the one who said Halt only saw the lighthouse, what the UFO Hunters dispute in this vid! Why? Is he teasing us? Was he recruited by the MIB as a disinormer? If so why is he telling us he met them? Surely he realize that some of us will put 2 + 2 together even if the Hunters don't! Or is he just trying to fuck with our heads?

Unknown said...

Spielberg's ET references in Indy 4 are a thinly-disguised allegory of Zionism, mate: that 'dirty word' amongst Icke fans. More than happy to blame the aliens, DI seems highly reluctant to actually put his balls on the line and speak what is, for most of us, an obvious truth... Namely, that the 'problem' is much closer to home than Alpha Draconis...

Here's some more disclosure for you:

And the pop-status of Roswell serves the PTB only too well. A better question to ponder might be why certain institutions are now encouraging a belief in benevolent 'Space Brothers.' Frankly, from my personal explorations within the Ufological culture, I have met very few people who I regard as credible: and if this is deemed a controversial statement, so be it.

On a related tack: what do you make of Robbie Williams' alien conversion?


Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Robbie comeas across as genuine and if he is I wish him well. He's handicapped by his existing fame a bit though, as he found out in Nevada. He doesn't enjoy the luxury of anonymity that we do! (What Conformist mindset could imagine Robbie not enjoying a luxury that we do!?)

My own experince of UFOlogists is different from yours. Yes, there are some fairly dodgy and lame characters in it, but there are plenty of legitimate researchers too. My favourites are Timothy Good and Nick Redfern. I suppose you're right about the idea of "space brothers" being helpful to the PTB. It certainly doesn't encourage self-help among humans. The Disclosure Project team mean well, but they're wrong about this idea that aliens are somehow better than we are. Aliens are just like us, good and bad, clever and dim wise and stupid.

I don't share all your views on Icke. He has a special place in my heart because it was mostly his work that made me "wake up", but I don't idolize him and know he gets some things wrong. Of course he certainly has held things back and he does tred carefully into certain areas. But you'd be surpised how many of his "fans" are quite willing to discuss Zionism.

If you like controversy then why not join the HPANWO forum?

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks for the link. More and more countries are declassifying UFO files at the moment. This doesn't mean that they'll declassify all of them as I explain here:

and here:

Do you reckon this part of a move towards playing the "fake alien invasion" card?

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Another vid on Rendlesham Forest. This one goes into more detail, documenting the debriefings of Penniston and Boroughs by the OSI, including the use of drugs! It also goes into Larry Warren's testimony in more detail:

Ben Fairhall said...

I will join the forum, Ben, cheers.

As for the 'fake alien invasion' rumours, whilst Ian Crane is a great speaker and hugely entertaining, I doubt the PTB would attempt anything quite so obvious. Creating harmless outlets for otherwise restless beings ('useless eaters') is more their bag; and their representatives in Ufology are more than happy to oblige. Most of the others are just oddballs and lunatics.

I would, however, enjoy attending the big Nevada convention; should the opportunity ever arise.

In fairness to Mr Icke, I will say that he looks a lot healthier- physically and mentally- right now than in years. He was clearly at a low ebb when compiling his latest tome- The David Icke Guide, etc- because even I, as an erstwhile fan, thought it stank...

I actually regret missing his Brixton gig, in fact. Good days like that don't come round too often.


Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Well it depends what floats your boat I suppose.

I really liked David Icke's new book. For this I apologize...

completely, totally, utterly, categorically, uniformily, and absolutely... nobody!

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

" Creating harmless outlets for otherwise restless beings ('useless eaters') is more their bag"

Like it says in "Silent Weapon for a Quiet War", the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and "Report From Iron Mountain". They all say the same thing in a different way.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

My own view is that although I'm well aware that the domination of this planet is organized right down here on Terra Firma, the presence of life out in space and hyperspace is a part of it. The PTB, whether you call them Zionists or other things, are feeding us a false impression of our place in the Universe. They tell us that we are an oasis of life in a dead desert of empty vacuum. Other planets are just airless, inanimate rocks. This is not true, but to relize it's not true would change the whole way we see ourselves.