One of the most compelling accounts of UFO landings comes to us from England. The joint air bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge, located within the vast Rendlesham Forest, would be literally invaded by unidentified flying objects over a period of several nights in late December, 1980.The amazing accounts of the twin air bases would be replete with descriptions of Alien beings, anomalous radar readings, electromagnetic effects, and surreal atmospheric conditions. Still investigated by Ufologists today, the almost unbelievable eyewitness accounts by credible professionals make the events of Bentwaters and Woodbridge Air Force Bases a cornerstone of belief among many UFO proponents.
Shortly after midnight on December 27, 1980, radar screens at RAF Watton in Norfolk showed an uncorrelated object which suddenly disappeared in the vicinity of the Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk. The object was also tracked on radar at Bentwaters RAF, which was located north of the forest. Woodbridge was south of the forest.
The bases were reported to have a large stockpile of nuclear weapons, and Woodbridge was the home of the 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. The unit was subject only to the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. The sister bases were leased to the United States Air Force.
Mal Scurrah, radar operator that night, stated:
«We didn’t have the faintest idea what it was. We checked through the air traffic agencies. There should have been nothing in that area at the time. The only thing we could do was send a jet aircraft in to find out what it was. They got to within about a quarter of a mile and the pilot suddenly started reporting that they could see a very bright light in the sky in front of them.
It was stationary on the screen and then, in seconds, it moved off at a fantastic rate of speed. Within the space of five minutes, it was reaching 90,000 feet and higher and we lost it off the top end of the radar scope. There’s nothing we have in this day that can perform those kind of maneuvers, the pilots wouldn’t be able to take it.»
The extraordinary events of Woodbridge/Bentwaters would begin with the sighting of a gigantic glowing object by three security guards patrolling the twin bases. Receiving permission to check out the strange sightings, they followed the lights into the forest. Their initial interpretation was that a military or commercial aircraft had made a crash landing.
The patrol was shocked and frightened to see a saucer-like craft with small, large-headed beings, which seemed to be suspended from the bottom of the craft by a type of beam. The beings appeared to be busy, possibly affecting some type of repair to their craft. The beings seemed at first to be unaware of the three men watching their activities.
The guards, maintaining a safe distance from the craft and beings, were almost transfixed by the activities at the glowing object. They radioed to the base headquarters, reported what they were seeing, and requested emergency help.Almost immediately assistance arrived, with a fully equipped armed unit, which included senior officers of the base. Later, there would be reports, off the record, that witnesses who ventured closest to the craft encountered strange anomalies. Among these were «reality bending» effects, like time displacement, and surreal atmospheric conditions.
Also, there were allegations that some of the senior officers were able to communicate with strange, alien beings, which floated in bubbles around a triangular-shaped craft. The craft was said to have appeared from a type of low-lying cloud. («Left At East Gate») I must state that neither of these facts has been established officially.
Colonel Halt, called out on the second night of the sightings, was one of a group of senior officers to chase the eerie, glowing object into the forest. He would become a key figure in the Rendlesham investigation. He made a cassette of the details of his trek into the woods, and a transcription is given later in this article.Also a copy of the memorandum Halt sent to the British Ministry of Defense is included.
Some of the most revealing details of the events of Rendlesham would be given by patrolmen Jim Penniston, John Burroughs, and Larry Warren, who would later co-write a book on the incident, «Left at East Gate.»
Halt was a career Air Force officer, serving in Vietnam and on various bases before arriving at Bentwaters in 1980. He was promoted to base commander in 1984. Halt later served as base commander at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, and was director of the inspections directorate for the Department of Defense inspector general. He retired in 1991.Though Halt was forthcoming with his accounts of Rendlesham, his life was complicated by constant demands by UFO investigators for more information on the Rendlesham events.
There were many stories told by the men who were present on the nights of the strange events at Rendlesham. One of the most remarkable concerned an underground theater where soldiers were interrogated, debriefed, sworn to secrecy, and threatened.The morning after the most pronounced activity, a type of men-in-black scenario had occurred.
Several of the men were whisked away by the official-looking gentlemen, and escorted to the underground facility. Oddly enough, they were shown a number of motion picture films of different UFO recoveries around the world. It was also said that an Alien being was present at one of the meetings.
The spectacular events of late 1980 were kept out of the public knowledge for the most part, at least until 1983. An early UFO magazine article about the events brought only a passing interest, yet the story survived on rumor and speculation until Robert Todd of the Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) secured a copy of an official report of the events through the Freedom of Information Act in 1983. The paper was dated 1-13-81, and had been sent to the British Ministry of Defense by Halt.The events of Rendlesham have been published in numerous newspapers, magazine articles, and several television shows, including «Unsolved Mysteries,» «Sightings,» and the British program «Strange But True,» among others.
The case, in some respects, is similar to the famous Roswell, New Mexico incident in that its investigation involved almost exclusively military personnel. Though the two incidents occurred in totally different countries, both involved United States manned installations, and were close to top secret military bases.