The Rendlesham Reality

More than lights in the sky

This site contains excerpts and sometimes minor additions, updates or deletions from my recent book which you can see more info about or order in e-reader or soft cover (480 pp.) by clicking this image of the cover

book cover
Price is only US$10 for the e-book, or just under $20 for the paper version, plus shipping.

First please read tab 1 (Best and Worst Old UFO cases) item 9 of this website for a summary of the Rendlesham incident. The web page at this tab here deals with some of the skeptics' analyses and alternate explanations of what may have happened..

The Orfordness lighthouse beam, while certainly a partial explanation, is not complete. Some reconnaissance personnel confused the white lighthouse light with those of the UFO, but in some cases the servicemen sooner or later were able to distinguish the Orfordness beam from the bizarre lights. Firstly let us consider eyewitness evidence in support of the lighthouse beam explanation. Bruni (2000: 165) reproduces from Airman First Class John Burroughs’ report that after reaching the farmer’s house they could see a beacon going around and “We followed it for about two miles before we could [see] it was coming from a lighthouse.” Also see Bruni (2000) where at p. 156 is reproduced from the written statement by First lieutenant Fred Buran: ”[Staff Sergeant Jim] Penniston reported getting near the object and then all of a sudden said they had gone past it, and were looking at a marker beacon that was in the same general direction as the light.” Similarly Col. Halt’s description of the original light he was tracking on the third night (Bruni 2000: 213) describes it as a winking eye with a black pupil which is just what the beacon beam appears like (see video at ). As skeptic Ian Ridpath and other have noted from Halt’s audio-tapes, the light blinks on every five seconds, exactly as does the lighthouse beam. Mr. Ridpath’s website on the topic is very informative: Of interest to both believers and skeptics, it includes a transcript of Halt’s audio-tapes which were checked with Mr. Halt before being posted. The transcript is re also at the back of Encounter in Rendlesham Forest by Nick Pope et al (2014).

Also see Bruni (2000: 160), from the official statement by Master Sergeant Chandler regarding the first night: “Each time Penniston gave me the indication that he was about to reach the area where the lights were, he would give an extended estimated location. He eventually arrived at a beacon light.” Again this means that Staff Sergeant Penniston mistook the beacon for something unusual. However against the lighthouse beam explanation are the following items of evidence. Chandler’s statement continues, “however, he stated that this was not the light or lights he [Penniston] had originally observed.” (Bruni 2000: 160) Burrough’s statement describes his group going after red and blue lights which suddenly disappeared, then going toward a rotating beacon which after two miles they realized was just a lighthouse and just as they were turning back seeing a blue light which streaked away. (Bruni 2000: 165) Bruni (2000: 167) quotes Burroughs from an interview a decade after the event saying “at a distance you see the lighthouse beacon”, and at p. 169 in the same interview “there is no way [that] that many people were fooled by that lighthouse.” Similarly see Bruni (2000: 188-189) quoting from the statement by Airman First Class Edward Cabansag “... each of us would see the lights. Blue, red, white, and yellow. The beacon light turned out to be the yellow light. ... We ran and walked a good two miles past our vehicle until we got to a vantage point where we could determine that what we were chasing was only a beacon light off in the distance.” Similarly in an interview in the 1990’s Chandler states “It wasn’t the lighthouse. I saw the lighthouse, this wasn’t it, it was to the right of the lighthouse.” (Bruni 2000:192) The official USAF statement of First Lieutenant Fred Buran has Penniston telling him that he had never seen lights like that in that area before, and that they were red, blue and orange as well as white. He also says Penniston said the object had a definite mechanical nature. (Bruni 2000: 157). Halt’s description of the winking light was that it was red, not white as is the lighthouse beam, but thanks to the tape we hear others in his group say it is yellow and he later seems to agree. That would be a closer description of the lighthouse beam but Halt and one of his group say that pieces are flying off. However when Halt uses his Starscope (magnifier) to zoom in on the first light (with the “pupil” and the “winking”) he must be looking at the lighthouse light. Ridpath notes that the Starscope magnifies light so that is why it was so bright it nearly burned Halt’s eyes through the device. In the episode of the UFO Hunters that dealt with this, the lighthouse theory was undermined by Mr. Halt and the clever use of models and lights at specific angles. The audio-tapes reveal that the group saw, apart from what was evidently the Orfordness lighthouse light, two “half moon” or crescent shaped objects which later became full spheres (perhaps an effect of viewing through binoculars) with coloured lights flying around to the North, then one circled away and returned from the South and shone a ray (apparently white) down to the ground. The other one was described by Halt to be hovering over the Woodbridge base. In August 2010 I saw for the first time an episode of UFO Hunters dealing with Rendlesham that presented important new information including that another USAF airman who was on the base at the time saw a narrow white beam coming down onto the base from a UFO, which supports Halt’s statements on his 1980 audio-tape that a few miles East of the base he saw a UFO shining a ray of light down onto the nuclear weapons storage. This also fits the pattern of UFO intrusions onto continental US military bases (1966, 67 and ’75) where nuclear weapons are held.

Another British skeptic Dr. David Clarke (doctorate in folklore and teaches journalism etc. at Sheffield Hallam University) did what I always wanted to do: interview the key “missing” witness, Col. Ted Conrad who was Col. Halt’s superior. Until that interview Conrad had kept a low profile on the incident. Halt had mentioned that Conrad had been on his front lawn at the town of Woodbridge when Halt and three others in the forest were watching the lights, but in 2010 Conrad said he, his wife, another officer and other civilians who were with him were apparently listening to Halt on the radio and looking up at the sky were there but saw nothing unusual, and the night was clear and they had a good view. (From downloaded April 2, 2011). However that was 2.5 to 3 miles away from the Halt group and the Woodbridge base and the objects were reported as only 5 to ten degrees above the horizon

Also undermining the lighthouse hypothesis is the fact that several civilians (not on either base) saw UFOs on one or the other of the two nights in question (see Bruni 2000: 114 - 120). So many men reported that the portable search lights kept malfunctioning as did radios the closer they were to the suspected UFO, whereas a beam from a lighthouse certainly has no such effects. Similarly, regarding the second incident Burroughs describes small blue balls of light floating toward the men, even going through the cab of a truck which had opened windows, and causing the portable light to suddenly light up briefly (Bruni 2000:168). Obviously a ray of light from a lighthouse cannot account for this. Bruni (2000: 115) quotes one Marjorie Wright, daughter of a civilian witness telling Bruni that her father could not have seen the lighthouse beam as it would not have reached as far as his residence.

Some skeptics point out that just after 9 pm Dec. 25, 1980 wreckage from the top of the rocket that launched the Russain Cosmos 749 satellite in 1975 was re-entering earth orbit and burning up from air friction and was visible from Southern England. According to Nick Pope that would have looked like fireworks at high altitude, not what was seen in the forest later that night.

The main reason to dismiss the lighthouse and Soviet rocket and the meteor is simply that Sgt. Penniston got close enough to the object to give a detailed description and Halt's party found physical traces of a landing. What Penniston saw was too detailed for it to have been a mirage caused by distant lights and fog. Penniston provided a drawing to his superiors (one may see his sketches in Bruni's and Pope's books on Rendlesham.) Burroughs was also fairly close; close enough to see an egg shaped object and give a specific description of the placement and sequencing of the blue, orange/red and white lights on the object (Bruni 2000: 165) The object was seen by Burroughs and Penniston in a small clearing initially, and there is some evidence (e.g. Halt’s tape) of rub marks on the clearing-facing side of the surrounding trees (skeptics say these were axe marks by foresters marking the area, getting ready to clear cut it, but Halt could see on the ground branches that had broke off 15-20' higher, (Pope 2014:32) and at p. 28 we read that Halt says the abrasions face inward toward the small clearing) so at least that explains how the object was able to land, but not how it could wind its way (albeit slowly and briefly) through the dense growth of trees before ascending and then disappearing from view. After zig-zagging through the woods the object then suddenly flew off at an "impossible" speed according to Penniston.

So while it is undeniable that the light from the Orfordness lighthouse did cause many witnesses at times to confuse it with the unidentified flying lights in the area, it must be pointed out that lighthouse beams are not red, blue or orange, do not cause the static electricity and slowed-down sense of time experienced by those who got closest to the source, do not bob up and down (although the autokinetic effect can make the light seem to move horizontally), do not move in a serpentine manner through the woods at ground level, then soar up into the sky and burst apart into several lights, do not move as small blue spheres to the end of a road and then zoom through the cab of a truck, do not emit white ray beams onto the ground, do not have bits flying off or appear to drip molten metal, as reported by various US Air Force and civilian witnesses.

See my book for evidence of a concealment of "coverup". I will only mention on bit of evidence here. I am generally very skeptical of alleged conspiracies and cover-ups, but when on 2 April 2011, I went to the UK’s National Archives site pdfs/mar-2011-highlights-guide.pdf to look at their Rendlesham records again, I found this:

Files on Rendlesham Forest incident (Britain’s Roswell) destroyed During 2000 a search by MoD records staff revealed that a collection of Defence Intelligence files covering the period 1980-82 (including on the famous Rendlesham Forest incident) had been destroyed, even though other files from the surrounding years had survived. Records staff could not say when or why files were destroyed as the destruction certificates themselves were not retained for longer than five years (DEFE 2026/1 p182). Officials from MoD warned that if what it called this “apparent anomaly in the records” were made public “it could be interpreted to mean that a deliberate attempt had been made to eradicate the records covering this incident”.

So even Britain’s National Archives staff are strongly suggesting a coverup!

But a coverup of what? Was it really an alien space craft? I originally suspected that what was being covered up was an invisible beam (low level microwave?) that made the men who were the subjects dazed and confused and paranoid - an effective and relatively humane new weapon which renders soldiers useless without killing them. Nowadays we know that since the 1940’s Russia, the USA, Britain and its allies have all used their own military servicemen as guinea pigs or laboratory rats (test subjects) to test the effects of new secret weapons on. It seemed probable to me that the whole thing was an experiment; a setup to see if microwaved and/or other projections really could induce the desired perceptions and beliefs in the subjects' minds. (Just like The Shadow character of the US 1940's radio and comics - real science and technology gets many of its best ideas from science fiction). To make the experiment more realistic and spooky, the site chosen was in a forest just off base. The existence of an almost unpopulated forest near the Bentwaters and Woodbridge bases made Rendlesham a nearly ideal location.

Other critics of this case have said that the "high" radiation levels on the Geiger counters were not significantly above normal after all. Even if the readings were in the normal range, a careful reading of the transcript of the Halt audio tapes is clear that they were higher in the middle of the triangular area where the craft was seen than elsewhere.

Perhaps the reason for the confiscation of the US film and the Bobbies’ cameras and the claim that the developed film came out "fogged" was in case they might reveal evidence of the hoax.

In Revelations, Jacques Vallée (1991) suggests that a USAF flying saucer actually flew in over the site, based on reports that a red light approached and hovered, and partly because the US may have had small flying saucers in 1980. However the craft Penniston saw close up was triangular. Greer, (2009: 196-199) however thinks what crash landed in the Rendlesham forest was a prototype US triangular stealth aircraft such as a very early version of what became the F-117. But if I understand Nick Pope (personal communication), if this was the case, the base commander would have been informed. Following this line of thinking, it seems to me that to keep the matter secret, there would have been no scout parties sent out or allowed out to investigate, especially on a second occasion. Or, alternatively, if a prototype F-117 had really tried to land at the base and crash landed in the adjacent forest, again the base commander would have been alerted and a much more intensive and prolonged search and rescue effort would have been ordered and executed. Also, if this was a crash of a US aircraft, how did it manage to fly away? Even when in a perfect condition, not after a crash in a forest, an F-117 needs a long runway to take off, it cannot hover, has no Vertical Takeoff ability, nor can it zoom off at an "Impossible" speed, it is subsonic. All the publicly available online evidence is that the prototype did not even fly until six months later. Whether or not the East Germans had a similar plane, if they did it did not fly for several years (circa 1989) after the F-117 first flew.

I am no longer thinking that the event was a “psy-op” because of my careful analysis of the evidence in Bruni’s and Pope's books. I thank Nick Pope inspiring me to revisit the data by pointing out to me that if this was really a secret experiment it would have been kept secret, and my previous idea of an accidental leak by mid-level officers who had not been kept “in the loop” (i.e. the memo from Halt to UK liaison officer Donald Moreland, which was later discovered by UFOlogists) is not at all likely as any accidental communications would have been retroactively made to disappear.

If this was an experiment it could not explain the huge reaction of the USAF and probably CIA immediately after the event. (See Bruni pp. 244-246 regarding the extremely high and unprecedented amount of highest priority tele-communication activity, and noting that an unusual number of large planes arrived and left the base in the ensuing days.) The situation points more to the USAF being surprised by the events rather than having set it up.

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