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Jim Penniston's Notebook

Jim Penniston first showed this notebook publicly on the Sci-Fi documentary UFO Invasion at Rendlesham broadcast in 2003 December.  Jim discusses the investigation the night he was face to face with a Craft of Unknown Origin that landed on the forest floor:

"After ten minutes without any apparent aggression, I determined the craft was non hostile to my team or to the base. Following security protocol, we completed a thorough on-site investigation, including a full physical examination of the craft. This included photographs, notebook entries, and radio relays through airman Cabansag to the control center as required. On one side of the craft were symbols that measured about 3 inches high and two and a half feet across".
"These symbols were pictorial in design; the largest symbol was a triangle, which was centered in the middle of the others. These symbols were etched into the surface of the craft, which was warm to the touch and felt like metal". 

"The feeling I had during this encounter was no type of aircraft that I’ve seen before".

"After roughly 45 minutes the light from the craft began to intensify. Burroughs and I then took a defensive position away from the craft as it lifted off the ground without any noise or air disturbance. It maneuvered through the trees and shot off at an unbelievable rate of speed. It was gone in the blink of an eye".

"In my logbook, (that I have right here) I wrote, Speed: IMPOSSIBLE. Over 80 Air Force Personnel, all trained observers assigned to the 81st Security Police Squadron, witnessed the takeoff".

"The information acquired during the investigation was reported through military channels. The team and witnesses were told to treat the investigation as "top secret" and no further discussion was allowed".

"The photos we retrieved from the base lab (two rolls of 35 mm) were apparently over exposed".



Issue 1 

The Date of “27 dec 80” in Jim Penniston’s Notebook 

 “. . . why does Penniston notebook show the date of 27 Dec as the date we went into the forest?”

 From a message posted by John Burroughs on the

Rendlesham “Lone Rangers” UFO Sightings

(Facebook Group Page), 2016:

 ‘His [Jim Penniston’s] notebook is dated wrongly as 27th Dec 1980 as shown in Sci-Fi’s “Invasion at Rendlesham Documentary.” Is that because he’s a complete idiot and didn’t know what date it was? Was he secretly out on the night of the 27th Dec 1980 and no one else knew including Jim? Or did he actually write it in the notebook at a later date.’

 Posted by “Mirageman,” a skeptic poster on the

ATS (Above Top Secret) forum, Feb 1, 2018:

 John Burroughs:

“Well the problem with the notebook is . . . and that’s how the binary surfaced . . . was that the date in it when he [Penniston] said it took place was the twenty seventh of December, which matches the Halt memo, which had the wrong dates. But the interesting thing was, if he [Penniston] wrote it out there in the field at the time, he would have known it was the twenty sixth of December, you know what I mean? So that was a discrepancy right there.”

A Different Perspective with Kevin Randle (EP 0036).

Guest: John Burroughs – Bentwaters/Rendlesham. Published on Apr 12, 2017. 

John Burroughs and “Mirageman” are obviously referring to the date given at the top of this page in Jim Penniston’s notebook.


Figure 1: Jim Penniston leafing through his notebook on the Sci-Fi TV documentary UFO Invasion at Rendlesham (2003). 

The first person to bring public attention to this supposedly “wrong” date in Jim Penniston’s notebook, was long-time Rendlesham skeptic and amateur astronomer, Ian Ridpath, who was initially asked by the team of the BBC, Breakfast Time show on which he was a regular face, to investigate (debunk) the Rendlesham Incident just five days after the story broke in the UK national newspaper, The News of the World on Oct 2, 1983.

 Ian Ridpath has been the go-to “skeptic” on the Rendlesham Incident ever since.

 In a message on the ATS Website (April 21, 2018), “Mirageman” writes:

 “I work with BBC Worldwide meteorological arm for another agency with interest in the BBC’s output.”

 So, both Ian Ridpath (an amateur astronomer) and “Mirageman” (meteorologist?) have worked with, or for the BBC.

 Although through law, the government denies that it owns the BBC, the BBC has always been controlled financially and editorially by the State, and is really the epitome of State propaganda.

See here:

 The government controls the BBC through a board that they appoint in the same way that shareholders would appoint a board of governors to manage their company. So, in that sense the ‘powers that be’ own it. 

 From having observed both Ian Ridpath and “Mirageman” over the years, the term ‘pseudo-skeptic,’ describes them.  

 A true skeptic and truth-seeker analyzes both sides and updates his or her views and opinions to conform with the facts, while a pseudoskeptic manipulates the facts to fit into their beliefs, using selective attention.

 As author Winston Wu has expressed it, these people are PROSECUTORS, not investigators.

 Pseudo-skeptics are . . .


 ‘. . . fanatics and dogmatists who have no regard for facts, evidence or truth, but have an a priori faith-based belief that paranormal phenomena is impossible and therefore set out to debunk it, not investigate it. And they will distort, dismiss and obfuscate to get their way. Thus, they generally have no objectivity toward evidence, but bigotry and emotional fanaticism.’

 Debunking Pseudo Skeptical Arguments of Paranormal Debunkers by Winston Wu. 2011.

 Like many others, Ian Ridpath had seen Jim Penniston’s notebook page with the date in question featured on the Sci-Fi Channel, TV Documentary, UFO Invasion at Rendlesham, hosted by Bryant Gumbel and first televised in 2003.


Ridpath writes: 

“Immediately we can see a problem – the notebook contains the wrong date and time for the event.”

Jim Penniston’s Notebook by Ian Ridpath.

Page modified 2015


Here, Ridpath is merely ‘stating assumptions as fact,’ which can be disastrous and it was.

 As will now be revealed, it is not the date that is wrong as assumed, it is Ridpath, and correcting this silly mistake has been long overdue.

 It is also clear, that Ridpath, and now Burroughs, as well as the guy who posts under the pseudonym “Mirageman” – both of whom now foolishly follow behind Ridpath on his “march of folly” – really have not thought this through properly.

 Ian Ridpath: 

“The first page, shown above, is headed with the date “27 Dec 80” . . .” 

Jim Penniston’s Notebook by Ian Ridpath.

Page modified 2015


The answer is both simple and mundane. 

The date is NOT the “27th,” but the ‘29th.’ 

What looks like a “7” is really a ‘9.’ 

It is a fact that Jim Penniston’s handwritten ‘nines’ when viewed from some distance away, do appear to resemble the number seven . . .

     [Like this]:

. . . but Jim knows this is not a seven because he writes his sevens in the European style with a dash through the stem of the seven.”

     [Like this:] 


In fact, it would perhaps surprise the same people to know that Jim Penniston did indeed write the date of “27 Dec 80” on a full blank page before he wrote down the ones and zeroes (string of binary code) on the following sixteen pages.

 He wrote these ones and zeros down during the early morning hours of December 27, 1980 – the day after the incident, and he wrote the date first to check if the biro he was using was working.

 And it is interesting that the number 7 in the date is in the European style with a dash through the stem of the seven.

Figure 2: The relevant page in Jim Penniston’s notebook. “27 Dec 80.” Note how Jim Penniston has written the number seven in the European style with a dash through the stem of the seven.

 On his Webpage, The Rendlesham UFO witness statements (Page 2)  Ian Ridpath, had also written that the date given at the bottom right corner on the sketch of the triangular craft by Jim Penniston in three different views, presents the date as the 27th December 1980.

 Ridpath WRONGLY ASSUMES AGAIN that Jim Penniston had given the date when he actually saw the craft, which Ridpath says was the wrong date, as the first night of the incident had taken place on the morning of December 26, 1980.

 However, what Ian Ridpath “sees” and wants to be a “7,” is really a ‘9’ . . . relating to the 29th December – not the date that Jim Penniston saw the craft, but the day that Jim Penniston made the sketch of the triangular craft.


Figure 3:  Close up of the date of the sketch, with the words “RAF Bentwaters Wood SITING” (As in ‘Site’) underneath followed by the home address where the sketch was made. 

Again, Jim’s handwritten ‘nines’ resemble the number seven . . .


Well, now that this has all been logically explained, the question remains . . .    

Why is the date of ’29 Dec’ at the top of the same page on which Jim Penniston then began writing down notes on what he was observing while at the East Gate on December 26? 

Jim Penniston:

For a long time, I had forgotten about the written date of “29 dec 80” at the top of that page in my notebook, and really because I hardly ever looked at these pages over the years.

     Monday the 29th was the day I would be going back to work after our short Christmas break.

     The date was logged during my shift on Christmas evening as a reminder for a preplanned flight exercise which I routinely did for Master Sergeant Preston, who had made it mandatory that I always give the guys a ‘heads up’ for the flight exercises, which is why I would record the dates some days before they took place.

     It was a safety measure, due to the critical ‘real world’ resources we had on the base and our ‘real world’ mission.

     To have any confusion about this could cause a security mishap.

     The irony is, that the date of “29 dec 80” was the date for an ‘off-base’ aircraft crash, security training exercise.

     In any case, the date for this exercise, which was later cancelled, was logged in the notebook with further information pending only hours before I was deployed to the forest to investigate the light in the woods which I thought was an aircraft crash at first, and which was just after midnight on the morning of the 26th.

     I would usually close my pen in the notebook, so I could open it at the same page where I left off from my last entry.

     Soon after arriving at the East Gate and before we left to investigate, I opened my notebook at the same page and quickly jotted down the time of “12:20”.

     Noting what Sgt. Steffens had told me he and Burroughs had witnessed and what I thought it might be, I then wrote “Response notes” . . . then further down the page I wrote “A/C crash” . . . and under that, “Adjacent East Gate.” 

     Again, at that time, I thought the light in the forest was a downed aircraft.

     Everything was happening so fast that I had used the same page when I began writing down details during the incident – not realizing for a long time afterwards that the date of “29 dec 80,” which had nothing to do with the incident, was at the top of the same page on which I began taking notes.” 

As was typical, because I had forgotten it, the date at the top of the page which was a reminder for something totally different and mundane in comparison, was then jumped on by the skeptics – especially the British amateur astronomer [Ian Ridpath] who confused it with my having wrongly noted the date of the first night of the RFI incident . . . which I always said had happened on the morning of December 26, 1980.

     I must admit that even I was confused by the date in my notebook at first when it was first pointed out to me by Colonel Halt.

     This was when I first showed him the notebook and some of the pages during the shoot for the Sci-Fi Channel TV documentary, UFO Invasion at Rendlesham in 2003.

     After all, at that time it was twenty-three years ago since the incident, and this was a trivial detail that really had nothing to do with the incident.

     And then later it all came back to me what the date referred to.

     And I should point out, that contrary to what people believe, Col. Halt has never held or handled the notebook . . . in fact, no one has.”     

Well as I predicted, I was accused of deliberately giving out false information, as if I had lied or was mistaken about the date of the incident.

     By then, I was irritated by the whole thing. I had no patience with those who had already made up their minds that the incident did not take place as described and whose agenda was to debunk the incident and use this petty, misconstrued detail to call me a liar in the process. 

     I remember being quite abrupt with the amateur astronomer [Ridpath] who also believed that all of us – the witnesses to the Rendlesham incident – had merely confused the phenomena we saw with the light beam of the Orfordness lighthouse.

     I just allowed him to think or believe what he wished.

     I have been criticized for not explaining these things whenever the opportunity presented itself and was frequently being told that with the cantankerous attitude I displayed with some people, I wasn’t doing myself any favors.

     But, the truth is, I have no time for idiots and stupid people who assume they are smarter than everyone else but can’t think clearly and will often see things upside down and back-to-front, and as a result, will often confuse and “muddy the waters” for others and ultimately cause chaos – often assuming things without knowing all the facts – especially people who were not there and are really in no position to judge.

     And so, having experienced what most people are like and how I have been treated over the years, I really could not be bothered, as whatever I said would either go unheard, be ignored, or spun and twisted.

     I thought I would wait until I had the time to document everything, lay it all out properly and write and express what I wanted to say in a publication – my last say on the incident; something that is definitive for me and a lasting record . . . which is why I am now explaining everything I can to my co-author.

     At the end of the day it was a trivial thing which couldn’t really be called a mistake as I used the notebook exactly for the purpose it was meant . . . which was for jotting down notes!

     It wasn’t meant to be used as an official record or report, and anyway, while writing down the time I had arrived at the East Gate and some of the details of what I learned while there, how was I to know how significant this event would be?

     The notes were written as it was all happening and what I wrote were short memos – just like the date of the flight exercise – a reminder I had written at the top of the same page on which I later began writing down notes concerning another incident I was later engaged in.

     It’s not like I could go back to the notebook after the incident and begin writing my notes about it on a fresh page to give the incident the respect it deserved.    

     Sadly, today, this small “discrepancy” about the date in the notebook – something which is so trivial and happens frequently in the real world to everyone and in real situations – has been expanded out of all proportion, to the point that people are now saying it smacks of a conspiracy . . . a ‘cover up’ on what really happened.    

     However, even the skeptics had made a mistake which has continued to this day. 

     Again, the date of the 29th is mistakenly read by the debunkers and skeptics and those who have focused on it, as ‘27.’

     AGAIN, what looks like a ‘7’ is really a 9.

[See also, No. 8 below] 

The so-called “conspiracy,” which has enjoyed free-flow on skeptic blogs and websites, is based on the wrongly-perceived date of “27 Dec 80,” in that a comparison has been made between what people believe Jim had written, and the date of the “27 Dec 80,” which Colonel Halt had typed up on his memorandum as being the date of the first night’s events in which Jim Penniston was involved, but which really took place on the morning of Dec 26. 

In fact, the night that Halt was involved and was himself witness to strange aerial phenomena, was the night of Dec 27, going into the morning of Dec 28, 1980, and so Halt could have had that date on his mind and confused it with the first night’s events when he wrote his memorandum.    

Apparently, because it is believed that both Col, Halt and Jim Penniston had given the date of the 27th – even though the date Jim wrote was the 29th referring to a different planned event altogether – both men are now being accused of covering up something. 

The theory is that the incident Jim was involved in must have really taken place on the 27th, 

“The JP notebook matches Halt’s memo date of the 27th December 1980. What if Halt recalled Penniston for investigations right after Lt. Tamplin went crazy in the woods and they ventured out that night too then he was told to keep it all secret?” 

“Mirageman,” posting on the ATS (Above Top Secret) Website May 11, 2018. 

This view/theory posited by “Mirageman” is absurd. 

First of all, the night involving the so-called “unexplained events” that Second Lieutenant Bonnie Tamplin is reported as having experienced, was the night of December 26 and not the night of December 27th.    

Also, the events which began during the late afternoon of December 27, involving SSgt. Monroe Nevels and Lt. Englund, and who were sent out by Col. Ted Conrad to determine and record any evidence that might exist of the landed craft that SSgt. Jim Penniston had witnessed on the morning of the 26th, and which led into the evening of the 27th and the morning of the 28th involving Col. Halt, did not involve SSgt. Jim Penniston. 

Jim Penniston was simply not there, but if he was, then this would mean that everyone involved on the third night’s events, are also implicit in the “cover up” because no one has ever reported SSgt. Penniston being present that night.    

Moreover, I have personally been privy to the private emails sent between Jim Penniston and Chuck Halt, as Jim Penniston would often forward them to me, and there was nothing in those emails in which the events were discussed that implied that Jim Penniston was with Halt on any of these nights. 

If these two men were complicit in any kind of cover-up about the nights in question, I would have seen something that revealed exactly that in their private email discussions.       

In any case, the date at the top of that page in Jim Penniston’s notebook is not the “27th” but the 29th, and despite what people would prefer to believe, these are the facts relating to this particular discrepancy, and shows how ordinary and simple the answers can be. 

All these Penniston-testimony detractors are not using logical, analytical, critical thinking skills, and I would either put it down to lower-than-average IQ levels, or have to conclude that they have no problem in deceiving people while being able to sleep peacefully at night. 

It is far simpler to accept that Jim Penniston used his notebook all the time, and that he had simply jotted down information in the notebook on whatever page he opened it to, as anyone would have done. 

It should also have been noted that Jim had no foreknowledge of what was going to transpire and could not have known how important his investigation on the morning of December 26 would turn out to be. 

Again, Jim simply jotted down notes where he could in the notebook, and where he jotted down the notes didn’t follow any particular order . . . they were just notes! 

People are simply making more out of this than is necessary, and it is really to serve their own views, beliefs, and/or agendas in swaying public opinion on this issue to their side and render Jim Penniston incompetent and not credible as a witness. 

This silly issue – which on the surface would be considered a ‘misreading’ mistake – has assisted in doing much damage to Jim Penniston’s reputation over the many years in that it has been allowed to remain unchallenged since Ian Ridpath had brought it up in public to do just that. 

The point to be made here, is that after having enjoyed a Christmas dinner at home just hours before Jim Penniston was ordered to investigate the light in the Rendlesham Forest, which he had first believed was a crashed aeroplane or helicopter, why would Jim forget the date of the morning of December 26, and write ‘Dec 29 80,’ which was three days later? . . . and I should emphasize that the number 29 with the month of December is definitely what had been written at the top of the page – NOT 27.    

However, this simple ‘Occam’s Razor’ mundane explanation will never satisfy the pseudo-skeptics whose mission is to prove that the Rendlesham Forest Incident was a mundane event. 

Let’s now look at the next related issue that skeptic Ian Ridpath brings up regarding the times that Penniston entered into his notebook. 

Ian Ridpath: 

“Below is written “12:20. Response notes. A/C [i.e. aircraft] crash. Adjacent East Gate.” At the bottom of the next page is another time, 12.51. These times should really be expressed as “0020”, “0051”, etc. The 24-hour clock is standard in military, aviation and emergency services usage, and at the time of the Rendlesham incident Penniston came under all three headings, so why he used the civilian 12-hour clock is a puzzle.”

Jim Penniston’s Notebook by Ian Ridpath.

Page modified 2015 (now due for another modification – Gary Osborn) 

As we can see, Ridpath’s reasoning is that Jim Penniston being a military guy, SHOULD have written “0020” [hrs] and “0051” [hrs] – even though, Jim says he has personally said and written down the time in both military and civilian notations, as is his prerogative – and especially in civilian notation after looking at his watch. 

In any case, what Jim was writing in at the time was his own personal notebook, and he was using it exactly for what it was issued for. 

It was NOT a formal military record or document where Jim would be required to write the time in military notation. 

Also, being married to Dr. Heather Elizabeth Osborn, an American, I am informed that Americans are not raised to use the 24-hour clock in telling time. 

This is merely an example of Ian Ridpath’s British centrism, to assume that someone in the American military abides by the same habits as someone from his own cultural military experience, and if so, then this is hardly a point that could be raised and used to render Jim Penniston’s testimony highly-questionable.    

Ridpath’s questioning as to why Jim Penniston – a military guy – didn’t use the military notation, as if this hints at some kind of deception perpetrated by Jim, falls flat, because . . . well, actually, Jim did….    

Unbeknownst to Ridpath, on the bus back to Bentwaters just after the incident, Jim Penniston had also decided to write a brief list of the things that happened in chronological order in the same notebook – including the times these events happened. 

And for this he changed from using normal civilian notation, which he used during the incident, to using the formal ‘24-hour clock’ military notation, and he did this because he was going to consult what was in this short summary while logging an official report, as he was instructed to do so by Lt. Buran. 

He was going to copy what he had written into the official AF1569 form along with a more explanatory narrative, all of which would then be placed in the Security blotter.   

Jim Penniston: 

After arriving back at the East Gate, exhausted and fatigued, we found the posting van waiting for us.

     Mostly everyone expressed their worry and concern, telling us we had been “off the grid” for more than two hours.

     Burroughs then caught a ride with a Law Enforcement patrol, and I went with my guys who had been picked up from ‘shift change.’     

     Noting what Lt. Buran had directed me to do, I knew that when we got back we would be debriefed and that I would most likely have to write out an AF1569 form – which was a Security Police Incident and Complaint report.

     Although I did have my doubts about that, knowing the nature of what I witnessed, I thought it best to be prepared.

     While I was waiting for everyone to board the bus, I then took out my notebook and summarized what had happened by writing down a short list of the times and accompanying notes in proper chronological order so that I could simply consult the list of things I had written to be entered into the official AF1569 form, which would then be placed in the Security blotter.

     Because this list was for an official report, I wrote down the times in the formal ‘24-hour clock’ military notation.

     In this short summary, which took up two notebook pages, I laid out the basics of all I was going to say.

     I knew not to mention anything about my close-up examination of the craft and just keep things short and simple.

     I also knew that if I mentioned the term “UFO” that would have been the end of my career.


“0002 Notified East Gate

0015 Rendezvous / east gate

with P-2 / P-3 

0020 Assessed possible

A/C Downing 

0051 ECP established

D-1/ S5 Plot 

0100 Determined not

to be A/C crash 

0115 White, blue and

red yellow lights

in woods investigated

& observed 

0230 Undetermined markings 

0245 Origin of craft? Took off, trailed

lights in woods 

0345 Physical markings on forest floor

Triangular measuring

Approx 10 feet apart

1 ½ inch depressions

Round, Dinner

Plate size” 


Figure 3: The relevant page from Jim Penniston’s notebook. Compare the writing here with the scrawled writing on the notebook pages, which were noted down while Jim Penniston was next to the craft. This page was accidentally ripped, due to the age of the notebook and its pages, which are now old and very brittle. 

The pages presented and what they contain above also explains away the next issue in this list of issues repeatedly presented by the detractors of Jim Penniston’s testimony:

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