Penniston then took out a camera and began photographing the object. He shot the entire roll and then moved closer so he could circle around the back of it. He was amazed to see no visible means of propulsion, nor was there any obvious signs of conventional manufacture: no seams or rivets. By now, and in complete awe of what this object might be, he courageously placed his hands on its surface, which he said felt warm despite the freezing night of an English winter. Sliding his hand over the smooth exterior he discovered a series of raised symbols etched onto its left hand side.
When Jim Penniston got to a distance of 50 meters he could make out a metallic type object, some kind of craft, but unlike any he had ever seen in his seven years in the air force. As he moved closer he discovered that the air seemed to be charged with static electricity causing his hair to stand on end. As he closed to within 20 meters of the object he noticed that the animals had scattered and the area was now completely quiet. As he got closer still he could see the object in more detail. He described seeing a shiny black, triangular shaped craft, three meters in width and two high. The surface was smooth almost glass like. He later said it was about the size of a tank. White light was emitting from both the top and bottom of the craft. Red and blue lights flashed alternatively on either side.
The symbols, which he later drew, were about three inches high and covered an area of about three feet in diameter. When Sgt. Penniston put his hand on the etched symbols, which felt like sandpaper compared to the rest of the smooth molded surface, everything became a brilliant bright white. He could neither see nor hear. He was alone in a brilliant bright white light. This occurred for an undetermined amount of time then his sight returned. He was standing next to the craft, facing the pictorial glyphs.
The craft started to turn a vivid bright white color. So bright in fact, Sgt. Penniston thought it was going to explode. He took a defensive position nearby as the craft was engulfed in the light. The craft then lifted off approximately four feet from the ground, maneuvered between the trees, ascended to tree top level and disappeared in the blink of an eye.
He stated that he could see no occupants but sensed there was some sort of life present inside. He was absolutely certain it was under intelligent control.
“During the whole encounter”, Penniston states, “I noted what was I was seeing in my logbook, which I still have. In it I wrote - speed impossible. In that moment I knew this craft’s technology was far beyond what we could engineer.
Jim Penniston's Description of the Craft of Unknown Origin:
AND WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE SURFACE THAT YOU TOUCHED? Well, I think the fabric or the shell was -- I guess the best description would be a very smooth opaque, like black glass. Even though at a distance, it appeared metallic. It made no sense, once I was up there (close to it) that it was more like black glass. I'm not sure -- I was pretty confused at that point.
Model of the Rendlesham Craft by Darren DeBoy. Darren worked with Jim Penniston to recreate the look of the craft. This model has been displayed at numerous conferences and is featured in, 'The Rendlesham Enigma: Book 1: Timeline'
Rendlesham craft recreation by Javier Castro (Darren DeBoy and Javier Castro collaboration)