Skip to main content

What is The Rendlesham Forest Incident of 1980?


Welcome to The Rendlesham Forest Incident Official Blog

We are dedicated to preserving information regarding this historic encounter with a COUO (Craft Of Unknown Origin), UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) or UFO (Unidentified Flying Object), which occurred in the Rendlesham Forest (Suffolk, England, December 1980).  The mission is to educate humanity, raise awareness, stimulate discussion and provide a centralized information repository for those who are interested in researching The Rendlesham Forest Incident and related aerial phenomena (COUO, UAP, UFO).

U.K. newspaper News of the World 1983

The Rendlesham Forest Incident, also known as 'Britain's Roswell', is undoubtedly one of the best documented and most significant military encounters with a Craft of Unknown Origin or UFO. It is also a case that involved very credible witnesses, trained (USAF) United States Air Force observers and security police.

The incident spanned three days in 1980. Rendlesham Forest is a large pine forest, east of Ipswich, in Suffolk, England. Nearby are the twin NATO air bases, RAF Bentwaters (RAF Bentwaters was an airbase used by the United States Air Force (USAF) during the Cold War until 1993.) and RAF Woodbridge; at the time both bases were being leased to the United States Air Force. Several UFO incidents, including multiple-witness sightings by military personnel, ground traces, and radioactive anomalies were reported from Rendlesham forest.

According to USAF security patrolmen on duty, "the object was described as being metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approx. 2-3 meters across the base... it illuminated the entire forest with a white light, and had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath." In November, 2002, the British Ministry of Defense released the "Rendlesham File" of documents related to and confirming the Rendlesham Forest incident. 

Nick Pope, who was a Ministry of Defence employee from 1985 to 2006, and who wrote a book titled 'Encounter in Rendlesham Forest: The Inside Story of the World's Best Documented UFO Incident', described the incident with the following words:

“This was not some vague ‘lights in the sky’ sighting – the UFO actually landed.”

U.S. Air Force Sgt. Jim Penniston's witness account describes a craft made from "smooth, opaque, black glass"

Jim Penniston

U.S. Air Force Sgt. Jim Penniston, who was in charge of the investigation, was accompanied  by U.S. Air Force security airman John Burroughs during the incident.  Jim described seeing a craft covered in hieroglyphic-like characters. He said the following:

“I estimated it to be about three meters tall and about three meters wide at the base. No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed legs. I moved a little closer... I walked around the craft, and finally, I walked right up to the craft. I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque, black glass.”

U.S. Air Force security airman John Burroughs described agitated animals and red and blue lights near a farmhouse

One of the men asked to investigate the strange blue, red, orange, and white lights coming from the forest was, John Burroughs. In a witness statement, published in 1981, he said:

John Burroughs

"The woods lit up and you could hear the farm animals making a lot of noises... You could see the lights down by a farmer’s house [on the forest's edge]... We climbed over the fence and started walking toward the red and blue lights and they just disappeared."

Indentations on the ground and high radiation levels were recorded the next day

The morning after the incident witnessed by Burroughs and Penniston, indentations on the forest floor were spotted, as well as damage to the trees in the area where the lights had been seen. Radiation levels recorded at the site of the indentations were also reported to be unusually high.

Colonel Halt recorded a running commentary during the second UFO sighting at Rendlesham Forest

On December 27 1980, two nights after the first reported incident, United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt was ready. Known as a pragmatic character, Halt set out to disprove the wild theories doing the rounds at the RAF bases. When more lights were spotted, he took his tape recorder and joined a military patrol group.

Charles I. Halt

The resulting audiotape has been declassified since by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence. It is now public domain, and can be listened to here: 

Burroughs and Penniston, the first two witnesses, suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In the Encounter in Rendlesham Forest book, Penniston wrote: “I left the forest a different man… I was in awe of the technology and yes, a knowing that it was not an aircraft which could have been manufactured in 1980 or even now.”

Both Penniston and Burroughs have since suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, The Telegraph reported in 2015. In recent years, Penniston has said that the craft transmitted binary code into his brain.

Numerous eyewitness statements emerged following the incident

Burroughs, Penniston, and Col. Halt have been the most vocal in saying they believe what they saw was extraterrestrial in origin, but they are not the only eyewitnesses. 

Sgt. Adrian Bustinza, a security police commander who investigated the incident at the time, said: “When I arrived [at the scene], it was going in and out through the trees and at one stage it was hovering.”

In 1983, a U.K. newspaper ran a front-page story which stated, "UFO LANDS IN SUFFOLK, And that's OFFICIAL"

In the following years, as accounts about the Rendlesham Forest incident were released, the press started to respond to the growing public interest around the events

News of the World front page story

Headline: "UFO LANDS IN SUFFOLK, And that's OFFICIAL"

The News of the World story was based on a memo (The Halt Memorandum) from RAF Woodbridge deputy base commander Lt Col Charles Halt to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

It was released by the US government and described an encounter with an apparent UFO or Craft of Unknown Origin in the forest.

U.K. newspaper News of the World 1983 full page

Statements from radar operators have recently corroborated Colonel Halt's claims

As recently as 2015, the then-75-year-old Col. Halt announced that he had obtained written statements from radar operators at RAF Bentwaters and nearby Wattisham airfield that an unknown object was, in fact, tracked at the time of the incident.

As per the BBC, Halt claimed they had not wanted to come forward until after they had retired from their military roles.

"I have confirmation that (Bentwaters radar operators)... saw the object go across their 60 mile (96km) scope in two or three seconds, thousands of miles an hour, he came back across their scope again, stopped near the water tower, they watched it and observed it go into the forest where we were," said Col. Halt.

There have been suggestions of a government cover-up

Colonel Halt, who recorded the audiotape commentary during the second incident, has gone on record saying that he believes what he saw was of extraterrestrial origin and that the incident was covered up by the U.K. and U.S. governments.

The Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, is adamant that the Rendlesham Forest incident was of no threat to national security, and therefore, hadn't merited a full investigation.

Today, there is a 'UFO Trail' set out for forest trekkers

In 2005, due to the public interest in the UFO incident, the Forestry Commission used Lottery proceeds to create a trail in Rendlesham Forest. They called it the "UFO Trail". 

Rendlesham Forest UFO trail






Popular posts from this blog

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

How the Rendlesham Forest Incident binary code message was received, revealed and decoded

“During the night I was often wakening with thoughts, or rather images, of visions of ones and zeros running through my mind, my mind’s eye…” – Jim Penniston, Encounter in Rendlesham Forest In 2010 it was revealed by Jim Penniston that he initiated a download of information when he touched the pictorial glyphs on the craft of unknown origin during his investigation in the early morning hours of December 26th, 1980, in Rendlesham Forest.   26-year-old Sgt. James Penniston was part of the three-man USAF Security Police team called to investigate the landed craft of unknown origin in Rendlesham Forest.  The men with Sgt. Penniston, were A1C John Burroughs and A1C Ed Cabansag.  Only Penniston and Burroughs went into the woods to investigate the landed craft, Cabansag stayed near the truck as a radio relay for the men. Cabansag watched the mysterious pulsating multicolored lights in forest, while his two team members headed out on foot.  As Penniston and Burroughs approached the unusual lig