Twenty-two years ago on December 26, 1980, U. S. Air Force Staff Sergeant James Penniston was stationed in the 81st Security Police Squadron at the large joint British and U. S. Air Force base known as RAF (Royal Air Force) Bentwaters and its smaller, secondary base at Woodbridge, about three miles away, where some aircraft were kept. Not long after midnight on December 26, Sgt. Penniston was asked to investigate odd lights seen moving in the Rendlesham forest between Bentwaters and Woodbridge. Joining him was USAF Airman First Class John Burroughs and several other security and military personnel. As the security men approached the odd lights about 300 meters off the main access road in the trees, the men could see blue, yellow, red and white colors were pulsing.
Provided below is a complete interview with that witness (Jim Penniston):
Jim Penniston, Former USAF Sergeant, 81st Security Police Squadron, Joint USAF and RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge, England Air Force Base: "As we got closer, a silhouette of an object was present and I realized at that point, it was not a conventional aircraft, meaning it was not one that was published in Jane's Defence book about aircraft. It was like no aircraft that I had ever seen.
WHAT WAS THE SHAPE?
WHEN YOU SAY TRIANGULAR, WAS IT ABSOLUTELY STRAIGHT ON THREE SIDES? OR WAS IT SWOOPY LIKE A CORVETTE? OR?
No, no, it was triangular, straight on each side.
IN TERMS OF WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS MADE OUT OF?
Well, I couldn't tell at that point, but obviously I set the other airmen up to complete the radio relay because we were having awful bad static on the radios. I could barely talk to the first patrolman that I had set by the logging road. I could barely hear him. I could not hear our control center at all. Anyway, as I got closer to it, it was -- I tell you what -- I do have my notes from that night in my notebook. And it's probably best to just read it out of there. I had my notebook and my camera while I was out there because cameras were carried because of terrorism to take pictures of base encroachments. And it says what I wrote that night: 'Triangular in shape. The top portion is producing mainly white light which encompasses most of the upper section of the craft. A small amount of white light is appearing from what appears to be the bottom of the craft. At the left side is a bluish light. And on the other side is red. The lights seem to be molded as part of the exterior of the structure.'
THE LIGHTS SEEM TO BE MOLDED AS ...
Part of the exterior of the structure." You got to remember, that's the way I wrote it that night. It might not make sense in the sentence structure. The light seemed to be molded as if part of the exterior of the structure, smooth, slowly fading into the rest of the outside of the structure, gradually molding into the fabric of the craft." Then at that time, I started taking photos. I think there were 36 in a roll. They were all B & W, that's what we carried.
WHERE DID THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS GO?
Base photo lab.
AND THE BASE PHOTO LAB PHOTOS WOULD BE IN WHOSE HANDS TODAY?
U. S. Air Force.
AND THEY WERE NOT RELEASED IN THIS RENDLESHAM FILE.
SO, IT'S NOT A COMPLETE FILE RELEASE?
Oh, no. What the British knew of this incident I would say is probably 10% of what happened. The other 90% is through U. S. channels. It would be primarily -- the way to report it -- would be through USAF channels to 3rd Air Force to MAJCOM Major Air Command, which would have been at Ramstein AFB. Then Ramstein has procedures reporting to JCS in the United States.
AND THAT'S THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF (IN WASHINGTON, D.C. PENTAGON.)
Correct. And that's the reporting procedures for anything. It could be for aircraft crashes or just if we have a security situation. That would be the reporting path it would take.
SO, YOU TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS -- AT LEAST 36 IN BLACK AND WHITE -- OF THIS TRIANGLE IN WHICH LIGHT SEEMS TO BE PART OF ITS STRUCTURE. THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS ARE IN A FILE SOMEWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. WHAT ELSE HAPPENED BEYOND PHOTOGRAPHING?
Well, on the night in question with me -- I did a full investigation of the downed craft. I mean I did a 360 degree walk around it. It was on the ground approximately 45 minutes.
DID YOU TOUCH IT?
Yes, as part of the investigation. The size of it was, approximately 3 meters wide by 3 meters tall -- that's approximately 9 feet.
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.
WHEN WE TALKED ABOUT THIS A FEW YEARS AGO, YOU REMEMBERED, I THINK, SEEING SOME KIND OF SYMBOLS?
Yes, that is probably the most interesting part of it. I did draw them into my notebook. That was part of the 360 (degree examination) we were doing on the investigation because it was not a downed aircraft at that point, but we knew we had something out of the ordinary. You don't mind if I look at my notes, do you? 'On this smooth exterior shell, there is writing of some kind. I'm not sure what it is. Size 3-inch lettering. May be symbols that stretch for a length of 2 feet. Maybe a little more.' The feeling after I touched these symbols, I would describe them as like etched or engraved, like a diamond cut on glass. That was the feeling of these. I guess etching would be the best way to describe it.
SO THE SYMBOLS WERE CUT INTO THE SURFACE, NOT RAISED FROM THE SURFACE?
Right, it was not paint or anything like that. One was triangular. That was in the center. That had three circles around it, or rather, circular objects (two small solid black circles and triangle all inside a circumscribing circle). Symbols engraved into the dark, glassy surface of the triangular craft, re-drawn from his original December 26, 1980 USAF notes at the Rendlesham forest site by Jim Penniston.
WHEN YOU TOUCHED THESE SYMBOLS WITH YOUR HAND, DID YOU GET ANY IMAGES IN YOUR MIND?
No. But I did have a sensation. The fabric of the craft was warmer than the air temperature. The air temperature that night was around 31 or 32 Fahrenheit. The craft was quite a bit warmer.
AND YOU COULD FEEL THAT WITH YOUR HANDS?
WHEN YOU TOUCHED THE SURFACE, WAS THERE ANY REACTION FROM THE CRAFT ITSELF IN ANY WAY?
Well, I had no problem going around the craft and doing the 360-degree looking at it. But after I did touch the actual symbols and that on the exterior of the craft, that's when it started to -- I backed away. I backed away from it because the light was starting to get brighter. There still was absolutely no sound. That is probably the most incredible part of this. There was absolutely no sound from this craft.
WHICH COLOR LIGHT GOT BRIGHTER, WHITE, RED, OR?
White. You know, there is no doubt that the craft was mechanical, or ship or whatever you want to call it. But there is also no doubt in my mind that it was under intelligent control because the craft lifted off the ground. At that point, I thought it was on fixed legs, the craft. But when it lifted off the ground, there was no legs on it, so I don't know how it was sitting on the ground. It lifted up a few feet, sort of went through the woods maybe 25 or 30 meters, hovered momentarily, then lifted up to about 250 feet above the top of the trees and then it was literally in the blink of an eye, gone at that point.
YOU ARE ALL STANDING THERE AND DO WHAT NEXT?
Well, I turned to my partner there and said, 'How are you going to explain this?' And that was pretty much -- we were trying to absorb what we had just seen. It was most unusual.
WHO WAS WITH YOU?
The patrolman who was with me was John Burroughs. He has worked the law enforcement side. In fact, he had worked directly for Bud Steffans, but he was one of the guys who went out there with me.
SO, IS HE THE ONLY ONE WITH YOU?
Well, immediately next to me at 10 feet, yes. We, of course, we had another one back about 100 meters and there were others back at a logging road. Of course, there were several people at the East Gate. And all of this was observed from Bentwaters, too.
YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CONSISTENT ON THE EARLY MORNING OF DECEMBER 26 AS YOUR AND JOHN BURROUGHS' ENCOUNTER WITH THE CRAFT.
And the only reason I know that for sure is because it was Boxing Day. Christmas was over, it was the day after Christmas.
YOU AND JOHN BURROUGHS FILED A REPORT ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED THEN?
Yeah, we kept a very sanitized -- we reported it to our Security Shift Commander, I think it was Captain Mike Verrano at the time. And we were assured by then the senior officer at Bentwaters that this information would not go outside the United States channels.
DID YOU UNDERSTAND AT THE TIME WHY THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM IF PEOPLE WOULD JUST HAVE SAID WHAT HAPPENED PUBLICLY?
I did ask specifically that of Col. Halt. And his response was pretty much, 'Well, don't worry about it. We're treating it as TOP SECRET information right now.' So, when he said that to me, that tells me that it's not going to leave U. S. channels.
DID YOU SAY TO COL. HALT, 'I SAW IT. IT WAS TRIANGULAR. IT SEEMED TO BE MADE...?
Oh, he was fully briefed.
DID HE SAY TO YOU AND YOU SAY TO HIM, 'WE'RE DEALING WITH AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL CRAFT HERE?'
No. No. We are dealing with a craft of unknown origin. We had a lot of questions and no answers. Why, how can a craft take off with no sound? How can it have this type of appearance? How can it emit heat without fire or anything like that? We had a lot of questions.
BUT YOU DIDN'T DISCUSS ENTITIES?
"Entities" Described in MOD Rendlesham File
Yet, "entities" are described in the November 29, 2002 release of the Rendlesham file by the British Ministry of Defence. English Ministry of Defence Memo that references "several entities near RAF Bentwaters on the night of December 29/30 1980." Jim Penniston knew there was at least one other incident in which U. S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Charles Halt was involved. It's also possible that several incidents happened over a series of nights. Further, intelligence agents often deliberately scramble dates to confound investigators.
September 10, 1994 - Jim Penniston Tried Hypnosis To Remember
DS8 referenced in the last paragraph of the MOD Memo is a reference Jim Penniston overheard at the U. S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Bentwaters, when he was asked to report for further debriefing about the December 26 incident. At the AFOSI office, agents asked Sgt. Penniston to sign a release so he could be given Sodium Pentothal, combined with hypnosis, that would be recorded by two tape recorders. Penniston said he agreed "to get them off my back. They seemed a lot happier after I signed the release." Penniston remembered that the agents at Bentwaters had him "lay down on a walnut table" and that a "British guy" got the needle ready. Under hypnosis, he described receiving information from the lights of the triangular craft about "time travelers" from some distant future coming back to get genetic material from earth to use as "band-aids" in a future where reproduction of the time traveling species is failing. For excerpts from Jim Penniston's 1994 hypnosis session to recall more details from his interaction with the triangular craft at Bentwaters AFB, England on December 26, 1980. MOD Rendlesham File Several times in the recent November 29, 2002 Ministry of Defence Rendlesham File release, documents say that the Bentwaters incident did not have any impact on defense concerns. That position was challenged by one May 14, 1985 letter from an unnamed writer to attorney David Alton in Westminster, London: "I cannot accept Lord Trefargne's view that there is no defence interest in this case. Unless Lt. Col. Halt was out of his mind, there is clear evidence in his report that British air space and territory were intruded upon by an unidentified vehicle on two occasions in late December 1980, and no authority was able to prevent this. If, on the other hand, Halt's report cannot be believed, there is equally clear evidence of a serious misjudgment of events by U. S. Air Force personnel at an important base in British territory. Either way, the case can hardly be without defence significance." I asked Jim Penniston why he thought the Ministry of Defence took the position that the Bentwaters incident had no impact on British defence security.
Jim Penniston: "Well, their air space got violated. They weren't fully aware of what was going on. How can a craft invade air space that dramatically in that country without having a full alert to all the RAF bases? I don't think they actually know. I think there might have been one RAF base maybe recorded air traffic or something and of course Bentwaters did. But, I think it is an embarrassment for them that they actually had an aircraft, or craft of some sort, land unannounced, without them being fully aware of it. I think that is a significant defence issue for Britain. Here we are sitting in the year 2002 and 22 years later, and we cannot replicate the technology that was there in Rendlesham that night. Those are the questions we all have, the witnesses, is how can this be?
AND BETWEEN THE END OF DECEMBER 1980 AND DECEMBER OF 2002, AS WE ARE SPEAKING TODAY ON DECEMBER 8, YOU HAVE NEVER HAD ANYBODY SAY TO YOU OFF THE RECORD, 'JIM, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED AT BENTWATERS?'
No, I haven't. No one has ever done that. I have just as many unanswered questions that you do. We would love to have an absolute answer about what we investigated. That would make it a lot easier for all of us.
AND YOU DO NOT HAVE...?
I do not have the answers. All I have is questions and more questions.
Yes. That's the other part, too.
Well, you wonder how much -- with the cover-up -- I was involved with it, too. When you start classifying stuff and you start saying, 'We're not going to speak about this. We're following orders.' Hey, cover-ups happen. I was involved with it, too, unknowingly, but I was part of it. And I think that's probably the worst part of it right now."