Since April of 2016, I have restarted this article several times regarding what happened and now, some of what may not have happened at Rendlesham Forest on the outskirts of then Bentwaters Air Force Base in 1980.
I was there, this past year. In fact, I have been informed that I am one of the very few who has been onsite at every location mentioned of the original event and areas where claims of authenticity, as well as, claims of natural events occurred. This includes television media involvement. That is a pretty hefty thought to consider. The following is a recounting of my travels to each area, as well as, a description with images and some video.
What most do not know, although, it was reported and swept underground, were there were other encounters even before the Rendlesham event (and some after), as early as November of the same year. I am going to state for the record, I have accumulated an incredible amount of information. However, I am respecting not only the honesty of who had come forward, including accounts relayed of some who are no longer alive for various reasons. I am respecting the information I received, so I am not reporting names. To wit, these accounts will be revealed, yet, will be classified as unsubstantiated. Some of the accounts are incredible. Some are believable, some are not. Put on your seat belts and read away. We are going for a big ride into what really came down in the county of Suffolk, near the town of Ipswich, and surrounding areas.
This article is an objective approach via a real-time tour that lasted over twelve non-stop hours. What is written here is my own subjective view after many discussions, questions, queries, and observations on site, as well as, online communications. I have not read any books or periodicals, nor have I been exposed to nothing more than media, television, and various blurbs over the years. The determination of my experiences can be found in the conclusion section at the end of this article. The reader is then left to decide for themselves.
By the way, please do forgive me for rambling in some ways. I will do my best to not be verbose; however, some writers tend to be circular instead of linear in communication, as are teachers. I tend to be circular so this is my only warning to the reader, wink, wink.
It is worthy of mention that I have been interested in space exploration, ufology, and paranormal phenomena since puberty, hmm, or earlier. Man, that is a long time to consider. I had read over 250 science fiction novels before I was sixteen years old. This is not the time nor place to mention more than that I had always wanted to be an astronaut. The numerous scrap books with newspaper clippings and other inserts would attest to this. What I am saying now, is, I was one of the lucky ones (maybe) who actually saw a UFO when I was fifteen in Smyrna, Georgia. It was 1967 and I was in the backyard with the trusty telescope watching the Echo satellite, as it passed overhead. Then, it happened. Zip, zam, zowy, and zwoosh, is the best I can explain in print what I saw. The craft was completely silent. It was luminous, vibrant, and made not only intelligent movements, it made impossible zig-zag motions from the time it entered the atmosphere until the time it left to return to space. I only had time to say, MOM, come here. The laundry room was just in the back of the house where she was and running she came. It was over in around five to eight seconds. All I can say is it was over the area of Dobbins, AFB and it was over, quickly. Mom is now in her 80’s and we still recall this event, sometimes.
There, I rambled, as I warned. Okay, here we go…well, maybe with a little bit more rambling. It does place things into perspective, I hope.
Rendlesham Forest and the events of the 1980 UFO encounters in England continue to be at a forefront of ufology. It is still rated as one of the top ten unidentified flying object events in recent history. I didn’t really think about visiting the area until this past year on one of my sometimes bi-annual trips to the United Kingdom to visit family and friends, as well as, continued historical visits to various sites around the country.
If it were not for the congeniality, affability, and genuine, personal caring as a friend, Peter Robbins, this article may not have been written. I mention this with great appreciation because he took the time to place me in contact with individuals in some venues in my writing efforts, as well as, who were instrumental in my having a most memorable journey to Rendlesham, RAF Bentwaters, and surrounding areas. After all has been said and done, to date. I am honored he is my friend.
It seems like yesterday when I was listening to old Moody Blues songs about England and our lives, in general. I have done so since the early 1970’s and still do. They have been my favorite group since that time. Little had I thought that one day, their homeland would become so much a part of my life. Of the hundreds of vinyl albums I enjoy, their music is the most duplicated of any I have in modern storage. No matter where or when I am, I have their music at the ready. Now, with such technological improvements in the last 40 plus years, I can not only listen to them, I can view their song sessions and concerts whenever I choose. I just didn’t think how interconnected I was, at the time, regarding my love for England, its lore, history, friends, family, and its considerable UFO, paranormal, and spiritual activity until I completed this particular venture. In fact, the Moody Blues covered many faith-based paranormal and extraterrestrial concepts.
Not often, over the years, did I even think how much England, its people and history meant to me until this last visit in April of 2016. It has improved my love for , friends, family, history, essence and the pure nature of ufology. What follows is what transpired with the best of intentions in reporting. I am more invigorated than ever, respectfully, to all concerned, affected, and contacted. I have further become committed to informing readers the most accurate of accounting of UFO and related occurrences to the best of my abilities.
So, here is where I wound up; Rendlesham. Not to say, in English colloquialisms I was ‘wound up’, it is where I went for over a 12-hour venture of historical enlightenment, experience, and learning. And, I was not alone. I was quite glad for this because I could not have explained or commented in credulity, otherwise. Barry Robinson, a good friend of family, came along for the ride.
In the month of April, English weather in the coastal area of East Anglia, near the North Sea can be iffy, at times. What a joy it was to visit Rendlesham, the forest and surrounding areas with an almost cloudless sky and crisp, cool, clean air.
Earlier, I waxed eloquently about Peter Robbins. Well, what started as an acquaintance has turned into a long-distance friendship. He opened doors and placed me in touch with some individuals through social media and related areas of ufology, as I stated above. I followed up with his recommendations and have kept in contact, since. For the record, when I find a friend who cares, I become intensely loyal. No matter what anyone has heard regarding the witnessing and politics of the Rendlesham UFO encounter, I stand as Peter’s friend. He is a man of integrity, in my view, and this won’t change because he has treated me with the same respect and regard. In preparation for my travels to England for the visit, I tried making contact with other principals, especially Larry Warren, John Burroughs and James Penniston, who had written, reported, and postulated their experiences and views over the years with no response. Until recently, I was unaware of the depth of in-fighting and revelations of embellishments inclusive of accusations of falsifying actual accounts. It is their loss. The ones with whom I have had contact follows and I appreciate the candor and alacrity of these fine people.
OULTON BROAD MEETING
Then, I met Jonathan Marsden. He is a good friend, now. It is Jon who took the time out of his busy schedule to arrange the tour, transportation, and wonderful company on my visit to Rendlesham and contiguous areas. It is Jon who is one of a few others who helped me to understand the big picture regarding this momentous day-long, twelve hour voyage into the then, unknown. My friend of family, Barry Robinson, who has been interested in UFO phenomena for so many years, wanted to attend. He had eyes the size of saucers (no pun intended), as Jon and I mused over years of area events while driving from site-to-site.
The adventure began at 10 am on April 10th, when Jon and Barry arrived at the condo where I was staying. The initial meeting was fantastic! I must say that the weather was most accommodating with hardly a cloud in the sky. It remained only jacket weather for the rest of the day and evening.
After making acquaintances the trip begins. Below is a mosaic of the trip beginnings to Rendlesham. Just click on any picture to start a slide show with each click. I must say the landscape and area topography for a Yank is most enjoyable to view:
ON THE WAY TO RENDLESHAM
Just outside of Rendlesham is pictured the Unruly Pig Inn that used to be the Cherry Tree Inn where the original Rendlesham event interviews were conducted. In an unfortunate fire, years later, the latest facility was built:
Although, we stopped for photos, I queried Jon and Barry if they would like to have something to drink and eat. Barry was already so interested in the present and upcoming events of the tour, he declined. Jon mentioned that we would barely have time to complete the circuit he had planned for us so he declined, as well. For the record, as mentioned above, this journey was non-stop and chewing gum became our best friend. Jon would not even accept any remuneration for fuel. Thank goodness England is a moist climate, not like the semi-desert life I enjoy in central California. We were all set and I cannot say enough how appreciative I was to be in such good company.
After stopping briefly at the inn where the original interviews were conducted regarding the Rendlesham UFO events from 1980, we stopped on the roadside on the way to Rendlesham where we noticed a fenced off facility that used to be quite active. Could this have been where some of the most secret ‘underground bunker’ activity was conducted? It may never be known; however, I was informed that some individuals had accessed the facility and found it left pretty much untouched. When entered, there were underground rooms with charts, maps, office furniture and other items simply left behind. The following images do not do justice, but I did try to magnify and point out quite a number of buildings that were near and some in the distance. It was here, along this roadside, Jon and Dermot encountered what they state was a strange being lurking about. Although, attempted, capturing it was unsuccessful. Upon query about the kind of being, perhaps a grey alien, I received a positive response. Jon had placed me in contact with his friend of many years, Dermot Curran who has been very helpful in communicating some of many separate events over the years.
Rendlesham city road sign at town entrance:
The next stop was at the town of Rendlesham itself. It was not in a state of construction; it was in a state of destruction. Since the United States Air Force pulled up stakes to leave the town to its own devices, determined by the present population, key areas were being destroyed to make way for what residents and city officials wanted to do. What follows in the gallery below are images of the destructive process. I discovered the US had invested quite heavily in the infrastructure. It was a bit of sadness I experienced to view the passing of such an historical landscape with extremely well-built structures passing into oblivion with the use of wrecking balls and bulldozers. I can assure you, the following images will be about all that is left of the original town. Fortunately, many homes, the church, and a few other icons will hopefully, not be destroyed.
After viewing this sad ending to an historical English setting, one may say, progress is underway. I do hope that is the case. All past history becomes buried, at some point, does it not? The next stop along the way, just up the road was our visit to RAF Bentwaters (RAF Bentwaters with USAF under contract in 1980). Here are images of the base grounds along with some of the present businesses utilizing facilities there. When seeing the air control tower on the base, it was where the original Air Force control officers saw the UFO(s). I mention this because they just retired and are now standing by their story that their observations were real. Historically speaking, the practice by the military to remove active personnel from service was the standard operational procedure, so people kept quiet about such things. I found this present admission helpful in my determination to come.
The following gallery depicts the Bentwaters air base as it is today. The earliest version of the base was created during World War II. It was created in a joint effort with the RAF (Royal Air Force-Britain) and the United States Air Force (under contract until 1991). During the cold war era the base was used as a jump point to other European theaters in case the war became hot. Not shown are older RAF Jaguars and Hunter jets (owned by Everitt Aero) stored aside the runways this day (not a great picture-too distant). In the active era of the use of the air base came the fueling and arming station for the US AFB A-10 (Warthog and Tankbuster are nicknames) . This was one slow-moving, yet incredibly devastating air-born war craft. So heavily armed, it could devastate enemy heavy equipment from a great distance with incredible fire power. Even if one of its two engines were damaged, it could be replaced on the ground within one hour. Refueled, it was ready to continue on more missions.
The tour of the air base itself was a fantastic part! The incredible expanse of land with its subtle landscape nuances of openness with forests, buildings, and stored vehicles with numerous obsolete aircraft in the background was almost a trip worth seeing on its own!
Now, we take the next adventure to the Bentwaters Cold War Museum. Mr. Jon Saunders, one of the trustees and founders of BCWM, also an acquaintance, online, was most unfortunately unavailable due to a previous engagement. We continue to have contact and I look forward to my next visit. He was packaging and preparing the logistics to relocate the last remaining A-10 Warthog from across the country. He was most congenial and did contact his staff of my arrival. I appreciate his taking time out from such a busy schedule to accommodate me. Graham Haynes is the museum manager and I was sad at not being able to meet him, as well.
As a quick overview of the museum tour, it was fantastic. What would strike even a layman to military campaigns, such as how important RAF Bentwaters was during the cold war, as well as, the Gulf war was how LO-tech the activity was. Consider this is during the nuclear age and none of the present forms of computerized communications existed, then. The redundancy involved in checking efficiency in ordnance, fueling, and overall scheduling (mostly in written form) was crucial to avoid errors. Case in point: A plane not fueled and a pilot takes off; a plane taking off without munitions to to the job? Sergeant Hale (USAF retired) gave an impressive mini-tour with the utmost of humor attached to the stark realities of the times.
Notwithstanding, what follows, I promise those of you who have yet to visit this historical landmark, should plan to do so, at some point in one’s life who is interested in such things. Oh, yes, UFOs, too. To note, many of the billboards were obtained from around the country to be displayed at the museum. There was so much more Jon Saunders, his staff, and friends have done to make this museum and its displays so amazing, but I (with a grimace) have done what I could to keep this as brief as possible. The story line is incredible and even with the little alien dolls with staff member names displayed in key areas to accommodate children on tour to enjoy (with a contest to find as many as possible), I could go on…
During the visit, Barry and I were introduced to a number of nice people in the museum. Of the videos taken, this is the one included in this article with thanks. Erroll Frost kindly narrated the following one regarding Bentwaters and Woodbridge AFB, now part of the British Army military. recounting the past airport layout:
During the tour, I learned more of what people thought about the Rendlesham UFO incident. The candid responses to queries are most appreciated. Their is a dichotomy of thought as to what some people, both military and civilian considered as real or imagined. Some believe all that was observed as base activity was from the recovery group engaged in constant practice to save Apollo astronauts who would have made an emergency detour to land in the North Sea. In sum, there was no UFO encounter. Then, there are others who are adamant there was. Something funny to note was when the event occurred the base sent an A-10 aircraft in pursuit. As formidable an aircraft it is in battle, it is also one of the slowest, travelling no more than 450 miles per hour or so. The UFO would certainly have to slow down, drastically just to make it look like a chase. More detail will follow in the conclusion section.
Next, we move on to the surrounding countryside to see how large the air bases are, to date. We drove around RAF Woodbridge and when we attempted to approach the base itself, Jon stated, quite calmly, do not take any pictures, do not make any sudden movements because we are just going to drive around to the exit of the Woodbridge base. As Barry and I looked to our right to the entrance gates, two guards exited the guard shack with very formidable automatic weapons. They were on alert and I had the most oppressive feeling that if we had approached any closer the outcome would not have been in our favor. Was I shocked? Yes. We safely circled the BMW to the exit. It is patently obvious there is presently serious military activity inside the base and must have been on some kind of alert. That is all I have to say about this experience. No pictures were taken. For those who are not familiar with the military, many personnel are classified and photography is not allowed. Further, unless we were on official business with registered clearance, we could not enter the base. This is the most we cared to experience, here.
Next, we arrived at Rendlesham Forest where I was photographed at the East Gate. We parked the vehicle and walked left. Funny, when I added Rendlesham to my dictionary, the synonym was ENDLESSNESS, hmm… The day was already progressing into later afternoon so sunlight was waning just enough to give me a kind of creepy feeling, frankly. The walk was long, yet the ground with its plush foliage was easy on the feet. The forest had an ominous and foreboding look on its own, to say the least. As we trekked about, we were making a circuitous journey where we would end up where we had parked Jon’s car.
What follows is some of our conversations and distinct observations. I have included this Google link for those who would be interested in viewing more historical images. I must give the Forestry Commission of England kudos for its construction of posts, billboards, and other artifacts included to enhance the effect and history of the area. What will be found in the conclusion section will deal with the assumptions that a distant lighthouse and people camping with a fire nearby could have created the effects conducive to a UFO sighting.
We’ll start with the images to review below before commenting. I believe it will be easier to refer back to them after seeing the photos, initially, to understand better what I saw. As for above, please click on any picture to create a clickable slide show:
We actually started walking in a reverse pattern, which turned out to be advantageous in understanding the UFO encounter and the events that transpired, subsequently. I heard about some of the stories from actual accounting’s relayed from a number of sources. I will leave this part in simply saying, without having read books written by principals, there were a number of civil, as well as, military entities involved on the events at the forest occurring from December 26-28, 1980. As we walked onward, I noticed where the fire service had created fire breaks. This area is popular for camping and there were others moving about. However, once we entered the forest proper, the people population dwindled to nil. On the way, I saw the open pasture where UFO lights had been observed. There was also a part of the pasture expanse that showed a bit of discoloration near a stand of trees on the other side. I was to understand this was an apparent landing area of one craft and it left such markings behind. It seemed the grass never fully recovered from the apparent landing. I could see across the pastures and farmsteads that the distance to the broads (Orford Ness area) near Adleburgh on the mainland. This will be viewed later in the trip. It is across the ness that a suspected lighthouse was the UFO light seen by onlookers. It seemed to me that some of the things I saw seemed a bit far-fetched; however, I was holding out until the other coastal areas were visited.
Further along, we came into the clearing where the alien craft replica was situated. The signage was informative. Pictures were taken and I caught a glimpse of the historical big picture. It was noted there was graffiti etched onto the side of the craft. One, it seemed to be the initials for Larry Warren and Lt. Colonel Charles Halt. I understood that the clearing had been artificially enlarged after the incident. I was curious about any tests having been made of the soil and foliage. To date, I cannot seem to find anything on this. I am left to assume that perhaps some parts of the investigation was not thoroughly conducted, or something was being hidden from the public? So, we moved on to where we started seeing the ‘alien’ signposts indicating we were going to exit from the ‘in-door’ to the forest. Again, I thought this was a much better way to see everything.
Then, as the story continued, I was informed of sightings of lights in the sky being noticed not only a month or so before the Rendlesham event, it was noticed some years later, on occasion. As for this area being active now, it will be found in the conclusion section. Jon shared with me that as youngsters, he and his friends visited Rendlesham a number of times. One UFO researcher they knew was hit by some sort of energy beam or something and was knocked out. When they arrived he revived, but was not quite the same. Unfortunately, he passed not too long after the event. Also, a number of Jon’s friends passed later due to various forms of cancers. He then explained there was a Geiger counter used in the area, especially near a tunnel that is now sealed off with concrete covers. When near the tunnel, they could sometimes hear a kind of ‘lumbering’ movement, like some vehicle on a set of rails or track. That is when the Geiger counter went crazy. I could see where the tunnel seemed to originate from RAF Woodbridge (at the time) along the alien path walk to the pasture beyond over to Orford. The assumption arose that there was nuclear material (or waste) that was transported through the tunnel to its destination at a small island just off the coast of Orford (shown later). Could it be a storage place for spent radioactive material? Hmm… I learned that others had moved some of the covers, in the past and could see there was an open tunnel below. However, no one dared to enter by climbing the ladders leading to the tunnel ground level. Frankly, if it had been me, I would have done the same. Upon a later trip to the forest Jon stated the tunnels caps had been further blocked with poured concrete.
Finally, we exited the forest and there sat an old house where I learned there was a person living there during the UFO events of December 26-28, 1980. As a witness who was interviewed he claimed he did hear a helicopter operating near the end of the Woodbridge runway where the older landing lights were severely damaged. Note that the ones shown in the above pictures are metal towers. In 1980 , they were wooden. Proponents of a UFO incidents state a UFO hit the light standards to create the damage. Others claim the helicopter carrying a heavy boiler plate to imitate carrying an Apollo space capsule to safety was to blame. This, too, will be covered in the conclusion.
SHINGLE STREET AND BAWDSEY
Please click image gallery below. Comment section to follow: