Have you ever heard a story about a flying saucer and wondered if it was true? Since the 1950s, there have been many space age stories of flying saucers, abductions and unexplained lights in the sky. One of the most mysterious cases happened in Suffolk in 1980.
Rendlesham Forest has long been connected with strange sights and sounds. U.F.O. (Unidentified Flying Object) investigators claim evidence of alien visits and say that the area even contains a doorway to other worlds.
However in 1980, it was not U.F.O. investigators but American Air Force personnel and local people who reported a glowing object or alien craft. The sightings took place in woodland that separated the military bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge.
It was on the 27th of December, at around 3a.m. in the morning, when two U.S. Air Force security patrolmen were startled and alarmed when they saw unusual coloured lights outside the back gate at RAF Woodbridge. They called the Chief Duty Officer for permission to go outside to investigate.
When they entered the forest, they were amazed to see a strange glowing metallic object, triangular in shape. The object was approximately three meters across the base and two meters high. It lit up the whole forest with a white light and it had a pulsing red light on top and many blue lights underneath.
The patrolmen saw it hover and begin to move away from them, as though under intelligent control. It then shot off at incredible speed. It was later reported that the animals on a nearby farm 'went into a frenzy' as this happened. Also that night, a number of miles away, a puzzled radar crew, at R.A.F. Watton in Norfolk, were picking up what they described as an "uncorrelated target". The target went off the screen in the Rendlesham Forest area.
News spread quickly through the bases and the next day, airmen were sent out to investigate further. In the forest they found three depressions, where the object had been sighted on the ground, and burn marks on nearby trees. They checked the area for radiation and readings were found near what would have been the centre of the object. Here, they felt, was a mystery that needed solving.
So the next night about thirty men, including the Deputy Base Commander at R.A.F. Bentwaters, Lt. Col. Charles Holt, went out into the forest. This time they took with them a tape recorder and huge portable floodlights. However, once in the forest, the floodlights strangely refused to work and their radios suffered interference.
As they walked through the forest, a red, sun-like light was seen through the trees, which moved about and pulsed. At one point it appeared to throw off glowing flecks and then it broke into five separate white objects and disappeared. Immediately, three star-like objects were noticed in the sky, two in the north and one in the south. The objects moved rapidly with sharp, jerky movements and displayed red, green and blue lights.
The airmen used a powerful lens to look more closely at them. The one in the north remained in the sky for about an hour and the one in the south was visible for much longer and beamed down a stream of light from time to time. Nearby, a local resident was also watching the strange moving lights.
Very shortly after that night, the Forestry Commission came in and cut all the trees down. The local man later said he was told it was due to radiation.
On January 13th, 1981, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Charles Holt reported the incident in a memo entitled 'Unexplained Lights'. In it, he told of the brilliantly lit object that was seen in the forest on the two consecutive nights. Lt. Col. Holt records that numerous individuals witnessed the activities and even an audio tape recording was made of the men's reactions to the events.
Around the same time, an article appeared in the Guardian Newspaper stating that something remarkable had allegedly occurred outside the U.S. Air Force base at Woodbridge. Nobody paid much attention at first; however, Robert Todd, of Citizens Against U.F.O. Secrecy (or CAUS for short), was intrigued and obtained a copy of Lt.Col. Holt's official report of the events and slowly the news leaked out.
In October 1983, the News of the World newspaper ran a story headlined 'UFO lands in Suffolk and that's official'. The story outlined how the group of American airmen were confronted by an alien spaceship in Rendlesham Forest, which landed in a blinding explosion of light. By this time there was even talk of aliens on board.
The press contacted the U.S. Air Force who refused to comment, saying the events occurred outside the gates of the Woodbridge base, therefore the British Ministry of Defence had jurisdiction. The British Ministry of Defence would only say they saw 'no reason to consider the alleged sighting had any defence significance'.
It was suggested what the men actually saw was the beam from the lighthouse at Orford Ness, five miles away. The depressions could be animal diggings and the pine resin seeping from tree cuts would give the impression of a burn. Astronomers claimed it could be explained by the re-entry of a Russian rocket into the atmosphere or an exceptionally brilliant meteor.
However, when interviewed thirteen years later, Colonel Holt stood by his report. The tape, he said, was genuine and the idea that he mistakenly saw only a lighthouse is absurd. The Americans had been at the base some time and were well aware of the lighthouse. A meteor, he said, could not change direction.
Even today, there is scarcely any other U.F.O. case that involved such a large number of credible witnesses. U.F.O. hunters continue to believe that an alien spaceship landed in Rendlesham Forest that night and doubters continue to deny it.
At the end of the cold war, the Americans left but the mystery still remains. Alien spacecraft or the product of an overactive human imagination? Over twenty-five years later the mystery remains.