Mysterious UFO Encounters in Suffolk, UK

Something is happening in the skies above Suffolk, UK. This area has an unusually high incidence of UFO sightings covering a period of more than 50 years, including incidents as recent as 2011. It was the site of two of modern ufology’s most debated incidents, one of which has been called the “British Roswell,” and the fact that these events are documented in military records has brought them much publicity and serious scrutiny. They are the Lakenheath-Bentwaters Incident of 1956 and the Rendlesham Forest Incident of 1980.

The evidence in the first case is based on observations by pilots and radar operators at the RAF bases in Lakenheath and Bentwaters, which were being occupied by US forces at the time. On the night of August 13, 1956, their radar operators spotted an apparently normal aircraft approaching at several thousand mph. Another large object was observed moving east-west. A small group of slow-moving objects appeared in the northeast, seemed to merge into a single unit and moved off-screen northward. These bodies were assumed to be aircraft, and since this was during the Cold War, alarms were sounded. A jet was sent to investigate, but was unable to find the objects.

Later that night, another rapidly-moving object appeared on radar coming toward Bentwaters from the east. When it went over the base, it mysteriously disappeared from radar. When it moved away from the base, it became visible to radar again and was moving westward. The object’s invisibility to radar while immediately over the base was the first indication that this was not a normal object.

The Lakenheath base was northwest of Bentwaters, so they were notified that an unidentified craft was approaching. At Lakenheath, a group of objects was observed visually as they approached and made rapid course changes atypical of normal aircraft. Two of them seemed to merge into one unit and the entire group moved out of visual range.

Two interceptor jets were scrambled and sent to investigate. One of these planes had engine trouble and returned to the base. The other pilot stayed on course and encountered one of the objects.

When the pilot approached the UFO, it suddenly moved behind the jet and started chasing it. The pilot accelerated and performed evasive maneuvers that would have shaken any normal pursuer, but the object stayed on his tail. The chase lasted ten minutes, after which the object seemed to grow tired of the game and departed northward.

It should be stressed that this was a De Havilland Venom Interceptor jet, the state of the art in military technology at that time and one of the fastest machines on the planet. Nonetheless, the mysterious visitor had no trouble playing cat-and-mouse with it despite the diligent efforts of an expert pilot.

This incident has been variously explained as radar anomalies, ball lightning or an outright hoax. Nonetheless, the documentation from so many trained observers has made it a perennial subject of debate. Obviously, calling it a UFO, or unidentified flying object, was somehow not considered valid.

The Rendlesham Forest Incident happened outside Ipswich, Suffolk in 1980. Rendlesham Forest is also near Bentwaters and another military installation, the Woodbridge RAF base, so again there is documentation from trained observers.

At 3:00 AM on December 26, 1980, personnel at Woodbridge observed lights descending into the forest outside the base’s east gate. Thinking an aircraft had crashed in a failed landing, servicemen went to investigate. Entering the forest, they saw a yellow light coming from an unidentified object on the ground, a blinking red light and a steady blue light. Upon investigation, it was found that one of the lights was a nearby lighthouse and another was a farmhouse.

The men later reported hearing a din of animal noises. Local livestock was apparently in a state of agitation and deer in the forest were squealing in alarm.

After searching the woods, the men returned to the base and reported that nothing out of the ordinary was found. However, one of the men from the party, Sgt. Jim Penniston, has since stated that he and one of his companions found a “craft of unknown origin” in the woods that night. In interviews including interrogation under hypnosis, Penniston has maintained that he touched the UFO, drew a picture of it and copied symbols from its body into a notebook for about 45 minutes, after which it rose and flew away. The other man, John Burroughs, agrees that they found the craft but says it departed immediately, giving Penniston no time to examine it. Apparently neither man reported the encounter at the time.

After dawn, servicemen returned and found an area with burned trees and three impressions making a triangular pattern on the ground. Plaster casts were taken of the impressions, but they only showed three holes that might be rabbit burrows.

Lt Col. Charles I. Halt, deputy commander at Woodbridge, investigated Rendlesham Forest on December 28 and used a hand-held recorder to make an audio tape of himself and his patrol searching the area. This is now called “the Halt Tape.”

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