The Rendlesham UFO Coverup: What Really Happened?


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In 1980, American soldiers encountered a UFO in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England. RICK HALE tells us about this now well-known and controversial UFO sighting.

The Rendlesham UFO Coverup: What Really Happened? 1
In 2014, a statue was erected to mark the sighting of the Rendlesham UFO

For decades, it has been theorised that the governments of the world, specifically the American and British governments are engaged in a conspiracy to keep the knowledge of extraterrestrial visitations on the down low.

But are we being visited by beings that come from distant planets or galaxies?

Many in the field of UFOlogy or those with even a passing interest believe that we are, and more frequently than you may imagine.

Since the dawn of modern UFOlogy, with Kenneth Arnold’s sighting of nine mysterious objects flying over Mount Rainier.

All the way up to the USS Nimitz incident where several Navy pilots chased down the infamous ‘tic tac’ shaped UFO, that belief we are being visited grows stronger by the day.

Of course, people do confuse the mundane with the extraordinary every day. Conventional aircraft to atmospheric anomalies are mistaken by well meaning people who believe they had a brush with the unexplainable. It happens.

But what about when highly skilled, highly trained military personnel claim to come into contact with a UFO? Can we really be quite so dismissive?

Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk is a vast wooded area covering over 3700 acres of landscape.

Typically, it’s a quiet place, with farms and houses sitting in the countryside and joining them is RAF Woodbridge, a military installation situated just outside the woods.

But that peace and quiet was shattered in December 1980, when American soldiers occupying the base came into contact with what could only be described as inexplicable.

An encounter that challenged their understanding of their place in the world, as well as the cosmos.

Lights In The Sky

In the early morning hours of 26 December 1980, a small security detail was going about their duties of securing the perimeter of the base.

Around 3am, while at the East Gate, the security men looked off to the nearby woods and watched in wonder as a group of lights slowly descended into the forest.

At first, the soldiers thought very little of the lights, as recently debris from a meteor had been seen raining down over Britain, and they assumed that the lights were the last of it.

Nevertheless, they knew they had to investigate because what if the lights were a downed aircraft and the people in it desperately needed help.

So, the security detail did what any good soldier would do, they raced into the forest to investigate the possibility of a crashed airplane. And what they found was anything but.

When they approached the area where the suspected plane crash occurred, the soldiers noticed two peculiar things.

One, the animals at a nearby farm were in a panic, as if something terrified them beyond reason.

And two, an eerie feeling seemed to permeate the woods around them, almost as if they walked over a long forgotten grave and angered the dead within it.

When they finally reached the object, they realized immediately that whatever this was, was unlike any aircraft they were familiar with.

Sergeant James Penniston, who was leading the expedition would later describe the craft in stark detail.

According to Penniston, the craft was a metallic object with strange, unearthly writing etched into it. And bright, multicolored lights along  the craft gave it a peculiar glow that lit up the forest.

When they tried to approach the craft and  touched it, it floated away with no visible means of propulsion.

Since the scene was off base, and in the jurisdiction of the local police, RAF Woodbridge contacted the police.

Unfortunately, by the time the police arrived at 4am, the craft had already departed.

When the soldiers asked if the police had seen the lights, the constables claimed the only light they saw was the light from nearby Orford Ness lighthouse.

As far as they were concerned, this could be the only explanation for what the soldiers witnessed. And not a UFO.

Investigation and A Cover-up

Two days following the events that set the base abuzz with talk of little green men, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, and his aides visited the site to investigate the claims of the soldiers under his command.

Radiation readings were taken, and those readings came slightly elevated. And triangular shaped indentations were discovered pressed into the ground.

With his own investigation completed, LC Halt wrote his now famous, Halt Affidavit. 

In his own words, Halt believed that what his soldiers encountered was indeed of extraterrestrial origin.

Nevertheless, those above Halt’s pay grade didn’t agree with the veteran base commander. They had a much different explanation.

According to the higher ups, the flashing lights the security detail saw that night was nothing more than two unusually bright stars and the nearby lighthouse.

The fix was in and despite Penniston and his men being told to shut their mouths, the incident was dismissed as nothing more than a lapse in judgment.

The Rendlesham UFO Cover-up Continues

Thirty years after the Rendlesham incident in 2010,  Base Commander, Colonel Ted Conrad, disputed Halt’s assertions in a not so nice way.

Colonel Conrad was quoted as saying, “Halt should be ashamed and embarrassed by his allegation that this country and Britain both conspired to deceive their citizens.”

Conrad further called into question Sergeant Penniston’s claim that he actually touched an alien spacecraft.

And to top it off, Conrad said the whole affair was nothing but a hoax. 

So, what are we to make of the famous Rendlesham Forest UFO incident?

Were these servicemen duped into believing the strange lights they saw were nothing more than a lighthouse?

Or, did they really come into close contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence light-years beyond our intelligence and technological capabilities?

I know I shouldn’t do this, and someone will undoubtedly tell me to remain objective, but when I put it all together, I stand with the servicemen. And apparently so does the Forestry Commission.

In 2005 the Forestry Commission established a UFO trail that leads to the site where Penniston and his men had their unnerving encounter with the otherworldly.

And at the end of that trail in a clearing, a model of the craft that landed in the forest over 40 years ago.

The Rendlesham UFO incident will go down in history as just another cover up. 

Tell us your thoughts on the Rendlesham UFO sighting in the comments section below!

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Rick Hale
Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.


  1. Was just the good old British sense of humour (humor in American spelling) pranking the yanks. Went on all the time and was taken to the next level over that Christmas. People weren’t as sophisticated nearly 50 years ago and people who preferred a tape recorder rather than writing notes … well not the smartest pencil in the box. I have investigated some of the “experts” involved in these stories and seen how they just jump from one story to the next as and when they get debunked. Otherwise they just keep evolving, elaborating and expanding over time. Yes there was cover-up, to cover-up the embarrassment of being pranked and the antics that went on where nuclear weapons may, cough or may not have been stored.


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