One of the most celebrated and debated UFO incidents of all time took place in Rendlesham Forest near Suffolk, England just after Christmas in 1980. United States Air Force personnel stationed at two former Royal Air Force installations in the area, RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge, told incredible stories about encounters with mysterious lights and metallic craft that seemed under intelligent control as they danced around and above the trees on the nights of December 26, 27 and 28 that year.
Now, an ex-detective and the author of a recently released book entitled Non-Human: The Rendlesham Forest Incidents: 42 Years of Denial , Gary Heseltine, is organizing a special tour. The Sun reported that the aim of this tour to take UFO enthusiasts and other curious souls deep into the heart of Rendlesham Forest, so they can visit the exact locations where these strange and unexplained events occurred over the course of three nights more than four decades ago.
On the nights of June 3 and 4, Heseltine will lead his tour group to various sites in the woods, as he relates the fascinating and frightening stories of the multiple witnesses to the UFO-related events that allegedly took place at those spots. It has been claimed that as many as 17 lighted objects were spotted by one or more witnesses, all of whom were serving in the US Air Force (USAF) at the time of the Rendlesham Forest incident .
The supposed UFO landing site at Rendlesham Forest. (Simon Leatherdale / CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Gary Heseltine and the Rendlesham Forest UFOs
Gary Heseltine is a retired British police constable and a UFO sightings field investigator who is currently the vice president of the International Coalition for Extra-terrestrial Research (ICER). He is widely recognized as one of the premier experts on the weird events reported at Rendlesham Forest.
Heseltine’s new book has been praised by readers and reviewers for the immense amount of detail it reveals about what the witnesses experienced and about how the US and UK militaries have apparently tried to cover up the truth about this astonishing incident. “The Rendlesham Forest incident has often been referred to as ‘Britain’s Roswell’, and in terms of its significance in UFO history the comparison is well made,” Heseltine wrote in the introduction to his new book.
“However, I have to say that in many aspects the RFI, as it has become known, is very, very different in certain key areas,” he continued. “After almost 14 years of public research into the RFI, I can think of no other case that has been subject of so much disinformation and damaging internal witness ‘political’ infighting.”
Heseltine’s mission during his upcoming two-day summer tour will be to reveal the real story about the Rendlesham Forest incident. During the event, he aims to separate fact from fiction as relates to the supposed Unidentified Flying Object spotted there, not just for the benefit of the members of his tour group, but ultimately for the historical record as well.
The USAF abandoned the installations at Woodbridge and Bentwaters in the 1990s, and while the former was eventually converted to a British army base, the latter is now closed and is the site of a public park. Rendlesham Forest is now open to visitors and is quite heavily trafficked, by picnickers, hikers, cyclists and UFO and alien enthusiasts who can visit the park on their own to follow a nature trail that traces the path USAF personnel followed on the nights they were chasing UFOs.
Representational image of a UFO flying over a forest, much like the accounts of the events which took place at Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk. ( RookStuff / Adobe Stock)
Aliens, a Hoax or an Elaborate Prank?
It is fitting that the Rendlesham Forest incident is referred to as the British Roswell. The 1980 sightings on forest land adjacent to RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge have been vigorously discussed, debated and written about since the time they happened, and the alleged crash of a flying saucer near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 is the only UFO incident that has generated more public interest.
The list of men who wandered through the woods chasing the lights and looking for landed craft on those remarkable nights included deputy commander Charles Halt and enlisted men Larry Warren, John Burroughs and James Pennington. These individuals are the most well-known of the Rendlesham witnesses, as all have been extensively interviewed and all have written their own books about the subject.
Their stories differ in some of the details, and both skeptics and believers alike suspect there have been embellishments and distortions. Back in 2017, the Mirror reported that Larry Warren’s claims have proven especially controversial. Nevertheless, the eerie and otherworldly nature of their accounts is consistent.
Interestingly, many suspect the Rendlesham Forest incident was real but did not involve aliens. They believe the sightings may have been a high-level hoax coordinated by the USAF itself, as part of a military psy-op meant to test the reactions of Air Force personnel when confronted with what seemed to be a real alien invasion.
Some media reports on the Rendlesham incident, including an article about the UFO tour just published in the Daily Mail , have claimed that the purported alien invasion was actually a prank carried out by personnel from the British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS).
The 1980 UFO sightings took place near Royal Air Force installations, on forest land adjacent to RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge, whose East Gate is pictured above. (Taras Young / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Was the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident a Prank?
This claim comes from a letter sent to researcher David Clarke in 2018, purportedly from a former SAS airman who said he and others in his unit had concocted this elaborate hoax as a way to get revenge on US Air Force personnel for an earlier incident. It seems the Air Force men had treated them rudely following a secret security exercise that required SAS personnel to penetrate the defensive perimeter of the RAF Woodridge base without US Air Force permission.
To perpetrate their UFO prank, the individual from the SAS said he and his cohorts had rigged lights and shot off flairs in Rendlesham Forest. The also claimed they had used remote-controlled kites and black helium balloons to carry lighted materials up into the sky. “A great deal of nocturnal Christmas fun was had at the expense of the USAF — and the matter should have ended there,” the anonymous source wrote.
“Unfortunately, a senior US officer (Lt Col Halt) led the US contingent out into the forest on the second night and took along his tape recorder,” he continued when discussing the Rendlesham Forest events. “The hovering and whizzing lights were sufficiently impressive for him to send a report to the MoD.”
The letter writer told Clarke that the truth about the matter had been disclosed privately to the US Air Force, and that people at the highest levels in both the US and UK military knew what had really taken place.
Many media sources, including the Daily Mail reporter, take this claim seriously and report it as a likely explanation for what happened at Rendlesham. But the Daily Mail failed to mention that David Clarke , who is an experienced professional journalist currently employed as an associate professor in the Media Arts and Communication Department at Sheffield Hallam University, investigated the claims of the anonymous letter writer and determined them to be without merit.
It seems the letter’s assertions about what had been done didn’t match the eyewitness testimony about what had been seen. Additionally, military sources Clarke contacted said that SAS personnel would not have been able to pull off such a prank on secure air force grounds without being quickly apprehended. Topping it all off, David Clarke received the anonymous letter on April 1st, leading him to conclude (quite reasonably) that the letter writer’s revelations were an April Fool’s Day joke.
Britain’s Roswell: what really happened in the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident? https://t.co/74CIyfTnnA
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 31, 2018
The Rendlesham Forest Incident: The Truth is Out There
The truth about the events at Rendlesham Forest will likely never be established with 100-percent certainty. Even if insiders or whistle-blowers were to come forward to reveal exactly what happened, they probably wouldn’t be able to prove their claims. Their statements would undoubtedly be rejected by skeptics if they said the events were caused by aliens and by many UFO researchers if they said they weren’t.
The upcoming tour will be open to everyone, regardless of their opinions on the matter. With Gary Heseltine leading the way, they will have an educated and knowledgeable narrator to guide them. Although he personally believes in the possibility of alien visitation, he is perfectly content to allow each participant to draw their own conclusions about the events that occurred at Rendlesham Forest in December 1980.
Top image: Representational image representing a UFO flying over Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk. Source: fergregory / Adobe Stock
By Nathan Falde
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