Updated: Jun 24, 2019
The Rendlesham Forest incident of December 26th – December 28th 1980 still remains one of the UK’s most impressive and intriguing UFO cases. Multiple encounters with unexplained lights, physical craft and even beings over three consecutive nights. Direct involvement of two nearby army bases. Many highly respected military and civilian witnesses. Both physical and testimonial evidence. Official recognition by the MOD that something unusual took place. The incident was truly fascinating. There is a mass of information about it available online, and I will assume that you already have a background knowledge of the case in this article.
On 28th December 2010 a superb event took place down in the town of Woodbridge. It was exactly 30 years since the final night of the incident, and to mark this important date a conference about the incident was planned. At this conference, two of the key witnesses John Burroughs and Jim Penniston would at last openly speak about what happened to them. Other speakers included UFO researcher and co-author of Left At East Gate Peter Robbins, highly respected UFO investigator Linda Moulton Howe and ex-MOD investigator Nick Pope.
As soon as I found out about the conference I sent off for a ticket, as did my father and brother. I had been waiting for a long time to visit Rendlesham Forest, and finally I would get that chance. It was just after Christmas but there is no way I would have missed it for the world, however bad the weather. I was worried that it would be cancelled due to recent snow fall, but luckily when the day arrived, the snow had started to melt. It was however still quite foggy, making the drive down quite precarious!
We arrived at Woodbridge about ten minutes before the conference kick off time of 6pm. Luckily we managed to find the venue with ease. The conference was set to take place at Woodbridge community hall. In the foyer we immediately met Larry Warren, the original whistleblower of the incident. Larry and I have become good friends after he joined me for my wedding day at Area 51 back in February, and then later came and gave a talk for BUFOG. It was really great to see him again.
When we entered the hall, I was pleased to see that there was a very decent turn out for the event. There must have been a good few hundred people, and every chair in the hall was filled. In fact I think they ran out of seats and people even stood around the back. We managed to find some seats about 2/3 of the way back, and it wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the conference began.
The first speaker of the evening was UFO researcher Peter Robbins. Peter was co-author of Left At East Gate with Larry Warren. The book detailed the incident in full, concentrating on the final night where both a craft and several entities were seen by Larry and many other personnel. Peter began by covering some of the explanations given for the incident over the years, including the infamous light-house, a meteor shower, stars and the recent claim thata burning fertilizer truck was to blame. He detailed why these explanations do not hold water when faced with the facts of what took place.
At the end of his talk he specially called up Larry to the stage to thank him for his efforts in bringing the case to the public eye. Without him the case may have never been known about, so I was pleased to see him get this recognition.
Next up was US researcher Linda Moulton Howe. Linda has been involved with the UFO subject for many years, and is one of the worlds leading experts on the animal mutilation phenomenon. Over recent years she has been working with John and Jim to get to the bottom of what really happened to them during the incident. This involved numerous hypnotic regressions which they had undergone, and it was fascinating to see footage from these regressions.
Some of the revelations of these regressions were truly stunning. It appears that both John and Jim may have been abducted on the first night when they saw the lights in the forest and went to investigate them. There is evidence of missing time, which is mentioned in the original notes and transcripts. Both the men lost about 40 minutes of time, during which their radios stopped functioning correctly. This caused quite a bit of confusion at the time. Under hypnosis John describes seeing white light all around and also states that the blue lights seen floating in the air at the time were in fact life-forms which may have communicated with him in some way. It also appears that John was possibly abducted again on the 2nd night of the incident. When Jim was regressed, he actually stated that the occupants of the craft were from our own future, and had come back in time to harvest genetic material to help them in some way. If you do not know about this particular aspect of the case it is well worth looking into.
It was then time for a short break. We first met up with BUFOG member Adam, then also bumped into UFO researcher Joanne Summerscales (who came to speak at BUFOG about John Searl a few months back), and some old friends from Swindon UFO Group.
We then went to check out the merchandise, which included some hilarious flying lighthouse parody T-shirts and pictures. Not sure who came up with the picture, but whoever did certainly has a good sense of humour. Here’s the pic for your enjoyment:
Soon it was time for John and Jim to take the stage. They gave a very detailed account of what happened to them. They discussed what they remembered from the time, and also what was uncovered under their regressions. It was fascinating hearing about the incident from two of the original witnesses, and they came across both sincere and believable. I would certainly dispute claims that they are making up what happened to them, they were obviously speaking from the heart and deserve great respect for speaking openly about what they experienced, especially considering the possible implications of doing so.
Jim then covered recent developments in the case based around a “download” of information he received soon after experiencing the craft in the forest. He felt compelled to write down 8 pages of numbers made of 0’s and 1’s. He kept these notes but was only aware of their potential significance recently. This did create a small amount of backlash from the crowd, who questioned why it was only being revealed now so long after the incident. According to Jim, at the time he was not aware that what he had written down was in fact binary code. After meeting with John earlier in 2010 for the first time since the incident, he realised the importance of these pages of numbers. He handed them over for analysis to see if the numbers could be translated. The binary code did translate to a message. However Jim was unable to share this message as he wanted all the evidence to be revealed at once in a US documentary. This documentary aired on the History Channel on 30th December. Below is a link to the Youtube video of the relevant part of this documentary, which gives full details of the message behind the code:
The last speaker was the well known ex-MOD UFO investigator Nick Pope. He spoke of the MOD’s involvement with the case, and that it appears a cover up did take place. He apologised on microphone to both John and Jim for the fact that the true reason behind the incident is still not known, and that the MOD seems partially responsible for this.
Following Nick in time honoured tradition was an extensive Q&A session, with all speakers on stage together. This Q&A got quite heated at times, especially regarding the binary code announcement.
By the time the Q&A drew to a close it was already 11.30pm. But the conference was only the first part of the night, for now it was time to head to the forest to visit the actual location where John and Jim’s encounter took place! Whatever the weather, there was no way I was going to miss out on this. Quite a few headed for home at this point, but there was still at least 100 people, including a TV crew who were filming the conference for a documentary. We all drove out to the forest in convoys of vehicles, one of which I was leading so I had to pay attention to the route! Our destination was the visitors car park at the edge of the forest, the usual meet up point for Rendlesham skywatches, and starting point for the official UFO trail.
When we arrived it was pitch black, cold and foggy, but all around the car park the lights from many torches could be seen darting around and beaming into the night sky. I have to admit the weather conditions actually added to the atmosphere. It was great to finally be at the forest. After locating John and Jim in the dark, we all headed along one of the tracks towards Woodbridge base.
After about 5 minutes we arrived at the East Gate, the location where John and Jim’s experience on the 26th December 1980 first began. We huddled up around them as they reminisced about seeing the lights in the distance and being given orders to go and check them out, as TV microphone hovered above them like a dark grey cigar-shaped UFO.
After answering whatever questions people had, we then walked back to the tree-line near the car park to continue the story. They then recounted in detail what happened next, with the approach to the lights in the woods, subsequent missing time, and Jim’s close encounter with the triangular craft. They did not falter in their words at all, and were obviously describing a real event.
I was hoping that we would then actually head into the forest to the exact spot where the encounter took place. Unfortunately they had decided against this, probably because of the number of people present. But I had come this far, there was no way I was going to turn back now! I at least wanted to see Carpal Green, the field where the 3rd night of the incident took place. After getting directions to the field from John, me, my brother and dad headed off on our own along the trail.
It was about 2am, and extremely foggy and dark. Walking through the trees on our own was quite an experience! As we walked I thought to myself that if something were to happen to us now, no-one would know until our empty car was found the following morning. Strangely there was no sounds at all from the undergrowth, I expected to at least hear small animals scuttling around in the dark but it was silent.
Utilising a print out of the UFO trail map we finally arrived at a picnic bench overlooking Carpal Green. It was so foggy we could only see a few feet in front of us. The open field spanned out into the darkness. We thought that we would be able to see the lighthouse from here but due to the weather conditions it was not visible at all. We had no need to explore any further, we had reached what we had set out to reach.
After getting a few fog covered photographs we then began our walk back to the car. On the way to the field we had tried our best to remember the route, but we still accidentally took a wrong turn on the way back! I had a brief vision of us walking around aimlessly for hours with torches out of batteries. Luckily we managed to find the right path and get back on track.
We arrived back at the car park without having seen or heard anything out of the ordinary, but happy we had made the journey. It was now about 3am and everyone had already left. Well I say everyone – there were a couple of cars still parked there with no lights on. Considering certain activities known to take place at remote car parks after dark, we didn’t hang around and quickly headed for home. We finally arrived back in Birmingham about 6am, tanked up on energy drinks. Not that I felt sleepy after such a superb evening. It truly was fascinating, and the trip to the forest after was such an adventure. I would like to thank all the speakers and organisers for one of the best conferences I have ever been to.
Side Note: The only paranormal thing we saw through the evening was an appearance by the infamous "Dudley Dorito", which must have followed us from Brum. And in case you think I'm making it up, we luckily managed to capture it on camera:
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2010