The Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident – What Happened?

Rendlesham Forest. Credit:

By Wes Annac

If you’re interested in UFOs, you probably know about the Rendlesham Forest incident, where multiple UFOs were claimed to be spotted near a military base in England. Some people who’ve researched this subject are convinced it was a genuine sighting of multiple unidentified objects, while others aren’t so sure.

With all of the UFO sightings we’ve had (and continue to have daily), it can be difficult to determine what’s genuine, what’s a hoax, and what’s a simple misunderstanding or misinterpretation. There are plenty of hoaxers out there who are willing to fake a sighting, but the potential authenticity of the Rendlesham incident stands out for a few reasons, one of which is that the witnesses were all credible military men.

For those of you who are unaware of the events that took place in the Rendlesham forest in December 1980, I’d like to examine an account of it in hopes of understanding, as clearly and coherently as possible, what happened.

The accounts of otherwise regular officers about the strange glowing lights they saw makes it an interesting encounter that’s worth some attention, and you’re encouraged to formulate your own opinion instead of immediately believing or discrediting it. In my view, these events let the sleepy public know that our reality’s nothing like we think it is, and in any moment, something amazing can happen that we don’t expect – even if it’s debunked later.

First, Crystalinks gives us a summary of the Rendlesham Forest incident.

“The Rendlesham Forest Incident is the name given to a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights and the alleged landing of a craft or multiple craft of unknown origin in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, in late December 1980, just outside RAF Woodbridge, used at the time by the U.S. Air Force.

“Dozens of USAF personnel were eyewitnesses to various events over a two- or three-day period. Some ufologists believe it is perhaps the most famous UFO event to have happened in Britain, ranking amongst the best-known UFO events worldwide. Along with the Berwyn Mountain UFO incident, it has been compared to the Roswell UFO incident in the United States, and is sometimes referred to as ‘Britain’s Roswell’”. (1)

It was quickly concluded that the sightings weren’t a threat to national security, and the Ministry of Defence never investigated them in depth.

“The Ministry of Defence (MoD) denied that the event posed any threat to national security, and stated that it was therefore never investigated as a security matter. Later evidence indicated that there was a substantial MoD file on the subject, which led to claims of a cover-up; some interpreted this as part of a larger pattern of information suppression concerning the true nature of unidentified flying objects, by both the United States and British governments.” (2)

While some people think the British government wanted to cover up the sightings, which is why they never investigated them further, skeptics believe they were right not to take them seriously because they were nothing more than meteors, bright stars or lights from a lighthouse near the forest.

“When the file was released in 2001 it turned out to consist mostly of internal correspondence and responses to inquiries from the public. The lack of any in-depth investigation in the publicly released documents is consistent with the MoD’s earlier statement that they never took the case seriously. Included in the released files is an explanation given by defense minister Lord Trefgarne as to why the MoD did not investigate further. Skeptics regard the sightings as misinterpretation of a series of nocturnal lights, a fireball, the Orford Ness lighthouse and bright stars.” (3)

Even if it was a misinterpretation, you’d think the British government would investigate a little more to know for sure. You’d think they’d take potential UFOs pretty seriously, given that their job is to protect their people against any potential threat. I’m not saying extraterrestrials or UFOs would automatically be hostile, but if your job is to protect your people from an outside threat, you might want to seriously investigate these kinds of reports.

It’s unfortunate that the UFO phenomenon isn’t taken more seriously, and some people think this is because of a purposeful cover-up. It’s easy to write off UFO sightings simply because they’re so far outside of what most people think is ‘normal’, but while skepticism is healthy, we might not want to immediately discount these things.

Now, we’ll examine an account of the event. Feel free to approach this account with an open yet discerning mind, because it’s up to us as individuals to determine its authenticity. Some people are convinced the event was legitimate, and hopefully, our examination will make the issue clearer for those of you who don’t know much about it.

The account, which is taken from Unsolved Mysteries Wiki, begins with first class airman John Burroughs and his partner seeing a strange light in the forest.


“On December 26, 1980, at around 2am, airman first class John Burroughs was on security patrol at Woodbridge airbase with his partner when they saw an odd bright light come from the Rendlesham Forest, which separates Woodbridge from Bentwaters, another airbase. The men went back to call their superior from a nearby post, and they were still able to see the light.

“Almost simultaneously, another security patrol arrived and confirmed the lights. Burroughs and the second team were sent off base to investigate without their weapons because they were leaving American jurisdiction.” (4)

They nervously walked in to the forest, noted that the animals seemed shaken, and shortly received word that a strange object had been sighted near the Woodbridge base.

“As the nervous men walked into the forest, they could tell that the animals were very upset. They received a radio transmission that contact was made with Heathrow Tower in London and that an object had been seen over Woodbridge base, then disappeared.

“The men soon arrived at the object, which had a bunch of blue strobing lights, then moved up through the trees and into the sky. Everything felt slower and strange to the men until the object vanished. For more than two hours, the men played an eerie game of cat and mouse with the mysterious object. At times it would get closer to the horizon and closer to them, then fly away.” (5)

If the event’s legitimate, it makes me wonder why the craft would play games. What was the motive in having the officers play ‘cat and mouse’ with it? Was it trying to reveal itself to them in an admittedly strange way? Was it just trying to confuse them? Were its actions a ploy for some other agenda its pilots could’ve had? This is all just speculation, and the eerie movements of the craft can definitely make you wonder what was going on.

John informed his post commander about the lights, which prompted his commander, along with him and a police officer, to go out and look for physical evidence of the sighting.


“Five hours after the sighting, John reported to his post commander about the strange lights, and the commander said that they should try to locate any physical evidence. When they arrived, they found impressions in the ground, burn marks on the trees and other odd evidence. John and a police officer went to the area and showed him the physical evidence that was there.

“However, the officer dismissed the ground impressions as circles measured an equal distance apart and made a perfect equilateral triangle.” (6)

Col. Charles Hart, who was skeptical about the sightings at first, became more convinced of their authenticity upon investigation.

“Early the next morning, Col. Charles Hart arrived at Woodbridge security headquarters and he was told about the UFO sightings. He was very skeptical at first, but as he began to investigate, he was surprised at how authentic the sightings were and still cannot explain them.

“That same night, more lights were spotted and flood lights were ordered to be set up in the woods. At 9:30pm, Col. Hart received word of flood lights malfunctioning and other strange things. Base security was immediately dispatched to put more flood lights out.” (7)

These same lights were spotted for the second night in a row, which, combined with the strange behavior of the flood lights, prompted Col. Hart to investigate further and get pictures. This is when the account really starts to get interesting.

“Col. Hart had a professional photographer come with him to take pictures and try to debunk, but when he arrived, several military equipments were malfunctioning, including the flood lights. Hart and his men went into the woods armed with a tape recorder and other equipment. Sgt. Robert Ball, one of Hart’s team members, located a site where they believed a UFO had landed.

“They got an instrument to do readings on the trees when one of the men noticed a red, glowing object about a few hundred meters away. It began zigzagging around the pine trees and winking at them, then as it moved away, the men followed it.” (8)

A depiction of the craft the men may have witnessed. Credit:

Based on this part of the account, the idea that these were meteors or lights from a lighthouse doesn’t make sense. Unless the witnesses were impaired or intoxicated, I don’t see how they could witness a meteor zig-zag around and actually lead them to a specific location, which, as we’ll learn, is exactly what happened.

I can see how they’d mistake the lights from a light house as a zig-zagging craft, but given that Col. Hart set out to debunk the sightings in the first place, chances are he would’ve readily discounted it as the lighthouses’ lights if he didn’t seriously believe he was seeing something different.

Upon following the strange lights, the men were taken to a farmhouse that glowed like it was ‘on fire’. As the light approached the house, it broke up into ‘five white balls’ and vanished. They then started walking toward the coast when they found three more unidentified craft in the sky.

“They found a farmhouse that appeared to be glowing, as if it was on fire. As the red object began moving towards the house, it broke up into five white balls and disappeared. The men began going towards the coast, when they looked to the north and saw three objects in the sky that began moving in strange patterns. The men believe that the objects were trying to communicate or warn them. Sgt. Ball believed that it looked like a grid search.” (9)

The light breaking up into little balls would make the meteor theory more plausible if it weren’t for the fact that the balls turned white as they broke up. The fact that the lights the men saw in the sky were moving in strange patterns also discounts the meteor theory in my eyes, and it’d be pretty strange for these officers to believe a meteor was trying to warn them about something.

If the account of what happened next is genuine, then it blows most skeptical theories out of the water.

“Then, beams of light began shooting out from the objects, and several people at the base also reported the lights. (…) John Burroughs woke up while this was happening, and he then saw several blue, transparent lights in the sky, and one dived towards them, went through a truck, and then went back in the sky.

“At virtually the same moment, Col. Hart and his men noticed an object in the sky that was coming towards them at a tremendous rate of speed, and a beam of light came down within feet of them. Then, the light disappeared, and Col. Hart went from a skeptic to a believer.” (10)

A depiction of one of the rays of light. Credit:

This part of the story raises so many questions, like what the crafts’ warning was and why all of those rays of light burst out of them the very next moment. Were the lights trying to warn the men of what they were about to do? Did they want to give them a heads up before they completely blew their minds?

Were the pilots of the potential craft showing themselves to the officers in a bold way, just so their existence could be known? The pilots wouldn’t necessarily have to be extraterrestrials, and it’s just as plausible that the craft could’ve been some kind of advanced military equipment that even the men witnessing it didn’t know about.

There are so many theories and potential explanations, but the questions outweigh them all. What was the purpose for this event, and why did the pilots of this potential craft feel the need to make their presence known in such a startling way?

The day after this amazing event, Col. Hart showed the tapes they’d recorded to his boss, who had him write an incident report. The report was written, but as we learned earlier, it was ignored once it was sent to the British authorities.

“The next day, Col. Hart played the tape to his boss and he agreed with him and told him to write an incident report. His boss then sent the report and the tape to a staff meeting and everyone was confused and nobody knew what to do. Col. Hart’s memo was sent to British military authorities, who did not act on it. Then in 1983, a private citizen used the freedom of information act to release Hart’s memo.” (11)

This raises even more questions. If this event was as amazing as its stated here, why didn’t the British military authorities do anything about it? Did they decide it wasn’t authentic or important enough to investigate further? Did they privately investigate it and find out things that they’d never disclose, even if requested via the Freedom of Information Act?

The fact that they didn’t do much at all should raise some eyebrows, because this was a pretty significant event that was witnessed by multiple officers.

According to Unsolved Mysteries Wiki, the officers are convinced they saw something more than meteors or a lighthouse’s lights.

“Some believe that the ‘UFO sightings’ was really just a meteor shower. But the people that saw the UFOs are convinced that it was not a meteor shower, or a figment of their imagination. Col. Hart found that in January of 1981, and nine months later there were more sightings near Woodbridge. In total, fifteen men claim to have seen the unusual phenomenon at Bentwaters and Woodbridge during the first incident. To this day, nobody can fully explain what really happened in December of 1980 in Rendlesham Forest.” (12)

The original landing site photo. Credit:

Fifteen people saw this phenomenon, and the British military didn’t do a thing about it. If that doesn’t make you question the people in power and their motives in suppressing any potential evidence of UFOs, I don’t know what will.

Some UFO enthusiasts claim that a cabal of elitists who secretly run our governments and militaries are keeping extraterrestrials and UFOs a secret because they already own the advanced technology the craft are made of. They don’t want to share this technology with us, which could drastically improve life for everyone on the planet, because to them, we’re nothing more than ‘useless eaters’ who don’t deserve to enter the future.

While some people think that this cabal’s only interested in keeping the existence of extraterrestrials a secret, others think it has more to do with the advanced technology that’d effectively kick them out of the halls of power by providing every individual with what they need to survive and thrive.

If we can support ourselves – create our own food (and even our own homes) without needing to work for money, their entire artificial, self-serving system would crumble overnight.

I can’t say what the potential motive for suppressing UFO sightings is, but I can say that this incident, along with plenty of other ones that I’ll probably investigate in the weeks ahead, point to the presence of something beyond our ability to understand or fathom. Something’s here, whether it’s extraterrestrials, advanced military technology our governments are keeping from us, or both, and it’s time for us to demand the truth.

I’ll direct you to two links for more information on the Rendlesham Forest incident. The first is a description of the event on Nick Pope’s website (13), which shares some sketches of the craft and the strange Egyptian-like symbols the men saw on it, and the other is a skeptic’s opinion of it. (14)

To have a truly open mind is to be willing to hear every side of the story, and while I don’t believe the lights were meteors, it always helps to have another perspective – even if it’s skeptical or critical.


I’m confident that the truth about this incident, and plenty of others, will be known in time. You can’t hide things like this from the public forever, and no matter how hard the people in power try to cover them up, these events will reach the public’s perception at some point. The first step, in my view, is for us to become more serious about UFOs, and we have to stop turning them into some silly joke.

Actual extraterrestrial contact is arguably the most crucial, revolutionary thing we could ever experience as a society, and while the Rendlesham Forest event doesn’t directly point to contact from an advanced extraterrestrial species, it does display that something’s going on. We can’t deny these sightings for much longer, and we’ll eventually have to approach them with more seriousness and the willingness to understand them for what they really are – even if they don’t turn out to be real or noteworthy at all.


  1. “Rendlesham Forest Incident”, –
  2. Loc. cit.
  3. Loc. cit.
  4. “Rendlesham Forest Incident”, Unsolved Mysteries Wiki –
  5. Loc. cit.
  6. Loc. cit.
  7. Loc. cit.
  8. Loc. cit.
  9. Loc. cit.
  10. Loc. cit.
  11. Loc. cit.
  12. Loc. cit.
  13. “Rendlesham Forest”, –
  14. “The Rendlesham Forest UFO”, Skeptoid –

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I’m a twenty-two year old spiritual writer, blogger, musician, and channel for the creative expression of the inner universe, and I created The Culture of Awareness daily news site.

The Culture of Awareness features daily spiritual and alternative news, articles I’ve written, and more. Its purpose is to awaken and uplift by providing material about the fall of the planetary elite and a new paradigm of unity and spirituality.

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