The Rendlesham Forest Incident or the RFI has it has become known is without doubt Britain's most famous case. Often referred to as 'Britain's Roswell' is it now rated as one of the most famous UFO events in the world.
Due to the nature of the phenomenon itself nothing is ever straightforward and the RFI is now different. It is litered with inconsistancies, changes in some of the witness accounts over the years and especially in recent years has been marred somewhat by waring factions within the witnesses themselves however don't let that put you off what is a fantastic UFO case when you strip personalities and look at what facts are known.
THE ACTUAL DATES OF THE RFI
Whilst there is still some confusion about the actual dates of the RFI it is generally agreed to have involved three successive nights of UFO acitivity at or near the twin bases complex of RAF BENTWATERS and RAF WOODBRIDGE. Rendlesham Forest lies between the two bases and this was the principal area of activity.
It is generally accepted that that the first night is the 25th December going into the 26th December 1980.
(Proven by a Suffolk police log entry).
The second night is generally much less well known but occurs 26th December into the morning of the 27th December 1980.
The third night is harder to conclusively prove date wise but most researchers believe it to be the night of the 27th into the morning of the 28th December 1980.
(Some confusion about the dates exist because Lt Col Charles Halt, who wrote the famous 'Halt Memo' put another date for the first night i.e. 26th into the morning of the 27th and then gave the date he became involved as a witness himself as the 28th into the 29th December 1980).
(Larry Warren, the original military whistleblower to ne named on camera states in his book 'Left at East Gate' states that he became involved on the night of the 28th into the 29th December 1980).
THE FIRST NIGHT OF UFO ACTIVITY (25/26 DECEMBER 1980)
The time the first night of activity begins is not conclusively confirmed however it is somethime after midnight going into the early hours of the 26th December (some accounts state it was just after midnight whilst other reports state it was around 0300 hours).
What is not in doubt is the initial sequence of events:
Two US Security Police airmen, SERGEANT BUD STEFFENS and AIRMAN JOHN BURROUGHS on perimeter guard duty at the East Gate (RAF Woodbridge) noticed what they initially perceived to be an aircraft with lights seen moving above the Rendlesham forest treetops (approximately 300 m away from the gate).
They telephone Central Security Control (CSC) to ask permission to go off base in a vehicle to investigate the lights.
Permission is given and they open the East Gate and drive off base to investigate however when they see a series of unusual lights in an around the forest they decide to return to the East Gate. When they update CSC they ask for others to investigate. Two other airmen, SERGEANT JIM PENNISTON and his vehicle driver AIRMEN ED CABANSAQ are dispatched on mobile to the East Gate. On arrival they too see the distance moving lights over the forest treetops and seek permission to drive off base.
It is widely accepted that at this stage SERGEANT STEFFENS has been 'spooked' by the lights and indicates that he wants to remain at the East Gate. At this point AIRMAN BURROUGHS joins PENNISTON, CABANSAQ to drive off base to investigate the lights.
They drive to the end of the East Gate road and turn right onto a public road going through the forest. They travel approximately 100 metres and turn left onto a dirt track into the forest. The drive until the track ends and alight the vehicle and continue on foot into the forest. All the while they can see lights moving within the forest.
As they do so their radio transmissions begin to break up so SERGEANT PENNISTON places ED CABANSAQ to hold his position in the forest in order to act a a radio relay so that a line of communication could continue to Central Security Control. This allows PENNISTON and BURROUGHS to go further into the forest following the light/lights they could see moving ahead of them.