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Bentwaters Air Base

Bentwaters Royal Air Force base opened in 1944. (It was named after a house which was located on the site of the main runway.) In the early years, Spitfires and Meteors flew missions from the base. In 1951, the U.S. Air Force moved in, and during the next three decades the base was home to the 7506th Air Support Group and the 81st Fighter-Interceptor Wing. During this time, F-4 Phantoms and
F-16s blasted off from the airfield. The base was closed in 1993.

 View informative videos of the events of that night
     Video 1.  Video 2.
 View the Halt Memo (Original Scanned) Unexplained Lights! 
 Download PDF file, Unexplained lights, printable version. 
 View original sketch with notes by USAF law enforcement patrolman John Burroughs of encountered UFO!  
 View flash animation of ufo found in forest!  
 View drawing of UFO using size ratio. 

View map of landing site
Map showing route taken by Burroughs, Cabansag and Penniston
Picture of East Gate, Woodbridge RAF
View map of RAF Bentwaters Base Facilities!
View map of RAF Woodbridge Base Facilities!
Bentwaters Air Base
The Woodbridge Rendlesham incident: 1980
Background of Halt
No aircraft I've seen
I touched the symbols

The Woodbridge Rendlesham incident: 1980

On December 27, 1980 a UFO was seen in the Rendlesham Forest area outside the back gates of RAF/USAF Woodbridge in Suffolk, England. Before this UFO was seen near Woodbridge, radar operators at RAF Watton, near Norwich, picked up an unusual blip. RAF Phantom jets was sent to investigate. When they closed on the object, pilots reported seeing intense, bright lights in the sky. Radar operator Mal Scurrah: "As the Phantoms got close the hovering object shot upwards at phenomenal speed - monitored at more than 1,000mph."

In late December 1980, while serving as deputy base commander at Bentwaters Air Base in southern England, Halt witnessed and investigated several anomalous objects in the skies over the Rendelsham Forest, which separates the American installation from its twin Royal Air Force base, Woodbridge. The sightings occurred on two separate nights during the week after Christmas. Two weeks later, Halt sent a report about the strange encounters to the British Ministry of Defense.

A career Air Force officer, Halt served in Vietnam and on various bases before arriving at Bentwaters in 1980. He was promoted to base commander in 1984. Halt later served as base commander at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, and as director of the inspections directorate for the Department of Defense inspector general. He retired in 1991. Halt is the first USAF officer since Project Blue Book ended to have filed a memo on unidentified flying objects and gone public with the details.

The Story:
"Just after Christmas, about 5:30 a.m., December 26, 1980, I walked into police headquarters and the desk sergeant started to laugh. He said a couple of the guys had been out chasing UFOs. Nothing, however, was in the blotter. I told him to put it in.

"When our base commander came in, we both chuckled. Neither of us believed in UFOs, but we did decide to look into it. Before we had the chance, two nights later, the duty flight commander for the security police unit rushed in to a belated Christmas party white as a sheet. `The UFO is back,' he said.

"I was asked to investigate. I changed into a utility uniform, then headed out in a jeep to the edge of the forest. About a dozen of our men were already there. Our light-alls (large gas-powered lights) wouldn't work, and there was so much static and constant interference on our radios that we had to set up a relay. There was increasing commotion. I was determined to show them this was nonsense.

"I took half a dozen of the men and headed into the woods on foot to a clearing where the initial incident had supposedly taken place. We found three distinct indentations in the ground equidistant apart and pressed well into the sandy soil. They were supposedly caused by the object seen two nights before, but I didn't see anything sitting there that night. Neither did anybody else there.

"Inside the triangular area formed by the indentations, one of the men got slightly higher readings on the Geiger counter than he did outside. He photographed the area, and I took a soil sample. Meanwhile, I recorded this activity on my microcassette recorder.

"We knew the Orford Ness lighthouse beacon beamed from the southeast. All of a sudden, directly to the east, we saw an unusual red, sunlike light -- oval shaped, glowing, with a black center -- 10 to 15 feet off the ground, moving through the trees. Beyond the clearing was a barbed-wire fence, farmer's field, house, and barn. The animals were making a lot of noise.

"We ran toward the light up to the fence. It shot over the field and then moved in a 20- to 30-degree horizontal arc. Strangely, it appeared to be dripping what looked like molten steel out of a crucible, as if gravity were somehow pulling it down. Suddenly, it exploded -- not a loud bang, just booompf -- and broke into five white objects that scattered in the sky. Everything except our radios seemed to return to normal.

"We went to the end of the farmer's property to get a different perspective. In the north, maybe 20 degrees off the horizon, we saw three white objects -- elliptical, like a quarter moon but a little larger -- with blue, green, and red lights on them, making sharp, angular movements. The objects eventually turned from elliptical to round.

"I called the command post, asked them to call Eastern Radar, responsible for air defense of that sector. Twice they reported that they didn't see anything.

"Suddenly, from the south, a different glowing object moved toward us at a high rate of speed, came within several hundred feet, and then stopped. A pencillike beam, six to eight inches in diameter, shot from this thing right down by our feet. Seconds later, the object rose and disappeared.

"The objects in the north were still dancing in the sky. After an hour or so, I finally made the call to go in. We left those things out there.

"The film turned out to be fogged; nothing came out. But a staff sergeant later made plaster castings of the indentations, and I had the soil sample.

"Around New Year's Eve, I took statements and interviewed the men who had taken part in the initial incident. The reports were nearly identical.

"Basically, they reported this: In the early morning hours of December 26, one of the airmen drove to the back gate at Woodbridge on a routine security check. He saw lights in the forest, specifically a red light, and thought maybe an airplane had crashed. He radioed a report, which was called into the tower, but the tower reported nobody was flying.

"Eventually, a group headed out to the forest. They reported strange noises -- animals, movement, like we heard two nights later.

"As they approached the clearing, they reported seeing a large yellowish-white light with a blinking red light on the upper center portion and a steady blue light emanating from underneath. The tower again reported nothing on radar.

"A few of the men moved to within 20 or 30 feet. Each said the same thing independently -- a triangular-shaped metallic object, about nine feet across the base, six feet high, appeared to be sitting on a tripod. They split up, walked around the craft. One of the men apparently tried to get on the craft, but, they said, it levitated up.

"All three of the guys hit the ground as the craft moved quickly in a zigzagging manner through the woods toward the field, hitting some trees on the way. They got up and approached again, but the object rose up, and then it disappeared at great speed.

"Finally, on January 13, 1981, I wrote a memo to the British Ministry of Defense. Despite my efforts, to my knowledge, no one from any intelligence or government agency ever came on base to investigate.

"I have never sought the limelight, nor have I hidden. I stand to receive no financial benefit from this interview but consented because it's time the truth came out. I don't know what those objects were. I don't know anybody who does. But something as yet unexplained happened out there."

In 1983, a copy of Halt's memo to the British MoD was released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Shortly thereafter, a copy of the 18-minute audiotape of the investigation Halt conducted was given to a British UFOlogist by, Halt says, another Air Force officer. Both have made the rounds within the UFO community.

  November, 2002 - The Freedom of information Act (FOIA) in now releasing info on the Rendlesham files and are now availible in PDF format at the link at
Why the UK is chosen now to release the truth is a mystery, however we are all delighted with the straight forwardness of the British Government.
Perhaps the US will follow suit. The PDF files are now being gathered and will be posted in the near future here at Aliens111.

No Aircraft I ever seen
"As we started getting closer, it was apparent that it was not an aircraft downing or a crash. We weren't sure what it was at that point, so we radioed that information back to Airman Cabansag, who radioed it back to CSC. We had no outside contact with our IBRs [radios], with the exception of Airman Cabansag, and he was, by this point, beginning to break up on the transmissions himself.

"We entered the tree line and moved in about 20 more meters. There was an object sitting in a clearing. It was emitting mostly white light at that point, very bright. Both Burroughs and I had to squint when we looked at it. I found it very strange that there was no sound coming from the object, but the animals around us were in a frenzy. We had wildlife running by us, and lots of birds. Outside that noise, however, there was no other.
"That was when I decided to have Burroughs stay there as a radiolink. He did not seem calm. He didn't acknowledge what I was saying, but I thought he understood. I was more concerned at that moment with what was going on in front of me.

"As I continued on into the woods, I started seeing the outline of the object itself. The lights that had just been a blur from 300 meters away were now definite, distinct colors -- light blue, yellow, and red -- and they were pulsating. Looking at the silhouette of the object, I realized it was not a conventional aircraft, meaning that it was not one that was already published in Jane's All the World's Aircraft. It was no aircraft I had ever seen, and it wasn't one that I knew any prototype of.

"As I was taking notes, I also memorized what was in front of me for what seemed like hours, but was in fact only minutes.Finally, I unleashed my camera-case cover and brought the camera up to focus. The air was electric. It made my hair and skin feel as if I were surrounded by static electricity or some type of energy. I began snapping photo after photo. It was still eerily quiet."

I touched the symbols
"I got to within 10 feet of the craft and the clearing where it sat. I estimated it to be about three meters tall and about three meters wide at the base. No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed legs. I moved a little closer. I had already taken all 36 pictures on my roll of film. I walked around the craft, and finally, I walked right up to the craft. I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque, black glass. The bluish lights went from black to gray to blue. I was pretty much confused at that point. I kept trying to put this in some kind of frame of reference, trying to find some logical explanation as to what this was and what was going on. It was dead silent. No animals were even making noise anymore.

"On the smooth exterior shell there was writing of some kind, but I couldn't quite distinguish it, so I moved up to it. It was three-inch lettering, rather symbols that stretched for the length of two feet, maybe a little more. I touched the symbols, and I could feel the shapes as if they were inscribed or etched or engraved, like a diamond cut on glass.

"At that point, I backed away from the craft, because the light was starting to get brighter. Still, there was no sound. There was no physical contact with any kind of life form, but there did seem to be a life presence. It was mechanical, this ship, and it seemed to be under intelligent control.

"The next thing I knew, I was standing about 20 feet away from the craft with Burroughs, who I thought I had left back near the tree line. The craft moved up off the ground, about three feet, still with absolutely no sound. It started to move slowly, weaving back through the trees at a very slow pace, maybe a half a foot per second. It took about a couple of minutes for it to manuever itself back to a distance of about 100 to 150 feet, then it rose up just over the trees, about 200 feet high. There was a momentary pause -- and then literally with the blink of an eye it was gone. All with no sound. That still boggles my mind.

"We thought it had left, but then both Airman Burroughs and I saw the same array of colored lights maybe a half mile away. So we pursued it, trying to follow its course as best we could on foot. We only got about 300 yards into the woods before we turned around. We still had no radio contact, which I thought was strange. We weren't even getting squelch. We went back to the clearing. There, Airman Burroughs noticed the impression, the indentations in the ground. We found three of them, all triangular in shape, each about three meters apart. Then I decided we should head back."



Notes: Several aspects of this story make it one of the most outstanding cases:

  • The commanding officer of the base, a USAF Lieutenant Colonel, wrote this official memorandum about the incidents addressed to the British Defense Cabinet. This memo is now in the public domain. This is a case where a high ranked officer with the responsibility to manage an joint USAF RAF base signs an incredible series of events.

  • The whole case gathers visual witnesses of ground events, air events, by military personal and officers, and also radar sightings, air pursuit, ground traces, radioactivity positive measures on the ground.

  • The affair caused the anger of the former British defence chief, who claimed to the press that his succesor and the military authorities deliberately hid to the general public the fact that a ufo came and landed in British territories.

Unfortunately, it also seems that some self promotion seeking ufologist have added some confusion using ver late and contradictory witnesses and possibly a fake tape recording.

It also seems quite likely that some late contradictory and confusing data might have been brought forth by military or intelligence autorities to discredit the otherwise clear and precise witnesses of the events.

The Halt memorandum:

 The Halt Memorandum

Memorandum regarding the Woodbridge/Rendlesham forest incident by Charles I. Halt, Lt Col, USAF, Deputy Base Commander of the joint United States and United Kingdom airbase at Woodbridge in Suffolk, England. The memorandum was released via the Freedom of Information Act in the United States in June 1983.   (A reprint transcript of the memo can be found here)

The Halt Tape

Transcription of the sound recording by Lieutenant Colonel Halt during is patrol in the forest, during which they met the landed ufo. The tape has been released in the public by a Colonel and a General.

Sketch with notes by USAF law enforcement patrolman John Burroughs of the UFO he encountered at the Rendlesham Forest after Christmas 1980. Source Antonio Huneeus.


Article about the Rendlesham incidents

An article about the Woodbridge/Rendlesham forest incident, from 'UFOs - the definitive casebook', by John Spencer, 1991.

Article about the Rendlesham incidents

Entries on the 'Rendlesham Forest' incidents from 'The UFO Encyclopedia', by John Spencer (Headline Books, ISBN 0-7472-3494-9)

Article about the Rendlesham incidents

An article from the newspaper 'The People' (UK), Sunday 4th of December 1994 regarding the Rendlesham incidents. 'UFO-landing was kept secret' says ex-Defence Chief - by David Jack. More References:

  • Halt, Lt. Col. Charles I., USAF, Memorandum to MOD, "SUBJECT: Unexplained Lights," January 13,1980.
  • Huneeus, Antonio, "The Testimony of John Burroughs," Fate, September 1993.
  • Transcript of Col. Halt's audio recording published in Good, T., Above Top Secret, Quill, William Morrow, 1988.
  • Interview with Col. (Ret.) Halt, Unsolved Mysteries, "U.S. military officers discuss a 1980 sighting of an unidentified flying craft near a U.S. air base in England," originally broadcast on NBC-TV on September 18, 1991.
  • Butler, Street & Randles, Sky Crash, Neville Spearman, 1984; Randles, J., From Out of the Blue, Global Communications, 1991; "The Bentwaters Incident," articles by Jenny Randles, Ray Boeche and Antonio Huneeus, Fate, September 1993.
  • Pope, Nick, lecture at the New Hampshire MUFON Conference, Portsmouth, September 10, 1995.
  • Noyes, Ralph, "UFO lands in Suffolk - and that's Official," chapter in Timothy Good's anthology, The UFO Report 1990, Sidgewick & Jackson, 1989.

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