Astronomer Ian Ridpath (right), a key investigator into the December 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, lead myself, Today presenter Evan Davis (centre) and producer Jonathan Harvey deep into the pine woods for what almost became the Blair Witch UFO project. Cue lots of fast walking and talking on what was a very enjoyable, and informative, adventure.
As we emerged at the other side of the plantation, Ian showed us the dazzlingly bright Orford Ness lighthouse which he believes is at the centre of the second night’s sightings, made famous on the recording by Colonel Charles Halt. I’ll admit that I was never entirely convinced by the lighthouse explanation, but having seen it for myself, I think it makes absolute sense. As Ian points out, even the timing of the USAF men’s gasps at the light on the tape matches the lighthouse’s periodic rotation.
I’d suggest that anyone who can get there spends an hour or so in the dark following the path through the woods taken by the USAF witnesses and relives the experience for themselves. Not only might you gain an understanding into the December 1980 event itself, but it’s a lot of fun: Rendlesham Forest can lay claim to being Britain’s greatest, and only, UFO-experience adventure park!
So the real mystery at the heart of the Rendlesham incident is not the cover up of a UFO landing, but how men guarding a then-secret nuclear stockpile capable of destroying half of East Anglia could so easily be panicked into total confusion.
It has been nearly 30 years since Britain’s biggest UFO incident, when a security patrol of US service men based at RAF Woodbridge spotted strange lights moving through the trees in Rendlesham Forest. Evan Davis visited the woods at night with author Mark Pilkington and astronomer Ian Ridpath to see what he could find.
If you want to get a handle on the UFO incident itself, visit Ian Ridpath’s Rendlesham site