Rendlesham Forest revisited
A review of the UK's most credible UFO landing

IAs any student of the UFO phenomenon will be aware, the events of Christmas 1980 that took place in the coniferous plantations opposite the eastern perimeter of the Woodbridge USAF airbase remain the subject of debate and controversy. On one hand we have the accounts of experienced and disciplined military personnel up to the rank of Lt. Col., on the other the counter-claims of sceptics such as Ian Ridpath.

I first visited Rendlesham and Tunstall Forests back in the late seventies: even before the events of Christmas 1980, the area was a beautiful and haunting place. Accompanied by a small group of long-time researchers, I decided to return to the forest a number of times during the 30th anniversary of the incident to re-examine the contentions of both sets of protagonists. The results were, against all expectations, astonishing!

The map shows our route through the forest in August 2010: we were keen to see whether the infamous lighthouse at Orford Ness (claimed by most sceptics to be the source of many of the light effects) could still be seen from key points in the accounts.
1) The East Gate from where the original sightings were made
2) The region where a grounded object was observed closely by Jim Penniston and John Burroughs
3) Location of Adrian Bustinza's sighting
4) The Charles Halt landing site



In fact, the lighthouse cannot be seen at all from any of these parts of the forest, and neither, at night, can its beam! The reason given by Ian Ridpath for this is that the 'new' lamp is only 13% as bright as the original: in fact, this is not the case. In 1980, the lamp had an output of 750,000 candellas: the current one has a luminosity of 635,000 candellas, but an identical range of 25 miles.
(See this site for confirmation: http://www.orfordpiece.com/html/orfordness_lighthouse.html )
Another relevant fact: the eastern horizon as seen looking across the Capel Green is, to some extent, now obscured by the growth of trees, but the Orfordness Light was, at the time, still visible as a star-like point of light with a five second repeat.


But if you've ever visited Paris, you'll know
that the dimmer beam of the Eiffel Tower
can be seen all over the city, even when
the tower is hidden by intervening buildings.
You'd expect that if the Orford Ness light
were responsible for the reported UFO
activity in 1980, it would would have been
a familiar sight to everyone in the area.

On the left is the photograph frequently used
by the well-known UFOsceptic IR. It gives the
impression that the lighthouse is highly visible
above the eastern horizon.

In fact, as can be seen in my picture taken in
June 2011, this is not the case. Even with a
400mm t/p lens and careful enhancement using Paintshop Pro, the tower is barely discernible!

So much for IR's 'scientific rigour'


On one occasion, we spoke with a local woman who had lived in the region for 35 years. She was adamant that the opinions of many local people, and the observations of the airmen and military police officers at the time, had been misrepresented and altered to minimise the significance of events. She insisted that the entire region of the Halt encounter had not only been felled, but, unusually, burnt as well within a few days of the reported landing. She had listened to a BBC4 broadcast by Ian Ridpath and Evan Davis and made the important observation that Col Halt had left the forest and seen further strange lights looking south and west from the field behind Green Farm: from here, both the Orford Light and Shipwash lightship bear in an easterly direction. One interesting point that people seem to have overlooked is that on the three nights of the Rendlesham happenings, Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction, rising in the east around midnight. There can be little doubt that this brilliant pair of planets, twinkling above the horizon, were the white lights reported in that direction by Halt at around 3.00am.