On December 28, 2010, former USAF Security Policemen (SPs) Jim Penniston and John Burroughs will co-host the 30th Anniversary Reunion of those involved in the UFO-related events at the Anglo-American airbase RAF Bentwaters and nearby Rendlesham Forest, in Suffolk, England in December 1980. Information about event, including a conference that will be open to the public, may be found at:
By Robert Hastings
Rendlesham Forest Incident 1980 30th Anniversary Conference
During the early hours of December 26, 1980, USAF Security Policemen Jim Penniston, John Burroughs and Adrian Bustinza were attempting to discover the source of unexplained lights in Rendlesham Forest when they stumbled upon a landed, triangular-shaped UFO. What happened next has been written about in countless articles over the past 30 years. Less well known is the fact that other SPs, on duty at the nearby Weapons Storage Area (WSA), also reported a UFO hovering near the facility two nights later. At that time, the WSA held the largest stockpile of tactical nuclear bombs—also known as battlefield nukes—in Western Europe.
Just prior to the appearance of the UFO at the WSA, in the wee hours of December 28th, Bentwaters’ deputy base commander, then Lt. Col. Charles Halt, was leading a small group of SPs through Rendlesham Forest in an effort to identify the source of mysterious lights observed moving through the trees—the second such incident that week. In 1997, a retired Col. Halt spoke about the experience in an interview with journalist A.J.S. Rayl, saying,
“[After leaving the woods, our search team] crossed the farmer's field past his house and across the road, stumbled through a small stream, and went out into a large plowed field. Somebody noticed several objects in the sky—three objects clearly visible with multiple-colored lights on them. The objects appeared elliptical and then they turned full round, which I thought was quite interesting. All three doing that. They were stationary for awhile and then they started to move at high speed in sharp angular patterns as though they were doing a grid search.Elaborating on this last point during a 1999 interview with author Georgina Bruni, Col. Halt said, “We heard radio conversations on the Law Enforcement frequency, the Security Police frequency, and the Command Network...We could hear talk about one of the objects [being] in the vicinity of the Bentwaters WSA. I heard that some of the beams, or whatever they were, came down into the WSA...[However,] I was several miles away. From my view, a beam or more came down near the WSA. I don’t know for a fact that the beams landed there. I know they were in the area. I was too far away [and so] relied on the radio chatter which indicated the beams landed there. We could see several beams and members in the WSA went on the radio to report them. Several airmen present later told me they saw the beams. I don’t remember any names at this point.”
About that same time, somebody noticed a similar object [in another part of the sky]. It was round—did not change shape—and at one point it appeared to come toward us at a very high speed. It stopped overhead and sent down a small pencil-like beam, sort of like a laser beam. It was an interesting beam in that it stayed—it was the same size all the way down the beam. It illuminated the ground about ten feet from us and we just stood there in awe wondering whether it was a signal, a warning, or what it was. We really didn't know. It clicked-off as though someone threw a switch, and the object receded, back up into the sky.
Then it moved back toward Bentwaters, and continued to send down beams of light, at one point near the weapons storage facility. We knew that because we could hear the chatter on the [two-way] radio.”
Halt further discussed the incident at the WSA during a Sci Fi Channel television program, UFO Invasion at Rendlesham , which first aired in December 2003. After some prodding by the show’s host, Bryant Gumble, a reluctant Halt stated, “The object to the south [of my position in the forest] was actually sending some beams down near, or into, the Weapons Storage Area. That caused me a great deal of concern. You know, what was it doing there? Was it searching for something, was it trying to—who knows what it was trying to do?” For a split second, it seemed as if Halt would say something like, “Was it trying to zap the nukes?” but caught himself before the words left his lips.
In 2007, I interviewed one of the SPs on duty at the WSA that night, Robert “Charlie” Waters. As I write in my book, UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites:
Waters told me, “There was some commotion in the WSA that night. Someone saw this object, I don’t remember who, and called out to us. I think my ART partner was Rob Isbell, but I’m not certain. But we looked and saw this spinning light—a multicolored light, I can’t really remember the colors—anyway, this craft was hovering and then slowly descended toward the forest. We ran up on one of the berms to get a better view of it. Then we reported it [to Central Security Control]. I remember I used a couple of expletives and was warned not to use profanity on the radio...The next morning, I talked to one of the operations officers who told me that [a small group of SPs] had gone out to the woods and had seen some burn marks on trees, about three feet off the ground. He said it looked like, whatever it was, had bounced from tree to tree coming down. The person who told me that wasn’t our flight’s shift commander. He was another officer, but I don’t remember his name.”Cases of frenzied animal behavior in the presence of a nearby UFO have been reported worldwide for decades. Other former or retired USAF witnesses I’ve interviewed also confirmed a UFO near the WSA, on more than one night that week, as I explain in my book, UFOs and Nukes.
...I asked Waters to describe the UFO he and his ART partner saw, using my standard question, “If you held a dime at arm’s length, was it larger than that?” Waters immediately said, “Yes! I would say it was, when I first saw it, as large as a, uh, cantaloupe held at arm’s length! It was big! It was spinning and, I think, had a light on the bottom of it, but I’m not sure. I also think I saw something sticking out on the bottom, uh, like a rod or something like that.” I quickly asked Waters if he ever saw anything resembling a beam of light coming out of the UFO. “No, nothing like that, at least what I saw. Nothing coming out and going down to the ground, or anywhere else.”
I asked Waters if the UFO had ever been over the Weapons Storage Area itself. He replied, “Not that I saw. It never came directly over our heads. It stayed just over the trees and moved slowly from right to left until it, I think, disappeared behind them. To be honest, I don’t remember where it went, but it was descending when I saw it. It was pretty amazing. I didn’t immediately think “alien”, you know, I was just perplexed. Also, I remember the animals were going crazy. There were cows mooing and, uh, farm animal noises in the distance. It was almost like they were screaming!”
Significantly, UFO incursions at WSAs at other USAF bases occurred in the years both preceding and following the incident at Bentwaters. A brief summary of those cases follows here:
● October 27 and 28, 1975: A bright, orange-colored, American football-shaped UFO hovered silently over the WSA at Loring AFB, Maine, two nights in a row. The facility stored strategic nuclear bombs utilized by the B-52 bombers based there. The object was pursued by but eluded Air Force security personnel in jeeps. These events have been confirmed by declassified USAF documents and witness statements.
● October 30, 1975: An unknown object hovered over the WSA at Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan. The facility stored strategic nuclear bombs utilized by the B-52 bombers based there. Although referred to as an “unknown helicopter” in various military communications, the object outran a C-135 tanker aircraft that had been ordered to chase it, leaving the area at an estimated 1,000 knots, according to the aircraft’s navigator. This event has been confirmed by declassified USAF documents and witness statements.
● Date Unknown, Fall 1975: A bright object hovered silently over the WSA at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. The facility stored strategic nuclear warheads, formally known as “Re-entry Vehicles” utilized by the Minuteman III ICBMs based there. The object outran two helicopters sent up to pursue it. This event has been confirmed by USAF witness statements including one offered by Lt. Col. Robert Peisher, the helicopter squadron commander.
● Dates Unknown 1980: Over a several month-period, a bright object repeatedly hovered over the WSA at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, resulting in multiple security alerts. The facility stored strategic nuclear warheads utilized by the Minuteman III ICBMs based there. These events have been confirmed by witness statements.
● August 9, 1980: A disc-shaped UFO landed near the WSA at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. This event has been confirmed by declassified USAF documents and witness statements.
● July 28-29, 1989: A disc-shaped UFO hovered over a WSA at the Kapustin Yar base in the Soviet Union, and directed beams of light down onto the roof of the “rocket weapons depot” before departing. The facility stored strategic nuclear warheads utilized by the intermediate-range RT-14 missiles based there. This event has been confirmed by declassified KGB documents and statements by Soviet Army personnel. In an article written by researcher Antonio Huneeus, entitled Soviet nukes and UFOs, the specifics of the incident were presented as follows:
One fascinating case Soviet military case...occurred at an army missile base in the district of Kapustin Yar, Astrakhan Region, on the night of July 28-29, 1989. A partial file of this incident was declassified by the KGB in 1991 to the late cosmonaut and general Pavel Popovich, as part of a so-called “blue folder” of 124 pages of “Cases of Observations of Anomalous Occurrences in the Territory of the USSR, 1982-1990.”
The Kapustin Yar dossier consists of the depositions of seven military witnesses (two junior officers, a corporal and four privates) plus illustrations of the object by the observers, and a brief case summary by an unnamed KGB officer. The KGB file is obviously incomplete, since there is no data on the jet scramble mission (which is mentioned) and no final conclusions. However, the documents we do have provide fascinating reading. The most detailed observation comes from the Officer-on-Duty, Ensign Valery N. Voloshin:
“One could clearly see a powerful blinking signal which resembled a camera flash in the night sky. The object flew over the unit’s logistics yard and moved in the direction of the rocket weapons depot, 300 meters [1,000 ft.] away. It hovered over the depot at a height of 20 meters [65 ft.]. The UFO’s hull shone with a dim green light which looked like phosphorous. It was a disc, 4 or 5 m. [13-17 ft.] in diameter, with a semispherical top.
“While the object was hovering over the depot, a bright beam appeared from the bottom of the disc, where the flash had been before, and made two or three circles, lighting the corner of one of the buildings…The movement of the beam lasted for several seconds, then the beam disappeared and the object, still flashing, moved in the direction of the railway station. After that, I observed the object hovering over the logistics yard, railway station and cement factory. Then it returned to the rocket weapons depot, and hovered over it at an altitude of 60-70 m. [200-240 ft.]. The object was observed from that time on, by the first guard-shift and its commander. At 1:30 hrs., the object flew in the direction of the city of Akhtubinsk and disappeared from sight. The flashes on the object were not periodical, I observed all this for exactly two hours: from 23:30 to 1:30.”
Ensign Voloshin also provided a sketch of the disc-shaped object emitting the beam (see picture below):
- click on image(s) to enlarge -
The multiple witness incident at Kapustin Yar was selected as one of the cases in the Laurance Rockefeller-funded UFO Briefing Document—The Best Available Evidence, which I coauthored with Don Berliner and Marie Galbraith in 1995. That is available here.
In summary, the UFO incident at the RAF Bentwaters Weapons Storage Area was not unique. While skeptics have attempted to explain away the hovering disc and the beams of light emanating from it in the usual manner—as observations of stars, meteors, the Northern Lights, and so on—the witnesses at the facility know better.
If any of those witnesses whom I have not yet interviewed are reading this, I urge them to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their identities and accounts will be kept confidential unless I am granted permission to publish them.
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