By Mark Murphy
BBC Suffolk Breakfast Show presenter
Mark and alien friend will be presenting new evidence
It's hoped one of the greatest Suffolk mysteries of all time is about to be solved once and for all, with new evidence to be revealed on BBC Radio Suffolk.
In December 1980 something strange happened in the forest close to the giant twin US airbases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge.
Was it a UFO crash landing or was it simply the light from Orford Ness lighthouse?
Whatever it was it's caused years of debate, speculation, gossip and rumour.
Now after 30 years, I'm hoping to reveal what happened in Rendlesham Forest and have joined up with the East Anglian Daily Times to finally uncover the events of December 1980.
On the evening of Friday, 17 December I'll be presenting a special programme on BBC Radio Suffolk from the Bentwaters Cold War Museum.
I'll be revealing new evidence that I believe will finally reveal the truth and put the conspiracy theories to bed for good.
In the meantime I want to hear your memories of the event, and your thoughts on what really happened.
Thirty years later, do you now feel confident about coming forward?
So what did happen? Let's go back 30 years and get an overview based on various accounts.
On the evening of 26 December, 1980 at 3am there is a report of a possible air crash near the perimeter fence at RAF Woodbridge. Three security officers go to investigate.
They radio back mentioning a strange glowing object in the forest - metallic in appearance and triangular in shape (two metres by three metres across the base and two metres high).
What is considered unusual is the information which is logged at Woodbridge police station. In the incident book there is a log of a sighting of strange lights in the sky. Someone reports a bright fireball.
Rendlesham Forest, which lies between the two bases, is illuminated by a white light.
D Flight of security police responds to a 'falling star' report outside the weapons storage area.
Lt Col Charles Halt, the deputy commanding officer of RAF Woodbridge was then called.
They see an object with pulsing red lights on top and a bank of blue lights underneath, hovering or on legs. As the patrolmen approach, it manoeuvres through the trees and disappears.
Later that night, an intense red light moves and pulses through the trees and breaks into five separate white objects and disappears.
Three star-like objects are then seen in the sky, moving rapidly in sharp, angular motions and displaying red, green and blue lights.
RAF Bentwaters in 1985 , when it was a United States Air Force base
One patrolman later described how the air seemed charged with electricity, how his hair stood on end and that they seemed to be walking in slow motion.
He said he examined the craft which was covered with strange symbols, and touched the smooth, black, glass-type fabric.
It then slowly moved back, weaving in and around the trees, to about 40 feet away, then rose up into the air and shot off as fast as you could blink. It appeared to be under some sort of intelligent control.
The next day, three depressions could be seen on the ground where the object appeared, and when the area was checked for radiation, beta/gamma readings peaked at the spot where it landed.
Two nights later, again at around 3am, 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.
Lt Col Charles Halt changed into his battle fatigues and goes back into Rendlesham Forest.
Rendlesham Forest, the scene of the alleged UFO crash
From a nearby farm they could see, maybe 20 degrees off the horizon, three white objects - elliptical, like a quarter moon - with blue, green, and red lights on them, making sharp, angular movements.
A red sun-like light moved and pulsed through the trees.
One military witness later said: "Here I am, a senior official that routinely denies this sort of thing and diligently works to debunk them and I'm involved in the middle of something I can't explain."
One of the patrolmen has since claimed that the whole episode was documented on video and stills but these have never come to light.
Halt was to claim later that two rolls of film he took never came out.
The Ministry of Defence's (MOD) official response has been dismissive but Nick Pope, who for three years was in charge of the MOD's UFO investigations has gone on record to say: "You had a number of US Air Force personnel at a very important base in Suffolk having seen a structured craft moving through Rendlesham Forest.
"It almost appeared to be leading them on a merry chase through the woods.
"My conclusions: Type of craft: unknown. Origin: unknown. Purpose of craft: unknown I guess."
Was the lighthouse at Orford Ness responsible for the light?
There is uncertainty as to whether this is proof of an actual alien encounter and an official cover up.
Sceptics say that the eyewitness accounts differ widely and contradict each other - and some tales have grown in the telling since 1980.
In his memo to the MOD, Lt Col Halt even seems to have got the date of the first sightings wrong.
The story has since been thoroughly re-examined and some plausible explanations have emerged:
- Close by is a lighthouse which strobes brightly into the forest at low level;
- There was a brilliant meteor over southern England at the exact same time;
- The upper stage rocket of a Soviet satellite, Cosmos 749, had broken up on re-entry;
- One star was reported as being exceptionally bright between Christmas and New Year;
- Could the mysterious object have been one of the earliest trials of the Stealth bomber?
- Could it have been a US spy satellite dropped on Suffolk by mistake?
- On the ground, the "triangular" marks left at the landing site could simply be rabbit diggings and as for the radiation spikes, the readings taken were so low, they are insignificant.
So what do you think happened? Were you there at the time? Did you see or hear anything strange?
Get in contact, and tune in on Friday, 17 December for the new evidence which I'm confident will change people's opinions of what happened.
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