At the time of the encounter Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk was bordered by two USAF bases, RAF Bentwaters in the north and RAF Woodbridge in the west. The main events of the incident, including the supposed "landing", took place in the forest, almost a mile (1600 m) to the east of the East Gate of RAF Woodbridge.
On Boxing Day (26th December) 1980 at 3 a.m. an unidentified flying object was reported by a security patrol near the East Gate of RAF Woodbridge. Thinking it might be a downed aircraft investigators headed out into the forest to try and find out what was going on. They found no wreakage but they saw many strange lights moving through the trees, as well as a bright light from an unidentified object. Around 4 a.m. local bobbies (police to the non-Brits out there!) arrived but the only lights they could see were from Orford Ness lighthouse, some miles away on the coast.
Some reports suggest a conical, metallic object was seen by the investigating servicemen hovering over the trees with pulsating lists and suspended in a yellow mist. One claimed to see triangular landing gear underneath the craft.
At day break they returned to the site and found three circles in a triangular impression in the ground, trees nearby were broken and burnt. At 10 a.m. the local bobbies returned and pronounced the impressions could easily have been left by wild animals.
On the morning of the 28th of December those involved returned to the area and took radiation readings, made a recording of their actions and saw a flashing light in the distance, in line with a local farmhouse. Later, starlike lights were seen in the sky to the north and south, the brightest of which seemed to beam down a stream of light from time to time.
So far, so normal for a ufo encounter.
However the fact that these incidents were seen by a great many people, who were members of the military and that the incidents were written in a formal report The Halt memo lend it a little more credibility than usual. Although one police officer might not agree:
"There was nothing to be seen and he remains unconvinced that the occurrence was genuine. The immediate area was swept by powerful light beams from a landing beacon at RAF Bentwaters and the Orfordness lighthouse. I know from personal experience that at night, in certain weather and cloud conditions, these beams were very pronounced and certainly caused strange visual effects."
This is often is often considered to be "Britain's Roswell". There are many who believe that what the servicemen saw that day was extraterrestrial. There are, however, plenty of others who disagree and use the evidence of other light sources, plus the fact of reports of mist to suggest it was all a misunderstanding.
Personally I don't know what to think. It's certainly an interesting case but rather middle of the road. It might have been something unusual. It might have been mist and light from the lighthouse combining to put on a spectacular show. We will probably never know for sure... it's one of those unexplained mysteries I so love.
This website has great information and you can watch an episode of Unsolved Mysteries which will give you the story in detail. Part one is below:
Part 2 and Part 3
On a related note, I used to love Unsolved Mysteries! What a brilliant show.
You Can't Tell the People: The Cover-up of Britain's Roswell - Georgina Bruni The definitive account of what happened and the interesting events that followed.