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18:30 06 January 2017
“The Rendlesham Forest incident can truly be regarded as the ‘perfect storm’ of a UFO case”, explains former Ministry of Defence investigator Nick Pope in his introduction to a new book on the 36-year-old mystery.
John Hanson’s 800-page study promises “the truth” about what happened outside RAF Woodbridge over two nights in late December 1980 – as told by one of the highest ranking military officers embroiled in the debate.
The Halt Perspective opens in 1940s Pittsburgh – birthplace of the future US airforce commander whose name would be synonymous with an audio tape recording of the ensuing investigation.
As deputy commander of the twin bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge, Colonel Charles I. Halt prepared a memo for the MoD describing “unexplained lights”, and recorded what became known as the Halt Tape – a documented analysis of the nearby forest scene, where Halt saw more mysterious lights, like those witnessed by airmen Jim Penniston and John Burroughs two nights earlier.
In 2010, the retired colonel signed an affidavit claiming the encounter was extraterrestrial and had been covered up by the government.
Over three-and-a-half decades, the mystery has been variously explained away as an elaborate prank, a military training exercise, or even the result of confusion caused by beams from Orford Ness lighthouse – in response to which, Mr Halt said: “I’m tired of all the disinformation out there. It seems that every time I turn around, I hear more nonsense or am accused of something.”
Mr Halt claims his initial memo on the unexplained lights was passed to the United States intelligence service without his knowledge, and that exaggerated UFO stories were deliberately spread to camouflage the truth.
Before the incident, labelled himself a sceptic. “I was a non-believer,” he said. “I never really gave it a second thought before the incident.
“I still didn’t say much publicly until people started putting out all kinds of garbage and nonsense – so much disinformation out there – and people bugging me about what happened.
“I finally decided, it’s time to tell the truth. I believe the objects that I saw at close quarter were extraterrestrial in origin, and that the security services of both the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted, both then and now, to subvert the significance of what occurred at Rendlesham Forest and RAF Bentwaters by the use of well-practiced methods of disinformation.”
Mr Halt’s own version of events has been called into question by his then commanding officer, Col Theodore (Ted) Conrad, in a series of statements to Dr David Clarke, a Sheffield Hallam University academic and the UFO adviser to the National Archives. Meanwhile, Mr Halt has cast his own doubts over the credibility of another witness, Larry Warren, to whom he directed open criticism at a public conference in Woodbridge last July.
The book’s author and publisher, Mr Hanson, a former West Midlands police officer turned UFO investigator, has also written 11 volumes on the history of UFO sightings from 1939-1990.
He called the The Halt Perspective an “in-depth look at possibly the greatest UFO event in modern British history”.
“The truth, that needs no added sensationalism, is that the deputy commander of a US Air Force base in Suffolk, along with others, observed what they believe to be an extraterrestrial craft,” he added.
“In late December, 1980, there was a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights near Rendlesham Forest, which became linked with claims of UFO landings.
“What’s more, the events occurred just outside RAF Woodbridge, at that time used by the US Air Force – a very strategic military base at the height of the Cold War.”
Among the many UFO sightings reported across East Anglia in the years before and after the Rendlesham Incident, Mr Hanson documents a succession in north Essex between 1978 and 1990, with triangular objects also seen over Sizewell nuclear power station, near Leiston.
The Halt Perspective is available via hauntedskies.co.uk.