Monday, August 8, 2011

Base commander speaks out on Rendlesham UFO

A major figure in the Rendlesham UFO case has broken his silence after 30 years.  Colonel Ted Conrad, commander of both the Brentwaters and Woodbridge airbases during the incident in 1980, contends that the whole event might have been a hoax.

I know that I have from time to time tossed out the Rendlesham case as one of the best UFO encounters in terms of evidence but I have never elaborated on what the incident entailed.  I will now do so as expeditiously as I can.  Aficionados of Ufology may wish to skip down a few paragraphs.

Starting on December 26th of 1980, a serious of mysterious lights were observed at Brentwaters AFB in Britain, located on the east coast near Orford.  These lights moved into the woods of Rendlesham Forest that adjoins the base.  Thinking that there might be an aircraft down, Air Force security personnel went to investigate.  One of the servicemen, Sgt. Jim Penniston, claims to have encountered a physical craft in the woods.  The UFO was black, triangular in shape, and sitting on a tripod of landing gear.  Penniston made sketches and detailed notes of what he termed “a craft of unknown origin.”  Among these notes were copies of the numerous symbols marking the UFO’s hull.  He even touched the surface of the craft, which he described as being “smooth and warm.”  After daybreak, the personnel returned to the sight of the landing and observed three marks in the ground from the landing gear.  Impressions were made of the marks.  Nearby trees were found to have burned and broken limbs and Geiger counter readings showed elevated levels of radiation.
On December 28th the unknown lights returned.  This time, Lt. Col. Charles Halt accompanied the men into the woods to investigate.  Halt recorded the entire event on his microcassette recorder.  In the recording, Halt narrates what he and his men saw, describing lights darting back and forth in the sky and even a beam of light that was shot into the ground at their feet.  Halt’s voice conveys the sense of someone genuinely perplexed and agitated by what they are seeing.
Halt would later file an official report, stating that he believed the lights were part of a craft that was of “extraterrestrial origin.”
Since the occurrences at Rendelsham Forest, there has been much back and forth between skeptics and Ufologists.  Nick Pope, former British Ministry of Defense official and now a preeminent UFO investigator, called the Rendelsham Incident “bigger than Roswell.”  Air Force personnel who witnessed the event, including Penniston and Halt, have stood by their stories to this very day and are active in the movement for UFO disclosure.  Skeptics blamed it all on light from the nearby Orford Ness lighthouse and the re-entry of a Soviet satellite.  And the “landing gear” marks?  Rabbit holes.

Well you can add one more voice to the ranks of skepticism.  It comes from none other than base commander Col. Conrad.  Conrad maintains that during the ensuing official investigation, nothing could be found to corroborate Halt and Penniston’s claims. 
"We had people in position to validate Halt's narrative, but none of them could,” Conrad said.  He goes further to say this of Halt: “"He should be ashamed and embarrassed by his allegation that his country and England both conspired to deceive their citizens over this issue. He knows better.” 

The jaded cynic in me looks at Conrad’s statements and thinks, “well, what else is he going to say?”  Should we really expect this former military lifer to come out and say, “yep, it was a UFO and we knew about the aliens all along”?   That would certainly seem incongruous to what we’ve seen of official policy thus far regarding UFOs. 
Any way you look at it, the Rendelsham Incident is a big deal. 
Say that the entire thing was a mass misperception.  Then members of our armed forces, who are supposed to be the best trained in the world now or then, were tricked into a tizzy by optical illusions and then even fibbed about a landed craft.  And these are guys who were charged with guarding a base that housed nuclear weapons.
Say that it was a hoax as Conrad suggests it might have been.  Then someone perpetrated a prank on a US military base, again one that housed nuclear weapons.  Or he’s calling his former men liars.  Neither of those looks good for ol’ USAF.
Say that it was a UFO.  Then an unknown craft, possible alien in origin, penetrated secure air space, landed, and left behind evidence that has been marginalized or covered up. 

I for one still support Halt, Penniston, and the other men involved and believe their accounts.

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1 comment:

  1. Let me amend that last statement, please. Penniston's "binary code from the future" business has given me pause to reconsider. I'll need to read his new book to be sure.