American military men encounter multiple UFOs near an air force base in Bentwaters, England.

Two airmen laying on the ground, looking up at a hovering saucer with many lights

UFO as described by American airmen

Airmen looking through trees at a glowing red light in the middle of the forest

Airmen said they saw a glowing red object


3 mysterious lights over a large field

Eyewitnesses reported mysterious lights

Rendlesham Forest, England, is home to America’s Woodridge Air Force base. On December 26, 1980, at around 2 AM, Airman First Class John Burroughs, and his partner, were on routine patrol along the base perimeter. The base was nearly empty. But, according to Sgt. Burroughs, something bright was lighting up the nearby woods:

“There was definitely something out in the woods. It seemed to me like a massive light show. I was nervous, he was nervous. We didn’t know what to expect, and we decided at that point that we better get back and let somebody know what’s going on in case something did happen.”

Burroughs quickly notified his immediate superior. In minutes, another security patrol arrived. They had also seen the strange lights. Burroughs and the second security team went off base to investigate. Sgt. Burroughs said they were ordered to leave their weapons behind because they were moving out of American jurisdiction:

“We didn’t know what we were getting into. We started in on foot towards the lights. At the same time, we could hear the animals. They were very upset because you could hear a lot of ruckus. At that point we had a radio transmission. They’d just gotten contact from Heathrow tower in London that an object had been seen over our base and that it had disappeared on radar. All of a sudden, in the clearing, there was an object. It had a bank of blue lights on it. And it was sitting there strobing. It was unbelievable. We all hit the ground and it went up into the trees. When it was happening, everything seemed to go slower. We seemed to be in, like, I wouldn’t say a time warp, but like everything was happening slower to us and everything felt different. But when it disappeared, it was like everything was normal again, the perception of the ground, the air, the sky, the stars, the whole nine yards, were different.”

For more than two hours, Sgt. Burroughs said he and the two other men played a game of cat and mouse with the mysterious craft:

“It was off the ground and near the horizon above the trees. And it always stayed out in the distance at the horizon, and sometimes it appeared to get close, as if we were going to get close to it again, and then we never did.”

Col. Charles Halt of the United States Air Force

Col. Charles Halt, USAF (Ret.)

When Sgt. Burroughs and his men filed their report, they assumed no one would believe their account. Yet the events of that night resulted in one of the most well-documented sightings of a UFO in history. The next morning, Sgt. Burroughs nervously reported the sighting to his shift commander:

“He basically said, ‘Gentlemen, you saw something. Heathrow tower confirms that you saw something. And now, let’s go out into the area and see if we can find any physical proof of what happened.’ I was hoping when I got out there that basically I would see nothing. There would be no telltale evidence that possibly something happened. That would make it easier for me because, if there’s nothing proving that something happened to me, you can just kind of check it off. But when you get out there and you find damage to the trees, depressions in the ground and stuff, that makes it even more unexplainable.”

Later that same day, Burroughs and a British police officer explored the site where Burroughs saw the strange object. According to Burroughs, there were circular impressions in the earth directly below the spot where the craft appeared to hover:

“It was more of a mystery because when I first saw it, I didn’t perceive it as something sitting on the ground with a tripod type thing. Now, all of a sudden, there’s physical proof showing that something sat down in that area.”

Charle's military report of what he witnessed that night

Halt’s report, released through FOIA

The British police officer dismissed the circles as the marks of animals that had been digging there. But he did order his men to measure the distance between the circles.
They were exactly the same distance apart and formed a perfect equilateral triangle.

Rumors of the UFO sighting had spread like wildfire. Later that morning, Col. Charles Halt, deputy base commander, arrived at Woodbridge security headquarters:

“I was very skeptical. I found what had allegedly taken place hard to believe and I was really going to debunk it, quite frankly. And as events unfolded, I became more and more concerned that there may be something to this. I kept telling myself that there had to be some type of an explanation for it. But I certainly couldn’t find one and even to this day I, I can’t explain what happened.”

That evening, unusual lights were once again spotted in the forest. This time, the base commander ordered large floodlights, devices commonly known as light-alls, to be set up in the woods. At 9:30 PM, Col. Halt received word the lights had mysteriously stopped working. Base security was immediately ordered to set up more floodlights. Col. Halt put together a special investigative team:

“I called the on-duty, or stand-by, man of disaster preparedness and had him get his camera — he was a professional photographer — and calibrate several radiac instruments to take along. We were going to go debunk this.”

When Col. Halt arrived at the site, he said the second set of light-alls had also stopped working. And that’s not all:

“Some of the vehicles weren’t working properly and radio transmissions were limited at best.”

Armed with a Geiger counter, a starlight scope to enhance night vision, and a tape recorder to record his first impressions, Col. Halt led his team into the woods. Suddenly, a strange, glowing object appeared. As the object began to move away, Col. Halt said he and his men followed:

“As we were pursuing this glowing object through the woods, we noticed a farmhouse directly in front of us.”

The farmhouse appeared to be glowing very brightly, as though it was on fire. Then, according to Col. Halt:

“The object broke into five white objects and disappeared. And it was a very strange feeling in the air. It made your hair bristle, sort of like static electricity, you just had a very unusual feeling. And I don’t think it was all psychological. I think there was something physiological about it. I think there was some type of guiding force behind these objects. Whether it was trying to communicate with us, whether it was trying to warn us, or whether it was trying to do something to us, I don’t know.”

One of the members of Col. Halt’s team was Sgt. Robert Ball
“To me, it looked like a grid search, like they were boxing off an area and looking for something. And that was the thought that hit me right away, and it stayed with me over the years. It looked like a search pattern.”

Col. Halt said as the object moved about, it emitted laser-like beams of light:

“We could very clearly see it. It sort of danced about in the sky and it sent down beams of light. I noticed other beams of light coming down from the same object, following different places on the base. My boss was standing in his front yard at Woodbridge and he could see the beams of light falling down. And the people in that weapons storage area and several other places on the base also reported the lights.”

Staff Sgt. John Burroughs wasn’t on patrol the second night:

“I woke up about 3:30, 4 in the morning and for whatever reason, I felt like maybe something had happened again. I don’t know why. I just woke up and felt like something had came back, don’t ask me why, it just was a gut feeling. So I went ahead and got up and went up to the base. All of a sudden, a couple of blue transparent type lights appeared in the sky. They were all of a sudden on the horizon and one of them broke towards us. The only time the light-alls were working as far as coming on and off when I saw them, were when the blue light passed by. And I have no idea what caused the light-alls to come on and off, other than the fact that the blue light as it passed, the light-alls came on .”

At about the same time, just 300 yards away, Col. Halt and his team also had a remarkable close encounter:

“The object was coming at us at a very high rate of speed. One of these beams of light fell very, very close to us, sort of a pencil beam of light.”

Once the object took off, it never returned. The next day, Col. Halt drafted a memo about the incident. It was submitted to British military authorities, who never acted on it. The United States Air Force would not acknowledge the episode either. Then, in 1983, a private citizen used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain Halt’s memo. But not everybody was convinced by what it reported. James McGaha is a noted UFO skeptic and director of two private observatories:

“The burden of proof for any event that is extraordinary is upon those making the claim, not upon those who look at it from a skeptical perspective. Where is the evidence? Show me the evidence? And that’s what science is all about. On the first night, at about 3 o’clock that morning, a bright fireball, which is a very bright meteor came into the earth’s atmosphere. And this is unquestionably what John Burroughs saw that night.”

Sgt. Burroughs says, not so:

“I’ve seen meteor showers come down before. It wasn’t a meteor falling out of the sky. And it went up, not down. Meteors fall from the sky. They don’t go back up into the sky.”

Col. Halt said what he saw was not a meteor:

“Meteor’s not going to go up, go back and forth and maintain position in the sky for a long period of time. A meteor’s not going to send beams of light down.”

James McGaha believes both men were mistaken:

“I think both of them are being honest as to what their perceptions are. But human perception is very, very easily fooled. And I think when they went out there to the woods, everybody was out there expecting to see a UFO. With a pre-conceived notion, the way you view things can be greatly influenced.”

McGaha believes that the glowing red light Col. Halt saw that night was simply a reflection from the revolving beam of a nearby lighthouse. Col. Halt doesn’t think so:

“There are too many unrelated things. If it were just a reflection, how does one explain two different sightings in two different places in the sky? How does one explain the object moving through the forest? How does one explain the sighting in the forest by the three airmen? There were just too many things. I have a lot of unresolved questions I’m not sure I’ll ever have answered. I’ve had people suggest all sorts of things, everything from, I’ve seen the second coming of Christ, to the devil’s after us. I can’t explain it, I really can’t. I know it was beyond the realm of anything that we experience in ordinary life.”

Around the same time, two other unconfirmed sightings were reported in the vicinity of Woodbridge Air Base. At least 15 men, all of them US Air Force personnel, witnessed the strange lights and objects first-hand. The Air Force continues to have no official comment on the entire series of events.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season four with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. diIIon

    I seriously know What it is probably it’s some satellite dish Probably heading to earth But we are glad this satellite dish didn’t hit us Because if it did we would be killed Us all people are glad we Didn’t die Or it was something Or probably Aliens were actually real But I think we will never find this mystery What we got a check Everywhere in space do you see this satellite dish or something like that Nothing like This In our world Doesn’t exist You don’t know what is out there in the deepest space of Space But we gonna know what is this thing And it will be solved in A file And we are gonna win this unsolved mystery



    You think that what is going on in your sleep is a dream and you forget it. However, we are already among you.


  3. Thomas Waters

    I have never seen any UFOs but one thing for sure, if we are on this planet how can you be sure we are the only inhabitants world, NO WAY , I am a firm believer in UFOs we may not be the only people in our own universe but whoever they are they are very obviously far more advances than we are, TOM…..


  4. CHRIS

    idk maybe the military testing a unknown vehicle they made???


  5. John

    Jim Penniston, not Jim Pennington


  6. Bill Blaski

    Charles Halt has made his rounds on media for 30yrs. His story has only slightly changed and I last saw him on a UFO show on discovery. This seems to be one of the best ufo stories ever.


  7. Anon none 5 mins of fame wannabe

    Time travelers from the future 80 thousand years
    coordinates west from Woodbridge to hy brazil. ? Now add continental drift of the British Isles and your back in the forest maybe.


  8. Strange

    This has always been a pet peeve of mine.
    It’s a bleeding UFO by any definition.
    Is it a flying saucer? Are little green men in it? Who knows.
    Is it unidentified, flying, and an object? It’s a UFO!


  9. trev

    When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was asked about the Rendlesham incident she replied “UFOs? Oh you can’t tell the people”.


  10. Mulder

    One of the better documented UFO cases in recent history. The day after this event. The Cash/Landrum UFO Incident occurred. Another great UFO Case. I glad that Unsolved Mysteries didn’t interview Larry Warren. I believe he was in on trying to make this incident a joke. Disinformation. Whether there is a conventional explanation or not. Is still open to debate. Regardless, Something quite interesting happened on those specific nights.


  11. DF

    The military will never admit it. They know something that would either cause mass panic or maybe give secret technology to our enemies. Its foolish to think in all this great universe God created that He would not have created life elsewhere.


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