Rendlesham UFO : The Lighthouse Theory

This theory has been painstakingly put together by amateur astronomer Ian Ridpath. His website documents a lot of fine detail and, whether you agree with his findings or not, a lot of thought has gone into debunking Rendlesham.

Mr Ridpath says " This remains the only full, rational explanation for the events of those nights back in December 1980" . He covers this case in a lot of depth and it is more convincing than the Apollo Capsule theory.

Here is his summary:

Although the overall case is complex, the main aspects can be summarized as follows:


1. Security guards saw bright lights apparently descending into Rendlesham Forest around 3 a.m on 1980 December 26. A bright fireball burned up over southern England at the same time.


2. The guards went out into the forest and saw a flashing light between the trees, which they followed until they realized it was coming from a lighthouse (Orford Ness).


3. After daybreak, indentations in the ground and marks on the trees were found in a clearing. Local police and a forester identified these as rabbit scrapings and cuts made by foresters.


4. Two nights later the deputy base commander, Lt Col Charles Halt, investigated the area. He took radiation readings, which were background levels. He also saw a flashing light in the direction of Orford Ness but was unable to identify it.


5. Col Halt reported seeing starlike objects that twinkled and hovered for hours, like stars. The brightest of these, which at times appeared to send down beams of light, was in the direction of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.


At its most basic, the case comes down to the misinterpretation of a series of nocturnal lights – a fireball, a lighthouse, and some stars. Such misidentifications are standard fare for UFOlogy. It is only the concatenation of three different stimuli that makes it exceptional.
On his website Mr Ridpath does tackle what he believes are simply mistaken observations of natural phenomenon in a logical systematic way and goes on to tackle the inconsistencies of the case.


Colonel Halt's statement that the glowing object he saw in the farmers field was not the Orford Ness lighthouse as he says the lighthouse was "30 degrees off to the right of the farmhouse" when it clearly isn't according to any maps. Of course it all depends on the accuracy of where Halt was standing and perhaps the actual direction he was looking in?


Jim Penniston's story and notebook - in his 1994 interview for ITV documentary 'Strange But True', Penniston makes no mention of touching the craft or the strange glyphs on the side. Nor does he mention recording notes in a notebook. Which is consistent with the original statement he made. John Burroughs who was alongside Penniston also has no recollection of Penniston touching a craft or making notes. When he revealed pages from the notebook publicly, on the Sci Fi channel documentary UFO Invasion at Rendlesham broadcast in 2003, the times are incorrect and simply do not fit in with the actual events. Ridpath's conclusion is that Penniston's testimony is contradictory and untrustworthy. It is a very valid point. He has since came up with binary codes that were written after he received a sort of memory download from the craft. This has turned many against Penniston as a reliable witness because his story gets bigger and bigger as time passes.


There were initially claims that the craft had been detected on radar (some of the witnesses and even the News of the World and ITV reported this). The official MoD report on the incident has no recorded radar contacts in the period in question. "One source of misinformation about radar tracking of the Rendlesham UFO was the “Strange But True” TV programme broadcast on December 9th 1994. This gave the impression that Mal Scurrah, a former radar operator at RAF Neatishead in Norfolk, had seen the Rendlesham object on radar. However, in the 1995 May/June issue of UFO Magazine (UK) Scurrah went on record as saying that his radar sighting, which took place during a training exercise, had happened in late October or early November 1980 and was not linked with the Rendlesham case. Nigel Kerr, a radar operator on duty at the time, has more recently confirmed that radar did track a number of blips before the incident occurred.


There are many opponents to Ridpath's theories. The main witnesses are united in the fact that they were not following the lights from the lighthouse. John Burrroughs is happy to confirm that they did realize at one point they were looking at the lighthouse but this was not the original source of lights seen.


The History Channel's 'UFO Hunters' programme spent a lot of time proving that the lighthouse had a shield to prevent it reflecting inland to where Halt was and that it could not account for the UFO sighting. Ridpath's explanation of the beams of light coming down is never really given as he makes the claim " On the tape, Halt's description of these beams is much less exciting than he has made them sound in subsequent interviews." But he doesn't give a clear explanation of how the beam effect was caused nor the blue lights that seemed to fly through the forest and were seen on both nights by the military personnel.


Whilst Ridpath's theory remains the best sceptical theory for the incident, as it is well thought out and logical it is also open to debate and USAF witnesses to the incident all dismiss it.
You could conclude that they are part of somekind of cover up themselves. It does seem strange that these reports of strange lights occurred during the Christmas 1980 holidays over at least two nights. But they had never occurred before or after. So was it really the meteor, the rocket and the lighthouse?


I will leave people to judge for themselves on the merits of this theory. 


Continue Reading »