BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in November 2006We've left it here for reference.More information

24 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

BBC Homepage
England
Inside Out
East
East Midlands
London
North East
North West
South
South East
South West
West
West Midlands
Yorks & Lincs
Go to BBC1 programmes page (image: BBC1 logo)

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
 Inside Out - East: Monday June 30, 2003

RENDLESHAM - UFO HOAX

Web interview
Renlesham Forest Mystery Uncovered
Inside Out reveals exclusive new evidence
Watch an extended interview with Kevin Conde - part one
Watch an extended interview with Kevin Conde - part two
Listen to the recording of Lt. Halt's investigation
  REALPLAYER REQUIRED

For over twenty years the story of the Rendlesham Forest UFOs in Suffolk has gathered momentum. But the incident has never been properly explained, until now…

The alleged UFO sighting has become one of the world's most talked about extra-terrestrial encounters.

Now, Inside Out has investigated the case and can reveal exclusive details that may change opinion.

Not only can we tell you that most of it was a hoax but also how it was done.

Sighting

During the nights of December 26 and 27 1980, American servicemen stationed at RAF Woodbridge and Bentwaters in Suffolk reported mysterious lights in nearby Rendlesham Forest.

A team of airmen, including Deputy Base Commander Lieutenant Colonel Halt, left the base to investigate. Halt gave a running commentary into a dictaphone.

Photo gallery
Lights in the sky
Mysterious lights appeared over Rendlesham Forest
Visit our photo gallery to re-live the events

They were armed with an image intensifier and a tape recorder but were unable to identify the source.

The men chased a varied assortment of lights, described as 'weird phenomena.'

They claimed that they had encountered an alien craft, which they established a landing site for.

Following the incident, the men filed top secret witness reports, which were strictly classified.

However, copies of the tape-recording were leaked and the incident attracted attention.

Confession

One interesting utterance that a puzzled Halt gives on the tape recording is, "The red, white and blue lights of the UFO are still hovering over Woodbridge."

But former USAF Security Policemen, Kevin Conde, has exclusively revealed that these lights were the result of a practical joke he played on the gullible airman.

Conde says, "I drove my patrol car out of sight from the gatehouse, turned on the red and blue emergency lights and pointed white flashlights through the mist into the air."

"The bottom line is that, that was not a UFO it was a 1979 Plymouth Volare!" explains a bemused Conde.

Kevin Conde
Kevin Conde exclusively reveals that the lights were a result of a practical joke

Witness reports

James Easton, a writer specialising in UFO phenomena, recently stumbled across the eyewitness reports, hidden in a released US government file.

Easton says that they make breathtaking reading. Each individual account conflicts with the other. But most damning of all is the admission that the men knew they were 'chasing lighthouse beams' from the Orford Ness lighthouse.

One of Halt's men says he touched an alien craft. Another states nothing happened at all.

Halt maintains a light out at sea is a UFO. Easton says he has identified that light as coming from the Shipwash Buoy, which is now out of service.

Judgement questioned

By the end of 1980, the Suffolk bases were on high alert as US relations with soviet Russia worsened.

Police car lights
Were Police car lights responsible for the 'weird phenomena'?

Conde has questioned the airmen's conduct at this crucial time.

Conde says, "If they're out in the forest seeing red and blue pulsing lights and I'm back here doing this prank with red and blue pulsing lights, what else do they think they're seeing?"

"You have to call into question the judgement of military officers, in charge of a front line base in the Cold War, who can't distinguish a UFO from a bank of police car lights."

Believers

Despite these fresh revelations, ufologists maintain that there is a high level cover-up. Some believe that the witness reports are false.

Brenda Butler still believes that the phenomenon was true. She was the first person to investigate the case.

"Rendlesham is a very magical place," says Brenda. "It's like a doorway opening to another dimension. We've seen ghostly things and mists"

One thing is certain, Conde's confession 23 years on completely turns the alleged Rendlesham UFO encounter on its head.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
BBC: Suffolk - UFOs
BBC: Science - UFOs

On the rest of the web
Flying Saucery
UFO World
The National UFO Reporting Centre

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

Inside Out Archive

Inside Out: East
View our story archive to see articles from previous series.

BBC Where I Live

Find local news, entertainment, debate and more ...

Beds, Herts & Bucks
Cambridgeshire
Essex
Norfolk
Northamptonshire
Suffolk

Meet your
Inside Out
presenter
David Whiteley

David Whiteley
your local Inside Out presenter.

Contact us
Contact the East team with the issues that affect you.

Free email updates

Keep in touch and receive your free and informative Inside Out updates.
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

 

Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Andrew Johnson
Our Sun is one of 100 billion stars in our galaxy. There are perhaps as many galaxies in the universe, which is perhaps 12-15 billion years old. It therefore seems likely to me that Wilbert Smith was right when he said: "The human race in the form of man extends throughout the universe, and is incredibly ancient."

Let us start to value the Witness Testimony of people like those involved in this incident to something of the same degree as is used in Courts of Law.

Mark Fletcher
There were eyewitnesses who saw lights in the sky throwing beams down onto the base. What's Kevin Conde going to say next? That he also commandeered a plane as part of his hoax?

The hoax story is no more believable than the other alternative.

I'm not saying it was an alien craft but I suspect the USAF were experimenting with an early version of the stealth craft, and had to keep it under wraps.

Kevin could well have been forced to come out with his hoax story. After all, what would have been the best choice of cover story AT THE TIME? An alien visitation or a serviceman playing a trick on his colleagues?

I'd have plumped for the latter - so why did they choose the former? Must be a reason!

Josef David S. Prado
Say that this was "car light" is to call stupid the RAF and USAF investigators.

Couldn't they find the tire tracks?

J. Barrell
The more I hear about peoples elaborate ideas about UFO’s at Rendelsham the more I feel that the cause maybe a result of a number of relatively unrelated occurrences such as:

1) A search triggered by seeing something such as spotlights promoting Hollywoods Night Club being seen over the area (they did look weird when we saw them whizzing over the trees lining the road). With the incident happening near Christmas it is highly likely that the club could have been promoting its ‘Grab a Granny Night’ (I don’t believe that anyone would be fooled by a lighthouse on their doorstep that flashes every single night).

2) A bloke in a police car hearing of a search triggered by weird lights deciding to have his own fun.

3) A military cover up concerning one of the air bases at around the same time (maybe a depleted uranium thingy falling off something).

Such events would conclude in strange light phenomena which no one can quite put their finger on, the US military providing shady explanations for their movements and clearance / irradiation of areas of the forest.

Georgina Bruni
You've been fooled! Your consultant James Easton no doubt forgot to mention that he had previously interviewed Kevin Conde for his debunking on-line newsletter, who said: "This incident [hoax] occurred right after Christmas.

For reasons that are hard to explain it is my impression that I pulled my stunt during an exercise. We would not have had an exercise during the Christmas holiday. That is a strong indication that my stunt is not the source of this specific incident". Kevin Conde to the editor of an Internet newsletter.

A strong indication that his stunt was not the source of this specific incident!

Luther
If people really think that trained servicemen would confuse the lights of a car with anything else at all, they are too gullible then. It wasn't in their best interest to say that they've seen triangular craft and possibly another being, specially if you are in the army.

Michael Carter
So one guy comes out 20 years later and says it was a hoax? What about the eye-witness statements from tens of airforce personnel that contradict this?

Please, you need just as much evidence to prove a hoax as you do to prove alien visitation, so why the double standard?

Another ex-USAF
I’d like to reply to Anonymous:

"Military Police are very serious people and to fool around in a time where the threat of national security was so great, would cause serious problems especially on a military base where nuclear weapons were housed.”

Humor is a basic part of human nature. Even in the worst situation we usually find something to laugh about. No one, even security policeman, can be serious 24-7. My understanding is that nuclear weapons were not stored at Woodbridge at the time.

“A foolish act could of been used as a decoy to allow possible communist spies into the base.”

Spies don’t usually cause large disturbances as a cover to low crawl through the woods onto a base. There are much more efficient and safer methods. On a daily basis literally hundreds of people were on the base, tradesmen, etc. Besides, nothing ultra secret went on at Bentwaters/Woodbridge, and the Russians probably knew more about the operation than most average USAF members, without the need to put on black clothing and crawl through the woods.

“This would cause any superior to court marshall any soldier who might of done an act that was not required instead of doing there job to help protect western europe.”

Discipline in the military is not nearly as rigid as you might think. We’re humans after all.

“My beliefs is a Deputy Base Commander would be more creditable than a Senior Master Sergeant.”

Wouldn’t that depend on the Deputy Base Commander and the Senior Master Sergeant?

“I guess we all would of had to been there at the time of the incident to fully understand what was going on.”

On this we agree.

Casey
I think if a police car caused this they should br more careful who they lend their cars to or sooner or later they're cars will be filled with drugs.

John Alexander
You've been had. Why is it that any hoaxster who claims responsibility is believed by the press when the evidence flies in the face of their testimony.

Having personally interviewed most of the witnesses, including some still unknown to you, I put the probability of Conde's statement as approaching zero. It certainly does not account for inprints, physical damage, radiation readings, and the sightings ABOVE the group (not coming from the sea).

George Wagner
I'd find this story MUCH more believeable had it not come nearly a quarter-century after the fact.

And what in the world does it do to the standard, widely-accepted Rendlesham debunking that the lights were merely misperceived lighthouse rays?

Anonymous
Sounds to me with all this conflicting information that there is some people who would like to tell the truth and others who wish to conflict the truth for the possibility of money or attention and the media conflicts it even more by exaggerating the information that comes past them.

Military Police are very serious people and to fool around in a time where the threat of national security was so great, would cause serious problems especially on a military base where nuclear weapons were housed.

A foolish act could of been used as a decoy to allow possible communist spies into the base. This would cause any superior to court marshall any soldier who might of done an act that was not required instead of doing there job to help protect western europe.

My beliefs is a Deputy Base Commander would be more creditable than a Senior Master Sergeant. Rendlesham forest is a very eerie place and I guess we all would of had to been there at the time of the incident to fully understand what was going on.

Ex-USAF Name Withheld
It's surprisingly easy to get past the Security Police and onto the USAF bases. In 1986 I entered RAF Lakenheath perimeter and drove my motorcycle along the airfield road to the main base with out the aid of any cutting tools.

Chain link fencing can be breach by hand with a little common sense. I can only guess but I believe that the security has not gotten much better even with the worry of a terrorist attack.

Joan Salter
I have in my possession a newspaper cutting dated 15 August 1996 (Page 15) from the Evening Star, Ipswich. It shows a photo of Tony and Maureen Boreham who witnessed "this huge thing which was a mass of bright orange lights hovering above the trees" (near Rendlesham Forest).

Maureen said she was sure it was a spaceship and described the UFO as being "as big as a fairground ferris wheel". I used to work with Maureen at the time and am convinced that what she said she saw was genuine.

I must admit that I am a little disappointed that it has come out that it was a hoax at RAF Bentwaters in 1980, in your TV programme 7.30 this evening.

J Barrell
Around 15 years ago I went to Bentwaters on a friend's bowling birthday treat. On the way home we saw 4 white lights wizzing past the tree tops lining the road and flying into the sky making patterns.

My friend's dad who was driving decided to try and find the source of the wierd lights, to add a bit of adventure. Eventually we approached Ipswich and saw that the lights were from a set of 4 spot lights in Hollywoods, now Kartouch, carpark.

The cloud level must have been at just the right height to cause a wierd effect near Bentwaters. Could something similar have happened on the night of the UFO?