I usually blog about crime or conspiracy theories, sometimes books, mine and others, and sometimes politics because as a historian it’s hard for me to stay neutral regarding politics. Today, I’m changing pace a little bit… It’s historical and unexplained.
In the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the world was always on the verge of crisis. Tension between the US and the Soviet Union had somehow managed to grow and these two countries had nuclear arsenals large enough to plunge the planet into a nuclear winter and hasten the next ice age.
It was bad enough that Europe did nuclear bomb drills, not that these were helpful because frankly if a nuclear bomb goes off you need to be in a lead lined bunker underground somewhere. To put it more succinctly, shit was happening.
One of these things was the US building or occupying military bases in our allied European countries, like the United Kingdom. It was in this atmosphere that the RAF Bentwaters UFO sighting occurred. RAF Bentwaters was an air force base in England. On December 26, 1980 several US air force men stationed at RAF Bentwaters had an unbelievable UFO encounter.
I can dismiss most UFO sightings as misidentification of military aircraft. The Bentwaters sighting has always been a little hard for me to dismiss. Mostly because it was witnessed by military personnel, air force military personnel, who weren’t likely to misidentify an aircraft of US or one of our allied nations. Also the sighting didn’t just happen to a small group of enlisted men, there were dozens of witnesses including the Deputy Base Commander Charles Halt and several ranked officers who were career military men, meaning they had nothing to gain from faking a massive UFO sighting.
If it had been like two people or three people I could explain it away as a hoax pulled by a handful of privates trying to bring some levity to a grim situation. That wasn’t the case. As a matter of fact there are official recordings between Commander Halt and the men he sent out to investigate the unusual incident that happened in the forest around RAF Bentwaters on two consecutive nights. Also, Halt went to the trouble of using a mini tape recorder to record notes in that is several minutes long. That seems like extraordinary effort in the fabrication of a hoax. I don’t know how long the Halt recording lasts, I’ve only heard snippets of it on the internet and on TV shows about UFO encounters, but it seems to be fairly long.
To complicate matters, RAF Bentwaters was a bit special. Historians as well as alien conspiracists believe Bentwaters actually stored US nuclear missiles that could be launched at the USSR in the event they launched missiles at the US. There are two reasons this complicates things. The first is that those stationed at Bentwaters knew they were sitting on a nuclear arsenal which means they would have been very sober minded air force personnel and unlikely to fabricate a hoax regarding a UFO sighting. Also, the US and the UK has never officially admitted that Bentwaters held US nuclear missiles and during the Cold War there was an increase in UFO activity centered around bases in both the US and the USSR that stored nuclear weapons. Essentially, if historians are right Bentwaters suddenly becomes another sighting hotspot centered around nuclear missiles during the Cold War and possibly the only one reported by US air force personnel stationed at an overseas base.
Since I find it unlikely that these men fabricated a hoax regarding a UFO sighting in the Rendlesham forest and I find it unlikely they misidentified an aircraft given that they were Air Force personnel and that eats up the two most common reasons for a UFO sighting and leaves me believing that the air force men stationed at RAF Bentwaters probably did have a rather close encounter with a UFO.
I’ve heard the arguments against it that only two men went into the forest to investigate the mysterious light which is often blamed on a lighthouse even though it is impossible to see the light house in question from the ground of Bentwaters and the light house wasn’t new in 1980, meaning the men stationed there should have been familiar with the way the lighthouse moved. Yes originally only two men were sent to investigate what they thought was probably a downed aircraft, but there were scores of others that saw the lights from within the confines of Bentwaters including Deputy Commander Halt.
Also, reporting a UFO as a military person comes with some serious risks and side effects… Reporting it didn’t do those involved any favors, quite the opposite and Commander Halt knew it before he filed his report and collected all the recordings and evidence and sent it to the Pentagon. So, Commander Halt reported something he knew would hurt his career in the military… not something he would have done if he hadn’t been completely certain there wasn’t a rather worldly explanation for the sighting like a hoax or misidentification of an aircraft or mistaking the beacon on the lighthouse for a UFO.
Because of these things, I have never been able to dismiss the RAF Bentwaters UFO sighting. Think about it for yourself and see if you can find a reason for the people involved to report a faked UFO encounter…