Anna Lacey interviews Brenda Butler from Suffolk, and Vince Thurkettle from Norfolk.
Part of the show UFOs, Mars and Space Science
Anna - Yes that's right Chris. I'm here right now in Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, and I have to say, it's pretty eerie. As we heard earlier, there was a UFO landing here twenty five years ago, but today I've come to speak to some of the people who were actually here at the time. One of those people was one of the primary investigators on this case straight after it happened. Now her name's Brenda Butler, she's from Leiston in Suffolk, and she's been coming to these woods every single week since 1979. What makes Rendlesham Forest such a fascinating place for you?
Brenda - Because it's the only forest around this area that has all the paranormal stuff that we see.
Anna - What kind of paranormal stuff have you seen in Rendlesham?
Brenda - We've seen craft, and we've seen the greys, which are ETs. We've seen streakers, which are lights going across all over the place and we've seen orbs of light.
Anna - now you've actually shown me some pictures of these, and I can actually testify that there are orbs and there are streakers in these pictures. Do other people come down here with you?
Brenda - Well once a month, on the fourth Saturday of every month, we have a big sky watch. We have about 20 or 30 people coming down. They're all interested it he same thing. They've seen UFOs down here, they've seen the streakers, and they've seen beings. They come from all over the country to come down here.
Anna - Are there any other ways for people to come down and experience Rendlesham?
Brenda - Well on the 25th anniversary on the 27th December, we're all meeting down here because there's quite a lot of people coming from all over the country. But we don't only walk on the UFO walk, which a lot of people now come down here and do, we walk all over the forest.
Anna - And you're hoping to see something else maybe on the 27th December?
Brenda - We see something nearly every night we come down here, so it won't only be on the 27th December.
Anna - Well that was Brenda Butler from Leiston. And from what she said it seems that Rendlesham Forest really is still active even to this day, and that that event 25 years ago was not a one off. But was it really aliens? Could there be any other explanation? Well also here with me is Vince Thurkettle. What were you actually doing here?
Vince - Back at the time of this alleged incident I was the harvesting forester for Rendlesham Forest, so I lived in the forest, which was brilliant, and I was here when it all happened.
Anna - Did you ever come to the UFO site?
Vince - Yeah. There were odd rumours going about the forestry workers about a burnt area and stuff. Then about six weeks later, I was brought and shown the site. And I looked and to me as a woodman, a forester all my life, it was just a simple clearing in the woods with three marks where rabbits had scraped for roots or something. There were some chips on the trees, but it wasn't the impact of anything. It was a guy called Bill Briggs who'd marked the trees to be felled. I went from extreme excitement that I was going to experience close encounters to extreme disappointment that everything I was seeing could be explained by normal forestry and wood craft.
Anna - But what about the lights, Vince? I mean, people saw lights that night.
Vince - Yeah, the lights are particularly interesting because we are in a part of the forest with the amazing coincidence that Orford Ness lighthouse's beam shines into these woods, or at least it did 25 years ago. It shone into these woods, and it was a brilliant pulsing light, which looked as if it was in the trees. That's a fact. Whether the airman were fooled by the beam, or whether they knew it was there and ignored it, that's been a point of debate ever since. If they weren't looking at the lighthouse beam and they were looking at some other vehicle, then we're asked to believe the huge coincidence that the vehicle they were looking at went off at the same bearing as the lighthouse and it was pulsing at the same rate as the lighthouse. I find that a difficult coincidence.
Anna - So why do you think Rendlesham is so important, and in fact will it be in the future?
Vince - Yeah, Rendlesham will live and live. It's reckoned to be the second biggest UFO incident in the world and people love mysteries. Whatever happened here 25 years ago, something happened enough to make strong and intelligent men scared and write letters. So I think this is going to run and run. The mystery is embedded in our mythology now.
Anna - Well thanks for coming down here Vince, and also thanks to Brenda. I think that's everything here from Rendlesham Forest. See what we think back in the studio Chris.
Chris - Thanks very much to Anna Lacey, our Naked Scientist who's currently clothed in Rendlesham Forest because it's a bit on the parky side. So Nick, what do you think about what you've just heard from Anna's experiences and speaking to Vince Thurkettle in Rendlesham?
Nick - Well it was interesting listening to Vince talk about the lighthouse. Certainly I'm aware that the lighthouse was visible through the trees in the forest during the night back then. But the point is that all the US Airforce personnel based at those two military establishments were well familiar with the lighthouse. They saw it every night. I've spoken to a lot of the military witnesses about this and they've given compass bearings. They saw the lighthouse and then they saw the UFO. They had them both in vision at once. The other interesting point is that personnel at these military bases phoned a nearby RAF establishment, a radar base, and said that they'd seen a UFO. The duty operator at the time tracked an uncorrelated target for a few sweeps of the radar at precisely that time. So this thing, whatever it was, was tracked on radar too.
Chris - Over the years and through your research, have you found anything that might dissuade people that it might be a UFO?
Nick - No, I think almost on the contrary. If you go to the National Archives or the Ministry of Defence website, you can find all sorts of information on UFOs, which is now progressively being released under the Freedom of Information Act. The requests for information about UFOs is right near the top f things requested, especially as far as the MOD is concerned. This is what people want to ask the department about. We've certainly released the Rendlesham files, and people can read about them on the internet.