UFOs: The Rendlesham incident
Chris - So tell us a little bit about the Rendlesham incident, and what it was all about.
Nick - Well I used to run the Ministry of Defence's UFO project, and seeing as we're on the Naked Scientists I should say that the MOD's UFO project has some very impressive scientific credentials. It was set up by the Ministry of Defence's Chief Scientific Advisor in 1950, the great Sir Henry Tissard, the radar scientist.
For all the years the UFO project has run, Rendlesham Forest has been our greatest and most important case. This is sometimes called Britain's Roswell.
To give you the story in a nutshell, on the first night of activity, which was actually in the early hours of the 26th December 1980, some US Airforce personnel from the airbases of Woodbridge and Bentwaters in Suffolk, saw lights in the forest. They went out thinking that an aircraft from the base might have crashed in the forest.
They didn't find a crashed aircraft. They found a landed UFO. One of the people got close enough to touch the side of the craft. It was a metallic object that had landed in a small clearing, and he was close enough even to sketch small markings that he likened to hieroglyphs on the side of this thing. Word got around the base, and over the following couple of days, it came to the attention of the deputy base commander Lt Col Charles Halt.
He was at a social function, and suddenly the doors burst open and someone ran up to him. They said, 'Sir, it's back.' And Colonel Halt said, 'What? What's back?' and the person replied, 'The UFO. The UFO, Sir!'
Colonel Halt then went out to the forest to, in his words, 'debunk this'. He couldn't debunk it. He became part of the incident itself. He saw the UFO firing beams of light down at the clearing. They found indentations in the forest floor in the shape of a perfect equilateral triangle. This thing had apparently landed on legs.
And here's the crucial piece of scientific fact for you. They went around those indentations with a Geiger counter and those readings were passed to the research intelligence staff at the MOD. They said that they were not dangerous, but ten times normal.
Chris - Have you seen those figures Nick?
Nick - I have indeed. I don't have them, but Col. Halt put these into a memorandum, which he sent to the MOD, and we investigated.