Rendlesham Forest, Revisited – Part 3

By T. L. Keller

AFOSI                                      Air Force Office of Special Investigations.  A USAF group assigned to investigate sensitive matters.

binary code                             computer code consisting only of the digits ones and zeros (1s and 0s).

Burroughs, John                     Airman 1stClass, USAF, who accompanied Penniston to the site of the landed craft on the first field investigation.

Halt, CharlesI.                        Deputy base commander of RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters.   Lead the field investigation on the third night. 

NevelsMonroe                      Staff Sergeant, USAF, specialist in disaster preparedness, nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC), aircraft accidents and photography.  Accompanied Halt on the second field investigation.

Penniston, Jim                        Staff Sergeant, USAF, in charge of a Security Response Team at RAF Bentwaters, England.  Lead the field investigation and witnessed the landed craft on the first night.

time travel                              the concept of movement between certain points in time, analogous to movement between different points in space by an object or a person, typically using a hypothetical device known as a time machine.


In the early morning hours of December 26 and 28, 1980, there was a series of reported sightings of unexplained, multi-colored lights near Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk County,  England. The events occurred just outside RAF Woodbridge which was used at the time by the US Air Force (USAF). USAF personnel claimed to have observed what they described as a UFO landing.  Then Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston along with Airman 1stClass John Burroughs encountered what Penniston called a triangular craft of unknown origin. The Rendlesham Forest incident has become known as “Britain’s Roswell.”  

In Part 2 we reported the events of the early morning of December 27.  Once again,  a colored light, this time a “red/orange, fiery, sphere of light,” was seen from the East Gate.  In the afternoon, the base commander, Colonel Conrad, dispatched a security police officer and an NBC specialist (nuclear, biological and chemical) to investigate the landing site.  Upon returning they observed what they called a pulsating “eyeball” object that was blinking. That evening, the security officer reported to Conrad and a full-on investigation was begun.   Then, in the early morning hours of December 28, Lt. Colonel Halt and his four-man team pursued colored lights in and out of the forest into farmers’ fields.

The events summarized below are accounted for in a blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute narrative in Jim Penniston and Gary Osborn’s  2019 book, The Rendlesham Enigma.  This is a very detailed and comprehensive memoir of some 700 or so pages.  Please refer to Part 1 of this series in the XXXXXXXXXXissue and Part 2 in the XXXXXXXXXXissue of The MUFON Journal before proceeding with Part 3.

Jim Penniston 2

The AFOSI Interview (December 29, 1980)

On December 29, 1980, just three days after the landing site incident, Penniston reported to Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) as ordered.  The AFOSI is that USAF organization assigned to investigate crimes and other sensitive matters.  He was escorted into a room where two men, one American and one British, in civilian clothes were sitting at a table.  He was welcomed and asked to be seated.  He had never seen them on base, they did not introduce themselves and did not indicate what organization they represented.  Penniston had assumed that he would be meeting with AFOSI agents from the base, but he realized that they could represent RAF Mildenhall, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), CIA  or other groups.  He was given a yellow legal pad and a pencil and told to write down all of the details of the incident, sparing none even if apparently insignificant.  Penniston, of course, wanted the whole incident to simply go away, but he was not going to make any statement about himself being bombarded with ones and zeros as that would justify releasing him from the Air Force as a mental case.  His career with the Air Force was just too important.  He was told that this was an ongoing, top secret investigation and that after that session he would be able to return to regular service.  That, unfortunately, was not to be the case.

After his completing a full report of the incident, the two men excused themselves.  After 20 minutes they returned with a typewritten paragraph on bond paper.  It was a cleansed and sanitized statement of the incident that stated Penniston didn’t get any closer to the object than 50 meters (160 feet).  He also was ordered to prepare a simple drawing of what he saw and a map of the incident location. Most of the details of the incident were omitted.  He was told to read and memorize the statement as from then forward he was to repeat exactly that if questioned by anyone outside of AFOSI.  Later, he then met separately with the base commander, Colonel Conrad, the wing commander, Colonel Williams and Lt. Colonel Halt. They all asked Penniston to describe the incident, and he repeated the words on the typewritten, sanitized statement. Very few additional questions were asked.  Penniston assumed at that point that they all were aware of the real story, but were verifying that he was repeating the “company line.”At the end of January 1981, Penniston was interviewed for a new base posting in Plans and Programs, a job for which he was totally unqualified.  It provided a promotion with normal work hours, vacation and no weekend work.  Within a few minutes of filling out an update for his top secret clearance, he was advised by a friend that he got the job and he was to report the following Monday. Penniston realized that nothing in the USAF worked that way and so efficiently.  Obvious to him, this was a reward for following orders and, perhaps, so that his superiors could keep him under surveillance.  This is not unlike what happened after the Roswell incident. In Roswell, airman were made NCOs; colonels were promoted to generals.

The Col. Charles Halt Memorandum (January 13, 1981)

On this date, Lt. Colonel Charles Halt submitted a formal USAF memorandum to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) describing the events of December 1980.

The Halt Memorandum 3

Halt clearly stated that a craft “. . . being metalic (sic) in appearance and triangular in shape . . .” was seen hovering in the forest.  In his letter titled “Unexplained Lights,” he also described other lights observed that night.  Quoting Halt in paragraph 3:

“The objects to the north appeared to be elliptical through an 8-12 power lens. They then turned to full circles. [i.e., discs].  The objects to the north remained in the sky for an hour or more.”

Containment and Disinformation (Winter – Spring 1981)

Within a few weeks of Penniston’s posting to Plans and Program, work was going well, but rumors were spreading about the forest incident.  One staff sergeant confidentially told him that a disinformation campaign was in operation not only at the base but in the local town as well. He said that Major Zickler, the security police commander,  had ordered him to spread the ludicrous rumor on the base and at the local pub that a saucer-shaped craft had crashed with three “one meter tall, floating aliens with large heads in silver suits.”  This, of course, put Penniston into an even more precarious situation.

Here are Penniston’s comments about containment:

“As the weeks went on, it became apparent that the gossip on base was designed to fuse BOTH the incident of the first night (which involved me and an unidentified LANDED craft), and Colonel Halt’s UAP ( Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) investigation (which was really Monroe Nevels’ mission on the third night), into one night.  Not only that, but the containment story was further contaminated with details that were totally absurd — on fantastical UFO tales.  I had observed that information about the first night was being overlooked and excluded more and more from what was being mentioned. The incident was now about ‘UFOs’ and ‘alien visits’ and other related hooey . . . a ‘UFO entertainer’s’ dream.” 4

Time passed, but AFOSI was still not finished with Penniston. . .

Mixed Messages (1982 – 1983)

In the summer of 1982, the Security Police Squadron Commander, Major Zickler, received new orders to return stateside.  He was replaced by Lt. Colonel Charles Heubusch.  As it happened, Heubusch had previously been posted to the Pentagon in the Air Force security police intelligence branch.  Within a few days, Penniston received a call to report to the new security commander.  In a very congenial manner, Heubusch invited him into his office, closed the door and asked him to take a seat.  Huebusch said that he had anticipated meeting him for some time, and explained his role in his Pentagon assignment.  Then, shockingly, Heubusch read to him parts of his four-page statement that he had provided to AFOSI three years earlier.  He was stunned.  No one on base including any of the base officers, he thought, knew about his original statement and his drawing.  Heubusch then said, “You’re no longer alone with this incident.  If you have any issues, or if you need anyone to talk to about it, I am here for you, Jim.”  This came not only as a surprise, but a very welcome relief.  Heubusch never brought the subject up again. 5

In October 1983, nearly three years after the incident occurred, Penniston went to his front door to deposit his empty milk bottles and pick up his Sunday morning newspaper, News of the World.  6  This was considered to be a somewhat lascivious tabloid often publishing political scandals and lurid stories of well-known personalities.  The front page boldly announced “UFO Lands in Suffolk” with a subtitle, “And that’s Official.”  Displayed also was a photograph of Colonel Williams and acknowledging that a UFO had landed in the forest.  For three years, Penniston had duly remained silent thinking that the AFOSI investigation was still proceeding.  Now, the Worldheard about it.  Apparently, the disinformation and “containment” campaign organized by Major Zickler had now gotten completely out of control.

Suddenly, even the World knew! 7

The AFOSI Hypnotherapy Session (September 1994)

“On September 10, 1994, Penniston agreed to undergo a hypnotherapy session and to receive sodium pentothal so that he could possibly recall more than what he originally reported in 1980.  Penniston did not report this at the time of the incident, but during the AFOSI session, he stated that when he investigated the bright lights and the object, he touched the triangular object and, specifically, the triangle within the circle.  

“Glyphs” displayed on the left front of object 8
(Artwork by Alberto Forgione)

The following is a partial, word-by-word transcription from the tape recorded hypnotherapy session with the agents of the AFOSI. 9

AFOSI AGENT:  “What’s happening?”
PENNISTON:      “I see the craft.  The lights dissipate.  They [the entities inside the craft] want to know what symbols I’m seeing.  I don’t want to tell them but I tell them.  They want to know what I did next.  I said I felt the symbols because they were raised. Tell them about the lights.  White light.  They already know about the lights.  They are asking me if I see binary code?  I see the binary code.  They are slowing me down.” 10
AFOSI AGENT:  “What’s happening?”
PENNISTON:    “ I understand.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “What do you understand about the code?”
PENNISTON:      “I’m the interpreter.  They need interpreters.  The lights.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “The lights?  So what is the code saying?”
PENNISTON:      “You can’t read these codes unless you have an interpreter.  I understand what’s going on now.”
AFOSI AGENT:    “What’s going on?”
PENNISTON:      “The symbols.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “The symbols — what do they mean?”
PENNISTON:      “Oh, it’s information being exchanged.  That machine — that’s for interpreters, there lots of interpreters.”
AFOSI AGENT:    “You are an interpreter?”
PENNISTON:       “Yes.”
AFOSI AGENT:    ‘Can you interpret the code for me?”
PENNISTON:      “Yes.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “Do that now.”
PENNISTON:    “Explain.  Mission.  Purpose.”
AFOSI AGENT: “And the mission is?”
PENNISTON:    “Contact.”
AFOSI AGENT: “Do they say contact with what?”
AFOSI AGENT: “Purpose?”
PENNISTON:   “Research.”
PENNISTON:    “To help them.”
AFOSI AGENT: “To help them with what?”
PENNISTON:    “Themselves.  They are time travelers.  They are us.”   [emphasis added]
AFOSI AGENT:  “They are us from?”
PENNISTON:      “The future.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “How far in the future?”
PENNISTON:    “A long time.  Very long time.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “What do they need from here?”
PENNISTON:      “They need something from all interpreters.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “What do they need?”
PENNISTON:    “Not sure, but it has to do with chromosomes?  Or something like that.”
AFOSI AGENT: “And how do they get that?”
PENNISTON:   “They take it.”
AFOSI AGENT: “From where?”
PENNISTON:    “From the other people’s bodies.”
AFOSI AGENT: “From what part of the body?”
PENNISTON:   “Depends.”
AFOSI AGENT: “Where did they take it from you?”  [emphasis added]
PENNISTON:    “Didn’t”
AFOSI AGENT:  “But you were the interpreter.”
PENNISTON:      “We only interpreted. . . . They [time travelers] were interrupted.  They are having problems.  The program’s . . . I understand what they are saying. but they weren’t supposed to be there.  They are having problems.  The odds are against them.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “You weren’t supposed to understand the program?”
PENNISTON:    “Yes.  It was repairing itself.  All they wanted was a place to stay while it repaired itself.”
AFOSI AGENT: “And by touching the symbols, you disrupted the repair program?”

PENNISTON:    “I activated the binary code.”

Linda Moulton Howe relates that Penniston explained chromosomes were collected for different purposes, particularly to help the time travelers because they have a “physical problem,” and he felt sympathetic toward them.  Penniston said that the time travelers had “been coming here for a long time, at least thirty to forty thousand years, trying to sustain their children in the future.  Penniston went on to say that the children have hairless, humanoid bodies with pale skin and very large eyes so they can “take in more light” because the future Earth has a different environment.

AFOSI AGENT:  “Their coming and going, is it going to have any negative effect on us?”
PENNISTON:     “No.  It won’t hurt us at all.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “Will it alter our future at all?”
PENNISTON:      “Not sure.”
AFOSI AGENT:  “If for some reason they can’t get these chromosomes, what will happen to them?”
PENNISTON:       “They will die.”
AFOSI AGENT:    “The race will die.  Can they reproduce?”
PENNISTON:       “That is a problem.”
AFOSI AGENT:     “Reproducing is a problem.  Do our chromosomes help with that?”
PENNISTON:       “Apparently.”


In Part 3 we begin to see the enormity of the situation resulting from the Rendlesham event (later to be called the Rendlesham Forest Incident).  First, we see what Penniston experienced in his AFOSI interview and how appalled he must have been when he was given a sanitized statement that he was to memorize and repeat whenever questioned.  Then, he describes his almost immediate promotion to the Plans and Programs group with normal working hours and vacation.  Next, we see the involvement of the security police commander who, allegedly, ordered the spreading of disinformation not only on base but in the local town to civilians.  We read the transcript of the 1994 AFOSI  hypnosis session when he stated that he communicated with “entities within the craft,” that they were time travelers from the future and that they were us— namely, descendants of Earth humans from the future.  Although this will strike many readers as “inconceivable,” my sense is that we all should keep an open mind until future revelations become more apparent to us all.

In the last of this series, Part 4, we will discover the interpretation of the ones and zeros that were recorded in Penniston’s notebook and that traumatized Penniston for decades until it was finally decoded by Gary Osborn, his co-author. The resulting analysis is both startling and the essence of the Rendlesham story.  Stay tuned . . .


  1. Penniston (USAF/Retired), Jim and Gary Osborn, The Rendlesham Enigma, Book 1: Timeline, 2019.
  2. Courtesy of
  3. Keller, T. L., The Total Novice’s Guide To UFOs, 2FS Press, 2010 and digital edition, pages 425-426.  
  4. Op. cit., Penniston, page 307.
  5. Op. cit. Penniston, page 327.
  6. Op. cit. Penniston, page 327.
  7. News of the World, London, October 2, 1983, front page.
  8. Op. cit., Penniston, , from the front cover detail.
  9. Op. cit., Keller. This hypnosis session transcript is extracted from pages 279-283. The abridged quotation was originally provided by Linda Moulton Howe, in her book, Glimpses of Other Realities: Vol. II: High Strangeness,  The complete, unabridged version is reported in its entirety in The Rendlesham Enigma,pages 461-485.  
  10. In the hypnosis session, under sodium pentothal, Penniston states that there were entities insidethe triangular craft. At the same time, many have observed that there was insufficient space inside the craft to accomodate two or more “entities.”  But, perhaps, that is what the “entities” toldPenniston.  It is more likely that the craft was an unmanned drone, and that the “entities” were physically transmitting from another location or dimension.

© T. L. Keller 2019 To the readers: In these series of articles, we attempt to cover the full gamut of UFO/UAP experiences: sightings, ESP and remote viewing, abductions, science and technology, etc.  If you are an experiencer or have a specific topic that you would like presented, please contact the author.  T. L. Keller can be contacted at