These 1956 events have become iconic in status among UFO historians as 'the Lakenheath case' or 'the Lakenheath/Bentwaters case', one of the few incidents classified as 'unexplained' by the 1969 Colorado University UFO study commissioned by the US Air Force, which conceded that "the probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appears to be fairly high."
But the true extent and complex nature of the events in East Anglia have never been fully revealed, and divining the truth from a mass of contradictory evidence has confounded even the most dedicated of UFO researchers.
The origin of this difficulty appears to lie in what is perhaps the central finding of this present investigation - that there was not a single clear-cut incident but a somewhat complicated situation involving different incidents at different places and times. The relation of one incident to another is not always clear. A local 'flap' was evidently underway at several East Anglian airfields around this date, and not only was the 'Lakenheath incident' a complex of events, these events were themselves embedded in a context of ongoing 'alarums and excursions'.
13th August 1956, RAF Bentwaters
The Radar Station at RAF Bentwaters, (RAF and USAF) tracked a UFO flying at 5,000 mph towards the air base at around 10.55pm. A T-33 was diverted to check out the object. About an hour later that night another UFO was tracked, this time there was a ground sighting from a control tower, which was witnessed as a bright light travelling very fast. A C47 pilot also made visual contact and other radar stations tracked an object. The last contact on radar showed the object heading Northward.
The Rendlesham Forest incident was not the first involvement of RAF Bentwaters in a UFO incident. At about 9.30pm, August 13, 1956, radar operators at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Lakenheath started reporting multiple unidentified objects that were moving at very high speeds and performing rapid changes in speed and direction.
Just before 11pm an object was picked up on radar travelling at approximately 3000mph coming in from over the North Sea to the east. The UFO flew over the radar installation and was lost of screen a further 30 miles to the west. This UFO was also reported by a control tower operator as a streak of light and USAF C-47 Dakota pilot as a fuzzy flash of light between his aircraft and the ground.
At about 11.30pm, an RAF interceptor jet, a Venom NF2a left RAF Waterbeach to investigate. The pilot reported seeing a bright red light and he also managed to get it on his radar but as he was reporting this back to base the light disappeared.
The light re-appeared and began to tail the Venom pilot; he was unable to get behind the object to take a look at it. A second interceptor was scrambled and this pilot described the UFO as "the clearest thing I've ever seen on radar." Then the second pilot lost sight of the UFO before being joined by two Lockhead T-33s which were en-route to RAF Bentwaters. The planes searched for the UFO for a further 45 minutes but found nothing.
In 1969, Dr. Edward Condon wrote this entry about the 1956 RAF Bentwaters sighting in his air force funded study at the University of Colorado, The Condon Report:
"In summary, this is the most puzzling and unusual case in the radar-visual files. The apparent rational, intelligent behaviour of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of the sighting. However, in the view of the inevitable fallibility of witnesses, more conventional explanations of this report cannot be entirely ruled out."
Significant Events (See Also) (Research Topics - ~Significant Events)
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