Home News Local News Former Air Force officer recalls his role in ‘Britain’s Roswell’

Former Air Force officer recalls his role in ‘Britain’s Roswell’

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"Something strange happened. I can't explain it," says retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Halt about his connection to what some consider a UFO sighting in 1980 in northeast England near British and U.S. air force bases. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Whatever happened in late December 1980 in Rendlesham Forest near air bases in Suffolk, England, defense and military leaders should consider it important, according to a former head of defense for the British military.

Speaking in a videotaped interview in 2013 before his death, Lord Peter Hill-Norton, once the Chief of Defence Staff for the British military and Admiral of the Fleet for the Royal Navy, said either an unidentified flying object landed in the forest or several “serious-minded” military personnel who worked on a base with nuclear-armed aircraft were hallucinating.

“Surely, to any sensible person, either of those explanations must be, cannot fail to be, of defense interest,” he said.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles I. Halt was the top military officer involved in what has been called “Britain’s Roswell.” He served for 29 years in the military and, in 1980, was the deputy base commander for Bentwaters. That base was located across the Rendlesham Forest from the Royal Air Force Base of Woodbridge.

Halt was the officer who tape-recorded what he heard in the forest when he and several other military personnel returned early in the morning on Dec. 27, a day after initial sightings had been reported. He also wrote what he calls the “infamous” memo about his observations that was made public a few years later.

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“Something strange happened. I can’t explain it. I am not giving any answers to hard questions, I know,” said Halt, a speaker Friday afternoon in the UFOlogist Invasion series coordinated by the International UFO Museum and Research Center as part of the 2021 UFO Festival.

Halt had gone to the forest on Dec. 27 after military patrolmen told him that the strange objects seen the day before were back. They made measurements of some tracks in the forest near where the objects had been observed and measured the radiation of trees and the tracks, which Halt said showed higher levels than the background atmosphere. Then they saw something.

While some of the patrolmen said they saw triangular aircrafts and drew renderings of their observations, Halt said he never saw a “structure.” Instead, he described pulsing lights that he concluded were “under intelligent control” and star-like objects that moved quickly, turning from round shapes into elliptical shapes.

At one point, he said, one light “silently explodes like fireworks into five white lights and then it was gone like that, just like a fireworks display.”

He said he shared the tape-recording with his military superiors, knowing that at least one copy of the recording was made immediately. He also wrote his memo. Then he waited to be debriefed.

He has waited since, he said, with only UFO researchers so far wanting to hear the details of his experiences and his observations. The military’s official stance is that whatever happened is not of concern to defense or the armed forces.

Halt has rejected the explanations that the lights were from a lighthouse in a nearby fishing town, saying neither he or the others would have mistaken that structure for what they saw in the fields. He said he also was told that the red lights observed would not have come from the lighthouse, since it shines clear lights toward land. He also doesn’t think the experience was about mass mind-control by some type of object because he thinks no one would have allowed such equipment and access to military staff involved with nuclear armaments and air traffic control.

Halt said he has since learned, from his own questioning and from the work of UFO researchers, that five different groups of people, including a resident who lived near the woods, had reported seeing something unusual on those nights in 1980.

“I have come to the conclusion that there is some type of attraction in that area, some kind of energy source or some kind of portal, something, that for some reason causes a lot of interesting activity, something paranormal,” Halt said.

Although he has participated in a couple of book and TV projects, he said he has not benefited from talking about what he experienced and that he considers his knowledge a “burden,” especially after his memo was first made public in 1983 through a Freedom of Information Act request and he then was besieged by media.

Halt is scheduled to present his speech again at 1 p.m. Sunday. The UFOlogist Invasion series continues today and Sunday with individual presentations as well as speaker panels.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.