Rendlesham file
Andrew Pike, a qualified astrophysicist, writer and broadcaster specialising in astronomical anomalies and the history of science, has penned a new book questioning just what could have happened at two US Air Force bases by Rendlesham Forest, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, in December 1980.

The Rendlesham File - Britain's Roswell? is a detailed scientific study of the astonishing three-day period witnessed by US Military personnel.

The Rendlesham legend, which took place around neighbouring bases RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters, has been dubbed Britain's Roswell, in a nod to the mystery of the UFO crash said to have taken place outside the town in New Mexico, USA, in July 1947.

The UK suspected alien event saw three US officers based at RAF Bentwaters claim a "triangular-shaped craft" landed in neighbouring woods in the early hours of December 26, 1980, after seeing a strange series of lights in the sky and forest.

Due to high interest in the case, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) investigated and concluded Orford Ness lighthouse had been responsible for what was seen over the two nights in terms of glowing orbs.

However, this has not satisfied most UFO investigators, failing to explain claims of the UFO being on the ground on the first night.

Mr Pike concludes in the book that the bizarre lights seen may have been a natural phenomena known as plasma or ball lightening, rather than coming from an alien UFO.

Ball lightning is an unexplained atmospheric electrical phenomenon following reports and video footage of luminous, bright spherical objects from tiny to several metres in diameter that move around in the air.

Mr Pike also suggests that the sightings of a triangular craft may have been down to secret military steal craft experiments using microwave technology, rather than anything of extraterrestrial origin.

Mr Pike wrote in the conclusion of his book: "The answer to the Rendlesham Forest Incident appears to depend on whether a nuts and bolts craft existed at all, the area's geophysical features and the history of secret experimental research.

"Whereas sightings involving unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) are regularly reported in an area known for its natural balls of light such as earth lights and plasma-like effects, they were certainly unusually intense during the incident.

"It also appears that a general increase in activity has been occurring since the time of World War Two and the development of microwave-based radar and other research in the area.

"Until then every event traced was significantly less than the ones occurring since secret research moved in and started experimenting.

"This has been supported by similar trends in other areas involving radar and microwave communications. This does not appear to be a coincidence."

The expert said there seemed to be a decrease in sightings in the area since all the publicity surrounding the case.

He said: "A similar situation occurred back in the 1950s when ufologists were regularly spotting the U-2 spy plane in the area and the powers-that-be had to relocate it.

"I believe microwave science fits the data well to enhance what might have otherwise been just another outbreak involving balls of light."

Mr Pike said research to transfer power and information to drones using microwaves and driving them with microwave beams was also significant.

He said: "If some descriptions of a triangular craft seen by civilians and the drawings of a craft seen in Rendlesham Forest by airman Jim Penniston are correct, both might suggest a drone similar to those involving stealth technology and the avoidance of radar imaging developed in places like Area 51; in particular a design known as Hopeless Diamond involving a series of triangular sections bolted together to deflect radar.

"Even if we remove the flying triangle craft from the equation, which appears to have been happening with changing airmen reports over recent years, we still have an area rich in microwave beams for other purposes, as well as natural balls of light which can, and do, interact when frequencies, and other environmental conditions, are just right.

"These two events of a triangular craft and increased activity of balls of light may, or may not, have been connected or running in parallel but appear to be a problem area for the powers-that-be."

The men first noticed lights and then a UFO "on the forest floor", and could not account for a 40 minute period while searching in the woods when their communication systems went "off air".

The three - John Burroughs, Bud Steffens, and James Penniston - later told of feeling "static" as they observed the object's flashing lights and hieroglyphic-like markings.

Former Colonel Charles Halt, 77, the most senior witness, who was base deputy commander at the time, was not present during the first encounter, but was told the next morning and investigated that night after officers shouted: "It's back, the UFO's back."

He went to investigate with a team who found three 1.5inch "impact holes," damage to the canopies of trees and "higher radiation levels" in the "landing" area.

UFO publisher Philip Mantle, of Flying Disk Press, said: "The Rendlesham File is the first book written about these events by a UK academic.

"It takes an unbiased scientific look at the UFO sightings in question and puts all of the information under the microscope.

"Is there a scientific explanation for these UFO sightings or are they truly the result pf something that is yet beyond our scientific capabilities?"

Nick Pope is a former Ministry of Defence (MoD) officer who investigated the UFO phenomena, including the Rendlesham case.

He said: "This well-researched and eminently readable book significantly enhances our knowledge of the UK's best-known and most compelling UFO incident.