Rendlesham Forest UFO –
the witness statements  
Page 2 of 2

What’s on this page

Here are the original statements provided by five of the participants on the first night of the Rendlesham Forest UFO sighting in the early hours of 1980 December 26, namely Fred ‘Skip’ Buran, John Burroughs, Ed Cabansag, J. D. Chandler, and Jim Pennniston. The statements are presented in alphabetical order of the witness’s name. Click on an illustration for a larger version.


1. Statement by Lieutenant Fred A. Buran, 81st Security Police Squadron.

Typed on USAF form 1169 ‘Statement of Witness’, dated 2 January 1981:












Page 1 of Buran's Rendesham Forest UFO statement
Page 2 of Buran's Rendesham Forest UFO statement

Note on Buran’s statement

Lt Buran was the most senior officer involved on the night in question. He was the shift commander in Central Security Control (CSC) at Bentwaters. Thinking there had been an aircraft crash, he allowed members of the security police to investigate, and ordered them back when nothing was found. Buran went on leave after the event until the New Year, but on his return he wrote out the statement above. Buran elaborated on his role and knowledge of the incident in a series of public postings in 2010 November on the Justice for the Bentwaters 81st Facebook page run by Jim Penniston and John Burroughs. He concluded: ‘I think Cabansag's statement gives the best explanation of the lights’ [i.e. it was the lighthouse – see below].


2. Statement and drawing by Airman First Class John Burroughs, 81st Security Police Squadron. Hand-written and undated:

Page 1 of Burroughs' Rendesham Forest UFO statement
Page 2 of Burroughs' Rendesham Forest UFO statement
Page 3 of Burroughs' Rendesham Forest UFO statement

Note on Burroughs’ statement

Burroughs agrees with Cabansag (below) that they went towards what he terms a ‘beacon going around’ which they finally identified as a lighthouse. The ‘blue light’ they saw in the trees on their way back could well have been the lights on a police car, as by then the local police had been called to the scene. It’s worth noting that in an interview on The Paracast in 2009 Burroughs stated he had never been out in the woods before that night. Penniston and Cabansag were newly arrived on base and were no more familiar with the woods than he was (scroll to 08:40, 25:35 and 33:15 in the interview). Burroughs added a diagram of the lights he saw, which bears no obvious resemblance to the small, boxy object drawn by Penniston in his statement (below). The ‘strange noises, like a woman screaming’ reported on page 2 were most likely caused by muntjac deer, which scream in this way when alarmed. The other noises and movement in the woods were probably also caused by these same deer. Col Halt heard similar noises during his own investigation two nights later. 


3. Statement by Airman Edward N. Cabansag, 81st Security Police Squadron.
Typed and undated:

Cabansag's Rendesham Forest UFO statement

Note on Cabansag’s statement

Cabansag agrees with Burroughs that they walked eastwards for two miles from their vehicle towards a ‘beacon’ light; however, this estimate may be an exaggeration, as the difficult terrain would have made the distance feel greater than it was. Burroughs finally identified the beacon as a lighthouse.


4. Statement by Master-Sergeant J. D. Chandler, 81st Security Police Squadron.
Typed on USAF form 1169 ‘Statement of Witness’, dated 2 January 1981:

Page 1 of Chandler's Rendesham Forest UFO statement
Page 2 of Chandler's Rendesham Forest UFO statement

Note on Chandler’s statement

Master Sergeant Chandler was the most senior officer in the forest on the first night. He was in radio contact with Penniston throughout the incident, relaying progress back to Sergeant Coffey at Central Security Control, Bentwaters. Chandler reports no loss of communication or ‘missing time’, as some versions have subsequently suggested. However he does mention Penniston’s identification of a ‘beacon light’ (i.e. the lighthouse), a significant detail that is missing from Penniston’s own written statement.


5. Statement and two drawings by Staff-Sergeant Jim Penniston, 81st Security Police Squadron. Typed and undated:

Page 1 of Penniston's Rendesham Forest UFO statement
Page 2 of Penniston's Rendesham Forest UFO statement
Page 3 of Penniston's Rendesham Forest UFO statement

Note on Penniston’s statement

Unlike the statements by Burroughs and Cabansag above, Penniston’s statement did not mention the lighthouse and it was neither signed nor dated. Had Penniston already realized their mistake and was he already working on deniability?

Penniston’s route from East Gate to the point where he and Burroughs left their vehicle and proceeded on foot is shown in his sketch on page 2 of his statement. I have plotted this route on an aerial photograph of the region, along with the position of the supposed landing site investigated by Col Halt two nights later. Using Penniston’s sketch I retraced the airmen’s route from East Gate to the edge of the forest for this video clip.

In the drawing on page 3 of his statement, the boxy object on stilts between trees is quite different from the larger, triangular craft Penniston showed on a separate drawing. (Ihave not been able to find out when this other drawing was made, but it bears the same wrong date as Penniston’s notebook, i.e. December 27.) The inset detail at bottom left of page 3 above is accompanied by a question mark, perhaps betraying some uncertainty.

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Content last revised: 2021 April


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