Every now and then, a thought enters my mind about some aspect of the UAP phenomenon. A recent thought, was the question, was there radar tracking associated with the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident? You would think there would be a definitive answer, readily available, but there is not.
Most material I looked at on the net said the answer is a resounding "no." That there was no radar confirmation of the UAP. However, all is not what it seems. I'd like to take you on the journey which I followed in trying to answer this seemingly simple question.
My initial search started with a book that most blog readers probably haven't ever heard of, let alone read. The book is titled "Sky Crash: A Cosmic Conspiracy" by authors Brenda Butler, Jenny Randles and Dot Street. It was published by Neville Spearman, Essex, United Kingdom. In case you wish to track down a second hand copy its ISBN is 854-351-538.
On page 24 of my copy, there is an account supplied to the authors by someone they refer to as "David Potts," a pseudonym for a then radar operator at Watton, Norfolk. Potts told a story which he said he had been told by one of his colleagues who had been on radar duty that night. The following is the account the authors described.
On 27 December 1980, an unusual target was seen heading in from the coast. There was no military activity. "Watton lost the target about 50 miles south to the East of Ipswich and in the vicinity of Rendlesham Forest...They understood that other radar centres had tracked the object too..." (p.26.)
"A couple of days after the tracking there were some unusual visitors to the radar station. They were intelligence officers from the United States Air Force. They were greatly interested in the recordings of the radar tracks from the night of the uncorrelated target...The radar men were told that it was possible that what they had tracked was an object that had crash landed into a forest near Ipswich. This had been a metallic UFO, a structured device of unknown origin..." (p.27.)
"Potts definitely gave the date as 27 December, but added that the radar tapes this night and several others, were removed. He further claimed that RAAF Bentwaters had called Watton and asked for radar confirmation of an unusual sighting on that night as it was happening." (p.27.)
So, "yes" is the answer to whether or not the Rendlesham object was tracked on radar.
When I originally read this story, I thought it odd that USAF intelligence officers would have told any radar operator that a "UFO" was involved. Usually one reads that such individuals try and suppress UFO stories, not confirm them. I wondered if the account, which was second hand, wasn't some kind of disinformation exercise designed to cover up a non - UAP cause for the event.
The Internet story:
I then looked for Internet based accounts about the radar issue. Typical of the stories I found was one at (click here) . This site had a copy document, dated 21 March 1983 which reads:
D/DDOps (GE) 10/8
UFO SIGHTING - RAF WOODBRIDGE DECEMBER 1980
1. At reference you ask if the suggestion that the USAF be asked for the tape recording was followed up by the Deputy Directorate. It was considered that the tapes would reveal no better report that that already received, and no further request was made. However, it is considered that your approach to the RAF Liaison Officer, will produce any considered view on the event.
2. I believe your outlined response is the right one, Neatishead, which is the sector ops centre responsible for that area had nothing unusual to report, and nothing more substantial has come to light. I have received no evidence that any radar reported unusual tracks. Miss Randles appears to have "evidence of radar tracking," and provided it can be managed without undermining our position, I would like to have a look at this radar evidence.
J D Badcock
Ops (GE) 2b (RAF)
This official RAF document, thus states the answer to our question, is "no."
The website then goes on to say:
"East Anglia has always had extensive radar coverage, ever vigilant for a possible invasion from across the North Sea. This ensured that the object seen on 26th of December was detected. At RAF Neatishead, an unidentified object appeared on the radar and created panic in the control room. It returned no signal and was outperforming the RAF's finest aircraft. As they lost it off screen at a phenomenal speed, the matter was subject to a major investigation. The Neatishead radar tapes and those from nearby RAF Watton were requisitioned three days later. Remarkably, when USAF intelligence officers visited Watton to collect the film, they claimed that a UFO had crashed into the forest. Senior officers from a nearby USAF airbase witnessed the event, they said, and they had even seen floating in beams of light underneath the spacecraft. Incredibly, the radar officers were not even told to keep this extraordinary story secret.
David Potts’, a civilian radar operator at RAF Watton told that in the early hours of 27 December 1980 he had tracked an unknown signal over the sea. He wasn’t particularly impressed because it was a common occurrence and he put it down to a false signal. Next day plain clothes men with an American accent came asking for copy of the radar tapes: Potts thought they belonged to OSI (USAF’s own intelligence agency) or to the National Security Agency since they had the necessary security clearances so he was quite surprised when these usually tight-lipped men freely offered a fantastic story: the signal he had tracked was not caused by equipment malfunction but by a metallic UFO which had been sighted near a large airbase in East Anglia"
So, the answer to our questions is "yes." However, the website does not cite the reference for its version of the story.
(Continued in part two.)