Title: ENCOUNTER IN RENDLESHAM FOREST: The inside story of the world’s best-documented UFO incident.
Authors: Nick Pope with John Burroughs (USAF, RET) and Jim Penniston (USAF, RET).
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – Thomas Dunne Books
297 pages - illustrated
Available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Surprisingly there aren’t many books written about the Rendlesham Forest Incident (RFI) and only a handful are in my ever expanding book collection. Also surprising is that prior to this book Nick Pope had only written four books himself. With this in mind this book has to be a welcome addition to the UFO literature.
If you are looking for the definitive account of the RFI then this is not the book for you. It does however concentrate instead on the experiences of arguably two of the main witnesses in John Burroughs and Jim Penniston. Before reading the book I was asked if it simply covered ‘old ground’. My answer is that it does to some degree but not enough to spoil your read of this book if you already know a lot about the RFI. It does set the scene and remind us all of what a different world we lived in in 1980 when the RFI took place. More often that not UFO authors miss out on this vital aspect when recounting a particular UFO encounter.
This book informs us in a very easy to read and easy to understand manner the ways in which the Western powers were wary of the Soviet Union and the tensions mounting in Eastern Europe in 1980. UK Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher has been in power for just over a year and the twin US bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge housed nuclear weapons. It was primarily those in charge of the security of these bases that were caught up in the RFI. The two main witnesses of course were Burroughs and Penniston.
Nick Pope sets the scene perfectly to then allow Burroughs and Penniston tell there own story of the three nights in question. Details of other witness’s encounters are also provided but make no mistake it is the story of the co-authors that is told here in their own words in details.
With all of the witnesses details laid out Nick Pope looks at the various explanations put forward to try and explain the events. First he goes through all of the sceptical arguments and offers reason why none of them fit. I’ll not go into details of these but you will know many of them, the lighthouse etc. Nick then also looks at the three main exotic explanations: ET, interdimensional and time travel from our future. He readily admits there is no proof for all three of these explanations and that they are purely theoretical and nothing more. They way I read it is that therefore none of the explanations both sceptical or exotic fit the bill ?
The finale of the book of course is Jim Penniston’s ‘binary code’ revelations. Penniston lays out in full detail of how these came about, why it took him over 30 years to release them and of course what they are supposed to mean. Penniston’s conclusion after all this is that the ‘craft of unknown origin’ as he calls it that he encountered and touched was a ‘time machine’ from our future. In other words no ET’s but us humans. I’ll not go into any more detail than that. I would recommend you read the book to fully understand all of this.
This book is much more than just the accounts of two of the main witnesses. Nick Pope pulls no punches when he says that this in the premier UFO case ever anywhere in the world and it’s time for Roswell to move over and be replaced by the RFI. He rightly points out that all of the Roswell witnesses are now deceased but ALL of the RFI witnesses are alive. Most of them were US military and that yet more have still to go on the record. Whether Nick will see the RFI hit the number one spot remains to be seen. The authors also lay out a challenge so-to-speak. The binary codes are displayed in full and unedited. The analysis of them done so far is published as well. However, they are open to be checked and double-checked by others and the authors openly welcome this.
If I have one irritation in the whole book it is that Nick Pope refers to the ‘ufologists’ in the third person as if he is somewhat separate from them. Well Nick I got a surprise for you, you are one of us, a ufologist. Your days as the man-from-the-ministry ate long over.
Does this book answer all of the questions about the RFI and in particular the involvement of Burroughs and Penniston ? Certainly not but it does offer a wealth of detail. Still unanswered to my satisfaction for example is the fact that Burroughs and Penniston were only yards apart that night in 1980 but yet one of them observed a craft and the other just lights. How come ? It bothers me that Penniston waited over 30 years to release the binary code details (they now call in the Rendlesham Code). In fact all of this binary code information bothers me if I’m honest.
What also bothers me is that Burroughs and Penniston speak openly about what they believe they encountered that night, Nick Pope points out that one of the other main witnesses, Col Halt has gone on the record that he believes that ET is the explanation. However this book does not see Nick himself commit one way or the other. This is something I would like to have seen.
It will be interesting to see if others now take up the challenge of deciphering the binary d=codes. It will be even more interesting to see if the RFI hits the number one spot in the UFO hit parade. But what I hope we see from this book is that others involved that night finally go on the record. Some are featured briefly in this book but there are without doubt many others still to tell their side of the story.
Would I recommend this book, of course I would. It is informative, fascinating, frustrating, and controversial but overall a very welcome addition to the possible understand of the RFI, the UFO phenomenon in general and a first class addition to the UFO literature. I could have continued on with this review as it is an excellent book and one that all three authors should be proud of. I’m not saying you will agree with everything within its pages, instead I would simply suggest you sit back and digest it for what it is.
Congratulations to all three authors for a fascinating read and a book that I am sure will cause much debate for a long, long time to come (no pun intended).
Reviewed by Philip Mantle.
Editor: UFO TODAY