The enigmatic Lakenheath-Bentwaters UFO sightings that we are going to discuss in this article were classified for 13 years until it was first revealed in 1969. On the night of August 13, 1956, there were several UFO sightings made by the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force radar system.
The radar station at Bentwaters, Suffolk, England, where the Royal Air Force and the US Air Force shared a joint air base, picked up a target 25 to 30 miles to the east-southeast on August 13, 1956. It was around 9:30 in the night. The craft that was picked up by the radar was similar to any other normal craft, but the only thing that seemed suspicious to the officials was that the plane traveled in a straight line from where it started to about 15 or 20 miles northwest of Bentwaters.
Lakenheath-Bentwaters UFO sightings
Just a few minutes after the first plane appeared, another group of about a dozen planes was spotted eight miles southwest of Bentwaters. The Bentwaters radar operator later told Project Blue Book investigators that “these objects appeared as normal targets on the GCA (Ground Controlled Approach) scope and normal checks made to determine possible malfunctions of the GCA radar failed to indicate anything was technically wrong.”
Officials saw on the radar that three additional objects flew in a triangle formation in front of the dozen or so objects. They were all separated by 1000 feet. Rear objects were dispersed at erratic intervals, covering a total area of six or seven miles. The radar measured the speed of all the planes to be 100 miles per hour, and they were traveling in a northeast direction.
Something enigmatic happened just forty miles from Bentwaters, which blew the minds of the officials. All the planes converged into a single giant plane, producing a return several times larger than a B-36. They stopped moving for the next 10–15 minutes, then started moving northeast again, only to pause for another 3–5 minutes. This whole incident lasted for 25 minutes. It eventually disappeared from the radar as it headed north.
Taking the situation as a threat, a T-33 returning to Bentwaters was tasked with searching for the planes. However, after 45 minutes of searching without the benefit of airborne radar, the only things it found were a brilliant star in the east and a coastal beacon.
Due to the fact that pilots were unable to see anything, the incident’s credibility was not very high, and therefore it was debunked by scientists. However, atmospheric physicist James E. McDonald, after deeply studying the case, stated that the formation and objects that were caught by the radar were not due to any technical malfunction or any abnormal transmissions.
Just a few minutes passed after the aforementioned incident occurred, and another similar plane, at around 10:00 pm was caught by the radar, which was traveling at a speed of 4000 mph in the west direction. It was later concluded by McDonald that the speed of the plane was much higher than 4000 mph. He stated that it was around 12000 mph, three times more than the speed stated by the radar operator.
When the plane was less than 25 miles away from the station, it disappeared from the screen. Another UFO sighting was made at 10:55 and by this time the officials were sure that it wasn’t any normal plane but a plane of extraterrestrial origin. Also, this time, several people on the ground and one C-47 pilot had a sighting of the object from above. The UFO that was spotted this time was detected by radar 30 miles to the east, traveling west at a speed of 2,000 to 4,000 miles per hour.
The area around Lakenheath AFB, west-northwest of Bentwaters, was now where most of the UFO drama was happening. The Bentwaters alerted Lakenheath during or shortly after the radar and visual sighting, where ground troops observed a bright object approaching from the southwest, paused, and then speed off to the east.
There was a dazzling appearance of two white lights, which “linked up with one another,” and then “both departed in formation together,” according to the Blue Book. The UFOs were seen on two radar screens at Lakenheath doing “rapid acceleration and abrupt pauses” before disappearing. The facility’s main fighter controller at Neatishead, Norfolk’s RAF Station, was contacted at midnight after Lakenheath reported a mysterious object buzzing the base.
“I scrambled a Venom night fighter from the Battle Flight through Sector, and my controller in the Interception Cabin took over control of it. The Interception Control team would consist of one Fighter Controller (an Officer), a Corporal, a tracker, and a height reader. That is, four highly trained personnel in addition to myself could now clearly see the object on our radarscopes.”
The fighter controller, F H C Wimbledon
After receiving the order, the Venom fighter jet took off. As it went further, the pilot and the radar both spotted a bright white light, but as the Venom went further, it vanished into the night sky. After that, the fighter jet received the order to change its direction and go towards a different target, which was over Bedford, north of Cambridge. The pilot locked on the target on its jet radar, and he described it as the “clearest target I have ever seen on radar.” Suddenly, the UFO arrived unexpectedly behind the jet around 10 miles east of Lakenheath, and even when the pilot turned back, it followed him.
“The pilot tried everything – he climbed, dived, circled, etc, but the UFO acted like it was glued right behind him, always the same distance, very close, but we always had two distinct targets.”
Statement by one of the ground radar operators:
Low on fuel, the Venom returned to base after 10 minutes. After trailing it for a little while, the UFO halted and hovered above the earth. Another Venom was launched, but it had to turn back because of technical difficulties. The two ground radars saw the UFO speeding away to the north at a rate of 600 miles per hour. Anomalous radar echoes were intermittently detected by Lakenheath till 3:30 in the morning. After 13 years, in 1969, the University of Colorado UFO project’s final report talked about these strange Lakenheath-Bentwaters UFO Sightings.
The University of Colorado UFO project director was physicist Edward U. Condon, and the project was also informally known as the Condon Committee. The account identifies the Lakenheath-Bentwaters UFO sightings as the “most puzzling and unusual in the radar-visual files. The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of the Lakenheath-Bentwaters UFO sightings.”
“There is simply no way that any known sort of anomalous propagation effect could account for this. In fact, any explanation even remotely conceivable seems to demand the presence of some physical object in the air over Lakenheath.”
Physicist Gordon David Thayer, Condon Committee investigator
Fighter Jet Chasing UFO
An attempt was made by Philip J. Klass in a book published in 1974 to demonstrate that the radar contacts and visual sightings were the results of a combination of operator mistakes, odd radio waves, and meteors. He corresponded with Thayer on the subject, and Thayer ultimately responded that Klass’s perspective was incorrect because it was founded on incorrect information, implausible assumptions, and technical errors.
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