A Brief History
On December 24, 1980, a series of mysterious lights and aircraft were sighted in the area of Rendlesham Forest (Sussex England) and allegedly covered up by British authorities.
Digging deeper, we find the incidents continuing for about 3 days, with plenty of eyewitnesses, include U.S. Air Force personnel from the nearby RAF Woodbridge airbase.
Witnesses claimed seeing a variety of phenomena, from strange lights to seeing unexplained flying objects, to actually touching a UFO! British authorities claimed that there was no need for alarm and that the incidents were not worth investigating. Obviously, this claim led to widespread belief that the government was covering up a legitimate alien encounter drawing a parallel to an alleged U.S. government cover up of an alien encounter in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.
When it turned out there had been a thick file on the incident produced, the conspiracy theorists were beside themselves! Release of the file revealed mundane information, such as responses to public inquiries and internal routine memos. Of course, many thought that was part of the cover up.
Official sources explained that the witnesses merely saw a distant light house, were seeing particularly bright stars, or even a fireball. Dozens of eyewitnesses are sure that they did not see anything proposed by authorities, and these were largely people accustomed to seeing a variety of aircraft under a variety of conditions and responsible professionals, people that could hardly be seen as some sort of crackpots or yokels!
Skeptics on both sides abound, some saying the whole incident is ridiculous or flat out phony, while true believers feel this is the best documented alien encounter yet. The fact that sightings occurred for a few days after starting on December 24 seems to set this incident (or series of incidents) apart from other more isolated incidents.