Hynek Classification: CE1/RV
Image courtesy of hubpages.com
The Lakenheath, England UFO Incident is one of the best cases in ufology, it has multiple radar contacts as well visual reports. In the late night
and early morning hours of August 13th and 14th, 1956 something extraordinary happened in the skies over southeastern England. It is also interesting
because Lakenheath AFB was also a US nuclear bomber base. This incident is best described by the four separate events that occurred over a time span
of 5 hours and had the object traveling at speeds between 80 mph and up to 10,800 mph potentially. A British fighter jet, the de Havilland DH.112
Venom , was subsequently launched to intercept this unknown aircraft, with another launched after the first pilot called for assistance. The ensuing
chase, which at times had the UFO right behind the jets' tail left the pilot shaken and the British and American investigators scrambling for answers
to what the Venoms were chasing that night.
Picture of actual officer drawings on the radar panel courtesy of the Lakenheath
I need to note that this case is very poorly put together
by researchers thus far, with information all over the place, some information
non-existent anymore, conflicting reports, and the certain names of individuals present, especially the pilots is questionable as sources are scarce
with this information. There is conflicting reports from the British side and the USAF Blue Books side of the story. This case has also recently been
heavily investigated by a collaborative British research team known as the Lakenheath
.The only thing known for sure is that there were multiple radar hits from multiple stations of unknown objects traveling at
extreme speeds, ground visuals, a C-47 that got a close visual, as well a British fighter jet that did get a radar and visual lock on one of the
objects. This case,despite the poorly ordered information is still one of the best and hardest to explain cases in ufology. Many people do not know of
this case and they should in my opinion.
Also let me say that I intentionally have not covered the Washington D.C. sightings of July,1952(as many know I am covering three of the top cases of
each decade starting with the 40's). I did not cover these because the case has already been extensively covered here on ATS. You can find good
information about the case here at NICAP
and on this
by ATS member Gazrok
1. The Radar Contacts
2. The Chase
3. Alternate Explanations and Official Conclusions
4. My Conclusions
1.The Radar Contacts
The Players: British and American military personal that I could find...
Flight Lieutenant Freddie Wimbledon: Supervisor at Neatishead RAF Fighter Command that night, responsible for sending the intercept orders.
Lakenheath air traffic supervisor, USAF officer, Sgt. Forrest Perkins
Lakenheath air traffic controller S.Stg. Thomas Emerick
Lakenheath assistant air traffic controller A/3C James M. Kastner
Intelligence Specialist A/1C Ronald R Erikson
Intelligence Specialist A/2C Richard T. Lynch
Intelligence Specialist A/2C Gene O. Godfrey
Intelligence Specialist A/2C Philip R. Fowler
Pilot of Venom One: Dave Chambers
Pilot of Venom Two: Ian Frazer-Kerr
Navigator of Venom One: John Brady
Navigator of Venom Two: Ivan Logan
It should be noted that there were many reported civilian witness reports that night but none have been able to be confirmed as true.
The Places: Lakenworth(US nuclear bomber base) and Bentwaters Air Force bases in England, which in 1956 were on loan to the United States by the
Royal Air Force. Radar contact was made from three separate sources(Lakenheath, Bentwaters, and Venom aircraft) with multiple radar
- Radar stations: GCA (Ground Control Approach), AN/MPN-1,1 A
-Radar stations: RATCC(Radar Air Traffic Control Center), CPS-4, CPS-5
Venom aircraft with AI (Aircraft Interceptor) radar
There were times when there was both an aircraft hit AND a ground hit. Also there were times when there was a visual conformation AND radar
It is also important to note that all original time is Greenwich Mean Time ZULU (zero). I
have translated the 24 hour numbers into the more commonly civilian use of 12 hour numbers for ease of understanding.
The Types of Radar Available At Time of Incident:
Aircraft radar was AI, or "Aircraft Interceptor"
Helpful radar link: Radar
This is detailed about the various types: Radar Types
Clear sky until 3AM, with an unlimited ceiling. Visibility between 1:00AM and 4:00AM was 10 nautical miles with no storm systems in the region. All
aircraft were accounted for and identified by radar. Wind direction between 12:00AM and 6:00AM was as follows:
-(Velocity in degrees) Surface:230 deg at 15 knots
-6,000 feet: 290 deg at 24 knots
-10,000 feet: 290 deg at 35 knots
-16,000 feet: 290 deg at 45 knots
-20,000 feet: 290 deg at 53 knots
-30,000 feet: 290 deg at 62 knots
-50,000 feet: 290 deg at 75 knots
All weather, radar, personal, and location information courtesy of the Lakenheath
Detailed Contact Information
The first URE, or unidentified radar echo, came at around 9:30 PM on the Bentwaters Air Force Base radar. The contact was about 25-30 miles east,
southeast. The contact remained until it was lost about 15-20 miles to the west, northwest of Bentwaters. The object stayed on a constant azimuth
heading of 285 degrees and was moving at an estimated speed of between 4,000 and 10,800 mph (Mach 7.5 - 15), the speed varies as there is discrepancy
in the radar operators calculation of speed in regards to the transit time between distances in between the 2 second radar sweeps. The operator said
that "the size of the blip was that of a normal aircraft, but diminished in size and intensity to the vanishing point before crossing the entire
screen."A T-33 "Shooting Star" trainer from the 512th Fighter Interceptor Squadron manned by 1st Lieutenants Charles Metz and navigator Andrew
Rowe, who were already in the air returning from a training mission, were diverted to investigate but found nothing and returned home.
About 5 minutes later at around 9:35PM a group of 12-15 UREs was picked up about 8 miles southwest of Bentwaters, the echos "appeared as normal
targets" and "normal checks were made to determine possible malfunctions of the radar failed to show any malfunctions." The UFOs appeared to move
as a group to the northeast at speeds varying between 80 and 125 mph. A 6-7 mile area was covered on the scope, while the echos "faded considerably"
after a distance of 14 miles NE of Bentwaters they were still tracked to a point 40 miles NE of Bentwaters where they merged into a single echo
"several times larger than a B-36 return under similar conditions." This single echo remained
stationary for 10-15 minutes at this location 40 miles NE of Bentwaters for 10-15 minutes, then proceeded to move NE for 5-6 miles, stopped
again for 3-5 minutes, and finally moved out of range (range was 50 miles) of the radar at 9:55PM.
The apparent average speed for the merged
object was calculated at between 290-700 mph (58 miles in 5-12 minutes).
Image of reconstruction of a vintage radar room circa 1956 courtesy of drdavidclarke.co.uk
At 10:00PM yet another contact was picked up about 30 miles east of Bentwaters and tracked to a point about 25 miles west of the station for 16
seconds. The radar operator figured the speed to be "in excess of 4,000 mph" but given the distance covered divided by time it appears the speed was
more like 12,000 mph, or around Mach 17. All of the returns appeared normal except for the last, which was slightly weaker than the others. The URE
disappeared when it moved out of range.
Map showing area of incident with Air Force bases represented by black circles and towns by black squares,courtesy of