Penniston's sketch

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The Aftermath: Damage control loses control

Why did Jim Penniston remain silent for so long - and why is talking about what happened at Bentwaters now?

The reason I am discussing it is because the Air Force says it hasn't happened. My Commanding Officer who originally put the gag order on us says it's not classified, so, ah, one of the reasons the Air Force will not acknowledge the fact that we had -- you take the two nights, over 130-140 people -- trained observers. Their sole job is to observe and investigate conducted an investigation of a craft of unknown origin on the first night and apparently one on the second night, um, I have kept with the official lines that the Air Force does not investigate that type of phenomena. I think it's, it's directly related to efforts of the Air Force to cover up what happened that night. The reasons? That's something you have to ask the Department of the Air Force or Department of Defense. I don't really know what the reason is, why not disclose that.

Something real was out in the woods that night. There are two probable reasons why the Air Force would not want to discuss these incidents. First, if in fact it is a top secret aircraft of American, Soviet, or German or Chinese make, it wouldn't be in the national security interest to say anything. Two, if it truly was a craft that was unknown to exist, that displayed technology that unknown to Earth, then chances are the governments are clueless too. What world leader is going to announce that?

While Penniston did not speak about the incident in the ensuing years, he did hear the scuttlebutt. A week after the incidents, he was quietly informed that a civilian team from Langley (CIA headquarters in Virginia) had arrived and were not to be disturbed. Since they were working in the same area in the forest where the craft(s) had been seen, Penniston assumed it was all part of 'containment,' getting rid of any real evidence. Damage control.

Penniston knew, too, that the Deputy Base Commander, Charles I. Halt, had issued a quick, one-page memorandum on the event that he witnessed, as well as the craft(s) return two nights later, which Halt had investigated, and sent it on to the British Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Three years later, that memorandum, now known as the Halt document, was released through America's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The USAF has claimed, since 1969, that it does not investigate UFOs, but that document flies in the face of that claim...

What had happened is ah quite simply is, ah, I think that damage control was trying to be done and, ah, this was something that no one foreseen happening. I don't even think they knew the existence of the, existence of the memo, or the fact that Holt even sent it off to Minister of Defense. I think this is quite honestly caught the Air Force with their pants down.

The reason I think it caught the Air Force with it's pants down is because of the actual cover-up that was being conducted at the beginning and I was, in fact, part of the cover-up.

...Penniston retired from active duty in 1993, and settled with his family in a small town in America. The event he experienced at Bentwaters has stayed with him, and he still scans the latest air and space technology magazines for anything resembling what he saw. His search, so far, has been futile.

In 1994, at the urging of some colleagues, Penniston agreed to undergo hypnosis to see if any further details might emerge. Several things did. During a videotape of the session, Penniston recalled, quite powerfully, a drug-induced interrogation by two OSI agents. During that interrogation, recalled under hypnosis, Penniston was asked by the psychologist who the occupants of the craft were. At that point, he answered every question she had, essentially laying out an old sf theme - that the occupants were really us in the future, when the Earth is a darker, more polluted place. Their purpose for coming back -- to save them - and ultimately our species.

"I don't know what to think about the hypnosis," says Penniston now. "I do have additional memories of being given a shot of something and being interrogated, so I tend to think that part is probably real. But all that other stuff, hey, who knows what's real? I leave that to the experts."

What does Penniston think now? What perfect world order would he like to place right now?...

Perfect world? I would like for someone to debunk this. Tell me exactly what happened that night. Other than what I seen, have a logical explanation for it and I would gladly have someone to say, what you'd seen that night was a new prototype Air Force 1001 aircraft and you weren't supposed to see it. Thank you.

You could live with any answer then?

You betcha. ...Could it have been an experimental prototype? Sure. But nothing about the event would lead one to conclude that. For starters, why test something experimental outside one of the most sensitive bases in the free world? An accident? Okay, but if it belonged to another country, an enemy of NATO, why was it not shot down? And if it was any known, friendly aircraft why were only three people sent out to investigate? Why not a search and rescue team?

Beyond that, the other thing that seems to shoot down the experimental aircraft explanation is that Penniston, and Burroughs, both reported that the craft maneuvered and took off with absolutely no sound. Lofty technology. Loftier than we have - at least so far as we know.

How about mind control? False memories planted inside Penniston's head - and the heads of everyone else who something? Hmmmm. A holographic projection? Good ideas. But what about the weight, the three impressions left in the ground and Penniston's plaster casts to prove it?

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