A common thread connecting the Rendlesham Forest UFO event and two crop formations


A common thread connecting the Rendlesham Forest UFO event and two crop formations: Revised with photos

By William C. Treurniet

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Abstract – The 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO event, the 2002 Crabwood crop formation, and the 2010 Wilton Windmill crop formation are all logically connected. Each event yielded a set of binary data which was decoded using a common image decoding algorithm. This algorithm was discovered in part of the Wilton Windmill data set. It was then applied to all the data in the Wilton Windmill formation. Remarkably, four meaningful images were decoded by ordering the data bits in different ways. One image shows a bipedal figure with one arm raised. Another shows the same figure in a different pose with the other arm raised. A third image shows a face with large ears as in a drawing of a bunny in a child’s book. A fourth image shows what appears to be a child riding a tricycle. The data set from the Crabwood formation was decoded as a bipedal figure extending a three-fingered hand in greeting. Finally, the data set that came from the UFO encounter in Rendlesham Forest was decoded as the profile of a seated cat or dog.

The images from the 1980 and 2002 events could not have been found until the decoding algorithm appeared in 2010. Further, there must have been a plan prior to the 1980 event to enable these images to be revealed in 2010. The images appear to say that the authors are not to be feared and, therefore, are probably not human.


On May 22, 2010, a crop formation appeared at Wilton Windmill, Wiltshire, England. The formation was found to represent bits of information that encoded a famous mathematical formula. This article shows that an additional text string as well as four recognizable images were also encoded in the formation. The second text string was interpreted as a high-level algorithm for decoding the images. Unexpectedly, the same algorithm decoded a meaningful image from the 2002 Crabwood crop formation. Even more surprisingly, an image was also decoded from a bit sequence that originated in the UFO encounter at Rendlesham Forest, England, in 1980.

Each of these events are discussed in separate sections, and a discussion section will attempt to make some sense of it all.

The Wilton Windmill Formation



The design of the Wilton Windmill formation in Figure 1 suggested to a number of people that bit sequences interpretable as ASCII characters might be represented there.

Figure 1. The 2010 Wilton Windmill crop formation.

This was confirmed when a text string was decoded from the flattened vegetation

which took the form of Euler’s identity, a famous mathematical formula (e.g., Perceval, 2010). Each arc projecting from a radial line in the formation was read as a 1 and the absence of an arc was read as a 0. On one side of each radial line, the bit nearest the center was always 0, and only this side was used. Since the bit nearest the center was constant, it was ignored. The remaining seven bit positions were used to create a 7-bit ASCII character code, starting from the second bit position and moving towards the circumference. Successive characters were read from adjacent radial lines moving in the clockwise direction. The decoded text string “e^(hi)pi)1=0” was recognized as a close approximation to “e ^ (i pi) + 1 = 0”, the correct form of the equation.

A second text string was decoded from the other side of each radial line, with bits read from the circumference towards the center. Again, the bit nearest the center was ignored since it was constant. The text string “,But45x459!y” decoded from this data is recognized here as a high-level algorithm for transforming 8-bit symbols into a visual format.

The string contains two numbers, 45×459, each divisible by nine. They may be rewritten as 9x9x255. The number 255 is the maximum decimal value of an 8-bit (or byte) code that represents the intensity of a pixel in a grayscale image. The 9×9 would specify the size in pixels of an image array. Finally, the ‘!y’ characters would mean that the bits in each ‘y’ byte are to be negated. The ‘!’ symbol is the logical NOT operator in some computer programming languages. Therefore, a translation of the original text string would be “, but see the image decoded using a 9×9 array of bytes with bits inverted“.

Sufficient information to encode an image was discovered by Damen (2010). His reconstruction of the formation offered a way to decode 36 bytes of data which would be enough to represent a 9×4 image array. Figure 2 shows his drawing of the formation that includes the relevant construction lines.


The approach takes advantage of the observation that the arcs projecting from the 12 radii in the formation are not all the same length, so that between each pair of dashed lines left in from the reconstruction process there may be a different number of bits of the arcs. Each bit encountered represents a 1 for that bit position, else that position is a 0. This basis for bit assignment is shown in the diagram of Figure 2. Eight bits of data are found between each pair of dotted lines, giving a total of 288 bits or 36 bytes of data, sufficient for a 9×4 image array.

How the bits should be read was not obvious since at least four ways were identified. It so happened that a choice was not necessary since each of those four ways yielded a different and apparently meaningful image. The starting point was always the inner ring of the radial line marked by an X in Figure 2, since this gave the first symbol of Euler’s formula. As in the decoding of the formula, successive bits or bytes were obtained by moving only in the clockwise direction. The meaningfulness of the relatively simple decoded images is subjective, of course, but the proffered interpretations should be acceptable to most viewers.

For the first image, the order of the bits was suggested by the trigonometric form of Euler’s formula, which can be expressed in terms of the sine and cosine. The bits in the first byte were read from the center to the circumference between each pair of dotted lines. Moving clockwise to the adjacent pair of dotted lines, the second byte was read from the circumference to the center, the third was read from the center to the circumference, etc. This sinusoidal pattern continued until all 36 bytes were constructed. Then according to the high-level decoding algorithm described above, the bits were inverted and the byte values were assigned to a 9×4 array of image pixels. The result was the image shown on the left in Figure 3. On the right is the image smoothed with a Gaussian filter. The filter removes high frequency components introduced by the edges of the blocks representing individual pixels. The image is easily interpreted as the frontal view of a humanoid figure with head tilted to the side and left arm waving.

Figure 3. Bipedal figure with left arm waving.

If we think of the order of the bits in the previous image as being read in sine phase, we can construct a second image by reading the bits in cosine phase. To do this, the bits in the first byte were read from the circumference to the center, the second was read from center to the circumference, the third was read from circumference to the center, etc. After inverting the bits, the bytes were again assigned to the 9×4 pixel array. The result is shown in Figure 4. Remarkably, the smoothed version is a similar humanoid figure, this time turned sideways and appearing to be stepping away while waving with the right arm.

Figure 4. Bipedal figure with right arm waving.

For the third image found in the formation, each byte was built up of bits assigned from the center to the circumference between every pair of adjacent dotted lines progressing clockwise. Then the bits were inverted and the resulting byte value assigned to a pixel of the 9×4 grayscale image. The result was the image shown in Figure 5. The smoothed version is interpreted as a face with large ears as in a drawing of a bunny in a child’s book.

Figure 5. Image of a bunny with ears.

For the fourth image, the bits were organized according to their positions in the eight concentric circles. That is, the bits were read by going around each consecutive circle in the clockwise direction, beginning at the inner circle. As before, the algorithm inverted the bits and assigned the resulting byte value to a pixel of the 9×4 grayscale image. The result was the image in Figure 6. The smoothed version is interpreted as a child riding a tricycle.

Figure 6. Image of a child on a tricycle.

In retrospect, the appearance of each image is intuitively related to the ordering of the bits yielding that image. In Figures 3 and 4, the two images resulted from the up-and-down ordering of the bit arrays forming each byte as suggested by the trigonometric form of Euler’s formula. This sinusoidal pattern corresponds to the implied motion of the waving arm in each image. Also, one bipedal figure appears to be turned 90 degrees to the side relative to the other figure, and opposing arms are raised. These differences might correspond to the sine/cosine phase difference. As an aside, the reason for the apparent error in the decoded Euler’s identity now seems obvious. The incorrect “hi” substring is telling us that the raised arms in the images are to be interpreted as a greeting.

The image of Figure 5 also appears to be related to the particular bit order used in its construction. The alert, raised ears of the bunny correspond to the diverging construction lines in Figure 2 guiding the strictly inner-to-outer ordering of the bits. Also, the image of Figure 6 was obtained by going around circles of different radii to form the bytes. Of course, the most prominent features of a tricycle are its circular, different-sized wheels.

Some may object that image interpretation is too subjective, and that each image is just an array of random pixel values. That is, the pixel arrays produced by the decoding algorithm are no more meaningful than any other random arrangement of pixels. To address this issue, the same arrays were also processed with offsets of 1-7 bits from the beginning. The objects in the images with no offset were clearly more meaningful than those in the images with offsets. This would be expected if the images with no offset were intended by the designers of the formation.

It is nothing short of amazing that the set of bits in this formation are arranged so that two interpretable text strings and four meaningful images could be decoded simply by choosing different byte construction schemes. Not only was the same set of bits used, but the bit values on each side of a given radial line in the formation were constrained to be complementary. Successfully encoding this much meaningful text and image information in such a co-dependent way is very unlikely to have happened by chance. Perhaps it was done by optimizing an appropriate cost function, if one could even be defined.

That the encoding of these particular images was intentional is strongly supported by the conceptual similarity of the images of Figure 3 and 4 decoded using hints from Euler’s formula. Each image shows a humanoid figure with an arm raised perhaps in greeting. The obvious similarity of the two images is persuasive confirmation that the data sampling schemes were correct and the decoding algorithm was applied as intended.

The Crabwood Formation

The image decoding algorithm obtained from the Wilton Windmill formation was also applied to an existing binary data set derived from the Crabwood formation discovered much earlier in 2002. A photograph of the formation in Figure 7 shows a representation of an alien being leaning through a rectangular portal. The being’s outstretched hand supports a disk shape already known to contain a binary message. A version of the photograph smoothed with a Gaussian filter is included on the right.

Figure 7. The 2002 Crabwood crop formation.

The binary code on the disk was interpreted as a sequence of ASCII characters soon after the formation appeared. Collie (2007) offers a description of the analysis that led to the following message.

Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time.
   BELIEVE. There is GOOD out there. We oPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING\

The existence of a second message in the data set is suggested by the odd mixture of upper and lower case letters. Perhaps capital letters were substituted for lower case letters in order to improve the encoding of an image in the same sequence of bits. The first 81 bytes of the sequence provided by Collie (2007) were processed by the image decoding algorithm, and the resulting 9×9 image is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Bipedal figure extending a hand

The right side of the smoothed image appears to show a bipedal figure in motion. The strategic placements of lighter and darker areas give the body a 3-dimensional appearance, with the head and one leg projected towards the viewer. The left side of the image may be interpreted as a three-fingered right hand. The hand appears to extend towards the viewer because of its disproportionately large size. The image may be interpreted as a representation of a bipedal figure extending a three-fingered hand in greeting.

The Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident

A well-known encounter with UFOs occurred during several nights just after Christmas, 1980, in southern England. Mysterious lights seen in Rendlesham Forest were investigated by personnel from the nearby American military base at Bentwaters. A brief description of the reported events may be found in Dolan (2009).

During the first night of the event, Sgt. James Penniston was among a group of people who investigated moving lights spotted in the forest near the military base. During the investigation, Penniston approached a strange glowing object on the ground. When he touched it with his hand, the object increased in brightness. Almost 30 years later, he revealed that he then experienced telepathic communication with the object. He learned that the object was from our future and was involved in a project to save future humanity from genetic degradation. He also received a download of uninterpretable binary data into his mind. The data persisted in his mind until he wrote it down in his notebook after returning home.

In the fall of 2010, Penniston released the first five pages of the notebook to the public. The data on the pages consist of a long sequence of 1’s and 0’s. When the sequence is treated as a continuous stream of 8-bit ASCII character codes, the following text is obtained.


Some embedded words are interpretable, but the text as a whole does not make much sense. Perhaps it should be decoded as an image instead. The word ‘EXPLORATION’ at the beginning of the character sequence is correctly spelled and may have been intended to mark the beginning of image data. If so, communicating an image would have been the primary purpose of the download to Penniston’s mind.

Figure 9 shows the image decoded from Penniston’s binary code using the algorithm given by the Wilton Windmill crop formation. The image was again smoothed with a Gaussian filter.

Figure 9. Image of a seated dog or cat.

This image appears to show the profile of a being like a sitting cat or dog, facing left, with its tail curled up over its back on the right. Some recognizable body parts are labeled in Figure 10 for the benefit of those having difficulty seeing this interpretation.

Figure 10. Labeled image.

Does this image correspond to the account of Larry Warren, a member of the USAF Security Police at Bentwaters? Warren observed entities accompanying a UFO in Rendlesham Forest during an encounter two nights after Penniston’s experience. He describes entities with large heads and catlike black eyes (Warren and Robbins, 2005, p.47). This description, as far as it goes, matches the representation in the decoded image. The image shows an entity with a relatively large head that is about half the height of the whole figure. The prominent dark eye in the image could correspond to Warren’s description of ‘catlike black eyes’.

Years after the event, in 1987 and again in 1988, Warren drew the entities from memory for his coauthor, Peter Robbins. Robbins kindly made the drawings available and they are reproduced in Figure 11 with his permission. Clearly, these drawings are not at all like the representation in the decoded image. Rather, the drawings show a likeness similar to what is commonly known as the gray alien. Note that a similar being is also explicitly represented in the 2002 Crabwood crop formation where it is shown holding the disk of information (Figure 7).

Figure 11. Warren’s drawings of the entities
   (reproduced with permission).

Since Warren’s drawings in Figure 11 are not at all like the decoded image, we can conclude that Penniston did not receive an encoded likeness of the being seen later by Warren.

General Discussion

The image decoding algorithm is a common thread connecting the Wilton Windmill and Crabwood crop formation designs and the Rendlesham Forest UFO sightings. The same algorithm decoded recognizable images from data obtained from the three different events. A striking feature is the temporal relations among the events. The algorithm appeared about eight years after the 2002 Crabwood formation appeared, and even longer after the data from Rendlesham was said to have been received in 1980. This means that the decoding algorithm must have been part of a long-term plan initiated before 1980 by an unknown agency. This plan would allow us to see the images, but only after 2010.

Was this agency human, alien or both. By his own account, Penniston’s mind in Rendlesham Forest was manipulated by the download of the data. Was the agency responsible from beyond our space and time as he was told? Did it have the ability to maintain the data in his mind for a period of time as he says? Or was it a human agency with sufficient expertise in mind control to modify his perception of reality? A human agency might have made Penniston believe it was an alien download, and then placed pages of encoded image data in his notebook. Whether human or alien, the agency involved must have defined the decoding algorithm revealed in the crop formation as well as all the binary data from the three events.

Like Penniston, Warren may have experienced a real encounter with an alien entity, or his perceptions may also have been manipulated by the same human agency. In any case, visual clues connect his experience in 1980 to the 2002 Crabwood formation. In particular, his drawings of the entities he saw were similar to the entity drawn in the field at Crabwood. These reinforce the connection between the two events already established by the shared decoding algorithm.

Because of the shared algorithm, the same agency that staged the Rendlesham experience must also have designed the Crabwood and Wilton Windmill crop formations. Some formations have been made using relatively simple equipment to mechanically flatten the crop, but others have clearly been made with more sophisticated methods. For example, Haselhoff (2001) found in his analysis of a simple crop circle that the elongation of the flattened plant nodes varied monotonically from the center of the circle to the edge. A witness had observed a ball of light floating above the field where this particular circle appeared. Haselhoff assumed that the ball of light emitted electromagnetic radiation which caused the plant nodes to stretch because of local heating. The pattern of node elongations was fit very well by a model of a source of electromagnetic radiation suspended 4.1 m above the center of the circle. A similar conclusion was reported earlier by Levingood and Talbot (1999).

No suitable human technology yet exists in the public domain that can create and manipulate such balls of light. However, it is a given that the results of covert military research typically remain secret. In particular, we know that the UK Ministry of Defence (2000) expressed a strong interest in developing technology to create plasma balls high in the sky. If this research has been successful, such technology might be used today to create crop formations as well. But would it have progressed far enough by 2002 to create the Crabwood formation?

We should distinguish between the design and the actual making of crop formations. The Crabwood formation could have been designed by a good graphic artist, but its creation in the field would have been very difficult. Construction of the complex formation in a short time would have required extraordinary methods and technology. The Wilton Windmill formation, on the other hand, would have been relatively easy to make using mechanical methods, but very difficult to design. Recall that the same set of bits in the formation represented multiple text strings and images. Determining the required organization of the bits would have required sophisticated resources.

Carrying out the implied plan over the decades would have required a number of extraordinary capabilities: the ability to manipulate human perceptions, to display completely novel flight technologies, to create very complex crop formations, and to solve sophisticated optimization problems. If there is no human agency that can do all this, then we may have seen the results of alien technology at work.

It is also possible that there was collaboration between alien and covert human agencies. Alien technologies may have done the really difficult things, such as manipulating Penniston’s memory, designing the Wilton Windmill formation, and implementing the Crabwood formation design. Human collaborators may have helped things along by, for example, tampering with Penniston’s notebook and enlisting crop artists to implement the Wilton Windmill design.

So who was behind the strategy to present the images to the world. Thanks to the Rendlesham image, we know that the plan was initiated more than 30 years ago. Why would someone plan that long ago to make the images available to us now? Too much time and effort was expended for it all to be a mere practical joke.

The rather benign contents of the images offer a clue about authorship. There are friendly waves and a proffered handshake from humanoid figures, the face of a fuzzy animal, a child riding a tricycle, and a seated cat or dog. The one property these images share is that they are particularly non-threatening. Perhaps this property is the intended message telling us that we need not fear the authors of the images. In that case, the message further implies that the authors do not look like us. Otherwise, the message would be trivial.


Six meaningful images were decoded from the three sets of data using the same decoding algorithm. Because the decoding algorithm was specified in the latest data set, all of the data sets must have been designed by the same agency. Further, we were not meant to see the images until 2010 when the decoding algorithm was provided. Three of the images offer greetings, and the remaining three depict harmless animals and a child. The implied message seems to be that we should not fear the authors of the images when we eventually meet. Since this message would be trivial if the source were a human agency, we may infer that the authors are probably not human.


Dolan, R.M., 2009, UFOs & the National Security State: The Cover-up Exposed, 1973-1991. Keyhole Publishing Co., Rochester, NY.

Haselhoff, E.H., 2001, The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles, Frog Ltd.

Levingood, W.C. and Talbot, N.P., 1999, Dispersion of energies in worldwide crop formations, Physiologia Plantarum, 105, 615-624.

Warren, L. and Robbins, P., 2005, Left at East Gate. Cosimo, New York, NY.



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