Images decoded from the Rendlesham binary code

William C. Treurniet, January, 2011
(revised May, 2014)

Summary. During the 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO event, Sgt. James Penniston experienced a telepathic download of binary data when he came in contact with what appeared to be a strange craft. He was able later to write down the information in a notebook. This recently revealed data can be decoded to show an initial short phrase of ASCII encoded words, with the rest being uninterpretable. However, when the data is processed with an image decoding algorithm found in the 2010 Wilton Windmill crop formation, recognizable images are obtained. One image appears to be of a small animal. Another appears to show two people engaged in some activities. The algorithm also decoded recognizable images from both the Wilton Windmill and 2002 Crabwood crop formations. The pattern of events suggests that the images given to us over the years were intended to be seen only after 2010 when the decoding algorithm was specified.

A well-known encounter with UFOs occurred during two or three nights just after Christmas, 1980, in southern England. Mysterious lights seen in Rendlesham Forest were investigated by personnel from the American military base at Bentwaters. A good description of the reported events may be found in Richard Dolan's book, UFOs & the National Security State, Vol II. Online sources that describe the case may be found here, here, and here.

During the first night of the event, Sgt. James Penniston was among a small group of people from the military base who encountered a strange glowing object on the ground. Penniston approached the object and touched it with his hand, and when he did so, 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 information into his mind, and this information was encoded in a binary format. The information persisted in his mind until he wrote it down in his notebook after returning home.

The first image

In 2010, the first five pages of the notebook were released to the public via the Earthfiles site. The information consists of a long sequence of 1's and 0's. The transcribed data may be seen in this file. When the sequence is treated as a continuous stream of 8-bit ASCII character codes, the following characters are obtained. Of course, any unprintable characters would not be shown.


Some embedded words are interpretable, but the text as a whole does not make much sense. Either there were errors in the transcriptions of the binary code, or it should be interpreted in a different way.

Perhaps the data can be interpreted as an image. An image decoding algorithm was discovered in the Wilton Windmill crop formation that appeared in May, 2010. As many as four recognizable images were successfully decoded from this formation. The algorithm was also applied to the 2002 Crabwood formation which yielded a single recognizable image.

The Wilton Windmill formation is best known for representing an almost correct form of the Euler formula, but it also contained a text string interpreted as the image decoding algorithm. The string was understood to mean "see the image decoded using 9x9 arrays of bytes with bits inverted". A sequence of bits from the formation that included the represention of the text strings was then decoded in different ways to produce four separate images. Two of these images were bipedal stick figures showing a friendly wave.

The Crabwood crop formation contains a bit sequence that had already been decoded as a text string. The same data was decoded with the Wilton Windmill algorithm as a recognizable image of a bipedal figure extending a 3-fingered hand. In each formation, the bits were arranged in such a way that both readable text and meaningful images were represented. Small errors and arbitrary case changes in the text could have been intentional in order to encode the images more accurately.

The same decoding algorithm can be applied to the Penniston binary code as well. When treated as a sequence of ASCII characters, the code gave an initial short sequence of recognizable text, i.e., "EXPLORATIONOGHUMANITY", which can be interpreted to mean "Exploration of humanity". The remainder of the decoded string contained parts of English words which are generally meaningless. Perhaps the initial text was meant to signal the proper beginning of image data if that were the primary purpose of the download.

The left pane of Figure 1 shows the image decoded from Penniston's binary code using the algorithm given by the Wilton Windmill crop formation. The image was smoothed with a Gaussian filter to remove high frequency components introduced by the drawing method. The smoothed version is shown on the right.

Figure 1. Image obtained from Penniston's binary code. 

Like many crop formations, the interpretation of the pattern in Figure 1 may be idiosyncratic. An obvious interpretation is the profile of something like a sitting cat or dog facing left with its tail curled up over its back on the right. For those having difficulty seeing this interpretation, elements of the body are labeled in Figure 2.

Figure 2. An interpretation of the image in Figure 1. 

The second image

In the spring of 2014, a book by Nick Pope on the 1980 Rendlesham Forest Incident (Pope, 2014) was published, which described events surrounding the landing of the UFO in Rendlesham forest. It included the remainder of the sequence of binary codes said to have been downloaded into Penniston's mind when he touched the mysterious craft. This data was appended to the set that was published in 2010. The entire set decoded as text appears as follows.

æf‡Fì“ŒLLN Ú›«™œ››œ›'˜˜™˜›¢˜š˜š˜©›š˜›70hf®fldjlphjœbbnb``lfdŠfnbb`brjœdjfnddpbŠŠ²Š¦žŒ²žª¤Š²…SORIG    N520bhd

According to the decoding algorithm, a second image should begin after 81 bytes, or 648 bits from the beginning of the sequence. The text string from that point on is as follows.

Ú›«™œ››œ›'˜˜™˜›¢˜š˜š˜©›š˜›70hf®fldjlphjœbbnb``lfdŠfnbb`brjœdjfnddpbŠŠ²Š¦žŒ²žª¤Š²…SORIG    N520bhd

Again, the text makes little sense with the exception of the string at the start that might be interpreted as "The coordinate continues". Like the "EXPLORATION" text at the very beginning, this interpretable text might be a cue that image data starts at this point.

This sequence of bits was decoded as a 9x9 image using the Wilton Windmill decoding algorithm. The resulting image is shown in the left panel of Figure 3, while the right panel shows the image smoothed with a Gaussian filter.

Figure 3. Second Rendlesham image. 

Like the other low resolution images, it is a cartoon-like representation. It is readily interpreted as a person standing on the right looking left, and another person, seated in the upper left quadrant facing right. The seated person may be sitting on something with wheels, and the standing person may be pushing something with wheels.

Comments on the Big Picture

There is a common thread that ties together the Rendlesham Forest UFO sightings, the Crabwood crop formation, and the Wilton Windmill crop formation. That is, one decoding algorithm extracted recognizable images from the three different bit streams obtained from the events. Further, all of the decoded images appear to represent living beings. For ease of comparison, the images are shown in Figure 3. The top row shows the year when the data sets were created, while the left to right presentation is the order in which they were decoded.

2002 2010 2010 2010 2010 1980 1980
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Figure 3. All of the images decoded with the 2010 Wilton Windmill algorithm. 

Image 1 shows the cartoon form of a biped extending a three-fingered hand toward us, perhaps in greeting. Images 2 and 3 also show a bipedal figure with a hand apparently raised in greeting. Image 4 was interpreted as the head and shoulders of a rabbit-like figure. Image 5 was recognized as the front view of a helmeted or long-haired child riding a tricycle. Image 6 is the profile of a seated animal with a long tail, and Image 7 contains the profiles of two people possibly engaged in some workplace activity.

The images appear to be representations of forms of life around us, some familiar and some not. They suggest that someone has been communicating in this manner with select people on earth, at least since 1980. Perhaps tentative communication with a wider audience continued in 2002 via the decoded Images 1-3 from the Crabwood and Wilton Windmill crop formations, respectively. All appear to offer greetings. The figure in Image 4 has the appearance of a rabbit from a child's book by Beatrice Potter. The rabbit, the child on a tricycle, the seated dog or cat, and the workplace scene may merely be symbols intended to promote a non-threatening atmosphere.

Some might wonder if all the images were staged as an entirely human project, given the controversy over who the makers of crop formations might be. There are several reasons why this is unlikely. In particular, the crop formations would have been difficult to design in that the same set of bits represent both a text message and one to four images. At the very least, this is a mathematical optimization problem requiring sophisticated resources to solve. Further, the construction of the complex Crabwood formation in a short time would have required extraordinary construction techniques and technology. Even if these problems could have been solved by human ingenuity, the Rendlesham episode could not have been staged by human conspirators. The displayed technology was too different from human capabilities. It follows, then, that the Crabwood and Wilton Windmill crop formations were not created solely by humans either, since all are connected by the common image decoding algorithm encoded in the latter formation.


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

Pope, N., Burroughs, J. and Penniston, J. Encounter in Rendlesham Forest: The Inside Story of the World's Best-Documented UFO Incident, St. Martin's Press, NY, 2014.

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