Analysis of the Coordinates Derived From the Binary Codes of Jim Penniston

UPDATED 2014/4/23
All text © 2011-2014 by Joseph R. Luciano
All Notebook Images © 2011-2014 by James Penniston


The following is my analysis of the seven geographic coordinate pairs derived from my decoding of the 16 pages of binary codes in the notebook of Jim Penniston. He recorded these binary codes the day after his experience in the December 1980 Rendlesham Forest Incident in the UK while he was in charge of security at the then USAF joint bases RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. These binary codes were decoded (translated) into alphanumeric characters using 8-bit ASCII by my Binary Decoder v3.1 program. See the detail analysis of my decoding process in the pages linked to below.

The raw coordinate data below is from my final decoded and interpreted (all "transmision errors" resolved) data from the binary code as documented on the other analysis pages below.

Original Coordinates as Decoded by Binary Decoder v3.1:

(NOTE: See links at bottom of page)

Coordinates from Pages 1-5 of Binary Codes:

Coordinates from Pages 6-13 of Binary Codes:

Coordinates from Pages 14-16 of Binary Codes:
520942532N13131269W   (NOTE: An 8th coordinate pair that is simply a repeat of coordinate #1 from pages 1-5)


The strings of 0 and 1 digits were originally provided to Jim Penniston during the 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident in binary form as binary digits (bits = 0 or 1), the "language" of computers, from a "craft of unknown origin" which was apparently un-piloted, and therefore very likely computer controlled. The binary code was translated using my Binary Decoder v3.1.

By having the 8 sets of numbers, we can more readily see patterns which help us figure out how to parse them into something meaningful.

Since each string of characters consists first of a string of digits followed by an "N" or "S", then more digits followed by an "E" or "W", we can easily conclude they are geographic Latitude/Longitude coordinate pairs specifying locations on the Earth.

Latitude is expressed as 0-90 degrees N(orth) or S(outh), and Longitude is 0-180 degrees E(ast) or W(est). Therefore Latitude needs a maximum of 2 significant decimal digits (to the left of a decimal point) and Longitude needs a maximum of 3 significant decimal digits (to the left of a decimal point).

Also, Latitude/Longitude can be expressed in at least two common forms:

1. Degrees/Minutes/Seconds (DMS) - example: 52°09'42.532"N 131°31'26.9"W
2. Decimal - example: 52.0942532N 131.31269W

Preliminary Analysis

Since there is no punctuation (decimal points, degrees/minutes/seconds symbols, or spaces) within the coordinate numbers from the binary code message, we need to figure out how they should be parsed (broken down) into valid Latitude/Longitude values. Since the binary codes came from an apparent computer source ("craft of unknown origin"), and computers are, if nothing else, precisely consistent, all the number sets MUST be in a format that follows consistent rules. We,therefore, can surmize that the numbers, which are of variable length, must be in a fixed assumed decimal place format.

With respect to numeric values and fixed assumed decimal place format, computers use a "right justification" technique, lining them all up on the right side and inserting zeros (or spaces) on the left side were necessary to make all the numbers of fixed length with an assumed (invisible) decimal point in a predetermined position.

Latitude Numbers

We note that the longest Latitude number is the very first one (520942532N) - at 9 digits.Since Latitude must be in the range 0-90 degrees, it could represent .5, 5, or 52 degrees. However, interpreting this number as .5 or 5 degrees would establish a fixed format that would cause all the remaining Latitude numbers to be less than zero degrees, and I believe that to be highly unlikely.

Therefore, we can deduce that the first 2 digits of this first coordinate represent a valid Latitude of 52 degrees, thus leaving 7 digits after the degrees of Latitude. Therefore defining that there are 7 least significant digits after an assumed decimal point. This same coordinate pair appears on pages 1-5 and again on pages 14-16.

After applying this same logic to the Latitudes in the 6 coordinate pairs appearing on pages 6-13, I determined that those had 6 decimal places. I can not readily explain why there is this difference in number of decimal places in the Latitude numbers between the first coordinate and the other six. Maybe since the first coordinate pair on pages 1-5, which is repeated on pages 14-16, and is apparently identified as "ORIGIN" on pages 14-16, needs to be more precise for some reason.

Longitude Numbers

We note that the longest Longitude number is the next to last (117100632E) - at 9 digits. Since Longitude must be in the range of 0-180 degrees, it could represent .1, 1, 11, or 117 degrees. Interpreting this number as .1 or 1 degrees would establish a fixed format that would cause all the remaining Longitude numbers to be significantly less than zero degrees, and I believe that to be highly unlikely.

Therefore, we can deduce that this value is either 11 or 117 degrees making the first 2 or 3 digits represent a valid Longitude of 11 or 117 degrees, thus leaving 7 or 6 digits after an assumed decimal point in the Longitude. Therefore defining that there are 7 or 6 least significant digits after an assumed decimal point, which we will use to parse each Longitude.

Intermediate Analysis

So, only the Longitude numbers are subject to different possibilities with either 6 or 7 least significant digits (after a decimal point), which gives us only 2 possible sets of interpreted coordinate pairs, one with 6 decimal places in the Longitude and one with 7.

Separating out the degrees with a space (for now), and right-justifying them, the numbers now look like:

Possibilities A (7 decimal places in Longitude):
#1A: 52 0942532N 1 3131269W 
#2A:  16 763177N 8 9117768W 
#3A:  34 800272N11 1843567W 
#4A:  29 977836N 3 1131649E 
#5A:  14 701505S 7 5167043W  
#6A:  36 256845N11 7100632E 
#7A:  37 110195N 2 5372281E 


Possibilities B (6 decimal places in Longitude):
#1B: 52 0942532N 13 131269W 
#2B:  16 763177N 89 117768W 
#3B:  34 800272N 111 843567W 
#4B:  29 977836N 31 131649E 
#5B:  14 701505S 75 167043W  
#6B:  36 256845N 117 100632E 
#7B:  37 110195N 25 372281E 

Thus we can see that we have a fixed number of digits (7) after the #1 Latitude and 6 digits after each of the remaining #2-#7 Latitude degrees, and 7 or 6 digits after each of the degrees of Longitude. Thereby making those numbers right justified, and therefore consistently interpretable by logical, pre-programmed computer processes, even though they contain NO punctuation.

What about those digits following the space after the degrees? How are they to be interpreted? Since, again, there is NO punctuation (decimal point, spaces, or minute/second symbols) in the original code, we must conclude that they have to be interpreted with a fixed format to be consistently deciphered by a computer.

Well, if they were in DMS format, we would need the next 2 digits after degrees to represent minutes (00-60), and none of them should be numerically greater than 60. However, we note that 4 of the Latitude number (#2, #4, #6 and #7) violate this, and would therfore be invalid "minutes" values, which leads us to conclude that the format MUST be decimal. This is a very logical conclusion, considering it is the format commonly used for processing Latitude/Longitude in computers.

Then, after adding the decimal points, the coordinates now look like this:

Possibilities A:
#1A: 52.0942532N 1.3131269W 
#2A:  16.763177N 8.9117768W 
#3A:  34.800272N 11.1843567W 
#4A:  29.977836N 3.1131649E 
#5A:  14.701505S 7.5167043W  
#6A:  36.256845N 11.7100632E 
#7A:  37.110195N 2.5372281E 


Possibilities B:
#1B: 52.0942532N 13.131269W 
#2B:  16.763177N 89.117768W 
#3B:  34.800272N 111.843567W 
#4B:  29.977836N 31.131649E 
#5B:  14.701505S 75.167043W  
#6B:  36.256845N 117.100632E 
#7B:  37.110195N 25.372281E 

Final Analysis

After working with Gary Osborn (another member of the official RFI  Team) in the UK, and evaluating the geographic locations pointed to by the two possibility sets (A and B), we concluded that Possibilities B is the more likely interpretation.

So, we have concluded that Possibilities B are the correctly formated coordinates from the decoded binary message.


What I have tried to do in this analysis is start with the coordinate numbers EXACTLY as decoded from the binary code message WITHOUT any changes, and apply logical and consistent mathematical and computer principles to parse them into a meaningful form.

I have tried to apply the principle of Occam's Razor, that is: arrive at the conclusions by selecting the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions. I have specifically NOT applied any assumptions or changes to conveniently fit some preconceived notion. My goal was to arrive at logical conclusions with the minimal amount of manipulations and assumptions.

I have presented the final and official complete results of the decoding and interpretation of the RFI binary message on the page titled:  Complete Decoded and Interpreted Message

Go To Main Menu

Home Page

Complete Decoded and Interpreted Message

Interpreted Geographic Coordinate Set

Google Maps and Information on Each Coordinate

Analysis of Geographic Coordinates (This Page)

Binary Decoder Analysis of Pages 1-5

Binary Decoder Analysis of Pages 6-13

Binary Decoder Analysis of Pages 14-16

Full 16-pages of Transcribed Binary Code

RFI Notebook Original Pages

Binary Decoder Program

All text © 2011-2014 by Joseph R. Luciano
All Notebook Images © 2011-2014 by James Penniston