Otherworldly Objects And Special Forces: The Josie Zwinenberg UFO Encounter

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
January 13, 2024
Last Updated
January 26, 2024
Estimated Reading Time
11 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

One afternoon in the summer of 1979, a young woman in Driebergen in the Netherlands stumbled onto a hovering futuristic object while riding her horse in the forest near her home. After her reports to the police of the encounter were dismissed, Josie Zwinenberg all but forgot about the incident. However, almost four decades later through pure chance, the sightings came back into the forefront of her mind, and this sudden recollection was followed by a seemingly prearranged meeting with a mysterious gentleman while she holidayed in Ireland.

There is also a possibility that the apparent alien vehicle witnessed that afternoon is connected to other sightings in the Netherlands, specifically, an incident that took place only miles away and received national media attention. With all of this in mind, the encounter of Josie Zwinenberg could potentially be one of the most important in terms of revealing hidden truths about the UFO and alien question, as well as shining a light on the apparent dark goings-on of top-secret government agencies.

The incident in question would only come to light almost 40 years later when Josie contacted UFO researchers looking to get answers to questions she had about what was arguably the most surreal day of her life. And it could very well be a case that has secrets still to reveal.

An Otherworldly Object Hovering Over The Bridal Path

Although the exact date is not known, one afternoon in 1979, somewhere between 4 and 5 pm, 21-year-old Josie Zwinenberg was riding her horse through the forest near the Leusderheide military training facility. [1] She recalled that she was in the thick of the forest but was approaching “a right-angle blend where you enter a bridal path” that ran directly alongside the training grounds. However, when she turned around the bend, she was met with a sight that she simply was not prepared for.

There, directly ahead of her, was a bizarre oval or disc-shaped object hovering silently over the bridal path. She immediately brought her horse to a stop and rubbed her eyes in order to double-check that what she was seeing was real. It was. She then looked around to see if there was anyone else on the path who might be witnessing this surreal moment, but she was clearly on her own.

She noticed how the “air was dead and silent” and that the object was so still it appeared “fixed, like a statue”.  Around the edge there appeared to be lights, “as if rows of gigantic spotlights had been mounted on it”. There were so many – “hundreds” – that she found it impossible to count them, and they were “shining in all directions in all colors”. What’s more, “very large sharp beams of light…shone and sparkled”, similar to “sharp LED lighting”.

It was the lights, perhaps more than anything else, that made her think this object was an otherworldly vehicle, elaborating that “we didn’t have those kinds of beams of lights at that time”. She stated further that “this was definitely not something paranormal, (this was) really something technological”. It was, ultimately, a “tangible object”.

“Something Moved Next To Me!”

She remained where she was for around 15 minutes before daring to move a little closer. The closer she got and the more Josie looked at the object, the more details she would take in. She recalled that it was “big and round”, like a “large dish”, and there was a “dome over it”. She stated that all the while, she was “waiting for it to fly away”, adding that she “wanted to see that”. However, it simply remained “constantly motionless”.

It was at this point that Josie decided to approach it even further, and to her surprise, her horse showed no signs of anxiety or fear and happily walked closer upon her urging. When she was only several feet away, at the edge of the trees, she could see “the enormous curve of the dome”, describing it as being at least 100 feet across, and made of some kind of dull metal that was a gray aluminum color. At the base of the dome, there were “giant light boxes” each full of orange lights. In fact, there was so much lighting at the bottom of the object that she couldn’t see the exterior clearly through the glow.

She decided to stop the horse to dismount and walk directly underneath the strange craft. However, almost as soon as she brought the animal to a stop, it became suddenly startled by “something moving next to me on the right”. She could also see movement in the bushes and contemplated just what it could be. She knew from experience that her horse was not scared of rabbits, foxes, or deer – other animals that they often encountered here. With that in mind, she was uncertain just what the horse had seen.

“Pure Fear” That “Came On All At Once!”

She kept her focus on the moving vegetation but was unable to make out whatever it was her horse had seen. After a few moments, though, she heard the snap of a branch on the forest floor on her left-hand side. All of a sudden, Josie felt a surge of fear run through her. She would describe this as “pure fear” that “came on all at once”. And what’s more, she had never experienced anything like this previously, despite riding in the forest many times.

She elaborated further that there was a sudden “strange, uncanny atmosphere in the forest”. And of more concern, she had the sudden feeling that she was not alone. She remained still for a couple of seconds before giving her horse the command to “get out of here”. And with that, she “took off like a rocket”, galloping away as fast as she could.

A sketch of what was seen by Josie Zwinenberg

A sketch of what was seen by Josie Zwinenberg

It would be almost four decades before she would tell anyone of the encounter, offering that the entire scene is a “photographic image on my retina”. She further stated that she had not seen anything like that before or after, and that she was more than certain that it was not some kind of hallucination, but a “tangible object in this physical world”. What’s more, it was a “not just lights but a very large structure”, like something out of the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

She would also offer that while the incident didn’t change her life in any way, she was glad she had seen it, and as a result, she tended to be more watchful of the skies above.

A Report Dismissed By Police

She estimated that the entire episode, from first noticing the bizarre object to her speeding away from the scene, lasted around 20 minutes. Once she arrived back at the riding school, she took her horse to the stable before mounting her bike and cycling home. Once there, she informed her mother of what she had seen. A little to her surprise, her mother took the account incredibly seriously, informing her daughter that she needed to “call the police right away”.

The nearest police station was in Zeist, and so placed a call to them. It was a conversation that she was immediately suspicious of. She informed the person on the switchboard that she had “seen a UFO in the forest” near the Leusderheide military base. The person in the switchboard immediately offered, “That’s impossible” as they “didn’t see anything on radar”.

Josie Zwinenberg at the location of the sighting

Josie Zwinenberg at the location of the sighting

To this, Josie countered by asking how he knew that as “the police don’t have radar”. Once more, matter-of-factly, the switchboard operator stated that “if something had happened, they would have called the base…and since they didn’t call, there’s nothing that can be done”. And with that, the operator hung up the phone terminating the call.

Only after the conversation did she realize the operator had not even taken basic details such as her name, address, contact telephone number, or anything else that might be used in a report. And because of this, she realized there would not only be any kind of investigation into the incident but there would also be no record of it.

Following that – in the days of no Internet allowing immediate research – Josie would speak of the incident no more, and, by and large, forgot about it. That was, until 39 years later.

Renewed Interest Almost Four Decades Later

In 2007, Josie was sitting in the coffee shop section of an Albert Heijn supermarket when she noticed a copy of De Telegraaf newspaper. She picked it up and began flicking through it, eventually coming to an article about the most important UFO sightings in history. One of the sightings on the list was the Soesterberg UFO encounter, which also unfolded in 1979 at a location only two miles away from where Josie experienced her own sighting.

Whether her feelings were correct or not, Josie now began to wonder if the object witnessed at the Soesterberg base was the same as the one she witnessed on the lonely bridal path. And the more she thought about it, the more convinced she was that was indeed the case. Despite the significant media coverage at the time, Josie had never heard of the encounter at the military base. Had she been aware of it, she felt she almost certainly would have persisted in her own report.

Eventually, in 2010, Josie arranged for the Internet to be connected to her house. And with a renewed interest in looking to find out what she might have seen, she began researching UFO encounters, including the previously mentioned Soesterberg encounter in the hope that it might shed some light on her own sighting.

Josie Zwinenberg

Josie Zwinenberg

Josie would eventually find herself on a website that had the contact details of UFO researcher and investigator, Robert Salas. And one of the things the website offered was that Salas had a particular interest in investigating UFO sightings and encounters near military bases. She sent an email to Salas, mainly about the Soesterberg encounter and if it had connections to her own sighting, and almost immediately she received a reply. And it was full of questions for Josie.

Salas wanted to know, for example, what exactly had happened, where was the base, and did she know if it housed nuclear weapons, as well as whether there were any American soldiers at the base. Needless to say, Josie was overwhelmed by the response. She was, though, more certain than ever that what she had seen was most definitely real – and could very well have a connection to other UFO sightings, specifically, the incident at the Soesterberg base.

She gathered as much information as she could and passed it on to Salas who would eventually write of the incident in his book, Unidentified: The UFO Phenomenon, placing the encounter into the public domain for the first time. That wouldn’t be the end of the strange events for Josie Zwinenberg.

An Unsettling Trip To Ireland

Four years later, in the summer of 2011, Josie was taking a holiday in Blarney in Ireland, somewhere she visited often. This time, though, the trip would be a strange one. One particular night, she would find herself in a large public house that was also a bed and breakfast. She asked if she could book in for the night, which she could. After settling into her room, she ventured downstairs for dinner. After the meal, though, things took a perplexing turn.

The manager stated that they had made a mistake and booked into a room that was already booked. In fact, she was told, there was no room at the pub at all. He did, though, that he had taken the liberty of arranging alternative accommodation in a bed and breakfast just outside of Blarney. Although a little confused by the whole affair, she thanked the manager and set out to the alternative bed and breakfast.

She recalled that it was “in the middle of nowhere” when she eventually found the accommodation. She pulled into the drive and parked her rental vehicle next to a silver Jaguar. Almost immediately after parking, a gentleman approached her car, telling her that he had “been waiting for you for a long time”.

He introduced himself as Tom, who would check her into the bed and breakfast. He began to make polite small talk as he did so but began speaking about subjects such as the alleged end of the world and the apparent predictions contained in the Mayan calendar. She found the choice of subjects strange for small talk but didn’t think too much about it as he showed her to her room.

Before he left, Tom asked Josie if she would like to join him for a drink. She thanked him for the invite but stated that she wished to do some sightseeing in Blarney for the evening. He offered that in that case, he would take his car to Kinsale (around 25 miles to the south of Blarney) to have some work done. Josie, on the other hand, made her way to Blarney.

At one point in the evening, she was sitting on a bench drinking a coffee when she noticed a large, black SUV with tinted windows slowly approaching her. To her disbelief, when she looked into the open passenger window, she could see Tom – the same Tom who had checked her into the bed and breakfast – driving the vehicle.

She wondered why he was in Blarney driving a different vehicle when he had told her he was going to Kinsale. Even so, she waved at him enthusiastically. She was more than shocked when he turned in her direction and “with a steely face” drove straight past her without acknowledging her at all. To say she thought the exchange, or lack thereof, was strange, would be an understatement.

It wouldn’t be the last time she would see Tom that evening.

“You’re Right! I’ve Seen A UFO!”

She eventually made her way back to the bed and breakfast. As she walked through the door, Tom was in the doorway. They greeted each other, and Tom offered that he had changed his mind about going to Kinsale, and had decided to stay home. He then asked once more if she wished to have a drink with him now she was back. Out of curiosity more than anything else, Josie accepted.

To begin with, the evening was jovial and pleasant, with the conversation flowing between them naturally. Then, however, Tom stated to Josie “it’s not a coincidence that you are here, is it?” She asked what he meant, to which he responded, “Surely you have a story to tell”.

Josie later recalled that because of the “extraordinary things in his stories”, she had the distinct feeling that he was attempting to “provoke” her into speaking of her UFO encounter. Perhaps, he had read of it in Salas’ book, she reasoned. Regardless, she found herself saying, “You’re right. I’ve seen a UFO near an Air Force base”.

Almost as soon as the words had left her lips, the sound of the doorbell ringing broke the concentration, and Tom excused himself, stating that this would be a friend whom he was expecting. As he left, he also said that his friend “would probably also be interested” in her story. Moments later, Tom’s friend joined them, and Josie told them of her sighting over 40 years earlier.

“You Weren’t Alone! They Saw You!”

The two men listened to her account enthralled. And after she had told it, each threw question after question at her. She noted that each man returned to the same topic every now and then – whether she had suffered any kind of memory loss.

Tom then told Josie that on the afternoon in question, she wasn’t alone. Josie countered that she was the only one there – just her and her horse. Tom insisted, “You weren’t alone. They saw you”. She asked who he meant, and he replied that “Special Forces were there”. He continued that she had “been on the heather”, continuing that there is a “red and white gate there and you weren’t supposed to go over there”.

This, Josie confirmed, was true. In her mind, though, she couldn’t understand how Tom knew this detail. It was something she had neglected to tell Robert Salas, or anyone else. As she thought this came the realization that Tom had also been dropping hints that he knew far more, about the encounter and herself, than she perhaps thought. When she finally asked how he knew about the gate, Tom asked her once more if she suffered any memory loss. Once more, she stated, to the best of her knowledge, that she hadn’t.

The red and white gate that Tom somehow knew about

The conversation continued for several more minutes before it took yet another strange turn. Tom’s friend asked Josie if the large black SUV parked outside the bed and breakfast was hers. She didn’t recall seeing the vehicle when she arrived back, but she confirmed that it wasn’t hers. Of course, she knew she had seen Tom driving that very vehicle earlier that evening. However, she kept this information to herself.

Tom’s friend then asked Tom if the vehicle was his. To Josie’s amazement, Tom said it wasn’t, and when he was asked if he knew whose vehicle it was, he simply replied, “No, I haven’t got a clue”.

Josie recalled that, at this point, she was both “surprised and scared”. She realized it was very late and “not safe to drive anywhere else”. The three of them decided to venture outside to see the black SUV. However, when they did so, it was no longer there. Now struggling to contain the fear she felt, Josie asked them bluntly who they were and if she was safe. To this, Tom’s friend replied that she was “with the safest men in Ireland”.

Josie then informed the men that she was tired and was going to bed. Incidentally, she didn’t sleep at all that night and left the bed and breakfast first thing in the morning.

A Potentially Important Part Of The Big UFO Picture

Although Josie had no further encounters, with UFOs or the strange men she encountered in Ireland, the whole episode had a very profound effect on her. Just who was Tom and his mystery friend? How did they know so much about Josie and her UFO sighting? And why were they so interested 40 years after the encounter had unfolded?

Of even more intrigue, why were they so obsessed as to whether she had suffered a loss of memory (or missing time), and were they part of the Special Forces unit who they claimed were watching her? And just who was this unit, what was their mission there in the first place, and how did it connect to the UFO?

Ultimately, the sighting and subsequent twists and turns of Josie Zwinenberg is one of the most intriguing and far-reaching incidents on record. Was the object Josie had witnessed a UFO from another world? And just how much did the apparent Special Forces unit know about it, and what course of action did they take that Josie might not be able to remember? Or could it have been a top-secret military vehicle? Would this explain the interest of the Special Forces unit?

Whatever Josie Zwinenberg did witness that summer’s afternoon in 1979, it would be it was something of high importance, and could very well be one of the most important pieces of the overall UFO and alien puzzle.

The short video below features Josie Zwinenberg speaking of her encounter. It is in Dutch with no subtitles, but it shows the location exactly where the incident took place.


1 Josie Zwinenberg’s UFO, 1979 https://www.ufozaken.nl/cases/de-ufo-van-josie-zwinenberg-1979

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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