Japan Air Lines Cargo Flight 1628 incident: Boeing 747 Chased by a Gigantic UFO over Alaska [Part 1]

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This is a true story about a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 cargo plane being chased by a gigantic UFO over eastern Alaska on November 17, 1986.

The Japan Airlines Cargo Flight 1628 Incident on November 17, 1986


The incident of Japan Airlines Flight 1628 being chased by a gigantic UFO over eastern Alaska on November 17, 1986, was widely publicized by the media as a UFO sighting by an experienced pilot and became a major topic of conversation at the time.

Anchorage Daily News, January 15, 1987

Although there were various arguments about the authenticity of the UFO, in the end, the truth of this incident was believed to be that Captain Terauchi misidentified Jupiter as a UFO, or that he misidentified atmospheric optical phenomena such as light pillars formed by small ice crystals in high-altitude clouds reflecting light as UFOs, and the incident was rapidly forgotten from people’s memories afterward. Unfortunately, JAL removed Terauchi from the position of pilot in command and assigned him to a desk job.

However, 32 years later, on September 21, 2018, a large number of records on this incident were published on Japanese Airlines JAL 1628 UFO Encounter, November 17, 1986 on The Black Vault, a website hosted by John Greenewald, jr.

Greenewald first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 9, 2001, requesting documents related to UFOs sighted around Alaska between 1981 and 1988, and was informed that about 107 pages of documents were available. But unfortunately, Greenewald received a letter stating that his request was canceled and that the document would be destroyed. Greenewald then tried to search for the records in 2009 but was again told that the records had been destroyed.

Headquarters of the FAA in Washington D.C.
Source: Matthew G. Bisanz

However, by 2018, more than 17 years after the initial request, Greenewald found records in the National Archives regarding the UFO encounter on JAL Flight 1628. He discovered them in Record Group 237: Records of the Federal Aviation Administration, 1922 – 2008.

Photograph of the United States National Archives Building, Washington D.C.
Source: David Samuel, User:Hellodavey1902 – Own work

Surprisingly, the record is 1,569 pages long, more than 1,400 pages more than the 107-page document he was initially informed of. According to Greenewald, the FAA must have transferred a copy to the National Archives, but either did not keep a record of it (which they should have) or tried to mislead him into thinking that the record had been destroyed (when in fact it was not). If the latter is the case, one could speculate that the FAA gave Greenewald a false response that the records were destroyed because the records contained inconvenient facts that they did not want the public to know, i.e., that they wanted to conceal.

Unfortunately, almost all of the literature, programs, and other information presented so far on this incident is based on materials prior to the release of the 1,569 pages of records by Greenewald and are insufficient to get to the truth of this incident. Therefore, I would like to present what happened in this incident in as much detail as possible, based on the records made public by Greenewald. It is my hope that this article will assist in uncovering the truth of this incident.

April 9, 2023

Written Statement by Captain Terauchi

By the way, one of the important records concerning this incident is a written statement in Japanese that Captain Terauchi of JAL 1628 submitted to the FAA when he was interviewed for the second time on January 2, 1987.

Japan Air Lines Captain Kenju Terauchi describes the encounter with three UFOs over Alaska.
The beginning of the written statement by Captain Terauchi

An English translation of this written statement was prepared by Sayoko Mimoto, an employee of the Alaska Division of the FAA, and distributed to FAA officials and reporters. It should be noted that this is not a complete translation, but an abridged translation. For example, the English translation of the first part of the written statement is stated as follows:

Once upon a time if a hunter saw a t.v., how did he describe it to other people? My experience was similar to this.

As you can see, the above English sentence has only two lines, but the original Japanese sentence consists of six lines and can be translated into English exactly as follows (Notes* have been added to aid the reader’s understanding.)

If a long time ago, say during the Jomon period (*14,000-300 BCE), a hunter came across a television set (in common use today) in the mountains, what would he explain to his fellows? Probably, without anyone understanding him, he would be taken by his fellows before a deity (*a shaman who delivers the word of the deity) and be purified (*his spirit) by being subjected to an exorcism (*a ritual to expel evil spirits from his body). Such was the encounter I had.

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

After stating this, Captain Terauchi continues as follows.

On the northern coast of the Alaska Peninsula, by mid-November, the sun is no longer visible even during the day. Below the air route that passes through the polar regions, winter is in full swing, and darkness rules the land until March, when the year ends. One such day, November 17, 1986, a Japan Airlines B747 jumbo cargo flight JL1628 departing from Keflavík International Airport in Iceland via the Arctic Route to Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, Alaska Peninsula. JL1628 was approached at an unusually close distance by two small spacecraft and one large space mothership for approximately 50 minutes over the Alaska Peninsula. No damage or harm was done, but many things were observed that cannot be understood by human science, and I will document them in order.

Ironically, the story of the ancient hunter who told his surrounding fellows of his encounter with future technology and was diagnosed as possessed by an evil spirit could have foreshadowed the subsequent fate of Terauchi himself, who was diagnosed by a highly respected psychiatrist as “a madman who had hallucinations.”

What exactly did Captain Terauchi and his crew experience over Alaska in the darkness?

Based on this written statement by Captain Terauchi and the transcription of the recorded conversations between JAL1628 and Anchorage ARTCC (Air Route Traffic Control Center) on January 9, 1987, prepared by Quentin J. Gates, Air Traffic Manager at Anchorage ARTCC, I will attempt to recreate this unprecedented UFO encounter in this article.

Close Encounter with UFOs over Alaska

The Japan Airlines Cargo Flight 1628 Incident was a UFO incident that occurred on November 17, 1986, when a Japan Airlines Boeing 747-200F cargo aircraft (Special Cargo Flight 1628) was chased over eastern Alaska by a gigantic UFO several dozen times larger than a Boeing aircraft.

A Japan Air Lines Cargo Boeing 747-200F similar to the one involved in the incident
Communi core
 by S.Fujioka – I scan the photograph which I photographed with MINOLTA single-lens reflex camera with a copier

On November 17, 1986, Japan Airlines Flight 1628 was en route from Paris, France to Narita International Airport near Tokyo to carry Beaujolais Nouveau wines to Anchorage Airport.

The crew of Japan Airlines Flight 1628 consisted of Captain Kenju Terauchi (then 47 years old) in the left seat of the cockpit, co-pilot Takanori Tamefuji (then 39 years old) in the right seat, and flight engineer Yoshio Tsukuda (then 33 years old). Captain Terauchi was a former fighter pilot of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), with eight years of experience flying fighters (F-86F) in the JASDF and 10,329 hours after moving to Japan Airlines, for a total of 29 years of flight experience.

After refueling at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, JAL 1628 was flying overnight to its next stop, Anchorage Airport in Alaska. The flight course was from southeast Greenland, across the great ice field of Greenland, through the U.S. Space Force’s Thule Air Base on the west coast of central Greenland, and directly to Anchorage, Alaska.

This route around the Arctic Circle is characterized by dark nights in mid-November, with the sun rarely appearing. However, according to Captain Terauchi, the flight over Greenland had extremely good visibility for a night flight, as the nearly full moon was located on the upper right front side.

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

After passing Thule, JAL 1628 made a position report to Edmonton Center at 16:52 over Shingle Point on the north coast of Canada. By that time, the surroundings had turned completely black, probably because the moon was directly behind the aircraft and near the horizon.

At approximately 17:05, the aircraft began communicating with Anchorage Air Traffic Control (ATC), who indicated a transponder code (identification signal) and at the same time, captured JAL 1628 on its radar scope and directed the aircraft directly to Talkeetna. Shortly after JAL 1628 began a left turn at 17:11 over eastern Alaska (about 770 km northeast of Anchorage) to take a direct course as directed by Anchorage ATC, something unusual occurred.

Strange Lights Sighted by Crew of JAL 1628

Captain Terauchi saw unidentified lights in the direction of the aircraft’s turn. As JAL 1628 set course for Talkeetna and leveled off, two lights that appeared to be aircraft lights were moving in the same direction and at the same speed as the aircraft, 30 degrees to the left of the aircraft and 2,000 feet below. At that time, JAL 1628 was at an altitude of 35,000 feet and a speed of 490 knots (nautical miles per hour).

The above image is for illustration purposes only.
The above image is for illustration purposes only.
Drawing submitted by Captain Terauchi to the Anchorage Aviation Department on January 2, 1987, along with his written statement.
(A) 30 degrees 2-3 miles 2000 below (B) At first, the lights were found. (C) Enlarged (D) Rectangular in style a hair clip (E) Appears as a band of light (F) No matter how it moves, everything looks like this. (G) The central part is invisible.

Captain Terauchi was not too concerned that these lights might be military aircraft on a special mission. Several minutes passed, but the position of the lights relative to the aircraft remained unchanged. However, perhaps because he was indeed suspicious of the two lights, co-pilot Tamefuji called Anchorage ATC at 17:19 to confirm.

At this point, JAL 1628 was located at 66°30′ N, 144°24′ W, 20 miles east of Fort Yukon.

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Author of this article

A dad blogger who loves manga, anime, games. In this blog, I will introduce amazing Japanese spirituality and philosophy.


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