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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The air traffic control center in Anchorage (Anchorage ARTCC), Sector R&D15, had one controller, Carl E. Henley.
UTC*1 02:19:15 JAL1628
Anchorage Center, Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; ah do you have any traffic, ah eleven o’clock above?
UTC 02:19:24 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; say again.
UTC 02:19:28 JAL1628:
Ah, do you have any traffic in front of us?
UTC 02:19:32 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; negative.
UTC 02:19:36 JAL1628:
Ah, Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; roger and, ah we insight ah … two traffic … ah, in front of us one mile, about.
UTC 02:19:49 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; roger, do you have ah can you identify the aircraft?
UTC 02:19:58 JAL1628:
Ah we are not sure but ah we have traffic in sight now.
UTC 02:20:04 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; roger, maintain visual contact with your traffic and, ah can you say the altitude of the traffic?
UTC 02:20:14 JAL1628:
Um at the same altitude sixteen twenty eight.
UTC 02:20:21 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; roger, would you like higher or lower altitude?
UTC 02:21:19 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; Sir if you’re able to identify the type of aircraft, ah … and see if you can tell whether its military or civilian.
UTC 02:21:35 JAL1628:
Ah, Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; we cannot identify ah, the type, ah but, ah we can see, ah navigation lights and ah, strobe lights.
UTC 02:21:48 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Roger sir, say the color of the strobe and beacon lights?
UTC 02:21:56 JAL1628:
The color is ah, … white and yellow, I think.
According to Captain Terauchi, there were sparse clouds clinging to the mountains below JAL 1628. However, there were no clouds in the middle and upper levels of the sky, and the airflow was stable.
UTC 02:22:55 JAL1628:
Anchorage Center, Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; flight level three five zero (*35,000 feet).
UTC 02:23:00 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; roger, and do you have clouds above you or below you?
UTC 02:23:05 JAL1628:
below … below us Japan Air sixteen twenty eight.
UTC 02:23:10 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; roger.
Captain Terauchi noticed that the movement of the two lights was different from what would normally be considered aircraft movement. These lights began to show unusual movements as if they were two little bears playing with each other.
He thought that perhaps these lights might be what is known as UFOs, so he thought it might be a good idea to take a picture of them so he could find out later. So he asked engineer Tsukuda to bring his camera bag from the rear of the cockpit, took out his camera, and started taking pictures.
Captain Terauchi pointed the camera at the target with autofocus, but the camera did not focus and the lens just kept moving back and forth. So he changed the autofocus to manual operation and pressed the shutter button on the camera, but this time the shutter did not close easily.
Then, as the plane began to sway slightly, Captain Terauchi gave up on taking pictures at all, stowed the camera back in the camera bag, and decided to concentrate on monitoring the mysterious lights.
UTC 02:23:13 JAL1628:
And now the target ah traffic is ah extinguished, ah we cannot see now.
UTC 02:23:19 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; roger, and I’m not receiving any radar replies.
UTC 02:23:26 JAL1628
At this time, the air traffic controllers at Elmendorf U.S. Air Force Base, located near the Anchorage airport, also joined in support.
UTC 02:23:35 ROCC ((Military) Regional Operations Command Center):
One dash, two go ahead.
UTC 02:23:37 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Ya, could you look ah, approximately forty miles south of Fort Yukon, there should be a code up there of one five-five-zero*2, can you tell me you see a primary target*3 about his position?
At this point, JAL 1628 was located at 65°59′ N, 145°15′ W, about 35 miles south of Fort Yukon.
UTC 02:23:51 ROCC:
Okay, stand-by, … I’m going to expand out, … just a moment here, … one five five zero squawk huh.
UTC 02:24:09 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
UTC 02:24:11 ROCC:
Let me take a look here.
UTC 02:24:13 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
High altitude thirty five thousand (*35,000 feet).
UTC 02:24:14 ROCC:
Okay, let me switch over to my other scope here.
UTC 02:24:17 JAL1628:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight.
UTC 02:24:19 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Alright. I’ll see what ah, I’ll call you right back.
UTC 02:24:21 ROCC:
UTC 02:24:50 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight; do you still have ah visual contact with the ah traffic?
UTC 02:24:53 JAL1628:
Affirmative, ah so we radar contact ah … (unintelligible)
Captain Terauchi thought that if the two flying objects in front of him could not be seen by the high-powered ground-based radar, it would be even more impossible for the onboard radar. However, judging from his visual impression of the flying objects, he decided that they were not that far from the aircraft, so he set the digital weather radar to a distance of 20 miles and the radar angle to the horizontal position.
Then a large green circular object appeared at a distance of 7 to 8 miles at 10 o’clock with lights visible on the screen.
UTC 02:25:02 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; roger. Sir, I’m picking up a…ah, hit on the radar approximately five miles in trail of your six o’clock position, do you concur?
UTC 02:25:12 JAL1628:
Ah negative, ah eleven o’clock, ah eight miles, ah same level over.
UTC 02:25:18 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Japan Air sixteen twenty eight heavy; roger.
As can be seen from JAL1628’s report above (noted in red), at this time JAL1628 detected a mysterious object on its onboard radar at the same altitude 8 miles ahead of the aircraft.
The Radars of JAL1628, Anchorage ARTCC, and the U.S. Air Force Base All Detected a Flying Object Ahead of JAL1628
Surprisingly, this mysterious object, which was detected by JAL 1628’s onboard radar at this time, was not only detected on the radar of the Anchorage ARTCC (Air Route Traffic Control Center) but also on the radar of the U.S. Air Force Base (Elmendorf U.S. Air Force Base) at about the same time.
UTC 02:25:37 ROCC (Regional Operations Command Center):
One dash two’s on.
UTC 02:25:39 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Ya, ah did you get another ah target up there by that one five five zero code (*JAL1628)?
UTC 02:25:43 Regional Operations Command Center:
Okay, I’ve got your squawk. It looks like I am getting some surge, primary return, ah I don’t know if it’s erroneous or whatever but…
UTC 02:25:50 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Negative, uhuh, it’s not erroneous. I want you to keep a good track on there, and if you pick up a code, and verify that you do not have any aircraft operating in that area military.
UTC 02:25:57 Regional Operations Command Center:
That is affirm. We do not have anybody up there right now, ah. Can you give me the position of the primary your receiving?
UTC 02:26:03 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Okay, I’m not. I’m ah, picking up a primary … approximately five zero miles, south, right up there … r ight in front of the ah, one five five zero code (*JAL1628).
UTC 02:26:13 Regional Operations Command Center:
Okay, I’ve got him his about.
UTC 02:26:15 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Eight miles in front of the one five five zero code (*JAL1628), he’s got traffic at the same altitude three five oh (*35,000 feet).
UTC 02:26:18 Regional Operations Command Center:
Okay, I’ve got him about his … ah, oh … it looks like about, ah … ten o’clock, at about that range, yes.
UTC 02:26:25 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Alright keep an eye on that, and ah … see if … ah, any other military (unintelligible) in that area.
UTC 02:26:33 Regional Operations Command Center:
Okay, ah we’ll look around here see what we can find out.
UTC 02:26:35 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
UTC 02:26:36 Regional Operations Command Center:
From the above communication record, the following is clear.
At 17:24, JAL1628’s onboard radar detected a UFO 8 miles in front of JAL1628 at 10 o’clock.
At 17:26, Anchorage ARTCC radar also detected the UFO 8 miles in front of JAL 1628.
At 17:26, U.S. Air Force Base radar also detected the UFO at 10 o’clock in front of JAL 1628.
This means that the radars of JAL 1628, Anchorage ARTCC, and U.S. Air Force Base all detected the same UFO 8 miles in front of JAL 1628!
Two UFOs Rapidly Approaching JAL 1628
Shortly thereafter, communication with JAL 1628 was suddenly lost, and communication became completely impossible.
The following is a record of the communication at that time.
UTC 02:27:43 Regional Operations Command Center:
One dash two.
UTC 02:27:45 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Ya, ah reference that ah (unintelligible).
UTC 02:27:48 Regional Operations Command Center:
UTC 02:27:49 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
That is unknown to us!
UTC 02:27:50 Regional Operations Command Center:
It is what?
UTC 02:27:52 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
It is ah unknown to us.
UTC 02:27:53 Regional Operations Command Center:
It is an unknown, okay, we’ve lost contact with it now!
UTC 02:27:58 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
Okay, were not working that aircraft (unintelligible).
UTC 02:28:04 Regional Operations Command Center:
Okay, I … I’m still not I, we lost contact on him, now I don’t see him at all!
UTC 02:28:09 Anchorage ARTCC Sector R/D15:
UTC 02:28:10 Regional Operations Command Center:
In fact, something remarkable happened to JAL 1628 during this loss of communication. Two flying objects suddenly approached JAL 1628!
According to Captain Terauchi, he was startled when the two flying objects suddenly appeared in front of the cockpit. The two flying objects emitted an intense light, illuminating the cockpit, and Captain Terauchi felt as if his face was slightly burning.
Captain Terauchi speculates that the two flying objects were suddenly moving so fast that they may have jetted to kill their inertia. About 3 to 7 seconds later, when the two flying objects entered a constant speed motion at the same speed as JAL 1628, the bright jets stopped. The two flying objects then remained stationary in front of Captain Terauchi’s eyes and did not move. At that time, Captain Terauchi observed that these flying objects were about the same size as the fuselage of a DC8 aircraft, appeared to be almost square in shape, and were floating slightly higher, about 500 to 1,000 feet to the left forward of the cockpit of JAL 1628.
The center of the flying object’s fuselage sometimes emitted sparks that resembled splashing coals.
On either side of the center of the fuselage were rectangular arrays of numerous jets that appeared to be nozzles or thrusters.
The arrays of jets seemed to be controlled automatically, with some jets becoming stronger and others weaker, perhaps to maintain balance. The above illustration by Captain Terauchi makes the two flying objects appear square-shaped at first glance, but in fact, as shown in the illustration below by illustrator William Hays in an article in the Anchorage Daily News, on January 15, 1987, the two flying objects were cylindrical in shape and rotated around a central axis.
Captain Terauchi also commented on the light of this flying object as follows.
Regarding the light, we can see the light in the direction of the jet (*the jet light when the nozzle’s jet direction is facing us), but when the nozzle (*its jet direction) is facing sideways (*to us), we cannot see (*its jet light) at all.
Captain Terauchi thought it was impossible for earthly technology to fly at the same speed as JAL 1628 immediately after it suddenly appeared in front of the jumbo jet flying at subsonic speeds.
If they are not made by Earth technology, then who the hell built these flying objects?
After flying in the same position for a while, the two flying objects moved slightly upward in formation toward the direction 40 degrees forward to the left of JAL 1628. Captain Terauchi was so taken aback by the sudden event that he forgot to call Anchorage ATC.
While the two flying objects were approaching JAL 1628, the sensitivity of VHF communications, both transmit and receive, was very poor, often disrupting communications to and from Anchorage ATC. Curiously, however, after the two flying objects departed, communications returned to their original good state and no anomalies were observed on the aircraft. Captain Terada had no idea for what purpose the two flying objects had approached in front of JAL 1628.
The two small UFOs left, and the three crew members breathed a sigh of relief. But this was only the beginning.
Shortly after this, JAL 1628 would encounter a gigantic UFO!
Published on April 9, 2023.
Updated on April 26, 2023
Written by OTAKUPAPA
1. THE BLACK VAULT: Japanese Airlines JAL 1628 UFO Encounter, November 17, 1986, John Greenewald, September 21, 2018.
2. “Mirai Tono Deai (Encounters with the Future)”, Written Statement by Capt. Terauchi [In Japanese]
3. Written Statement by Capt. Terauchi [English translation by Sayoko Mimoto]
4. Transcript of Communications between air traffic control and JAL 1628.
5. Anchorage DailyNews, January 15, 1987.