Japan Air Lines Cargo Flight 1628 incident: Boeing 747 Chased by a Gigantic UFO over Alaska [Part 5]

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The above image is for illustration purposes only.

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.

In my previous article, I introduced Captain Terauchi’s 2nd UFO sighting over Alaska and one of the skeptical opinions about the JAL 1628 incident by Phillip J. Klass.

In this article, I would like to present another skeptical opinion about the JAL 1628 incident and the testimony of FAA Division Chief John Callahan.

Another Skeptical Opinion About the JAL 1628 Incident and the Testimony of FAA Division Chief John Callahan

FAA’s Ghost Image Misidentification Theory

Paul Steucke, FAA’s Regional Public Affairs Officer, claimed that the flying object captured by ground control radar was actually a ghost image of JAL Flight 1628.

Paul Steucke
Primary radar return and Secondary radar return by Paul Steucke.

According to the report, when an aircraft is about to move from one radar computer cell (each cell is equal to 1/4 mile in length.) to a neighboring radar computer cell and receives a radar wave, as shown in the figure above, the first return wave from the aircraft surface and the beacon return wave from the aircraft transponder (second return wave) may separate and two images appear on radar.

As a result, the second reply wave from the transponder appears as a strong radar image, while the first reply wave returned from the surface of the aircraft appears as an uncorrelated weak split image. This split image appears on the radar as a ghost image that follows behind JAL1628.

This ghost image is the result of digitizing the originally continuous analog space by setting up a radar computer cell every quarter mile and thus is like noise on a computer that occurs when an aircraft moves between adjacent cells. It does not mean that the radar detected a substantive entity behind the aircraft.

If Paul Steucke’s explanation of the above figure is correct, each radar computer cell is 1/4 mile long, so a point-like ghost image would appear on the radar exactly 1/4 mile behind JAL 1628’s radar image.

However, the actual locations of the UFOs captured by radar are quite different from the locations where the ghost images are supposed to appear.

Records show that JAL 1628’s onboard radar picked up the UFO 7 or 8 miles to the left forward at 10 o’clock, and shortly thereafter Anchorage ATC radar picked up the UFO 8 miles in front of JAL 1628, and the USAF base radar also picked up the UFO at 10 o’clock on the JAL 1628.

(A) Digital WX radar view of the flying object. (B) Range 20 miles. Tilt 0° (C) Target at 7 to 8 miles. Green circle.

In other words, the ghost image misidentification theory cannot explain the radar image of the UFO captured 8 miles ahead of the aircraft.

Anchorage Air Traffic Controllers Denied the Ghost Image Misidentification Theory

In fact, the Anchorage air traffic controllers themselves, who were monitoring the radar images at the time, explicitly denied the ghost image misidentification theory.

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

The following is from January 9, 1987, Anchorage Daily News article, “Controller says unknown image tracked on radar Image seemed to be following JAL cargo plane that reported sighting of UFO” (By HAL BERNTON).

Three air traffic controllers tracked on radar an image that seemed to be following the Nov. 17 flight of a Japanese Air Lines cargo plane, according to one of the controllers who helped monitor the radar.

The captain of the JAL plane reported that an unidentified flying object was tailing his aircraft at the same location as the radar image.

All three of us thought there was a track,” said Sam Rich, a controller who has worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for more than a decade. A track is what air traffic controllers call the radar image of an  aircraft.


Rich said he was on duty for the half-hour during which the JAL plane reported spotting the UFO.

He said the JAL crew first contacted the Anchorage air controllers as their plane flew over Fort Yukon. “They said ‘something was following them.’ It appeared to be light. And appeared to be white, orange and yellow,” he said.

Rich said the pilot sounded shaken. “He was concerned. There was a quaver in his voice.”

Rich said the controllers immediately turned down their radar range to small-scale that would better define the air space around the JAL plane.

There did appear to be a track near the plane about where he (Terauchi) said there was. So we kept looking.”

The track was not real strong, Rich said, but neither he nor any of his colleagues, then thought it might be a split image.

After spotting the track, Rich said he called the Military Regional Operations Control Center. “They informed me that they had the same track.”

Since the November incident, the FAA launched a major review of the radar tapes; initially confirming the controller tracking, then dismissing it as a split or double-image of the JAL plane.

Rich confirmed that double images often occur on the FAA radar screen, which relies on computer-generated data. But the plane didn’t fly through the areas where the split images normally occur.

(emphasis mine)

Thus, according to Anchorage air traffic controller Samuel Rich, who was monitoring the radar images at the time, neither he nor any of his colleagues believed that the UFO images captured by the radar were split images produced by computer processing.

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

Another Anchorage air traffic controller, Carl E. Henley, also stated in his statement on November 19, 1986, that he had captured UFOs on radar images as follows.

Personnel Statement by Anchorage ATC, Carl E. Henley on December 29, 1986.

At approximately 0225Z while monitoring JL1628 on Sector 15 radar, the aircraft requested traffic information. I advised no traffic in his vicinity. The aircraft advised he had traffic 12 o’clock same altitude. I asked JL1628 if he would like higher/lower altitude and the pilot replied, negative. I checked with ROCC to see if they had military traffic in the area and to see if they had primary targets in the area. ROCC did have primary target in the same position JL1628 reported. Several times I had single primary returns where JL1628 reported traffic. JL1628 later requested a turn to heading 210°, I approved JL1628 to make deviations as necessary for traffic. The traffic stayed with JL1628 through turns and decent in the vicinity of FAI I requested JL1628 to make a right 360° turn to see if he could identify the aircraft, he lost contact momentarily, at which time I observed a primary target in the 6 o’clock position 5 miles.

Note: I requested JL1628 to identify the type or markings of the aircraft. He could not identify but reported white and yellow strobes. I requested the JL1628 to say flight conditions, he reported clear and no clouds.

  • “single primary returns” is in reference to target other than JAL.

** “the traffic” is in reference to the unidentified object.

(emphasis mine)

Thus, Henley himself revealed that he had captured the UFO in the radar image at a distance of 5 miles at 6 o’clock (directly behind) JAL 1628. Of particular interest is the fact that while not in contact with JAL 1628 during the 360°turn, Henley was still capturing the UFO 5 miles behind JAL 1628.

If this UFO were a ghost image, it would have been identified 1/4 mile behind JAL 1628, but the content of Henley’s statement clearly contradicts such a ghost theory.

Thus, Paul Steucke’s radar ghost misidentification theory cannot explain the facts that occurred in the JAL 1628 incident.

Testimony of FAA Division Chief John Callahan on October 2000

In October 2000, as one of the Witnesses in Steven M. Greer’s “Disclosure Project,” John Callahan offered his own testimony about the JAL 1628 incident.

Dr. Steven M. Greer (Disclosure Project / CSETI / SEAS Power) @ the Conscious Life Expo
Energy Artist – Own work

According to Greer, Callahan was the Division Chief of the Accidents and Investigations Branch of the FAA in Washington DC. The incident was significant enough for the then FAA Administrator, Admiral Engen, to hold a briefing the next day where the FBI, CIA, President Reagan’s Scientific Study Team, as well as others attended.

The following is quoted in part from Callahan’s testimony.

JC (John Callahan): We had all kinds of boxes of data that we had them print out; it filled up the room. They brought in three people from the FBI, three people from the CIA, and three people from Reagan’s Scientific Study team — I don’t know who the rest of the people were but they were all excited.

We let them watch the video. Then they had all kinds of questions about the frequency, the rate of the antennae turning, on and on and on, how many radar’s, how many antennas, how does the data get processed. They were all exited — the only way a man would be if that was his job. When they got done, they actually swore all these other guys in there that this never took place. We never had this meeting. And this was never recorded.

(emphasis mine)

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

SG (Steven Greer): Who said that? Who was saying that?

JC: This was one of the guys from the CIA. Okay? That they were never there and this never happened. At the time I said, well I don’t know why you are saying this. I mean, there was something there and if it’s not the stealth bomber, then you know, it’s a UFO. And if it’s a UFO, why wouldn’t you want the people to know? Oh, they got all excited over that. You don’t even want to say those words. He said this is the first time they ever had 30 minutes of radar data on a UFO. And they are all itching to get their hands onto the data and to find out what it is and what really goes on. He says if they come out and told the American public that they ran into a UFO out there, it would cause panic across the country. So therefore, you can’t talk about it. And they are going to take all this data. So I said, okay, take all the data if that’s what you want.

(emphasis mine)

SG: Who took that data?

JC: Well, that group. I don’t know who it went to, but that group took it. But they took only what we had there. They didn’t ask me if there was anything else that I had. They said, they are taking all this data. And I said, fine. Now, I had the original video that I took and I had the pilot’s report that came through, the first report. And I had the FAA’s first report that was all downstairs on my table.

They didn’t ask for that so I didn’t give it to them. And later on when I retired, that was the stuff that was in my office and all that came with me. And we’ve been sitting on it ever since.


When the CIA told us that this never happened and we never had this meeting, I believe it was because they didn’t want the public to know that this was going on. Normally we would put out some type of a news release that such and such happened.


Well, I’ve been involved in a lot of cover-ups with the FAA. When we gave the presentation to the Reagan staff I was behind the group that was there. And when they were speaking to the people in the room, they had all those people swear that this never happened. But they never had me swear it never happened. And it always bothered me that we have these things going on and when you see something or you hear something on the radio or TV, the news, that it’s put down as it’s not there. I have a hard time saying nothing.


For those people that say that if these UFO’s existed, they would some day be on radar and that there’d be professionals who would see it, then I can tell them that back in 1986 there were enough professional people that saw it. It was brought down to headquarters, FAA headquarters, Washington D.C. The Administrator saw the tape of it. The people that we were debriefing, they’ve all seen. Reagan’s Scientific Study team, three of those professors, doctors, they’ve seen it. As far as I was concerned they were the ones that verified my own thoughts about it. They were very, very excited about the data. They had said that this was the only time a UFO was ever recorded on radar for any length of time where it is 30 some minutes. And they have all this data to look at.

Now a 30-minute radar return filled up boxes across the room, and the boxes were stacked, you know, two or three high. There was a lot of paper there to look at. They know the frequency now of the radar. They knew how fast it turned. They knew where it was. They had the military that confirmed it.

(emphasis mine)

However, there are objections that there was no such cover-up by CIA personnel. UFO blogger Ryan Dube states the following in an article on his blog “Reality Uncovered.”

Ryan Dube, Reality Uncovered, April 12, 2011, “FAA INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF ON UFO SIGHTINGS DEBUNK COVER-UP CLAIMS” (currently broken link, article retrieved by Wayback Machine as of April 15, 2011, 05:54:24)


At this point, Callahan’s credentials and story has never actually been independently confirmed. In fact, back in 2007, as we were attempting to verify his claims, we contacted CIA Science Analyst Ron Pandolfi. Ron admitted that both he and Maccabee had in fact attended an FAA meeting like the one Callahan described. However, he did not recall anyone making any statement that the meeting never happened, or that the data should be covered up.

Pandolfi stated, “I don’t recall trying to ‘keep the sighting hushed’ since it was already widely publicized.”

In fact Pandolfi turned over all the data to Maccabee to conduct a full investigation and report (which Maccabee published in 1987).

Pandolfi did say that he recalled John Callahan being present at the meeting, and that all discussion regarding “delaying dissemination of information” was between Bruce and Callahan. This implies, of course, that Callahan could have mistaken Maccabee for a “CIA guy,” when he was actually only there as a private contractor.

We contacted Maccabee and he also confirmed that he was at such a meeting and received all of the data for his analysis and report, but he also did not recall anyone at the meeting trying to cover it up.


Regardless of the reasons why Callahan made that statement, the fact that the data was immediately released to Maccabee to do a full public disclosure immediately following the event blows both Kean and Callahan’s claim of secrecy completely out of the water.

(emphasis mine)

Therefore, based on Pandolfi’s statement above, many skeptics consider Callahan’s testimony less credible.

Verification of Pandolfi’s Statement

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

By the way, reading Ryan Dube’s article above, did you not feel something was off?

The person Ryan Dube contacted to verify if there really was a cover-up by the CIA was a CIA man!

Think about it: if there really was a CIA cover-up, would they honestly say, “Yes, it is true that we covered it up“? They would never do such a dumb thing, because it would be extremely convenient for them to deny that there was no such a cover-up.

Let me now examine Pandolfi’s statement above.

Pandolfi stated, “I don’t recall trying to ‘keep the sighting hushed’ since it was already widely publicized.”
In fact Pandolfi turned over all the data to Maccabee to conduct a full investigation and report (which Maccabee published in 1987*1).

Bruce Maccabee, March/April 1987, the International UFO Reporter, published by the Center for UFO Studies.
You can read this Maccabee’s report, “THE FANTASTIC FLIGHT OF JAL1628,” at the Internet Archive.

However, the official FAA record proves that Pandolfi’s above statement is false. In fact, Maccabee’s call to Paul Stucke, FAA Public Affairs Officer, at 10:00 A.M. on February 20, 1987, is documented.

Bruce Maccabee at the 1993 MUFON Symposium in Richmond (VA). It should be used in the article on Bruce Maccabee.
Jacquespoulet at en.wikipedia
The above image is for illustration purposes only.


Called by Mr. Bruce Maccabee, Naval Surface Weapons Center,


JAL 1628, UFO, Material


Mr. Maccabee called requesting the status of available materials from the JAL 1628 UFO flight, Nov. 17, 1987. I told him about the order form just finished, and he said send him one. He also asked specific questions about the more expensive items, and if the U.S. Navy would have to pay. I suggested he wait for the list. ***** He also informed me that he ” and several other people had been invited by Mr. John Callahan (AAT-63/FAA: D.C.) to see the (UFO AirTraffic) material.” This occurred, he thought in late Jan or early Feb. He said the material was “thick, contained the transcript, color phots of the radar screen, interview of Captain Terauchi, /controller statements, some maps and other material.” He also said that Mr. Callahan told him about the C130 (SAC Military flight) and the Alaska Airlines sighting of unidentified air traffic.


AAL-5 is investigating this unauthorized disclosure of material.

(emphasis mine)

As the above record indicates, Maccabee asked Steucke if he could obtain the materials on the JAL 1628 incident because Callahan had invited him to view the (UFO AirTraffic) material. If Pandlfi had turned over all the data to Maccabee, why would Maccabee bother to inquire again with Steucke about the availability of the same materials?

This suggests that Pandolfi’s statement, “Pandolfi turned over all the data to Maccabee” may be an outright lie.

One possibility that can be inferred from the phone records above is that the FAA meeting was held in late January or early February and Maccabee had been invited to that meeting by Callahan along with other persons. Then, after the meeting was over and the CIA had taken all the materials related to the JAL 1628 incident, Maccabee asked Pandolfi to show him the materials but was refused.

So, having no choice, Maccabee must have called Steucke to inquire about materials, saying that he and others had been invited to Callahan. Conversely, the fact that Maccabee made the above inquiry in itself should support the idea that there was a cover-up by the CIA.

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

Another possibility is that Pandolfi did indeed give Maccabee data on the JAL 1628 incident, but that it was not complete data, i.e., that he gave Maccabee incomplete data, excluding definitive data that could be evidence of UFO’s existence.

This is a smart way to handle the situation. It is very difficult to determine whether the data Pandolfi handed over to Maccabee was complete, and if it is later pointed out that he covered it up, Pandolfi can easily claim that he gave all the data to Maccabee. It would also be even more convenient if the incomplete data led to the conclusion that the UFO was a misidentification by Captain Terauchi.

However, Maccabee noticed from his own years of experience as a UFO researcher that the data given by Pandolfi was not complete and that some data was missing. So, Maccabee called Steucke by phone to inquire about “the status of available materials from the JAL 1628 UFO flight, Nov. 17, 1987,” to confirm if the data given by Pandolfi was indeed a complete set.

This would explain why Maccabee called Steucke to inquire about the material, even though Pandolfi had given the data to Maccabee, and it all makes sense. Therefore, this second possibility seems more likely than the first.

But whichever of the above two possibilities we take, Pandolfi’s statement that “Pandolfi turned over all the data to Maccabee to conduct a full investigation and report” would be a lie. This is because if Pandolfi had indeed given “all the data” to Maccabee, Maccabee would not have thought to call Stuecke to inquire about the availability of the complete data.

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

By the way, Pandolfi stated “I don’t recall trying to ‘keep the sighting hushed’ since it was already widely publicized,” but this is an afterthought. In fact, only a very limited number of people, including Philip J. Klass, had access to the detailed documentation of the JAL Flight 1628 incident in late January and early February 1987, when the FAA meeting was held. This is because Paul Steucke was very careful to ensure that the detailed documentation of the JAL 1628 incident was not leaked outside of the FAA.

Below is a letter Steucke sent to the FAA Director inquiring about an informant who provided Klass and others with complete documentation of the JAL 1628 incident.

Attached for your review and information is correspondence and records of telephone conversations which document my inquiry into the source of an unauthorized and premature release of investigative information by someone in the Washington, D.C. FAA office. The material they released was created by the Alaskan Region Air Traffic Division as part of the JAL 1628 (UFO) investigation.

Premature release of this material, as cited by Mr. Klass in the attached news article, was embarrassing to me and the agency, as several hundred other news correspondents had been told that they could not review or receive the material until it was officially distributed by the Alaskan Region Flight Standards Division and the Public Affairs Office.

A considerable amount of effort went into the planned release of this material which if leaked to the press, or released to “selected” news sources, would create the impression that the agency is not to be trusted.


The following materials are attached:
1. Draft letter to Safeer, and Thomas.
2. Article citing Mr. Klass, “Anchorage Daily News”
3. AAL-5 request of February 2, 1987 to AAL-500 for information.
4. AAL-500 response of February 6, 1987 to AAL-5 request.
5. AAL-5 request of February 2, 1987 to AAL-200 and AAL-2 for information.
6. AAL-200 response of March 3, 1987
7. AAL-2 response of March 2, 1987.
8. Record of telephone conversation, 2/18/87, Steucke and Klass.
9. Record of telephone conversation, 2/20/87 , SLeucke and Maccabee.

Paul Steucke

(emphasis mine)

In fact, Steucke, who was so intent on preventing information leaks, had all of his calls to the FAA about the JAL 1628 incident, including the call from Maccabee mentioned above, recorded, and he had other FAA employees listen to the content of those calls. Thus, at the time the FAA meeting was held, it was quite difficult to obtain complete data on the JAL 1628 incident.

This means that Pandolfi was lying on this point as well.

As discussed above, we have to conclude that the credibility of the above Ryan Dube blog post is quite low, as we can confirm at least two lies that can be confirmed by FAA records.

Be Skeptical of Skepticism

By the way, when Ryan Dube’s blog post above was published, many UFO skeptics took it as strong evidence against Callahan’s testimony.

Strangely enough, however, these UFO skeptics have somehow uncritically accepted the statements made in the above blog post (especially Pandolfi’s statement) as 100% correct without any verification of their truth or falsehood. Is this a truly fair and scientific attitude for a skeptic?

The lesson we should learn from this is that we should not uncritically accept skeptical opinions as they are. In other words,

Be Skeptical of Skepticism!

Interview With Former Captain Kenju Terauchi 30 Years After the Incident

Kenju Terauchi

In 2016, 30 years after the incident, the 77-year-old former captain Terauchi gave an interview with Japanese writer Harumi Ishibashi.

According to the interview, there were rumors that Terauchi resigned from JAL and moved to Hokkaido because he was responsible for claiming to have witnessed a UFO even though he was mistaken, or that he died suddenly after appearing on “11 PM” (a late-night TV show on Nippon Television), but these were all false.

It is true, however, that Terauchi was demoted to ground duty after the incident. According to Terauchi, he was “frustrated” at the time, but he continued his training so that his piloting skills would not deteriorate, and three years later he returned to his pilot position. Now Terauchi has come to think of these humiliating experiences, including the media misinformation about him, as “amusing.”

While watching a TV program that spread the false rumor that he had moved to Kushiro Marsh in Hokkaido, Terauchi laughed it off as a joke, saying,

Do you mean, I moved to the marshland (Shitsugen in Japanese) because of my gaffe (Shitsugen in Japanese), and now I’m going to cultivate the land (Kaikon in Japanese ) out of regret (Kaikon in Japanese)?

Terauchi recalls the frenzy in the media at the time, saying, “It was terrible, with selfish people saying selfish things.

A renowned psychiatrist diagnosed Terauchi as a “madman who had hallucinations.” Terauchi, however, says this doctor’s diagnosis is as follows.

But now I believe that doctor’s diagnosis the biggest misdiagnosis of my life.

As evidence, Terauchi cites the “UFO Disclosure Project,” which discloses confidential UFO-related information. The Japan Airlines incident was included in the project’s 2001 report. According to documents revealed by former U.S. government officials and others, the UFO encountered by the Japan Airlines plane was captured by U.S. military radar, and the data was kept top secret by then-President Reagan. And Reagan pressured the Japanese government to refrain from announcing it.

Nevertheless, interviewer Ishibashi dared to ask Terauchi the following question.

H. Ishibashi: Is it true that you had a UFO sighting? Have your memories of that experience faded?

K. Terauchi: If someone held a pistol to your head, you would never forget it, would you? That UFO sighting was a more intense experience than that.

H. Ishibashi: So, was that flying object a secret weapon of a certain country?

K. Terauchi: It’s on a different level. That was beyond the wisdom of mankind.

“12 Angry Men,” UFO Incident Version

The above image is for illustration purposes only.

Finally, suppose you are selected to serve on a jury in an important incident.

However, it turns out that the three pieces of scientific evidence that the prosecutor confidently presented at trial (Klass’s Jupiter misidentification theory, Klass’s ice crystals theory, and Steucke’s ghost images theory) were complete scientific bullshit and do not explain the actual situation at all.

In addition, it was found that a statement in evidence (Pandolfi’s statement) submitted by the prosecutor as a rebuttal to the defense lawyer’s compelling testimony (John Callahan’s testimony) contained at least two obvious “lies” that could be confirmed from other official records.

In this case, would you, a fair and sensible juror, consider that flawed evidence and documents to be reliable as a basis for your verdict? The current situation surrounding the JAL 1628 incident is exactly like the situation described above.

Do you judge Captain Terauchi as “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”?

The final verdict is up to you!

Published on May 31, 2023
Written by OTAKUPAPA


1. THE BLACK VAULT: Japanese Airlines JAL 1628 UFO Encounter, November 17, 1986, John Greenewald, September 21, 2018.

2. Paul Steucke, March 5, 1987, UNCORRELATED RADAR SIGNALS, FAA Public Affairs.

3. “Mirai Tono Deai (Encounters with the Future)”, Written Statement by Capt. Terauchi [In Japanese]

4. HAL BERNTON, January 9, 1987, Anchorage Daily News, “Controller says unknown image tracked on radar Image seemed to be following JAL cargo plane that reported sighting of UFO.”

5. Carl E. Henley, November 19, 1986, PERSONAL STATEMENT, FAA Anchorage ARTCC.

6. Steven M. Greer M.D., August 28, 2013, Disclosure: Military and Government Witnesses Reveal the Greatest Secrets in Modern History, Crossing Point.

7. Ryan Dube, April 12, 2011, Reality Uncovered “FAA INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF ON UFO SIGHTINGS DEBUNK COVER-UP CLAIMS” ( (currently broken link, article retrieved by Wayback Machine as of April 15, 2011, 05:54:24)

8. Transcript of Maccabee’s call to Paul Stucke, FAA Public Affairs Officer, at 10:00 A.M. on February 20, 1987.

9. Paul Steucke, March 10, 1987, Release of Incident Information re. JAL 1728 (UFO).

10. Jitsuwa Urarekishi SPECIAL Bessatu (True Story Behind the History separate volume) “Showa no Fushigi 101 Showa no Nazo Kaifu Sono Shinso (Wonders of the Showa Era 101: Mysteries of the Showa Era Unveiling the Truth).

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


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