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Flight JAL 1628

  • Case Number: #0110
  • Date: 17 November 1986
  • Time: Day sighting
  • Location: Alaska, United States of America
  • Witness(es): Kenju Terauchi & Co-pilot
  • Classification: Pilot Sightings
When an airline pilot with over thirty years flying experience claims that he has been witness to a UFO sighting, then it is much more difficult to dispute the claim as a hoax or attention seeking attempt. Well, this is just the case for the experience of Captain Kenju Terauchi, who as well as flying passenger and cargo planes for civilian use, also was an ex fighter pilot, with over ten thousand hours of flight time under his belt. Captain Kenju’s experience, that is one of the most credible sightings to be recorded, began on the evening of November the 17th, 1986, when he and his co-pilot Tankanori Tamefuji and the flight engineer, Yoshio Tsukuba, would witness three objects as they flew a cargo of Beaujolais wine from Paris to Tokyo, that would appear to follow the Boeing 747 for a period of time as it travelled across the skies of Eastern Alaska, USA, during the Reykjavik to Anchorage section of the flight.

collision course

On the second leg of the long flight, at approximately ten minutes past five, evening time, Captain Kenju was in control of the plane as it cruised along at 565 miles per hour at 35,000 feet, when he was advised a new heading by Anchorage air traffic control to Talkeetna Alaska. As the plane came about and out of its deviation, the crew of the Boeing 747 noticed that there were two unidentified objects at about two thousand feet below their altitude. At first they presumed that they could be a military aircraft as close by where the Eielson or Elmendorf Air-Force bases, but then they quickly realized that they could not be, as they sped up at incredible speed and came close to the plane, assuming a position at about five-hundred to one-thousand feet ahead as if they were escorting the aircraft. In the aviation world this maneuver is commonly called a stacked configuration.
Captain Kenju would later describe the fast maneuvers in detail and would claim that it was as if the crafts had a way of disregarding gravity with their extremely fast accelerations, sharp direction changes and ability to then cruise with ease at the exact speed of the aircraft.
The crew described the two craft as being square in shape, made up of two rectangular sections with luminous glowing thrusters. The two rectangular sections were separated then by a dark central section. Captain Kenju would also state that if it was looked at from a different angle, then it could have appeared to be a cylindrical shape.
The crew all said that as the thrusters of the crafts flared with luminosity and dulled for about three to seven seconds, as they kept pace with the aircraft, the light filled the Boeing cabin and the crew felt a heat on their faces.
It was at about this time, which would have been approximately twenty-past five, that Captain Kenju notified the air-traffic control about the traffic he was experiencing. They ATC replied that they could not see anything on their radar, but could they explain the crafts and their altitude and keep in touch about the traffic.

ufo tailing the boeing

The two crafts stayed in this position for a few minutes, then they fell into a side by side configuration for another ten minutes, then they departed in an easterly direction and disappeared as they blended into the horizon.
Thinking that this was the end of the encounter, the crew began to relax, but not for long. Captain Kenju began to see a pale band of light on his radar that seemed to be holding again with the aircrafts speed and direction. He re-set his radar to twenty-five nautical miles range and this clearly confirmed that the object was not at his ten ‘o’ clock position, which was seven and a half miles away. He again alerted the air-traffic control of this new traffic, but again they replied that they could not pick anything up on their equipment. Then as the airplane and its conspicuous follower began to fly over the City of Fairbanks, the lights from it started to illuminate the massive craft. Captain Kenju had a good view of it by now, but his co-pilot and flight engineer claim that it was just out of their view. Kenju claims that it was a huge craft, being twice the size of an aircraft carrier. Fairbank Airport could still not pick anything up on their radar, but Elmendorf ROCC did report a surge primary return on theirs for a short time. Fairbank also asked if the Captain wanted them to request military intervention, but he declined as he stated later that he was aware of the Mantell incident.
Being understandable shaken by what he could see, Captain Kenju then sent a request to change his course to see if he could remove himself from the craft and this was approved, so he was advised to take a 45 degree turn with a descent from 35,000 feet to 31,000 feet, then to do a full 360 degree turn in an attempt to remove himself from the increasingly frightening situation.
They carried out this maneuver and the craft went out of sight, but then it was picked up by the Federal Aviation Administration and ATC Anchorage that whatever it was, the large object was now tailing the airplane. By now all the crew were beginning to get increasingly agitated with the situation and in response the air-traffic control requested that another plane that was nearby, to head a safe distance, but close enough to flight JAL 1624, so that it could try and see what the crew claimed was now behind them. Unfortunately, by he time they had reached the area, Captain Kenju and his crew had already reported that the craft had disappeared and they were again flying solo. The plane sent to check up on the situation also reported that there was no traffic in the area apart from the Boeing 747 flight JAL 1628.
The encounter and UFO sighting lasted for approximately fifty minutes until the crafts finally departed company of the Boeing 747 over Mt Mckinley. About an hour later the airplane and its shaken crew landed safely at their destination, but there experience would not stay quiet. Their story reached the press and it would go on to become one of the most famous air encounters to be reported.
After the incident, Captain Kenju would go on record with the official federal aviation administration report that what he had been witness to a UFO sighting.

grounded from flying

In the December of 1986, he would be interviewed by two Kyodo News journalists and would tell them of what happened and what he thought it was that he and the other crew members of flight JAL 1628 had seen that evening. As a punishment for talking to the press, he was grounded from flying and given a desk job for a number of years.
After the interview, Kyodo News contacted Paul Steucke, who was the FAA information officer in Anchorage at the time of the incident, and he confirmed the details of the story to them.
The reason that this UFO sighting would go on to become such a famous and fascinating encounter, for both sceptics and UFO researchers, was that the crafts that were following the plane were momentarily picked up by both the Boeing 747 and by equipment on the ground. It is also highly unlikely that a pilot with such a long standing respected flying career and nothing to gain, but even more to lose would risk not only his job but his integrity, by coming out to the public about what he saw. Captain Kenju, with all his flying experience, would be a trusted and competent pilot who would know the skies better than most. It is highly possible, that if such a man claims to have seen something up there, then he would be more than qualified to distinguish it from frequently encountered objects compared to something like a flying saucer. These facts give the Flight, JALL 1628 case, credibility and a believability that are sometimes not found with such stories.

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