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In 1986, the crew of Japan Air Lines’ flight 1628 became the unwilling spectators of one of the most intriguing UFO encounters. The sighting remains unexplained to this day.

A Japanese crew of a jumbo freighter aircraft witnessed three UFOs during their flight over Alaska, USA. The Federal Aviation Administration officially investigated this sighting, eventually leading to another mismatched conclusion. The UFOs in this case were tracked by both ground and airborne scanning systems, witnessed by professional airline pilots, and confirmed by an FAA Division Chief. A few months after this event, the captain of the flight  was restrained , apparently because of his recklessness of reporting a UFO, even though he was a senior captain with an exemplary flying record.

On November 16, 1986, one of Japan Air Lines’ 747 cargo planes was set to carry a shipment of French wine from Paris to Tokyo. Flight 1628’s crew consisted of veteran Captain Kenju Terauchi, co-pilot Takanori Tamefuji, and flight engineer Yoshio Tsukuba.

As they departed loaded with wine, JAL 1628 took off from Paris and flew over Reykjavik, the next day flying over Greenland and then across northern Canada without notable events.

When they crossed into Alaska, at 5:09 PM local time, the plane was at 35, 000 feet and traveling at a ground speed of 600 mph.


At about 5:11 PM local time, Captain Terauchi noticed the lights of what he first thought it was an American jet fighter from Elmendorf Air Force Base inspecting Alaskan airspace. He saw the lights flying about 2000 feet below and 30 degrees to his left, neglecting them at first. He became nervous after a few minutes, as he noticed that the lights were still keeping pace with his plane, an uncommon thing for a patrolling jet to do.

It was about seven or so minutes since we began paying attention to the lights when, most unexpectedly, two spaceships stopped in front of our face, shooting off lights,” Terauchi stated. “The inside of the cockpit shined brightly and I felt warm in the face”.

The crafts, one above the other, followed the 747 for several minutes before changing position. They were now on a side-by-side arrangement. Described by Terauchi, the lights were amber and whitish and looked like fires coming out of a rocket exhaust port. He stated that they fired in a specific order to stabilize the craft, similar to a Space Shuttle’s landing maneuvers.

Co-pilot Tamefuji said the lights were “Christmas assorted” and also pulsating slowly. Every few seconds, they became stronger, and then weaker, then again stronger and so on. The co-pilot became convinced that he was witnessing something out of the ordinary. Afterwards he declared:

I’m sure I saw something…It was clear enough to make me believe that there was an ongoing aircraft.”


Rendition of one of the first two UFOs, as described by Captain Terauchi

At that point, Tamefuji decided to call Anchorage Air Traffic Control to report this matter. For the next thirty minutes, he maintained radio contact with the ground, describing this strange event. During this time, Captain Terauchi and the flight engineer Tskububa tried to take some pictures of the UFOs but without success, as they were unfamiliar with the camera device and couldn’t get it to work.

Meanwhile, the objects flew off to the left, leaving behind a trail of pale white light, as Terauchi described it. He then decided to check if anything showed up on the 747’s own radar:

I thought it would be impossible to find anything on an aircraft radar if a large ground radar did not show anything, but I judged the distance to the object visually and it was not very far. I set the digital weather radar distance to 20 miles and there it was on the screen. A large green and round object had appeared 7 or 8 miles away, where the direction of the object was.”

Captain Terauchi immediately reported to Anchorage center that the UFOs could be seen on his radar, but the ground team couldn’t see a thing on their scanning system. Surprisingly, after spending a few minutes looking, the military radar at Elmendorf Regional Operational Control Center managed to pick up some sort of signal near the 747’s flight area.