November 17, 1986, the Japanese crew of a JAL Boeing 747
cargo freighter witnessed three unidentified objects after
sunset, while flying over eastern Alaska, USA. The objects
seemed to prefer the cover of darkness to their left,
and to avoid the brighter skies to their right. At least
the first two of the objects were observed by all three
crew members: Captain Kenju Terauchi, an ex-fighter pilot
with more than 10,000 hours flight experience, in the
cockpit's left-hand seat; co-pilot Takanori Tamefuji in
the right-hand seat; and flight engineer Yoshio Tsukuba.
routine cargo flight entered Alaska on auto-pilot, cruising
at 565 mph (909 km/h) at an altitude of 35,000 ft (11,000
m). At 5:09 PM, the Anchorage ATC advised a new heading
towards Talkeetna, Alaska.
soon as JAL 1628 straightened out of its turn, at 17:11
PM, Captain Terauchi noticed two craft to his far left,
and some 2,000 ft (610 m) below his altitude, which he
assumed to be military aircraft. These were pacing his
flight path and speed. At 5:18 or 5:19 PM, the two objects
abruptly veered to a position about 500 ft (150 m) or
1,000 ft (300 m) in front of the aircraft, assuming a
doing so, they activated "a kind of reverse thrust,
and [their] lights became dazzlingly bright". To
match the speed of the aircraft from their sideways approach,
the objects displayed what Terauchi described as a disregard
for inertia: "The thing was flying as if there was
no such thing as gravity. It sped up, then stopped, then
flew at our speed, in our direction, so that to us it
[appeared to be] standing still. The next instant it changed
course. ... In other words, the flying object had overcome
gravity." The "reverse thrust" caused a
bright flare for 3 to 7 seconds, to the extent that captain
Terauchi could feel the warmth of their glows.
traffic control was notified at this point (i.e. 5:19:15
PM), who could not confirm any traffic in the indicated
position. After 3 to 5 minutes, the objects assumed a
side-to-side configuration, which they maintained for
another 10 minutes. They accompanied the aircraft with
an undulating motion, and some back and forth rotation
of the jet nozzles, which seemed to be under automatic
control, causing them to flare with brighter or duller
object had a square shape, consisting of two rectangular
arrays of what appeared to be glowing nozzles or thrusters,
separated by a dark central section. Captain Terauchi
speculated in his drawings, that the objects would appear
cylindrical if viewed from another angle, and that the
observed movement of the nozzles could be ascribed to
the cylinders' rotation. The objects left abruptly at
about 5:23:13 PM, moving to a point below the horizon
to the east.
the first objects disappeared, Captain Terauchi now noticed
a pale band of light that mirrored their altitude, speed
and direction. Setting their onboard radar scope to a
25 nautical miles (46 km) range, he confirmed an object
in the expected 10 o'clock direction at about 7.5 nmi
(13.9 km) distance, and informed ATC of its presence.
Anchorage found nothing on their radar, but Elmendorf
ROCC, directly in his flight path, reported a "surge
primary return" after some minutes.
the city lights of Fairbanks began to illuminate the object,
captain Terauchi believed to perceive the outline of a
gigantic spaceship on his port side that was "twice
the size of an aircraft carrier". It was however
outside first officer Tamefuji's field of view. Terauchi
immediately requested a change of course to avoid it.
The object however followed him "in formation",
or in the same relative position throughout the 45 degree
turn, a descent from 35,000 to 31,000 ft, and a 360 degree
turn. The short-range radar at Fairbanks airport however
failed to register the object.
ATC offered military intervention, which was declined
by the pilot, due to his knowledge of the Mantell incident.
The object was not noted by any of two planes which approached
JAL 1628 to confirm its presence, by which time JAL 1628
had also lost sight of it. JAL 1628 arrived safely in
Anchorage at 18:20.
of the object, with the Boeing 747 airplane on the right.
(International UFO Reporter)
Terauchi's drawing of the huge object.
Terauchi cited in the official FAA report that the object
was a UFO. In December 1986, Terauchi gave an interview
to two Kyodo News journalists. JAL soon grounded him for
talking to the press, and moved him to a desk job. He
was only reinstated as a pilot years afterwards, and retired
eventually in north Kanto, Japan.
News contacted Paul Steucke, the FAA public information
officer in Anchorage on December 24, and received confirmation
of the incident, followed by UPI on the 29th. The FAA's
Alaskan Region consulted John Callahan, the FAA Division
Chief of the Accidents and Investigations branch, as they
wanted to know what to tell the media about the UFO. John
Calahan was unaware of any such incident, considering
it a likely early flight of a stealth bomber, then in
development. He asked the Alaskan Region to forward the
relevant data to their technical center in Atlantic City,
New Jersey, where he and his superior played back the
radar data and tied it in with the voice tapes by videotaping
the concurrent playbacks.
day later at FAA headquarters, they briefed Vice Admiral
Donald D. Engen, who watched the whole video of over half
an hour, and asked them not to talk to anybody until they
were given the OK, and to prepare an encompassing presentation
of the data for a group of government officials the next
day. The meeting was attended by representatives of the
FBI, CIA and President Reagans Scientific Study
Team, among others. Upon completion of the presentation,
all present were told that the incident was secret and
that their meeting "never took place". According
to Callahan, the officials considered the data to represent
the first instance of recorded radar data on a UFO, and
they took possession of all the presented data. John Callahan
however managed to retain the original video, the pilot's
report and the FAA's first report in his office. The forgotten
target print-outs of the computer data were also rediscovered,
from which all targets can be reproduced that were in
the sky at the time.
a three month investigation, the FAA formally released
their results at a press conference held on March 5, 1987.
Here Paul Steucke retracted earlier FAA suggestions that
their controllers confirmed a UFO, and ascribed it to
a "split radar image" which appeared with unfortunate
timing. He clarified that "the FAA [did] not have
enough material to confirm that something was there",
and though they were "accepting the descriptions
by the crew" they were "unable to support what
they saw". The McGrath incident was revealed here
amongst the ample set of documents supplied to the journalists.
sighting received special attention from the media, as
a supposed instance of the tracking of UFOs on both ground
and airborne radar, while being observed by experienced
airline pilots, with subsequent confirmation by an FAA
29 January 1987 at 18:40 PM, Alaska Airlines Flight 53
observed a fast moving object on their onboard weather
radar. While at 35,000 ft (11,000 m), some 60 miles (97
km) west of McGrath, on a flight from Nome to Anchorage,
the radar registered a strong target in their 12 o'clock
position, at 25 miles (40 km) range.
they could not distinguish any object or light visually,
they noticed that the radar object was increasing its
distance at a very high rate. With every sweep of their
radar, about 1 second apart, the object added five miles
to its distance, translating to a speed of 18,000 mph
(29,000 km/h). The pilot however relayed a speed of 'a
mile a second' to the control tower, or a speed of 3,600
mph (5,800 km/h), but confirmed that the target exceeded
both the 50 mi (80 km) and 100 mi (160 km) ranges of their
radar scope in a matter of seconds. The object was outside
the radar range of the Anchorage ARTCC, and additional
radar data covering the specified time and location failed
to substantiate the pilots' claim.
US Air Force KC-135 jet flying from Anchorage to Fairbanks
once again observed a very large, disk-shaped object on
January 30, 1987. The pilot reported that the object was
12 m (40 ft) from the aircraft. The object then disappeared
out of sight.
Air Traffic Control Center Report 1
Air Traffic Control Center Report 2
Air Traffic Control Center Report 3