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Benjamin.d
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Ovnis Le vol fantastique du JAL1628 Bruce S. Maccabee en anglais

le Lun 16 Fév 2009, 18:46
Le vol fantastique du JAL1628

Bruce S. Maccabee
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Introduction

Ceci est le rapport complet de l'observation d'ovni par l'équipage japonais d'un appareil jumbo freighter en novembre 1986. This sighting gained international attention when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it was going to officially investigate this sighting because the Air Route Traffic Control Center in Anchorage, Alaska, had reported that the UFO had been detected on radar. Captain Terauchi was featured on numerous radio and TV programs and in People Magazine. Within a few months of these events he was grounded, apparently for his indiscretion of reporting a UFO, even though he was a senior captain with an excellent flying record. Several years later he was reinstated. What you are about to read is the most complete and analytical investigation of this sighting ever published. (Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes at the end of the paper.)

In mid-October, 1986, Capt. Kenju Terauchi was excited to learn of a special Japan Airlines flight from Paris to Anchorage and then to Tokyo. It was to carry a cargo of French wine. There would be an intermediate stop at Reykjavik, Ideland.

The flight began on November 16, 1986, with himself and a crew of two (copilot, flight engineer) in the cockpit. The plane landed in Iceland and waited for good weather. The next day the plane took off heading north northwest. A bright moon helped with the visibility for
the night flight over Greenland, but as the plane continued over northern Canada the moon set behind them. When the plane reached an air route reporting point in far northwestern Canada called "Shingle Point" the sky ahead was dark except for an afterglow of sun in the west. The plane reported its position to the flight control center at Edmonton, Alberta, and continued across the Canada-Alaska border, where it made history. UFO history, that is.

Although this wasn't a routine flight, it wasn't supposed to be a newsworthy event. But something happened over Alaska which caught the attention of the world for several days in late December and early January, 1987. Virtually every newspaper in the world carried a story about what Capt. Terauchi and his crew saw over Alaska. This is the story of that sighting as told to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by the crew members and the flight controllers on the ground.
Unidentifiable Lights

It was about 11 minutes past 5 local time, the late afternoon of November 17, while JAL1628 (the designation for this particular flight) was high over the frozen northeastern part of Alaska that Capt. Terauchi first realized that he had company: there were lights of some crafts to the left and below. After watching them for a short time he decided they were the lights of "special missioned aircrafts of two fighters" on some mission. (Note: Alaska air space, being close to the then Soviet Union, was patrolled by USAF jets.) He decided to ignore them. But then he realized that after several minutes they had not changed their apparent position relative to his aircraft. In other words, they were flying along with him [1,2].

At that time the Boeing 747 freighter was operating on autopilot and heading southwestward (a heading of about 215 degrees) at an altitude of 35,000 ft [3]. The sky to the right had an afterglow of sunset, but ahead and to the left it was very dark.

The Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (AARTCC) had called the plane just about two minutes before this time, i.e., at 5:09:20 [4,5] (or 20 sec. past 5:09 PM; exact times are based on the AARTCC tape recorded record of the events) to report the initial radar contact with the plane, which at that time was about 90 nautical miles (nm) notheast of Fort Yukon. (1 nm = 1.15 statute miles = 1.85 km) (Referring to a map, the plane at this time was at the "upper right hand corner" of Alaska.) The flight controller had asked the plane to head directly toward an air route reporting point called Talkeetna, named after the small Alaska town nearby (north of Anchorage and not far from Mt. McKinley) [4]. (In doing so the plane would pass south of Fort Yukon and Fairbanks. The copilot, who handled the aircraft communications, acknowledged the AARTCC request and then turned the plane to the left ("left rotation") about 15 degrees to a heading of 215 degrees. It was during this turn that Capt. Terauchi, sitting on the left side of the cockpit, first saw the unidentifiable lights out his side window [2].

After the plane levelled out he observed "lights that looked like aircraft lights, 30 degrees left front, 2,000 feet below us, moving exactly in the same direction and with the same speed we were." At that time the airplane was flying at about 525 kts (nautical miles per hour) ground speed (972 km/hr or 605 mph) according to the tracking data [3]. Subsequently the speed decreased to about 500 kts.

It is important to note the pilot's statement of his belief that the lights were 2,000 feet below him. He could not know how far below the lights were just from his visual sighting. (To determine the distance below he would have to know the exact depression angle and the distance to the lights.) Nevertheless, his statement indicates that his sighting line to the lights had a noticeable depression angle (the angle below horizontal). At 35,000 ft the horizon distance is about 214 nm so the depression angle of the horizon is about 1.5 degrees which is hardly noticeable. The pilot's statement therefore implies that the lights were below, probably considerably below, his horizon, i.e., between himself and the ground, thus ruling out any astronomical source for the lights. (Note: CSICOP published its initial "solution" of the
sighting as Jupiter and Mars. This will be described later.)

The captain's initial reaction to the lights was to ignore them as US air fighters, probably military aircraft from one of the nearby Air Force Bases (Eielson or Elmendorf). But the position of the lights "had not changed even after a few minutes and that called our attention" [2]. The lights of these two "aircraft" stayed at the left for a while and then the unbelievable happened [6].
"Traffic In Front Of Us"

"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. The inside cockpit shined brightly and I felt warm in the face." (Note these reported physical effects.) What the captain saw suddenly appear ahead of him and to the left at about the 11:00 o'clock position is hard to describe. A crude partial sketch of one of the objects looks somewhat like this (limited by ASCII notation):

oooo| |oooo
oooo| |oooo
oooo| |oooo
oooo| |oooo

The vertical lines represent boundaries enclosing a dark center of each object. The horizontal lines of circles represent flame colored or yellowish "exhausts" flaring outward, left and right, from the dark center. There are only four "sections" of flames shown here, but the captain's sketch shows several more sections which made up one "craft.". There were two totally separate sets of the "exhaust" flame groups, i.e., two totally separate "crafts." (This illustration is based on the sketch made by the captain about two hours after the event [7] and again a month and a half after the event [1]). It was the captain's impression that the two "aircrafts" he had seen for the first time to the left only minutes before had suddenly jumped in from of his plane.

_______________________________________
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Benjamin.d
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Ovnis Re: Le vol fantastique du JAL1628 Bruce S. Maccabee en anglais

le Lun 16 Fév 2009, 18:47
In his written testimony Terauchi speculated that the "spaceships" fired jets to "kill the inertia (actually momentum!) of their high speed maneuver." After this maneuver from the left of the plane to the front, "the ships appeared as if they were stopped in one place in front of us." At this time one "ship" was above the other. "Then three to seven seconds later a fire like from jet engines stopped and became a small circle of lights as they began to fly level flight at the same speed as we were, showing numerous numbers of exhaust pipes. However the center area of the ship(s) where below an engine might be was invisible. [From] the middle of the body of a ship sparked an occasionally (sic) stream of lights, like a charcoal fire, from right to left and from left to right. Its shape was square, flying 500 feet to 1,000 feet in front of us, very slightly higher in altitude than us. Its size was about the same size ad the body of a DC-8 jet, and with numerous exhaust pipes."

The pilot speculated that the "firing of the exhaust jets varied, perhaps to maintain balance. Some became stronger than others and some became weaker than others, but [they] seemed [to be] controlled automatically" [2]. At the time of this startling appearance the pilot "did not feel threatened or in danger because the spaceship moved so suddenly. We probably would have felt more in danger and would have been prepared to escape if the spaceships were shaking or unable to stop themselves." (Note that the plane was traveling nearly 10 miles every minute so there wouldn't be much time to react if he felt he were going to run into something a short distance in front of his plane.) It was at this time that the pilot concluded that he was looking at something REALLY unusual because, in his words, "it is impossible for any man made machine to make a sudden appearance in front of a jumbo jet that is flying 910 km/hr and to move along in a formation paralleling our aircraft" [2].

After this sudden appearance in front of the jet the lights moved in formation with the jet for three to five minutes. As they moved they rocked or swayed back and forth. Then they abruptly rearranged their orientation from one above the other to side-by-side. They were still both at about the 11 o'clock position. Continuing the description, the lights were like flames coming out of multiple rocket exhaust ports arranged in two rectangular arrays, according to the captain's drawings made shortly after the event and again two months later. He compared them to "output exhaust" like the "Challenger (as it took off)" [1]. He described the colors as "amber and whitish." He stated that the "numerous lights" were "exhausts on the engines" which were "lined up all the way." When they were "blasting recoil [the] jets [were] so strong that I could not see [the individual lights and their arrangement] because it was so bright." However, "once the recoil blasts stopped the speed was absolutely steady, not faster, not slower, and I could see them (the individual lights or exhaust ports) very clearly" [1]. Besides the lights of the "exhaust ports" the captain also reported seeing "sparks like a fire when using gasoline or carbon fuel." By this he may have meant brief bursts of yellowish color.

The copilot, Takanori Tamefuji, compared the numerous lights or flames to "Christmas assorted" lights with a "salmon" color. (9) He said, "I remember red or orange, and white landing light, just like a landing light. And weak green, ah, blinking. " The intensity wasn't constant but rather it pulsated: "became stronger, became weaker., became stronger, became weaker, different from strobe lights" (which have very quick flashes). The lights were "swinging" in unison as if there were "very good formation flight...close (formation)" of two aircraft side by side. He had no doubt that he was seeing some sort of aerial object or objects just ahead and to the left of the airplane. He compared the clarity of the lights to seeing "night flight head-on traffic" at which time it is only possible to see the lights on the approaching aircraft and "we can not see the total shape."

Upon seeing the lights he first thought he was seeing "two small aircraft." But they were "very strange" because there were "too many lights" and "it was so luminous." Subsequently he had the feeling that "it was larger than normal aircraft." He thought that lights were "a little bit lower" than the altitude of the plane, while Capt. Terauchi recalled that the lights might have been a bit higher. Tamejfuji pointed out that "it is very difficult" to judge the altitude of "head-on traffic." He summarized his impressions by saying., "I'm sure I saw something. It was clear enough to make me believe that there was an oncoming aircraft" [9]. Of course, these "aircraft" were not oncoming. Instead, they were matching exactly the speed of the 747 jet.

According to the captain's drawing each of the two "aircrafts" had two rectangular arrays of lights or horizontal flame "exhausts" and these were separated by a narrow rectangular dark area. The copilot's drawing was similar [9]. The two arrays associated with a single craft were "swinging" or rocking to the left and right as if they were rigidly bound together and rotating back and forth about a central pivot point within the dark region [8].

The flight engineer who sat behind the copilot, Yoshio Tsukuba, had a poorer view of the lights. He recalled that when he first saw them he was looking "through the L1 window at the 11 o'clock position" (about 30 degrees to the left of straight ahead) and he saw "clusters of lights undulating" [10]. The clusters were "made of two parts...shaped like windows of an airplane" (i.e., arranged in square or rectangular clusters). He emphasized that "the lights in front of us were different from town lights." He described the colors as white or amber. (Note: keep in mind the descriptions of these lights and the flight dynamics for comparison with explanations which were put forth months later that these were misidentified astronomical phenomena and reflections on clouds.)

Apparently having clusters of blinking, undulating and rotating ("swinging") lights nearly in front of their plane and apparently only a few thousand or so feet away was too much for the crew. After discussing the situation over the next 60 seconds or so they decided to try to find out what was going on. Mr. Tamefuji, who was the "voice" of the aircraft, called the AARTCC. It was now about nine minutes since Capt. Terauchi had first noticed lights on "two aircrafts" at the left of his plane and it was probably only about a minute or two after the "spaceships" had abruptly appeared nearly in front of the jet where they could be seen by the whole crew. At the time of the call the two "ships" were still traveling one above the other.

Here follow statements transcribed from the AARTCC audio tape that recorded the whole sighting. The times listed below are minutes and seconds of Alaska Standard Time [11].

5:19:15 JAL1628 - Anchorage Center, Japan Air 1628, ah, do you have any traffic, ah, seven (eleven?) o'clock above?

5:19:24 AARTCC - JAL1628 heavy, say again...

5:19:28 JAL1628 - Do you have any traffic in front of us?

It appears that Tamefuji's reference to "seven" o'clock in the tape transcription is an error either by Mr. Tamefuji (who had to speak English to communicate with the AARTCC) or by the transcriber. The seven o'clock position is far to the left and nearly behind the airplane where Tamefuji couldn't have seen the lights. I assume that the correct direction was eleven o'clock.)
It is interesting to note that Tamefuji asked for "traffic .... above" indicating that at that time he placed the lights at an altitude above the 747 jet, even though when he was interviewed a month and a half later he recalled the lights being below the jet. The suggestion that the lights were a bit above agrees with the captain's recollection.

5:19:32 AARTCC - JAL1628 heavy, roger.

5:19:36 JAL1628 - Ah, roger and, ah, we [have] in sight, ah, two traffic (sic), ah, in front of us one mile about.

At the time of the event Tamefuji estimated the distance to the lights as being "one mile, about" which is quite a bit greater than the "500 to 1000 feet" that Capt. Terauchi recalled in his testimony written about a month and a half later.

5:19:49 AARTCC - JAL1628, roger, do you have.., ah, can you identify the aircraft?

5:19:58 JAL1628 - Ah, we are not sure, but we have traffic in sight now.

5:20:04 AARTCC - JAL1628 heavy, Roger. Maintain visual contact with your traffic and, ah, can you say the altitude of the traffic?

5:20:14 JAL1628 - Uh, almost [at] the same altitude.

5:20:21 AARTCC - JAL 1628 Roger. Would you like a higher or lower altitude?

5:20:27 JAL1628 - Ah, no, negative. JAL1628.

About a minute elapsed and then the AARTCC tried again to learn the identity of the "traffic."

5:21:19 AARTCC - JAL1628 heavy, see if you are able to identify the type of aircraft, ah, and see if you can tell whether it's military or civilian.

5:21:35 JAL1628 - JAL1628. We cannot identify the type, ah, but we can see, ah, navigation lights and ah, strobe lights.

5:21:48 AARTCC - Roger, sir. Say the color of the strobe and beacon lights.

5:21:56 JAL1628 - The color is, ah, white and yellow, I think.

5:22:03 AARTCC - White and yellow. Thank you.

The reference to navigation and strobe lights conflicts somewhat with the description given subsequently of multiple pulsating lights. It is unfortunate that the crew was not fluent in English (many of the words on the AARTCC tape are barely distinguishible) because, no doubt, the crew could have provided much more accurate descriptions during the sighting. I suspect that the poor description of the colors (white and yellow) was a result of the copilot not knowing the English words for the actual colors he was seeing and thereby being forced to use the closest word he knew. In the subsequent interviews with a translator the colors mentioned were yellow, amber and green. The colors yellow and amber are not conventional colors for aircraft (red, white, green are conventional) but they might be consistent with "rocket exhaust" which is what the captain compared them to in his interview and written testimony [1, 2].

By this time the personnel of the AARTCC were aware of the JAL report of traffic and the watch supervisor entered the following into the Daily Record of Facility Operation:

_______________________________________
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Benjamin.d
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Ovnis Re: Le vol fantastique du JAL1628 Bruce S. Maccabee en anglais

le Lun 16 Fév 2009, 18:48
"5:21 PM. JL1628, HB747, BIKF-ANC reported traffic at his altitude (FL350) one mile with a white and yellow strobe. AAL ROC and EDF ROCC notified. No known traffic identified."

It should be noted that in the above statement the reference to Alaskan Airlines Regional Operation Center should probably have been Japan Air Lines ROC. Also, the Elmendorf (EDF) Regional Operational Control Center (ROCC) was not actually contacted until 5:23 PM. Note also that "back in those days" the radar operators were alert to any intrusions by Russian aircraft which might be testing our defenses. Hence the contact with the Air Force at Elmendorf.

After flying in a one-above the other orientation for several minutes the "two ships" changed their relative positions. The captain recalls "the ships moved in formation for about three to five minutes [and] then the ships moved forward in a line, again slightly higher in altitude as (sic) we were, 40 degrees to our left. We did not report this action to the Anchorage Center. Honestly, we were simply breathtaken." (Here the captain refers to the "ships" arranging themselves side by side in a horizontal "line," as is clearly indicated by his sketches.)

At some time while the arrays of lights were ahead and to the left, Capt. Terauchi decided to take a picture of them. He asked Tsukuba to get the camera. This incident helped Tsukuba later to remember how long the lights had been in front of the plane. He recalled during the interview [10], "I think I saw it for about 10 minutes after I sighted it the first time. The reason is because the captain wanted to take pictures. His camera bag was placed behind his seat, beside mine, and I handed it to him. But he could not take pictures, so I placed his camera bag beside my seat again. So I think about 10 minutes."

When asked why the captain couldn't take pictures Tsukuba responded, "Well, his camera is Alpha 7,000 with film ASA 100. He could not operate it well. I mean the operating procedure of the camera was not well understood." The captain recalled the attempt at photographing the lights as follows: [2] "I thought perhaps it is one of those things called UFO and taking a photo might help to identify the object later. I asked to bring forward my camera bag that was placed in the rear of the cockpit and began to take a picture. The area in which the plane was flying
was unchanged but the lights were still moving strangely. I had ASA 100 film in my camera but the lens kept adjusting and never could set a focus. I changed auto-focus to manual-focus and pressed the shutter but this time the shutter would not close. Then our aircraft began to vibrate and I gave up taking a photo. I placed the camera back in the camera bag and concentrated on observing the lights."

After learning the color of the strobe lights, the AARTCC began to ask about the flying conditions ("normal") and the clouds ("below us"). It took from about 5:22:11 to 5:23:05, or about a minute, for the AARTCC to get an answer about the clouds because of interference with the radio transmissions. At 5:22:41 the AARTCC told the plane the transmissions were "garbled" and asked it to change transmitting frequencies. In his testimony the pilot recalled the several requests for cloud altitude: "They asked us several times if there were clouds near our altitude. We saw thin and spotty clouds near the mountain below us, no clouds in mid-to-upper air, and the air current was steady" [2]. The repeated questions about the clouds caused Terauchi to wonder why the controller was so interested in clouds. He speculated, "Perhaps the controllers were concerned that an increased use of improved lazer (sic) beams using (sic) clouds was creating moving images." (Here Terauchi refers to laser beams illuminating the clouds. Of course, there were no such laser beams in the "wilds" of Alaska at that time.... nor are there now.)

The pilot also remembered the communication problem: "The VHF communications, both in transmitting and receiving, were extremely difficult for 10 to 15 minutes while the little ships came close to us and often interefered with communication and Anchorage Center. However, communication conditions became good as soon as the ships left us. There were no abnormal- ities in the equipment of the aircraft" [2]. When he was interviewed the captain was asked to describe the type of interference he heard. He described the interference as "some kind of,
like, ah, jamming... it was just a noise, sounded like zaa, zaa" [1]. The communications ca-
pability was, he said, two out of five possible levels (5,4,3,2,1) with five being perfectly
clear [1]. Normally communications with a plane in that area would be good.
Radar Contact

Shortly after the copilot told the AARTCC, at 5:23:05, that the clouds were "below us", he reported a new and sudden event:

5:23:13 JAL1628 - And now the target, ah, traffic is extinguished. We cannot see it now.

5:23:19 AARTCC - JAL1628 Roger. And I'm not receiving any radar replies.

It was probably at this time that the "two ships" which had been quite close to the plane since 5:18 or 5:19 PM suddenly moved farther away and to the left. Looking to the left the captain could now see that "there was a pale white flat light in the direction where the ships flew away, moving in a line along with us, in the same direction and same speed and at the same altitude as we were" [2].

About this time the AARTCC controller decided to find out if the Air Force at Elmendorf Regional Operational Control Center had anything on its radar.

5:23:35 AARTCC - (to the ROCC) Could you look approximately forty miles south of Fort Yukon? There should be [JAL1628] up there. Can you tell me [if] you see [a] primary target and its position?

It took the ROCC operator about two minutes to answer the question. In the meantime significant events occurred aboard the plane and at the AARTCC. It was now about 14 1/2 minutes since Capt. Terauchi had first seen the lights traveling along with his plane, about 6 to 7 minutes since the lights had appeared abruptly in front of the plane, and only a minute or so since the "ships" quickly moved away from the jet, apparently in the direction of the "flat pale white light" [2] which the captain later described as like "two white fluorescent-like lights" [12]. A drawing made several hours later indicates that the lights were horizontally oriented and spaced apart, like two long fluorescent tubes end-to-end with a large dark gap in between them. At this time in the flight he could only see the two white lights. He was not sure whether the two "ships" had become pale white lights after they moved away from the jet or if the white lights were something entirely different. (He reported that later in the flight that he could see the outline of a large shape connecting the lights. After seeing the outline the captain had the impression that the distant lights were on a very large "mothership" and that the two small "ships" had traveled to the "mothership" [1].) It was difficult for the other crew members to see the pale lights through the left window and they didn't try to describe any particular orientation or shape to the lights. They did, however, agree that there were some lights at the left where the pilot indicated.

Up to this time the AARTCC had not acknowledged the detection of any anomalous target on the ground radar. Terauchi recalled his feelings at the time: "We had [earlier] said we could see lights in the 10 o'clock position (i.e., about 60 degrees to the left) at the same altitude and wondered if they could see anything on their radar. The Anchorage Center replied that they could see nothing on their radar." (See the response from the AARTCC at 5:23:19.) Copilot Tamefuji recalled that, even though the lights were now farther away, the captain decided to "search the object by the [airplane's] radar" [9].

Terauchi wrote [2], "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 of the object visually and it was not very far. I set the digital weather radar distance to 20 (nautical) miles, radar angle to horizon (i.e., no depression angle). There it was on the screen. A large green and round object (here he refers to the image or "blip" on the radar screen) had appeared at 7 or 8 miles (13 km to 15 km) away, where the direction of the object was. We reported to Anchorage center that our radar caught the object within 7 or 8 miles in the 10 o'clock position. We asked them if they could catch it on ground radar but it did not seem they could catch it at all" [21]. During the January interview Terauchi recalled that the radar detection occurred about 15 minutes after he first saw the lights, i.e., at about 5:25 PM. He was only slightly in error.

5:24:50 AARTCC - JAL1628, do you still have, uh, visual contact with the, ah, traffic?

5:24:53 JAL1628 - Affirmative. Also, [4] we [have] radar contact, ah... (unintelligible; broken transmission).

5:25:02 AARTCC - JAL1628 heavy, roger, sir. I'm picking up a hit on the radar approximately five miles in trail of your six o'clock position (i.e., behind the plane). Do you concur? (Note: this was probably a silly question to ask since the crew could not see behind the plane. However, it is the first indication that the Elmendorf radar may have detected something other than the plane.)

5:25:12 JAL1628 - Ah, negative, ah, 11 o'clock, ah, eight miles, ah, same level. Over.

A month and a half later the captain did not remembered the direction accurately (see above; he recalled the 10 o'clock position) but he had recalled the distance correctly. Flight engineer Tsukuba recalled seeing on the radar screen at "about 10 miles" a "green dot like, not exactly a dot. It was not a dot but stream like", i.e., elongated. He did "not think it (the radar target) was the same lights as the one (sic) I saw in front of us." Here the flight engineer is referring to the visual difference between the two bright "ships" which had been nearly in front of the jet and the pale whitish light of the "mothership." Tsukjuba described this "second" light as "very difficult to see" and "vague," although he did indicate that he saw it for "a total of 30 minutes."

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