The history of mankind is riddled with the weird and the wonderful; bizarre people, strange places and odd events. For centuries, we’ve told each other fantastic stories around campfires and in darkened rooms. Tales of ghosts, UFOs, and conspiracies, but are these stories exactly that: Stories? There’s only one way to find out! Join me as I dive down the rabbit hole and into… the Unexplained Files.
This week: The Japan Airlines Incident
The skies over Alaska, November 1986: Captain Kenju Terauchi, an ex-fighter pilot with 29 years of experience, flies Japan Airlines flight 1628 heading for Tokyo. A journey like the hundreds he’s flown before, but it’s about to take a turn for the weird. What was supposed to be a routine journey becomes a flight he’ll never forget.
He’s heading for a refuelling stop in Anchorage, Alaska when he spots three fast moving objects below them. The largest of the three objects vaguely resembles a shelled walnut, but the striking thing about the object isn’t its shape: it’s the size. That’s because, according to Terauchi, it’s roughly the size of two American aircraft carriers.
When he realises the objects are matching their speed, the terrified pilot radios down to air traffic control and requests to change course, because fuck flying alongside a giant space walnut.
Terauchi’s request is granted. Shortly after, the ATC in anchorage grows concerned when connections are severed.
You’re Kidding, Right?
It’s a cargo flight, so no passengers are at risk, but the safety of the three-man crew has Anchorage worried. Imagine being told that a UFO is following a plane before you lose contact with said plane.
Now imagine looking at the radar and seeing the UFO. Because that’s exactly what happened.
After a terrifying few minutes the plane safely landed for refuelling and all three crew members were thankfully unharmed. But the pilot had one hell of a story to tell.
"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."
He’s a mental, surely. Well, if he’s the only one on board who’s seeing this (which would be bad, seeing as he’s the one flying), then fair enough… but of course he’s not the only one seeing it, or you wouldn’t reading this. That’s right, all three crew members aboard the cargo flight saw something.
The co-pilot also reported that the object he saw wasn’t a light, but a solid object, as real as looking at another plane.
Hold Your Horses!
So everyone saw it? Not quite.
When they contacted Anchorage ATC to request a change in flight path, ATC asked a nearby plane to get a visual and see what the hell was going on. They only reported seeing JAL 1628. Also, in turning to change direction and avoid collision with the smaller objects, the giant walnut craft was not visible to first officer Tamefuji.
So had Terauchi been at the cargo of Beaujolais? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. Until you realised that during the incident Anchorage received a frantic message from Elmendorf Air Force Base because they had spotted the objects on radar too.
An FAA investigation followed. FAA Division Chief John Callahan played back the radar data and synched it with the audio from ATC. A day later, at FAA headquarters, Callahan briefed Donald Engen. Engen told him to keep schtum and set up a briefing for the following day. In attendance at the meeting were members of the FBI, CIA and President Reagan’s Scientific Study Team.
After thoroughly reviewing all of the evidence, the FBI and CIA dismissed the whole presentation as horseshit and that is where our story ends.
After the video had finished, everyone in the room was sworn to secrecy. The CIA then took all of the data, files and videos that Callahan had assembled. Well, almost all of it, but more about that later…
Make Your Mind Up Time.
Just because he’s someone who flies a lot doesn’t mean he can’t misidentify something, he is only human after all. And false radar hits happen all the time, for all manner of reasons, from flocks of birds to weather phenomena. Having said that…
Here we’ve got a seasoned pilot with over 29 years of experience, his crew, and not one, but two ground based radar readings all saying that they saw something in the skies over Alaska. Let’s not forget how much shit this guy is letting himself in for by even reporting this. Pilots are actively dissuaded from reporting any airborne anomalies they encounter. Terauchi himself was given a desk job straight after the incident and wasn’t allowed to fly for years after. Perhaps this is the reason the other plane in the vicinity reported nothing?
By reporting it, Terauchi wasn’t just putting his reputation on the line. He was risking his career. Would someone really do that for fifteen minutes of fame that could possibly lead to a lifetime of ridicule?
After Callahan’s meeting in Washington and the suits nicked his data, they slipped up. They thought he had brought everything with him to that meeting. He had not. He had some of the evidence back at his office. They just asked for everything he had with him, so he gave it. Sensing the monumental scale of what he was witnessing, Callahan recorded his own video of the radar from Elmendorf. That video is still available online.
Did the pilot and crew of Japan Airlines 1628 witness an Unidentified Flying Object over Alaska in 1977? You bet your ass they did.
RATING: 1=Bollocks 2=Not convinced 3=Possibly… 4=Compelling stuff 5=Holyshittheskyisfalling
What do you think? Was it aliens? Secret governmental craft? Rogue walnut? Comment below!
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.