The Japanese Airlines Flight 1628 UFO Encounter

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
March 12, 2017
Last Updated
October 14, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
5 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

In November 1986, a report of one of the most credible UFO sightings became headline news around the world. Bound for Paris from Tokyo, Japanese Airlines Flight 1628 found itself at the center of the media frenzy. Not least because the flight’s captain opted to speak openly about the experience instead of downplaying it as JAL wished.

Depiction of the JAL UFO

Depiction of the JAL UFO

Perhaps the fact the sighting came from experienced pilots and commercial flight staff, who spend a good portion of their lives quite literally in the air, gives it, and other similar sightings, a little more credibility. In this particular incident maybe the pilot’s insistence that his story is heard, even though it ultimately cost him his job, shows how important he felt it is for the world to know these crafts are very real.

Before we look at the details of the JAL 1628 Incident, it is worth examining some of the other commercial flights that have found themselves in the middle of an apparently other-worldly activity.

Airline Pilot Risks Of Reporting A UFO

It may surprise many people just how many airline pilots make reports of UFO activity while on their flights. Remember on these planes, hundreds of people’s lives are in the pilot’s hands. Maybe that is why airlines are not keen to have their pilots talk publically about such incidents. When you take into the account the amount of sightings that will go unreported due to the fear of colleagues mocking them, or even worse, dismissal from active duty – their careers essentially over – then the amount of officially reported sightings will be an underwhelming figure in all probability.

One of the more recent of these incidents occurred in 2007 off the coast of the island of Guernsey. [1] The witness to these events has well over twenty years of flying experience. Pilot Ray Bowyer spotted what he thought was the sun’s reflection on the water, as he approached Alderney from Southampton.

Closer inspection, however, showed the brightness wasn’t the sun’s reflection at all. The mysterious glow appeared to be a “very sharp, thin, yellow object” that was up to a mile wide, given how far away it was from Bowyer’s position. As he continued on with his flight and began to prepare to land, he witnessed a second identical object.

Bowyer’s claims would fall on disinterested ears, to begin with. Then, according to the pilot, out of nowhere, four separate television companies contacted him within a twenty-four hour period of each other. This sudden renewed interest in the case made the airline pilot more than a little suspicious. He stated to the media at the time of this renewed interest that, “somebody, somewhere has some control over this, and I’m looking to establish who that is!”

You can check out the video below – an interview on British daytime TV with Captain Bowyer. The video below that features Bowyer addressing the National Press Club UFO meeting in 2007.

Chiles-Whitted Case, 1948

One of the very first sightings reported by an airline pilot occurred in 1948. Known as the “Chiles-Whitted Case”, Clarence Chiles and John Whitted, pilots for Eastern Airlines, were witness to a strange “wingless craft” with a “pointed nose!” There also appeared to be no empennage or other obvious steering devices.

The flight was on its way to Atlanta, Georgia from Houston, Texas, when the speeding glowing object headed towards them. The strange vehicle also had what appeared to be passenger windows on its side. From these “windows” came a bright glowing light that the pilots described as being “like burning magnesium!”

The other-worldly craft performed extremely quick and sharp turns while it flew alongside the Eastern Airlines flight. One passenger on board later said they had seen “a strange streak of light!” from his position near the window.

The explanation for the sighting was a small meteor at the time. Twenty years later in 1968, both pilots testified on record as to what they actually saw.

17th November 1986, JAL 1628, Alaskan Airspace

As Flight 1628 made its way over Alaska, at a little past 5 in the evening, Captain Kenju Terauchi saw something strange outside the window. [2] Two glowing craft were following their plane, tailing it to their left. Terauchi’s first thought suggested that they were US Air Force pilots patrolling Alaskan air space. These patrols were regular due to how (relatively) close its border was to the Soviet Union. A closer look, however, told the experienced pilot that these were not US airplanes. In fact, they didn’t look like anything he or his crew had ever seen.

Then the craft went from left of the plane to a holding position dead in front of it, within seconds. They now realized there was no doubt they were dealing with something completely unknown. They remained in this position for several minutes before they zipped back to the left of Flight 1628.

It was then they saw, the “mother ship.”

The gigantic ship looked like a “flat pale white light” and was the size of at least two aircraft carriers. The huge object simply held its position in front of the plane before it, and the two smaller craft disappeared. By the time another aircraft arrived to see why there had been a break in communications, the objects had vanished.

Outspoken Terauchi “Given” Desk Job!

Flight 1628 continued on its journey without further incident. But the experience had deeply affected Captain Terauchi. So much so that he refused to stay silent over what he had seen. The world’s press and media were more than eager to listen and print what he had to say.

Such was his need to speak about the events his employers soon removed him from active duty. He would now serve in a “desk-job” roll only.

Japan Air Lines did conduct an investigation into the encounter. They stated that they did believe their pilot’s statements regarding what they saw, however, there was not enough “proof to support” their claims. Essentially, they were dismissing it and covering it up. Terauchi’s new desk job perhaps a warning to other pilots who may decide to speak out over similar sightings in the future.

Might There Be An Alaskan Connection?

Many people firmly believe Terauchi’s claims, not least because of where the incident happened. Alaska is a UFO hotspot, and there is an abundance of dark conspiracies about the activity there.

There are many official reports of “sudden faults” from aircraft flying over this area. Remember Flight 1628’s communications had become scrambled during their sighting. FBI files [3] show that very serious study of Alaska took place for a decade or so starting in the late 1940s.

One particular claim states there is an alien base hidden away in the mountainous terrain of Alaska. Pat Price, who claims to be able to remote view, states his belief that Mount Hayes contains such a base. Their aim is not for our benefit either. Price claims they wish to “motor control all of us!” and use thought and mind control.

As far back as the 1930s, there is a connection between Alaska and extra-terrestrial beings. In 2003, a photograph arrived with UFO researchers, claiming to have been taken by the sender’s grandfather, circa 1930. He had been on his way to a nearby lake when he first noticed the strange creature (that we would identify as a gray alien today). He began to pursue it, finally stopping and snapping the picture before it disappeared into the wilderness.

The well-known “Flying-Wing” UFO sighting occurred over the skies of Alaska in Bethel. Whether the location of Flight 1628’s encounter is of importance or merely coincidental, one thing is for sure. Captain Terauchi and his crew certainly saw something, and their descriptions are likely very accurate. Just what it might have been however may forever remain otherwise, unknown.

Check out the short video below. It features a copy of the alleged 1930s Alaskan alien and some theories around it.


1 Renewed interest in pilot’s ‘UFO’ sighting, Guernsey Press, April 9th 2014
2 The UFO Incident with Japan Airlines 1628, Unsolved Mysteries of the World
3 FBI Records Scope and Content Note, Marquette University

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Ronald Baak says:

    1976 I was on a Quantas flight from Honalulu, 6 hours into our flight, when the captain said over the intercom.. This is your captain speaking, look out of the right of the plane you will see a UFO. Just below us, about 50 feet or possible more flew past us just under neath the right wing about 5 miles per hour faster then us we got a real good look at what appeared to be a disk slightly raised towards the middle, no rivets or seams, no windows about as large as our 747 plane. Flew past us the captain said after we landed I’ll bet this is one flight you will never forget. The UFO dissapeard traveling underneath our right wing as it traveled. The UFO was confirmed when I checked my time from the news cast when the radio commentator said flight 810 ( I believe was the flight number) reported haveing a encounter with a UFO.

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