November 17, 1986, a Boeing 747 UFO encounter in the state of Alaska emerged as one of the most reported encounters in history.
The people who testified were the captain, the first officer, and the flight engineer of a Boeing 747 cargo plane that belonged to Japanese Airlines and was flying from Paris to Tokyo.
The plane was crossing northern Alaska at 10,000 feet at 5:10 p.m. local time when Captain Kenju Terauchi, an experienced pilot, noticed some bright flashes to his left and about 600 meters below him. His initial thoughts about the bright light were not at all mysterious and he assumed that the lights were being emitted by military aircraft. But after a while, when the positions of the lights remained unchanged, indicating that they were following the 747, Terauchi and his crew began to pay more attention to them.
The lights suddenly came closer and immediately appeared in front of the plane as Terauchi turned left. It had some “jets” pulsing in the vicinity of the vertical black panels in the middle of each object, they now resembled two types of rectangular lights with a square array of “amber and white” colored lights.
The jets stopped coming out after a few seconds and turned into “little rings of lights” that looked like “many exhaust pipes”. The two UFOs were “about the size of the midsection of a DC-8” and were 30 meters in front of the 747. The mysterious objects came to rest next to each other after about five minutes.
At 5:19, Terauchi asked if Anchorage flight control was monitoring nearby objects. And surprisingly, the answer was no. Lights were discussed to identify them, however, the signal became quite confusing. The captain later reported:
“VHF communications, both transmitting and receiving, were extremely difficult for 10 to 15 minutes as small vessels closed in on us and often interfered with communication from Anchorage.”
The Elmendorf Regional Operational Control Center (ROCC), where the Air Force is based, was alerted by the Anchorage controller and told to check if the radar picked up anything.
The two lights meanwhile moved to the left. Terauchi spotted what appeared to be a third UFO at a distance of seven or eight kilometers. The two additional, smaller lights were moving in her direction. On the plane’s radar, he could detect the distant object. The eyes of the crew could hardly see it, but the radar showed it to be quite enormous. It remained visible for some time.
In flight, the JAL crew observed lights below and to their left, near the horizon. Up to this point, the unidentified objects were on the far left, making them difficult to see on the aircraft’s radar. The sky was dark to the crew’s left; the stars and planets were now visible and the 2 small UFOs were blending in with the other lights.
What surprised and frightened the crew as they turned to look back was the soft white light they had watched earlier as the plane came within 20 miles of Eielson Air Force Base to the northeast and then 30 miles of Fairbanks east-northeast. . Terauchi claimed that this time they spotted “the side profile of a large spacecraft” that would have been visible. It appeared to be a massive spaceship in the shape of Saturn. Terauchi referred to the spacecraft as the “mother ship,” suggesting that the two much smaller objects came from the mysterious spacecraft. He described the ship as having the length of “two aircraft carriers”.
The captain desperately radioed Anchorage for authorization to take evasive action. They were soon approved, but when they moved, the enormous UFO remained in the same place behind them. It disappeared at 5:39, at 5:40 the JAL captain and crew could again see the “mother ship” behind them, while the ROCC briefly tracked the target again. Terauchi realized he had to land the plane in Anchorage because the 747’s fuel was running low.
One of the United States passenger planes had left Anchorage at 5:40 and was heading north to Fairbanks. It quickly reached 80,000 meters. Anchorage, which had an unexplained object on its sensors, asked the UA pilot if he could see anything beyond the JAL flight, as it was almost at the same altitude as JAL 747. The “mothership” had disappeared into a thin mist by the time the UA aircraft could see it.
In an investigation initiated by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), Jack Wright, an FAA officer, spoke with the crew shortly after the plane landed. Two FAA special agents were interviewed that same evening. The FAA investigation continued into January.
The press release did not explain the sighting, nor did it dispute the crew’s claim to have seen anything unusual.
Months before the FAA’s disclosure, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Paranormal Occurrences (CSICOP), which is a group dedicated to debunking paranormal claims, announced that it had “resolved” the JAL sighting. At least one extraterrestrial object has been implicated — the planet Jupiter, and possibly another is the planet Mars.”
Maccabee objected that the “solution” was proposed before all the data had been gathered. He claims that:
Klass made a major error in not waiting for the release of the full package of information compiled by the FAA. If cited, they would have found that the publicized versions of the sighting were actually quite accurate in their descriptions of the lights, although they were far from complete, and the descriptions certainly ruled out Jupiter and Mars as explanations.
For example, Klass was unaware that the widely publicized drawings of the light arrays were more detailed versions of sketches made by the captain just hours after the event.
Nor did he know that the other crew members, in separate interviews, corroborated the captain’s report of seeing a multitude of lights appear at the front of the plane and follow the aircraft for 10 minutes or more. Nor did he know that the strings of lights had rearranged themselves on top of each other side by side, a reorientation that Jupiter and Mars might have struggled to achieve.
Without the information package, it was impossible to reconstruct the aircraft’s flight path from the radar data. Without the flight path, it was impossible to determine the exact direction of the aircraft and therefore the directions the pilot and crew were looking at different times, as they gave sighting directions relative to the direction of the aircraft.