>>The following constitutes the entire text of the press release from
CSICOP in Buffalo, concerning the recent "JALaska" UFO.
EXTRATERRESTRIAL OBJECT INVOLVED IN JAPAN AIR LINES PILOT'S UFO SIGHTING,
ACCORDING TO UFO INVESTIGATOR
Buffalo, NY - An investigation of the incident in which an
Unidentified Flying Object reportedly paced a Japan Air Lines 747 enroute
to Anchorage, Alaska, for nearly 40 minutes on Nov. 18, 1986, reveals that
at least one extraterrestrial object was involved -- the planet Jupiter,
and possibly another -- Mars.
The investigation was conducted by Philip J. Klass, an
internationally recognized UFOlogist and chairman of CSICOP's UFO
Subcommittee. His investigations have yielded prosaic explanations for
many famous UFO cases during the past 20 years.
At the time the UFO incident began near Ft. Yukon, the JAL airliner
was flying south in twilight conditions so that an extremely bright
Jupiter (-2.6 magnitude) would have been visible on the pilot's left-hand
side, where he first reported seeing the UFO, according to Klass. Jupiter
was only 10 degrees above the horizon, making it appear to the pilot to be
at roughly his own 35,000 ft. altitude. Mars, slightly lower on the
horizon, was about 20 degrees to the right of Jupiter but not as bright.
Although the very bright Jupiter, and less bright Mars, had to be
visible to JAL Capt. Kenjyu Terauchi, the pilot never once reported seeing
either -- only a UFO that he described as being a "white and yellow" light
in his initial radio report to Federal Aviation Administration controllers
Many of the colorful details of the incident carried by the news
media, largely based on the six-week-old recollections of the pilot of JAL
Flight 1628, are contradicted by a transcript of radio messages from the
pilot to FAA controllers while the incident was in progress.
For example, news media accounts quoting the 747 pilot said that when
he executed a 360 degree turn, the UFO had followed him around the turn.
But this claim is contrary to what the pilot told FAA controllers at the
During the pilot's media interviews, he "remembered" some colorful
details which did not really occur, judging from his earlier radio reports
to the FAA, and Terauchi "forgot" several important events that would
challenge his claim of being paced by an unknown craft.
For example, that another airliner, United Airlines Flight 69,
heading north from Anchorage to Fairbanks, had agreed to deviate slightly
from its course to allow FAA radar controllers to vector it to the
vicinity of the JAL 747, while maintaining safe altitude and distance
separation, to see if the United crew could spot the UFO.
At approximately 4:48 PM, as the United flight neared JAL, Terauchi
reported that the UFO was to his far left and about 10 miles distant --
which was in the direction of Jupiter. At roughly 4:50 PM, the United
pilot reported he now could see JAL but a short time later the United
pilot said: "I don't see anybody around him."
Shortly afterwards, the JAL pilot reported that the UFO now was "just
ahead of United" which is where Jupiter would appear to be from Terauchi's
location. The United pilot would not notice Jupiter because it was to his
right while his attention was focused on JAL which was to his far left.
Shortly afterward, the pilot of a USAF C-130 transport in the area
volunteered to be vectored to the vicinity of the JAL airliner to see if
he could spot any object near the airliner. The C-130 crew readily spotted
the JAL 747, but they too could not see any object in its vicinity.
"This is not the first time that an experienced pilot has mistaken a
bright celestial body for a UFO, nor will it be the last," Klass said. In
one case, investigated by the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek in the early 1950's,
a military pilot chased a "UFO" for more than 30 minutes, which turned out
to be the bright star Capella. In this case, as with the recent Alaska
incident, a radar operator reported briefly seeing an unknown blip on his
During World War II, B-29 pilots flying at night from the Mariana
Islands in the Pacific to bomb Japan reported being paced by a mysterious
"ball-of-fire", which B-29 gunners tried, unsuccessfully, to shoot down.
Some Army Air Corps intelligence officers suspected the object was a long-
range Japanese aircraft equipped with a powerful searchlight, to
illuminate the B-29s so they could be attacked by fighter aircraft, but
such attacks never materialized. Finally the mysterious glowing object
that seemed to pace the B-29s was identified. It was Venus, which was
particularly bright at the time.
More than 25% of all UFOs reported during a 15-month period to the
Center for UFO Studies (created in 1973 by Hynek) turned out upon
investigation to be a bright planet or star. Some eyewitnesses reported
that the celestial UFO "darted up and down", or "wiggled from side-to-
side", and a variety of shapes were described.
In Capt. Terauchi's recollected account to the media six weeks after
the incident, he described seeing two small UFOs in addition to a large
one. But the transcript reveals that the pilot only briefly reported
seeing TWO lights, NOT THREE, and thereafter he referred only to one in
his radio communications with FAA controllers.
News media accounts of the UFO incident stressed that one
unidentified object had been detected by a USAF radar in the vicinity of
the 747's "blip", which seemed to confirm the pilot's visual sighting.
However, radars operating in mountainous terrain such as that where the
UFO incident occurred can receive spurious echoes when radar energy
bouncing off an aircraft is reflected a second time from mountains and
When the pilot first reported seeing the UFO, FAA traffic controllers
-- ever concerned over the risk of a mid-air collision -- requested that
radar controllers in an Air Force Regional Operations Command Center
examine their displays to see if they could spot an unknown intruder. A
radar operator there spotted something, but was unsure whether it might be
a spurious echo. However, the echo appeared only briefly and was BEHIND
the 747 whereas the pilot had reported that the UFO was in front or to the
left of his aircraft.
Later, as the JAL 747 came within range of an FAA radar at the
Fairbanks International Airport, a radar controller there was asked if he
could spot another object in the vicinity of the airliner. Although the
JAL pilot still was reporting a UFO, the controller replied that there
were no unknown blips in the vicinity of JAL 1628.
On Jan. 11, Capt. Terauchi again reported seeing a UFO while flying
in approximately the same part of Alaska. But after an FAA spokesman in
Anchorage suggested that this UFO might only be lights from a distant
village bouncing off clouds, the JAL pilot acknowledged that this could
explain his second UFO sighting.
The transcript of radio communications during the Nov. 18 incident
indicates that there were broken clouds at or below Flight 1628's
altitude, which may help explain Capt. Terauchi's mistaking Jupiter for a
Even a scientifically trained former Navy officer, who would later
become President, once mistook a bright planet for a UFO. The "victim" was
Jimmy Carter and the incident occurred about 7:15 PM on Jan. 6, 1969,
following his talk to the Lions Club of Leary, GA. As Carter later
recalled the incident, he spotted the UFO in the west at an elevation he
estimated to be about 30 deg. An investigation conducted by Robert
Sheaffer, vice-chairman of CSICOP's UFO Subcommittee, was complicated by
the fact that Carter had recalled an erroneous date for the incident. Once
Sheaffer managed to determine the correct date, he found that a brilliant
planet Venus was to the west and about 35 deg. above the horizon, where
Carter reported seeing the UFO.
Klass credits astronomers Nick Sanduleak and C. B. Stephenson, of
Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, for their valuable
assistance in computing the positions and bearings of bright celestial
bodies relative to the 747 airliner at the time of the incident.
"My suspicions that this UFO might be a bright celestial body were
prompted by the fact that the pilot reported seeing the object for more
than 30 minutes," Klass said. "Past experience has shown that when a UFO
remains visible for many minutes, it almost always proves to be a
celestial object." Another clue was the fact that when Flight 1628
descended 4,000 ft., the UFO still appeared to be at the airliner's
altitude. At Jupiter's great distance, a change of 4,000 ft. in aircraft
altitude would produce no noticeable change in the planet's apparent
Klass, who was a senior editor with Aviation Week & Space Technology
magazine for nearly 35 years until his partial retirement this past June,
has been investigating famous UFO cases as a a hobby for more than 20
years. His most recent book on the subject is "UFOs: The Public Deceived,"
published by Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY