The Japan Airlines Flight 1628 Incident

Three Japanese men, one airplane, and (supposedly) three unidentified objects are at the center of the story of a flight that happened more than three decades ago. There was also a lot of wine – but it’s better if we believe nobody was drinking that day. This is the story of Japan Airlines Flight 1628.


The year is 1986. If you ask anyone in the world what happened back in that year, most people will talk about Maradona’s incredible run during the FIFA World Cup. Something more incredible and less talked about happened that same year, though.

The exact date is November 17, 1986. A plane is about to take off. It will fly from Paris to Tokyo. The three crewmen inside the plane expect nothing but business as usual. They land back in their country, maybe get to see their family, and when they get the call, they fly again.


Somewhere along the lines, a strange thing happened – and they had to land in Alaska to tell their story.

What’s so special about Japan Airlines Flight 1628?

On paper, this Japanese Airlines Boeing 747 had nothing out of the ordinary. It was nothing but a cargo plane transporting French wine. It had to go from Paris to Tokyo. The wine was probably going to end up in Tokyo’s finest restaurants. Other than that, the story is about three men flying to their home country.


And that’s the important part: those three men. One pilot, one co-pilot, and one flight engineer. Both the pilot and co-pilot had thousands and thousands of hours of flight experience. They definitely know what’s going on up in the sky – and what doesn’t belong there.

The special thing about JAL 1628 is that three experienced men used their radio, mid-flight, to report they were being followed by two aircraft that they could not identify. After a few minutes, they realized a third one was hovering over them too.

What’s the official version of the Japan Airlines Flight 1628 incident?

According to official sources, nothing happened. The crew either saw something that wasn’t there or tried to pull a prank that went a little too far.


Less than an hour after the pilot used his radio to report the incident, one commercial plane and one military plane sighted Japan Airlines Flight 1628 and denied the existence of an unidentified aircraft. After that, the airplane changed its destination to Alaska and landed for a debriefing.


Plenty of governmental agencies got together to study the case. FBI, CIA, and other agencies were present at the multiple briefings about the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration first stated that unidentified aircraft were spotted – but after the Navy intervened, the FAA soon retracted the statement.

Did UFOs intercept the plane?

Radar information confirms that three different aircraft were close to JAL 1628 when the pilot used his radio to talk to the control tower. Unfortunately, a radar doesn’t give anyone enough information to identify an aircraft – it only tells you that there’s an aircraft there.


The pilot claims UFOs intercepted his plane. He even provided sketches about the two aircraft that surrounded his plane. There’s not much information regarding the other two crewmen, but they never denied the pilot’s claims.


Is that enough information to believe aliens were flying along with JAL 1628? Probably not. The word of an experienced pilot may not be enough. The FAA Chief confirming the existence of the unidentified aircraft may not be enough either. The government secrecy surrounding the entire incident could be enough to make you lean one way or the other.


Perhaps the pilot did see three unidentified aircraft – but maybe they weren’t manned by big-headed green-colored aliens. Top secret projects fly around American airspace all the time.
The JAL pilot may have spotted one of those top-secret projects – and because the crewmen were Japanese, American authorities couldn’t trust them with the truth, something that would jeopardize national security.

Maybe the crewmen drank a little bit of the cargo and saw things that weren’t there. Maybe the pilot wanted to pull a prank on the co-pilot and made wild claims over the radio. If that happened, they would’ve been fired – but instead, they caught the eye of most American government agencies.


Something definitely happened. Unfortunately, only a few men with security clearances know the truth. And they did a good job to clear the air after the incident.

What happened after the Japan Airlines Flight 1628 incident?


The news story caught mainstream media’s attention – but it was soon forgotten. All in all, it was quickly dealt with and swiftly placed under the covers.


The Japan Airlines Flight 1628 pilot tried to tell the story to Japanese media, and for that, he was demoted to a desk job in his airline. He was reinstated a couple of years later and retired soon after that.


The FAA, the organization who first confirmed the incident, soon retracted its first statement and claimed the radar evidence was a malfunction.


The Navy, FBI, CIA, and other agencies claimed top secrecy about the incidents. The many meetings held to make sense of the situation do not exist on the public record.


The aliens never made a statement – but that’s to be expected because they probably don’t speak English. Similar incidents did happen later, though.

Did something similar ever happen again?

A year later, in January 1987, two similar incidents happened less than 24 hours apart.


The first one, on the 29th, a pilot noticed an unidentified aircraft that flew right past his airplane in a matter of seconds. He wasn’t able to identify it visually, but the radar information confirms what happened.


The next day, on the 30th, a second pilot reported that there was a disk-shaped object flying near his location. The radio logs confirm the jet pilot asking control tower to confirm or deny the existence of a friendly aircraft near his airspace. The response was clear-cut: there were no identified aircraft near him – and he should report to the FAA for a debriefing immediately after landing.


Both incidents ended similarly to JAL 1628: away from the spotlight. Want more about the Japan Airlines Flight 1628 incident? Check out our podcast episode below!

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