THE FAA INVESTIGATES A UFO ENCOUNTER THAT NEVER HAPPENED
By John J Callahan
You are about to read about an event that never happened. The I question that I always raise with this is: who are you going to believe, your lying eyes or the government?
I was the Division Chief of the Accidents, Evaluations and Investigations Division of the FAA in Washington, D.C. from 1981-1988. During this time, I was involved in an investigation of an extraordinary event and was asked not to talk about it. Since retiring, I decided that the public had a right to this information, and that they could handle it. Nothing dire has occurred as a result of my discussing this incident publicly, yet nothing useful has resulted from it either.
The reason the UFO’s are not picked up immediately by the radar is the UFO’s do not have transponders and are not required to fly under FAA regulations.
In early January 1987, I received a call from the Air Traffic Quality Control Branch in the FAA’s Alaskan regional office, requesting guidance on what to tell the media personnel who were overflowing the office. The media wanted information about the UFO that chased a Japanese B747 across the Alaskan sky for some 30 minutes on November 7, 1986. Somehow, the word about the UFO had leaked to the press.
“What UFO? When did this take place? Why wasn’t Washington Headquarters informed,” I questioned.
“Hey, ” he replied, “Who believes in UFO’s? I just need to know what to tell the media to get them out of here.”
The answer to that question was easy” “Tell them it’s under investigation. Then, collect all the data-the voice tapes and computer data discs from both the air traffic facility and the military facility responsible for protecting the west coast area. Send the data overnight to the FAA Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. ”
I wanted the data on the midnight red-eye flight, no matter how much hassle it was for them to get it to me.
Japan Air Lines flight 1628, a cargo jet with a pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer, was flying north of Anchorage, and it was just after 5 pm. The Captain, Kenju Terachi, described seeing a gigantic oval object with colored light flashing circling the craft. The craft was much bigger than his 747, as big as four aircraft carriers. His crew, Takanori Tamefuji and Yoshio Tsukuda, both saw the craft with their lying eyes. They all saw it. At one point, two objects appeared to stop directly in from of the 747, and the Captain said they were “shooting off lights,” illuminating the cockpit and emitting heat he could feel on his face. The objects then flew in level flight with the 747. Later, the Captain
indicated he made a turn to evade the UFO, yet the craft flew alongside the jet keeping a constant distance away. Terauchi was able to estimate the size of the largest “spaceship”, he called it, to be four times the size of an aircraft carrier because he had it pictured on his radar with the aircraft radar range marks. He reported all of this to FAA officials, exactly as he saw it.
Over the course of 31 minutes, the UFO jumped miles in a few seconds. The radar sweep at the Air Traffic Control in Anchorage antenna was set at nine seconds. So at one moment Terauchi says it’s over here at twelve o’clock at eight miles and when the antenna goes by, we see the target there. Nine seconds later, it’s suddenly six of seven miles behind him. It’s going from eight miles out in front of the 747 to six or seven miles in back, in only a few seconds, in one sweep of the radarscope. The technology for that amount of speed is “unthinkable.” Terauchi said, because the UFO’s appeared to have control over inertia and gravity.
FAA officials interviewed the Captain and his crew extensively in the days and months following, and were provided independent descriptions and drawings of the “spaceships” and the remarkable behavior. These three reliable witnesses eliminated all known explanations for what they had observed at close range for an extended period of time. They know how to recognize aircraft. If this object was a secret military exercise, the pilots would have been informed as such and would not have wasted time spending 31 minutes evading and reporting a UFO, and the FAA would not have bothered to conduct interviews following the event.
When a pilot looks out the window and sees an aircraft shooting across his nose or flying along with him, the first thing he does is call air traffic and say, “Hey, do you have traffic at my altitude?” Then the controller panics, looks at his scope for other traffic, and replies, “No, we don’t have traffic at your altitude.” Air traffic would then question the 747 asking for more information: what type aircraft , any visible markings, color or numbers on the tail, etc., and then the controller would advise, “We will track that guy and have flight standards meet him at the airport when he lands. We’ll write him up; pull his ticket. We’ll do whatever we have to do to find the pilot of the unknown aircraft.” If his ticket is pulled, the pilot was no longer authorized to fly.
But in this case, the pilot responded by saying, “It’s a UFO because he could see it so clearly. And who believes in UFO’s? This is the type of attitude the air traffic control organization had at the time, and in any case, neither the controller nor the FAA was equipped to track something like this. This FAA has procedures that cover tracking unidentified aircraft violating another’s airspace, but it has no procedures for controlling UFOs.
After receiving the call concerning the UFO from the Alaskan Region almost two months after the UFO event occurred, I briefed my boss Harvey Safeer who alerted the FAA Administrator Admiral Engen. Safeer and I drove to the FAA tech Center in Atlantic City, N.J. to observe the computerize playback of the event and learn more about what had happened.
The FAA had developed a computer program capable of re-creating the traffic on the controllers’ scope, called a plan view display (PVD). I instructed the FAA specialist to synchronize the voice tapes with the radar data-this way, we could hear everything the controller and the pilot said while simultaneously watching the radar scope. This was as if you were standing behind the controller in Alaska, watching and hearing everything that was going on while the controller talked with the JAL pilot and crew. I video-taped the radar display as the event was played back on the scope.
Later that day, I asked the FAA automation specialists to plot the radar targets along the route of flight on a chart and explain what each target was doing along the 7474’s flight path.
The hardware and software engineers drew a large chart that showed every target along the flight of the 747 during its reported encounter with the UFO. They hung this chart on the wall and pointed out: This is when we first saw the UFO; this is when the pilot saw the UFO; this is when the military saw the UFO, all the way down the entire chart. I videotaped the chart at that time.
The computer printout and radar playback displayed primary targets in the vicinity of the 747. These target returns were displayed about the same time and place as the pilot reported viewing the UFO. the pilot and crew viewed the target on their own radar and were able to actually see the huge UFO simultaneously, as it approached their aircraft. Anyone who watches this play back can see and hear this information, but of course the CIA said you can’t see it because it’s not there.
Both the radar and manual controller observed the primary target. The military controllers also viewed the primary target on their radar and identified it as a “double primary” target, which means it was large enough to be more than one aircraft.
During the briefing at the FAA Tech Center in Atlantic City, I asked both the hardware and software engineers (these are the same people who built the air traffic control system) to tell me what those unidentified dots in the vicinity of the UFO were; “What are they?” The hardware engineers said, “This target over here is a software problem, and this one over here is a software problem.” Every time, every engineer said, “it’s a software problem; there is nothing wrong with our hardware system.” At that time, I said, “fine. It makes sense to me.”
Then the software team leader got up and said, “This target over here, its a hardware problem, and this one over here is a hardware problem.” Therefore there were no software problems and there were no hardware problems.
“Well,”, I stated, ” What do we have if we don’t have anything wrong.? Do we have a target there or not?” One of the technicians stated,” My religion forbids me to believe in UFOs,” and I told him, “Fine,” and got ready to leave.
When I returned to the FAA headquarters, I gave Administrator Engen a quick briefing of the play back and showed him the video of the radar scope synchronized with the voice tapes. He watched the full half hour, and then set up a briefing with President Reagan’s scientific staff, and told me my function was to give them a dog and pony show and hand this operation off to them, “since the FAA can’t communicate with unknown aircraft, we can’t issue air traffic control instructions to UFO’s.
At the CIA briefing, we looked at the data printouts and played the video for the group two or three times-the participants turned out to be the CIA, the President’s scientific team, and a bunch of grunts. We talked for an hour and a half or so, while the scientific team asked a number of questions-very intelligent questions, in fact. They wanted to know things like the speed of the radar antenna, the frequency ,the bandwidth and the algorithm for the height finding equipment. The FAA specialists we brought into the room were headquarters technical engineers-hardware and software specialists and they responded to the questions as if they were high school math coaches. They spit the answers right out; it was really amazing to watch these FAA experts at work.
At the end, one of the three people from the CIA said, “This even never happened; we were never here. We are confiscating all this data, and you are sworn to secrecy.”
“What do you think it was?” I asked the CIA Agent.
“A UFO and this is the first time have over 30 minutes of radar to go over, ” he responded, “they-the president’s scientific team-were very excited to get their hands on this data.
“Well, let’s get a Twix out and advise the American public that we were visited by a UFO,” I suggested.
“No way. If we were to tell the American public there are UFO’s, the would panic,” he informed me.
And that was it. They took everything that was in the room-and in those days, computer printouts filled boxes and boxes. The FAA printouts were titled, “UFO Incident at Anchorage, 11/18/86, written on the front cover. The printouts provided ample data for an automation specialist to be able to reproduce everything the controller saw and depict it on a chart.
A few weeks later, an FAA technician brought in the FAA’s report of this event that never happened. I had him put it on a little table in corner of my office, and said, “Leave it there. When the CIA wants the rest of the data, I’m sure they’ll come and get it.”
Some time passed and someone brought in the voice tapes from the incident, and we put that next to the report on that same table, waiting for the CIA to come and make a pick- up.
The chart produced at the Tech center also came to my office, where it remained for a year and a half along with the detailed FAA report and the voice tapes which had been
placed on the corner table waiting for the CIA. No one ever came to get them, or requested information about them.
When I was leaving for retirement in August 1988, one of the Branch managers in a hurry to get me out of the office, packed everything that was hanging on the walls and sitting in the office, put it in boxes and shipped it to my house. I’ve had this data and the video in my possession ever since that time.
Now, years later, its become very clear to me that most people, including FAA controllers, really aren’t familiar with how the FAA radar system works and why all aircraft traveling through our airspace are not caught on radar or displayed on the controllers PVD. The system and organization of the FAA is not configured to identify and track these aircraft types. In short, current FAA equipment will not paint (or display) “a spaceship” unless the aircraft has slowed to a speed similar to current aircraft .
The reasons are simple: The UFOs have no transponder; they are often too large for the automation system to consider an aircraft, so the radar thinks the large targets are weather (radar readings with a unrecognizable signature are often automatically sent our through a second system as weather)’ or they’re too fast for the radar to get a hit on before they’re out of range. If something is hovering, as it was at O’hare airport in 2006, it often doesn’t show up at all, if it does it would be shown as a small dot and FAA controllers would not give it much concern.
During the playback of the 1986 event I clearly observed a primary radar target in the position reported by the Japanese pilot. But the radar signals were intermittent because the UFO was painted as an extremely large primary target and the FAA computer system treated the UFO radar return as weather. Regardless, the target could be seen near the B747 off and on for 31 minutes.
So, we have a problem. Because of these radar deficiencies , when pilots seeing an unusual flying object, the FAA will not investigate unless the object can be identified by an air born pilot. Instead, the FAA will offer a host of weak explanations for the unknown object. If the FAA cannot identify the object within FAA terminology, then it doesn’t exist. Another cliche’ we sometimes use: “For every problem there is a solution. If there is no solution, there is no problem.
The Alaskan UFO investigation is a case in point. The final FAA report concluded that the radar returns from Anchorage were simply a “split image” due to a malfunction in the radar equipment, which showed occasional second blips that had been mistaken for the UFO. Thus the FAA would not confirm that the incident took place. Yet all three controllers engaged with the pilot during the extended sighting filed statements that contradict this finding. “Several times I had single primary returns where L1628 reported traffic,” wrote one. “I observed data on the radar that coincided with information that the pilot of Jl1628 reported,” stated another.
The FAA spokesman at the time, Paul Steucke, said it was just a “coincidence” that the split image happened to fall at the right distance and the same side of the aircraft where the object was reported visually by the pilot. And the final report simply outright ignored the three visual sightings with all their details and drawings, as if the event had never happened. Remember, no one in an aircraft could see a split image, false target, or ring around.
So, who are you going to believe; your lying eyes or the government?