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FAA radar and audio tapes from Oregon UFO incident that sent F-15s scrambling

FAA radar and audio tapes from Oregon UFO incident that sent F-15s scrambling 88

Tyler Rogoway
The Drive

New evidence offers great detail of the bizarre event and provides unprecedented insight into how such a unique incident is dealt with in real time.

Last November, The War Zone posted an exclusive story detailing a bizarre incident involving an unidentified aircraft that transited the skies of the Pacific Northwest in the early evening of October 25th, 2017. What started as a radar target moving at very high speed over Northern California turned into a series of eyewitness accounts made by nearby airline pilots traveling northward over Oregon. Even F-15 fighters were launched to intercept the mysterious intruder that quickly became invisible to radar.

Now, through the Freedom of Information Act, we present what could be one of the most insightful instances of official documentation surrounding such an encounter that had already been confirmed to have occurred by both the FAA and the USAF. These materials include fascinating audio recordings of radio transmissions and phone calls made as the incident was unfolding, as well as pilot interviews, and conversations between FAA officials made in the aftermath of the highly peculiar incident.

For proper context, make sure to first read our original post linked here detailing the event, how our report came to be in the first place, as well as the rare confirmations as to its authenticity from both the FAA and the USAF. Below is also a short explainer video that will give you a basic overview of the incident.

See video here. (3:01)

Fast forward three months later, and now we have so much more evidence that adds incredible depth and color to our original report and the limited radio recordings we originally had to go off of. Via our Freedom of Information Act Request we received hours of audio, all with unique elements that add to this story. What we have done is packaged that audio, as well as the radar data provided, into four separate videos. We will highlight some of the big takeaways from each video in our piece, but we cannot stress enough how interesting and eye opening this audio is to listen to in full, so we highly recommend you do so by watching each video in its entirety.

The first video includes audio from the initial spotting of the object as it ripped its way across Northern California at high speed, before it took a turn north and merged with nearby air traffic and disappeared from radar. Once again, beyond becoming invisible to radar, this aircraft had no transponder broadcasting nor did it ever communicate verbally with air traffic controllers. The audio in the video goes on to be sync’d in real-time with radar data obtained via our FOIA request.

Video here. (35:03)

Oakland Center Sector 31 first detected the target around 4:30pm PST. Below is a chart showing where Oakland Center’s high altitude sectors are situated around Northern California. Sector 31 spans roughly from Sacramento up towards Redding, before its northern edge, which is near the border with Oregon, terminates and Seattle Center’s airspace begins. To the east, the airspace sits along the California-Nevada border. This makes sense as the craft was eventually tracked by airline pilots as it made its way up over Crater Lake and towards the Willamette Valley.

In the audio the Oakland Center controller notes that it is near his boundary, so it seems the aircraft’s first appearance officially occurred near the border of Oakland Center Sector 31 and Seattle Center Sector 13 or 14. The target was moving “very fast at 37,000” feet when it was first detected.

Oakland high altitude sectors FAA

© FAA

Seattle Center high altitude sector chart

© Seattle ARTCC
Seattle Center high altitude sector chart.

The “intruder” quickly dropped off radar and that’s when the visual sightings made by airline crews began. They continued for roughly half an hour and over hundreds of miles. The exchanges between nearby pilots and air traffic control regarding the unidentified aircraft were constant in the audio, with the same description coming back time and again-that of a white aircraft cruising at around 37,000 feet that is too far away to tell the type or if it has markings of any kind on it.

At roughly 27:30 into the video we get our first indication that the F-15s out of PDX are about to scramble, with the air traffic controller noting this while talking to another FAA controller, during which the controller also reiterates that there has still been no radar contact with the aircraft. The controller also repeatedly asks aircrews nearby to check their Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) for the aircraft, which all come back negative.

The F-15s first appear on radar as they climb out of Portland to the south at time index 33:33 as “Rock” flight – a common callsign used for the alert F-15s stationed at PDX. Alaska 439 asks for an update on the unidentified aircraft and the controller notes they still have nothing on him, saying colloquially that it must be in a kind of “stealth mode or something.” It’s also interesting that the F-15s first went south when it seems as if the object would have been north of PDX by the time they finally launched.

This second video is just the radar data in its raw form. It starts before the sync’d recording begins above so we thought we would post it in full so our readers can take a closer look if they want.

Video here. (51:57)

Next we move into some very interesting recordings of FAA phone calls that occurred as all of this was taking place. We edited out dead space in the audio between phone calls and bleeped the names of those who named themselves. Aside from that, the audio is unedited by us, although we cannot be certain if parts were redacted by the FAA or not. There were a few strange areas where conversations went mute and it’s not clear if this was edited or just an anomaly. The primary person talking in most of these calls is the Operations Manager In Charge for Seattle Center at the time that the incident took place.

Audio here. (15:34)

The first call is to Oakland Center, and it occurs early on after the initial radar detection and as pilots began spotting the craft visually. He also mentions that “air defense” is looking for the target now too (on radar), so it shows how early the military was involved in the encounter.

Washington Air National Guard

© United States Air Force
Washington Air National Guard

You will notice that the term “DEN” is referred to repeatedly in these recordings. That is the Domestic Events Network, a sort of hotline system that is used to bridge the FAA with federal authorities, namely the military, during a number of circumstances which you can read about here. You will also hear the term “WADS” and the nickname/callsign “Bigfoot.” This refers to the Western Air Defense sector of NORAD that monitors the airspace over a huge swath of territory in the United States and Canada. Based out of McChord AFB in Washington, WADS scrambles the fighters when needed and works to direct them to their targets of interest during domestic air sovereignty missions, among other responsibilities.

When the Manager In Charge is asked if he was asking for military assistance by another FAA controller, the tape goes blank. The same inquiry is heard moments later, and it goes silent again before another call begins. Although it really doesn’t have much impact on the greater mystery, who asked for the F-15s to scramble and when, comes up in the next video in an exchange between the same manager and an FAA official.

In the final set of calls in the video we hear controllers talking about how the Air Force wants to set up an air patrol over Battle Ground, Washington, which is a dozen miles directly north of PDX. We know the F-15s headed south initially, so it isn’t clear if this call came after they initially headed in that direction or before they were even airborne and the plan changed later on for some reason. Once again “Rock” refers to the callsign of the alert fighters.

Finally, we get to our last and most interesting of our evidence videos. It contains the calls made after the incident occurred. Seattle Center’s Manager In Charge of Operations tries to figure out what happened exactly. In doing so he talks once again with Seattle Center and the trio of airline pilots that spotted the craft visually and has some very interesting conversations with the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization Security office and the agency’s Safety and Quality Assurance Group.

Audio here. (36:32]

First we hear about the big question as to who “requested” the scramble, as according to the call, it has to come from FAA headquarters. The manager floats the idea, in retrospect, of having the airliners keep a visual on the craft instead of allowing them to descending into PDX, at least until the F-15s show up, but the FAA official swats that down as they didn’t know what the aircraft was, “if they are equipped with anything” or its intentions. She reiterates that getting the military involved was a good idea but that it should have come from FAA headquarters over the DEN. The manager reminds her again that he doesn’t know who requested military assistance and that Oakland Center told him to call WADS initially.

Next we hear from Oakland Center again, at first discussing who ordered the scramble, but then the conversation goes into talking about what actually happened. Both agree that there was “definitely something out there” with the Oakland Center controller saying the aircraft first appeared going southbound at high speed before executing an abrupt maneuver and then “took off northbound.” Even figuring out how to report the encounter seems totally foreign to both higher ranking controllers, with one stating “I have a feeling someone is going to go through this with a fine-tooth comb.”

Then we get into the pilot interviews over the phone, with the manager’s intention being for each crew to write up a report detailing their individual perspective of the incident. During the call with United 612 there are some odd dropped moments, but the pilot describes the encounter, stating that he was too far away to make out the type. The next call, with Alaska Airlines 525, also doesn’t reveal much as the crew says they never were able to see it, but the crew of Skywest 3478 did, although he didn’t have much to add.

The call with the pilot of Southwest 4712 was by far the most interesting. He immediately notes how strange the encounter was and how he has never seen an incident like it in nearly 30 years of flying jets. The pilot noted, “if it was like a Lear (private jet) type airframe I probably would not have seen it this clear. This was a white airplane and it was big. And it was moving at a clip too, because we were keeping pace with it, it was probably moving faster than we were… It was a larger aircraft yeah.” He also said they watched the object from Northern California all the way to their descent into Portland.

The manager’s final call, was with the FAA’s Quality Assurance Group, who is taken by surprise by the details surrounding the event, and especially with the fact that nobody still knew what the aircraft was or where it ended up. “Wow that’s weird” is the operative quote by the FAA official, which is insightful to say the least as these people deal with unique incidents that occur in American airspace on a daily basis. The manager agreed with the sentiment and noted that it wasn’t some small aircraft and it was moving fast, outpacing a 737 cruising nearby. The official also says that the incident should be classified as “potentially significant” on reporting documents. She even said that this was “a weird enough thing that there is not a set procedure… It’s not often we hear about an unknown guy up at that altitude.”

Collectively these materials give us incredible insight not only into this incident, but also into how such an event is actually handled in real-time by those who are responsible for the safety of those in the air and those on ground below. What they don’t offer is any sort of an explanation for what happened on that fall evening. But really, the fact that all those involved, from air traffic controllers, to Air Force radar operators, to airline pilots, and even special FAA officials tasked with responding to all types of out of the ordinary incidents that occur in the sky on a daily basis seem just as puzzled with this event as we are makes the story all that much more intriguing.

Above all else, this new evidence underscores just how rare these events actually are, especially ones that include multiple sightings, the use of multiple sensors, the involvement of various agencies including the military, and some of the most capable air-to-air fighters in the world. And after recent reports unmasking how the Pentagon remains highly interested in encounters just like this one, it holds even more weight than it did three months ago.

We will continue to investigate this bizarre incident and we will keep you updated as to what else we discover.

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Aliens & UFO's

The CIA has laid out all its information about UFO’s in the public domain

The CIA has laid out all its information about UFO's in the public domain 90

The Black Vault, which publishes declassified data, has posted on its website an impressive archive of CIA documents related to UFOs. The founder of the project, John Greenwald, says that he received all the documents by official means from the hands of the organization’s employees.

And suddenly, the CIA declassified its entire database of UFOs. That is, the secret service has documents from the 1980s and everything shows that conspiracy theories are becoming a reality. Already, the “Black Vault” website contains several relevant documents, which can be downloaded by anyone.

The term “Unidentified Flying Objects” is commonly used in the documents.
Some of these may be due to light reflections or errors in the pilot instruments. However, some are objects of inquiry by the Pentagon.

The CIA claims that they have nothing else, but it is not possible to verify this statement.

It was possible to obtain information thanks to the Law on Freedom of Information, and the process itself was launched at the turn of the 70-80s of last century. 

The representatives of the special services had to admit that the public ultimately has the right to find out the secrets of the government, but the process of transferring information is not really regulated. According to Greenwald, he spent 25 years in endless meetings, disputes and bickering with the CIA, until he finally got what he wanted.

But not everything is so simple – the researcher was handed a box with about 10,000 printed sheets of very low quality. He had to scan them manually, some things could not be disassembled at all, many documents were scattered. 

“Starting about 20 years ago, I struggled for years to get additional UFO records from the CIA,” Greenwald said in an email to Motherboard. “It was like pulling teeth! I went around with them to try and do it, finally achieving it. I received a large box with a couple of thousand pages, and I had to scan them one page at a time.”

The CIA used the rather outdated .tif format, so software processing is also difficult. Ufologists don’t have to talk about a gift, it’s more like trying to get rid of garbage in order to get rid of annoying researchers. 

“Researchers and curious minds alike prefer simplicity and accessibility when they look at such data dumps,” says Greenwald. “The CIA made it INCREDIBLY difficult to use its archives in a sensible way. They offer a very outdated format (multi-page .tif) and offer largely unusable text output, which I think they intend to use as a “search” tool. In my opinion, this outdated format makes it very difficult for people to view documents and use them for any research purposes.”

However, there are also enough mysterious stories there.

Thousands of files were uploaded in the first 24 hours after release, Greenwald said. Some documents are crisp and clear, while others are almost impossible to decipher.

According to Greenwald, one of the most interesting documents in this article relates to the fact that the Assistant Deputy Director of Science and Technology passed on some serious information about UFOs to the CIA back in the 1970s. After that, it became extremely difficult to obtain information from the government about extraterrestrial phenomena.

The release of the documents comes six months before the UFO report to be released by the US government. This means that the revelations are not made at this time randomly.

In particular, intelligence experts have 180 days to formulate an official report on signs or secret aircraft near US military bases, which will be released later.

The CIA has laid out all its information about UFO's in the public domain 91

Greenwald posts the files in the Black Vault, as he claims that publishing the files is a matter of public interest and notes that citizens have a right to know.

“The public has a right to know!” Greenwald says. “When I started my research almost 25 years ago, at the age of 15, I knew there was something about this topic. Not from viral online pranks, not from secret meetings with insiders that no one has ever seen. No, this is all UFO evidence straight from the CIA and NSA. I feel like I’ve almost achieved what I set out to do – give people easy access to important material so that people can form their own opinion about what’s going on.”

The aliens are already among us.

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Aliens & UFO's

Trump-signed bill obliges US federal services to publish UFO contact data

Trump-signed bill obliges US federal services to publish UFO contact data 92

The incumbent president of the United States signed the government spending bill this Sunday. The bill signed by Trump, among other things, obliges the US federal services to publish data on contacts with UFOs. American magazine Newsweek told about it in its publication. This provision appears in the report of the Special Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Senator Mark Rubio. 

The document is an annex to the new Exploration Permit Act. It says that the US Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence and other officials must report on the facts of observation of aerial objects that could not be identified. They are also called “anomalous flying vehicles”. Of course, this is not only about “alien ships”.

Reports must be submitted no later than 180 days from the date of entry into force of the law. The special committee demands to include in them a detailed analysis of investigations of UFO “intrusions” into American airspace, which were conducted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The publication calls all these requirements a “request”, stating that they are not binding, since they have no legislative force.

If the executive branch fulfills this important request, the nation will finally have an objective basis for assessing the validity of this issue and its implications for national security.
– said the former director of human resources of the Senate Intelligence Committee Christopher Mellon.

The request from the special committee came after the appearance of the footage of flights of mysterious aerial objects, which were filmed by the pilots of the naval aviation in 2004 and 2015, published by the US Department of Defense.

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Aliens & UFO's

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 93

It was a normal flight. Well, not quite a routine…. It was Japan Air Lines special cargo flight 747 that carried a shipment of French wine from Paris to Tokyo. The flight plan was to include flight 1628 from Paris to Reykjavik, Iceland, via the North Atlantic and Greenland, then via Canada to Anchorage in Alaska, and finally across the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo. The crew included veteran captain Kenju Terauchi, co-pilot Takanori Tamefuji and flight engineer Yoshio Tsukuba.

On November 16, 1986, loaded with wine, JAL1628 took off from Paris and made the first leg of the journey to Reykjavik. The next day, they continued their flight over Greenland and then through northern Canada without any event.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 94

Immediately after they crossed the Alaska border at 5:09 pm local time, Anchorage air traffic control contacted them by radio to report the first radar contact. The flight controller of Anchorage asked them to turn 15 degrees to the left and head towards a point known as Talkeetna on a course of 215 degrees. They were at an altitude of 35,000 feet and were traveling at about 600 miles per hour.

At about 5:11 pm local time, Captain Terauchi noticed the lights of some aircraft about 2,000 feet below and 30 degrees to their left. He figured it was probably an American jet fighter from nearby Eilson or Elmendorf airbases patrolling Alaska airspace, so he ignored them at first. However, after a few minutes, he noticed the lights were keeping up with his own aircraft, which would be unusual for patrol aircraft.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 95

It has been about seven minutes since we started paying attention to the lights (when), in the most unexpected way, two spaceships stopped in front of our face, “shooting” lights. The interior cabin shone brightly and I felt warmth in my face.

Terauchi said he had the impression that two objects he saw below them a few minutes ago suddenly jumped out of him. The ships, one above the other, kept pace with the Boeing 747 for several minutes, moving in unison with a strange sway. After about seven minutes, they switched to a side-by-side arrangement. 

Terauchi said the “amber-whitish” lights were like flames coming out of several rocket exhaust windows arranged in two rectangular rows on the ship. He felt they were firing in a specific sequence to stabilize the ship, much like the small, maneuverable engines on the space shuttle. He also reported seeing sparks similar to fire when using gasoline or coal fuel.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 96

Co-pilot Tamefuji described the lights as “Christmas platter” with a “salmon” color. 

He said:

“I remember a red or orange and white landing light, as well as a landing light. And a faint green, ah, flashing.”

He also described the lights as slowly pulsing. They got stronger, weaker, stronger, weaker, different from strobe lights. 

The lights “swayed” in unison, as if two planes were standing side by side, “very good formation … close.” He described the appearance of the lights as similar to a “head-on night flight” vision, where only the lights of an approaching aircraft can be seen, but “we cannot see the general shape.”

He said:

“I’m sure I’ve seen something.” 

It was clear enough to make me believe that an airplane was coming.

Flight Engineer Tsukuba, seated behind the co-pilot, could not see the lights so clearly. He first saw them “through window L1 at 11 o’clock and saw “undulating clusters of lights.” 

These clusters were “made in two parts … in the form of airplane windows.” He stressed that “the lights in front of us were different from the city ones.” He described the colors as white or amber.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 97

Tamefuji decided to call Anchorage Air Traffic Control, and for the next thirty minutes the Boeing 747 and the AARTCC were in constant contact about UFOs.

At this time, Captain Terauchi asked Tskububa to hand him a camera so that he could try to photograph the lights. However, Terauchi was unfamiliar with the camera and could not get it to work. Tsukuba was also unable to get his camera to work due to autofocus issues and finally gave up trying to take a picture.

At this point, they began to experience some radio interference, and Anchorage asked them to change frequencies. Terauchi later said that Anchorage kept asking him about clouds in the immediate vicinity: they asked us several times if there were clouds at our height. We saw thin speckled clouds near the mountain below us, with no clouds in the air from mid to top, and the airflow was steady.

Shortly after talking about clouds, objects flew to the left. Terauchi later said:

“In the direction where the ships were leaving, there was a pale white flat light, they were moving with us in the same direction, at the same speed and at the same height as us.”

Terauchi decided to see if they were seeing anything on their own 747 radar:

I thought it would be impossible to find anything on the aircraft radar if the large ground radar showed nothing, but I estimated the distance to the object visually and it was not very far. I set the digital weather radar to 20 (nautical) miles, the angle of the radar to the horizon (i.e. no deflection angle). This was on the screen. A large green and circular object appeared 7 or 8 miles (13 to 15 km) in the direction the object was. 

We informed downtown Anchorage that our radar had caught an object within 7 or 8 miles at the 10 o’clock position. We asked them if they could catch it on ground radar, but it looks like they couldn’t catch it at all.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 98

At 5:25:45 am, after two minutes of searching, the military radar at the Regional Operations Center Elmendorf also picked up something. The ROCC radar controller reported back to AARTCC that it received some “pulse primary return”. By this he meant a random radar echo, not accompanied by a transponder signal.

When 747 approached Fairbanks:

The lights (of the city) were extremely bright for eyes accustomed to the dark (the cockpit lights were turned off to prevent internal light from reflecting in the windows.) We were just above the bright city lights and checked out the pale white light behind us. 

“Alas! There was a silhouette of a giant spaceship. We must run fast! Center of Anchorage. JAL1628 asks to change course 45 degrees to the right. It seemed like a long time before we got permission.”

Immediately after the plane turned right, AARTCC dispatcher called Fairbanks control radar to see if the short-range radar had a target near the JAL. Approach radar reported no targets other than JAL1628.

The aircraft exited the turn and flew towards Talkeetna at an altitude of 31,000 feet while the object continued to follow.

At approximately 5:40 am, a United Airlines passenger plane took off from Anchorage and headed north to Fairbanks. The AARTCC controller decided to ask the UA pilot to try to see the object that was following the JAL flight. The UA pilot said he would watch when he got closer. The controller requested that the JAL flight remain at 31,000 feet and the UA flight at 29,000 feet. He then ordered UA to make a few more turns so that the planes could fly within five miles of each other.

As the United Airlines plane approached, the UFO apparently fell behind, allowing the JAL plane to fly far ahead. The United pilot asked the AARTCC for the JAL pilot to turn on the headlights on the JAL plane so he could locate the plane. At 5:49:45 am, the JAL pilot did it. At this point, the planes were about 25 miles apart.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 99

When the planes were about 12 miles apart, UA reported seeing JAL and nothing else. But by this time the UFO appears to have disappeared, and JAL1628 did not notice it either.

At about 5:51 am, the AARTCC demanded that a TOTEM military aircraft in the area also fly towards the JAL aircraft to take a look. For the next few minutes, TOTEM watched the JAL plane, but saw no other vehicles. JAL1628 proceeded to Anchorage and landed at 18:20.

The FAA conducted an investigation into the incident and did not submit its final report until March 5.

CSICOP (Committee on Scientific Investigation of Allegations of the Paranormal) Phil Klass issued a premature statement on January 22nd claiming that UFOs were the planets of Jupiter. and Mars is an impossible solution because UFOs were seen in the opposite part of the sky to the positions of these planets, and because UFOs moved from positions on top of each other to stand side by side. 

CSICOP later published a second explanation that the UFO was light bouncing off clouds of ice crystals – also unlikely because the sky was clear at the UFO’s stated altitude. 

The US Federal Aviation Administration attributed the ground-based radar images as “split radar from a JAL Boeing 747”.

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