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'78 Encounter of Boeing 727 & Huge 'Cigar' Over

From: Terry W. Colvin <fortean1@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 09:33:49 -0700
Fwd Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 08:20:50 -0400
Subject: '78 Encounter of Boeing 727 & Huge 'Cigar' Over

Flying Saucer Review, Volume 46/4, Winter 2001, pp. 12-16.


[Words marked with "" are italicized. - TWC]

An Encounter of a Boeing 727 with a Huge "Cigar" Over Japan
(1978) Exclusive report for Flying Saucer Review. (C) by Yusuke
J. Matsumura, Director of CBA International (CBAI), Japan, and
FSR Consultant. [N.B. One of our oldest, and himself a former
WWII Japanese Air Force pilot! G.C.]

We at CBAI recently received a pilot's report about the
experience of the crew of Flight NH257, a Boeing 727 passenger
craft of ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA) in 1978 when they were en
route from Tokyo westwards to Fukuoka. (see map). While flying
in the early twilight sky, over Okayama, they spotted, ahead of
them, a long seemingly "cloud-like" object that at first
appeared to be a DC-8 aircraft. But as they came nearer they
perceived it to be "shaped like a cigar" and, flying at a height
of only about 150 m. below their plane, it accompanied them and
kept pace with them at an estimated distance of 500 m. at the
closest point of approach.

And then suddenly all three officers saw the thing "belch out
plumes of smoke, like a steam locomotive"!

This type of case, classified as a "cigar-smoke trail" in
foreign countries, is exceedingly rare. Only a few cases have
been reported throughout the entire 50 years of UFO research,
and so far _none_ have been detailed. In the history of Japan
this is an unparalleled event. The amazing phenomenon that the
aircraft crew saw the object "belch out plumes of smoke" is
extraordinary, and in fact is unique... the first of its kind in
the world. This is one of the very best among the eyewitness
cases of close approaches of aircraft to UFOs.

"Look! it's _not_ a DC-8. It has no wings!" On February 11,
1978, at 1640 hrs. (ten minutes delayed on departure time) the
All-Nippon Airways Flight NH257 (B727-200) had taken off from
the Tokyo Haneda Airport for Fukuoka, and was on the J20L jet
route over Osaka VOR, with heading of 262 degrees and at an
altitude of 31,000 ft. and cruising speed of Mach 0.8. In
command of the plane was Captain Katsuhiko Ishiwatari, and his
Co-pilot was Masanao Itazu and his Flight-Engineer Shigeru

Shortly after they had passed over Osaka VOR, the Captain
spotted what seemed like a long and slender cloud-like object at
the same altitude and at about 10 - 20 nautical miles ahead of
them. Little idea did he have of what this was to be the
prelude! His plane was now over Kojima Peninsula, in Okayama
Prefecture. And it was a fine day, without a speck of cloud, and
the sky still held light.

At about 1803 hrs. the plane began to tremble due to the direct
influence of CAT (clear-air turbulence), so Captain Ishiwatari
contacted Fukuoka Control (ACC) and asked for approval to reduce
altitude - though it was before scheduled time. Fukuoka did not
permit the change in altitude, and the Captain wondered why they
did this.

Peering ahead again, he saw that the long slender cloud-like
object that looked like a 'DC-8' was a little below and in the
10 o'clock direction. Still taking it to be a DC-8 he gave the
call "Traffic In Sight" to Fukuoka ACC ("I visually identify a
DC-8 near-by"), in the expectation that he would not get
clearance for descent. But their reply was "No Traffic" ("there
is no such plane"). This surprised him and he took another look.
And, as he has now told us, "I was astonished. It was not a DC-
8 or indeed any ordinary plane. It had no wings! It was

At first this object, which was situated on his forward port
side, appeared to be stationary and at about 3,000 ft. below.
Then it came nearer to the plane, to a distance of about 500 m.
or so and only about 500 ft. (150 m) below the plane. Straining
his eyes to get a clearer view, the Captain now perceived that
it was a gigantic cigar-shaped thing, somehow foggy in detail
despite its great size, and that is possessed no windows. As for
its colouring it was "an ashy, non-glittering silver, like the
duralumin[um] of the fuselages of our planes", and this colour
underwent no change. The huge cigar-shaped object was travelling
calmly - and apparently soundlessly - and kept pace with the
Captain's plane, at the same speed, for a few minutes, still
just below the plane, so that one felt that, by reaching out
from the Captain's seat through the left-hand cabin window (L-2)
he could have touched it.

The sky was clear, without a speck of cloud or anything else
except this object. It was a rare situation, and the captain
said to his cabin crew: "That's a strange sort of cloud!". As he
explained to me later, he said: "In our job we see clouds all
the time and everywhere, and we seldom mention them". And, as he
assured me, _that_ had been, as he realized later, quite
certainly no cloud!

When I spoke with the Flight Engineer about it, his comment was:
"At first it was just stationary, and looked foggy, like cloud.
Generally speaking, when you see a speck of cloud in a blue sky
it rapidly changes in shape and then vanishes. But that "strange
cloud" did not lose its shape, and steadily got closer to us and
was moving at the same speed as our plane. Had it been an
aircraft, it would have been of the apparent size of a B727 seen
at a distance of ten miles away. When however it had come close
to us, it had the size of a B727 at seven miles. I kept watching
it, wondering what it was...."

"The object belched plumes of a smoke-like substance, like a

The crew were observing this mysterious object through the
cockpit window L-2 (see 1,2,3, and 4 of Fig. 4).

Suddenly they saw it begin to move, belching plumes of a smoke-
like substance from its tail section - like a steam locomotive!
The "smoke" extended for a length of about two or three times
the length of the cigar itself, and was of the same colour as
the cigar - grey.

The three officers viewed the scene with dumb astonishment. What
on earth could this flying object be that belched plumes of
smoke like a steam locomotive? They could not believe their
eyes. It was almost a hallucinatory sight, like in a dream,
though they were aware enough that this could be no scene from
an SF film, or some fantasized Japanese story entitled "Ginga
Tetsudo" ("Railway In The Galaxy"). This was _real_.

The Flight-Engineer unfastened his belt and strained to observe
closely. He says the plumes of the smoke-like substance held
their shape, and trailed closely behind the craft.

One most highly interesting statement came from the Captain. He
said that, when the plumes of smoke were emitted, the object
was propelled forward by them, as if by jet power.

The Co-Pilot said: "I switched on the radar, but there was no
sign of a response on it. I tried hard to search for it by
adjusting the angle, but the radar did not detect it. Anyway I
am sure that was no aircraft."

Maybe the thing was too near for the radar to give a return. As
they continued to watch it, the object moved away in the
direction of 10 o'clock. By the time that it was over Iwakuni
AJ, it now looked like a stratus cloud, and finally it vanished
from their sight in the sky offshore of Nyutabaru in Southern
Kyushu Province.

The Flight-Engineer said that the object had made off at great
speed. Given that its initial speed may have been say, about
Mach 0.8 - the same as the cruising speed of the B727, then one
could estimate that if flew away at a speed of about Mach 1.6.
He said their instruments were working well.

Summarising the incident to me when we discussed it, Captain
Ishiwatari said: "When I first caught sight of it - I was of
course guessing, and given the distance, etc., I was taking it
as possibly being a Japan Air Lines DC-8, but of course its
actual size must have been much greater. I was merely guessing".
What he emphasised most to me, as he recalled it, was his
astonishment at the thing's enormous size.

And, he went on, "I was truly astonished when I saw the object
suddenly belching out plumes of smoke like a steam locomotive. I
had witnessed something truly astonishing, but I could not
disclose the story, because I was a pilot. Today, when I look
back on it, how much I wish I had made an announcement and asked
our passengers to try to get photographs. We could have got
photographs! The sky was still light enough! Unless you see
these sorts of things yourself you cannot believe them, and of
course nobody took MY story seriously. I heard just the same
thing recently from a pilot of the present day Japanese Air
Self-Defence Force who also encountered an astounding UFO. We
can certainly say that it is an agonizing situation for someone
to be in who has encountered an astonishing incident and then
finds that nobody will believe him. I do wish I could have
disclosed it at the time!".

Finally, a word about how we picked up this case. We found it
among more than 100 cases which we covered when we were planning
to commemorate "FIFTY YEARS OF UFOs", and we saw how dramatic it
was! This was the first-ever "cigar smoke-trail" case in Japan.
This particular East-West air route over Okayama across the Seto
Island Sea has been nicknamed by pilots "THE UFO GINZA", [The
"Oxford Street of the UFOs". G.C.] because such notable UFO
activity along that route has been observed by so many military
and civilian pilots. And this astonishing case of the smoke-
belching cigar seems to us to have been the highlight of them
all, and therefore worthy of special note in the Ufological
history of Japan.

INTERVIEW. Captain Ishiwatari was interviewed by myself and by
Setsuko Fujii, of our staff, and the Co-Pilot and Flight-
Engineer were interviewed by Kiyoshi Takahashi, also of our
staff. Overall report compiled by myself, Y.J. MATSUMURA.


Big "cigar-shaped" UFOs "Carriers" or "mother-ships" have of
course been seen all over the world and have been reported
constantly throughout all the issues of FSR. An interesting
point, moreover, is that, in the UFO Wave of 1896-97 [yes, 1896-
97, TWC] over the U.S.A., there apparently never was a single
case in which anyone reported seeing any disc or "saucer"-shaped
craft, but all objects seen were described as huge "airships" or
"dirigibles" - in other words they were probably what we are
today calling "cigars". Nor were there any "Triangles" - these
were to come much later!

As for our colleague Matsumura's suggestion that his 1978 report
of a "cigar" belching out plumes of "smoke-like substance" is
unique in the annals of "our subject", I beg to disagree, and
would like to draw attention to my report AMAZING NEWS FROM
RUSSIA (FSR 8/6, 1962) in which I gave my translation, from
Italian, of an article published in the Italian scientific
issue No. 105, for June 1 - 15, 1962) by the writer Alberto
Fenoglio. (And I must emphasise that Fenoglio was not himself a
"UFO buff", and was not writing in a "UFO journal" but in a
serious publication devoted to missiles and rockets as its title

Fenoglio had it seems just been in Russia and had been
discussing what were unquestionably UFO cases and UFO sightings
with numerous Soviet citizens whom he had met.

Here is his report about a "cigar" that also behaved in a rather
remarkable fashion:

"Last summer, over the city of Voronezh (51 degrees 40N, 38
degrees 05E - G.C.) a giant cigar, at least 800 m. long, came
down to a height of only 2,000 m., in broad daylight, and hung
there immobile. Thousands saw it and there was tremendous panic.
Suddenly the cigar "began to grow transparent". It disappeared
completely. Shortly after this, some fighter aircraft arrived
and flew around, evidently searching for it. Seconds after the
baffled pilots had departed, the monster was back again "in the
same place" above the city. Then a vast jet of flame shot out
from its stern. The cigar began to move, rose steeply into the
sky, and vanished at immense speed".

My suggestion is that in the Japanese case, the cigar was flying
on a regular level course, and its ejection of "smoke" indicates
that it was under some sort of what we call "jet propulsion". In
the Russian case, more violent and immediate propulsion was
required, as the craft was about to go straight upwards, and so
full throttle was given, and a blast of flames was seen.

As for the point that the cigar became "transparent" and then
invisible, I can quote a similar case, from Argentina, which I
reported years ago. (No time to discuss it now, but if possible
we will do so at a later date. Obviously the most likely
explanation is that this is an example of the visitors' ability
to "bend light rays").

However, owing to the general resemblance of these cases, I give
below a reprint of another one, very similar to the Japanese
one, and which we had published in FSR so long ago as 1981! G.C.

-- "Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright
1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA)