Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kinross Incident: The UFO Intercept and Disappearance of USAF Lts Felix Moncla and Robert Wilson



On November 23, 1953, an unknown object was sightied on radar, in a "no flight zone" area of the Great Lakes.  A United States Air Force allweather F-89 "Scorpion" was sent to intercept the unknown target.  Both the unknown and the jet were seen on radar, both targets merged and only the large unknown was left, which soon disappeared off radar.  The jet was never found, not until 2006.  Or was it?  

Why am I bringing up this case now?  Well, I feel it is important to find out what really happened to the two U.S. airmen, 1st Lt Felix Moncla, pilot and his radarman, 2nd Lt Robert Wilson.

Equally important, is the fact that our skies are not as safe as they should be and who knows how many accidents, or near accidents have occurred since, due to UFO interactions.

The facts of the case are presented here.  Let us seek the truth. -SW


The Kinross Incident

Felix Moncla and Robert Wilson



First Lieutenant Felix Moncla, pilot, and Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson, radar operator, disappeared when their United States Air Force F-89 Scorpion was scrambled from Kinross Air Force Base, and subsequently went missing over Lake Superior while intercepting an unknown aircraft in Canadian airspace, close to the Canada – United States border. The USAF identified the second aircraft as Royal Canadian Air Force C-47 Dakota VC-912, crossing Northern Lake Superior from west to east at 7,000 feet, en route from Winnipeg to Sudbury, Canada. Some ufologists have associated the disappearance with alleged “flying saucer” activity and refer to it as the “Kinross Incident”

On the evening of November 23, 1953, Air Defense Command Ground Intercept radar operators at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, identified an unusual target near the Soo Locks. An F-89C Scorpion jet from Kinross Air Force Base was scrambled to investigate the radar return; the Scorpion was piloted by First Lieutenant Moncla, with Second Lieutenant Robert L. Wilson acting as the Scorpion’s radar operator. Wilson had problems tracking the object on the Scorpion’s radar, so ground radar operators gave Moncla directions towards the object as he flew. Flying at some 500 miles per hour, Moncla eventually closed in on the object at about 8000 feet in altitude.

Ground Control tracked the Scorpion and the unidentified object as two “blips” on the radar screen. The two blips on the radar screen grew closer and closer, until they seemed to merge as one (return). The single blip disappeared from the radar screen, then there was no return at all. Attempts were made to contact Moncla via radio, but this was unsuccessful. A search and rescue operation was quickly mounted, but found not a trace of the plane or the pilots.

The official USAF Accident Investigation Report states the F-89 was sent to investigate an RCAF C-47 Skytrain which was traveling off course. No explanation for the planes disappearance was offered, but the Air Force investigators speculated that Moncla may have experienced vertigo and crashed into the lake. Others believe the plane made contact and perhaps even collided with a UFO.




Kinross AFB / F-89 Disappearance

On the night of November 23, 1953, an Air Defense Command radar detected an unidentified "target" over Lake Superior.   Kinross Air Force Base, closest to the scene, alerted the 433rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin, and an F-89C all-weather interceptor was scrambled.  Radar operators watched the "blips" of the UFO and the F-89 merge on their scopes, in an apparent collision, and disappear.  No trace of the plane was ever found.

U S Air Force accident-report records indicate that the F-89 was vectored west northwest, then west, climbing to 30,000 feet.  At the controls were First Lieutenant Felix E. Moncla, Jr.; his radar observer was Second Lieutenant Robert L. Wilson.  While on a westerly course, they were cleared to descend to 7,000 feet, turning east-northeast and coming steeply down on the known target from above.  The last radar contact placed the interceptor at 8,000 feet, 70 miles off Keeweenaw Point, and about 150 miles northwest of Kinross AFB (now Kincheloe AFB).

The incident is not even labeled as a "UFO" case in Air Force records; instead, it was investigated by air-safety experts.  There were several layers of scattered clouds (one with bottoms at 5,000 to 8,000 feet) and some snow flurries in the general area.  Official records state, however, that the air was stable and there was little or no turbulence.

The Air Force later stated that the "UFO" turned out to be a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) C-47 "On a night flight from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Sudbury, Ontario Canada."  The F-89 apparently had crashed for unknown reasons after breaking off the intercept.  In answer to queries from the NATIONAL INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE ON AERIAL PHENOMENA (NICAP) in 1961 and again in 1963, RCAF spokesmen denied that one of their planes was involved.  Squadron Leader W. B. Totman, noting that the C-47 was said to be on a flight plan over Canadian territory, said "... this alone would seem to make such an intercept unlikely."

The Air Force suggested that "... the pilot probably suffered from vertigo and crashed into the take."  Harvard University astronomer and UFO debunker Dr. Donald H. MENZEL accepted this explanation, adding that the radar operators probably saw a "phantom echo" of the F-89, produced by atmospheric conditions, that merged with the radar return from the jet and vanished with it when the plane struck the water.

Exactly what happened that night remains unclear, as the Air Force acknowledges, and serious unanswered questions remain.  How likely is it that a pilot could suffer from vertigo when flying on instruments, as official records indicate was the case?  If the F-89 did intercept an RCAF C-47, why did the "blip" of the C47 also disappear off the radar scope?  Or, if Menzel's explanation is accepted and there was no actual intercept, why did the Air Force invoke a Canadian C-47, which RCAF spokesmen later stated was not there?  No intelligence document has yet surfaced that reports the radio communications between the pilot and radar controllers, and what each was seeing. Without this information, it is impossible to evaluate the "true UFO" versus the false radar returns and accidental crash explanations.

Richard Hall


More links:


Canadian authorities denied that a C-47 Skytrain, or any other Canadian aircraft were flying in that vicinity, on the night of November 23, 1953.  So what was it that showed up as an unknown on radar? Though there were a few snow flurries and clouds, the air was reported stable, with no turbulence.

There was something out there with the F-89...

The mystery deepens.

Approximately 40 minutes after the F-89 disappeared from radar, another pilot, a Lt. Mingenbach believed he had picked up a radio transmission from Lt. Moncla, the pilot of the missing plane. It is doubtful that Lt. Moncla transmitted a final message from the bottom of the lake, 40 minutes after his plane collided with an unknown object, so who or what was it that Mingenbach heard?

Does tragedy end in a hoax, or more mysteries?

In 2006, radar detected a lone aircraft on the bottom of Lake Superior.  Sonar images revealed what appears to be an F-89 "Scorpion", with one wing sheared off. Along with that jet, was an unknown object.  The unknown object bears a strike mark, that matches a collision with the F-89.  It is speculated that the jet, piloted by Moncla, was struck by the "unknown" and both plummeted into the depths of Lake Superior.

Please read: New Evidence: the Kinross UFO Incident

Since the radar discovery of the down aircraft and it's mysterious partner, there seems to be no further word on the case.  Why am I not surprised...

-Sunny Williams



  1. Heya, I know this article is pretty old but I wanted to add to this. The Plane and the Other Craft found ended up being a hoax.

  2. Thanks. However, let's clarify that the original (incident) story is true but as you said, the plane and "other craft" were apparently hoaxed.
    We may never know what happened to 1st Lieutenant Moncla and 2nd Lieutenant Wilson.

  3. One thing to keep in mind: when the USAF accident report was released under a FOIA request, the GCI controller's statement was redacted, nor was any transcript of the conversations between the GCI controller and the aircrew. It would be very helpful if the GCI controller's statement and the transcript had been released; though the AF still considers those "withheld for air safety reasons."

    If the AF did find out that the aircraft had been abducted, then a reason for UFO secrecy is very clear....Even if they're not hostile, they may be dangerous.


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