(photo @ wikipedia)
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
On the evening of November 23, 1953, United State Air Defense command picked up an unidentified flying object zipping along over Lake Superior at around 500 mph. They decided the best course of action was to scramble a jet from nearby Kinross Airforce Base to check things out and intercept the aircraft.
The Air Force's F-89C Scorpion (which was still considered a pretty advanced plane at the time), would be piloted by First Lieutenant Felix Moncla. His radar operator on board was Second Lieutenant Robert L. Wilson.
Local newspaper photo of the aircraft operators
Radar control operators on the ground watched as Moncla and Wilson sped towards the large, unidentified blip on their radar screens. As the F-89C Scorpion got closer and closer to the air craft, they waited for a radio communication from Moncla that would give them some indication of what had made an unauthorized entry into American air space.
Instead, they got something completely unexpected: The blip representing the F-89C Scorpion merged with the unidentified aircraft, the combined blip of both aircrafts faded a bit, and then they both disappeared entirely.
Yes, I'd like to a report a code "WHERE THE HELL DID OUR PLANE GO?!"
The operators on the ground attempted to hail Moncla and Wilson on the radio, but to no avail. Thinking that this might be a simple yet incredibly tragic case of a midair collision, the Air Force launched an extensive search and rescue mission. According to the Air Force's official accident report, they looked for any sign of wreckage or human remains as well as interviewing any possible witnesses in the area...and found absolutely nothing.
When a solution for what happened to their pilots or the identity of the aircraft swallowing radar blip didn't present itself, the U.S. military did what most of us do when faced with tough questions we can't answer:
They blamed Canada.
We're still waiting on their apology for unleashing this upon our fair land.
The official accident report claimed that Moncla's aircraft had collided with a Royal Canadian Air Force Dakota C-47 Skytrain that was simply flying wildly off course. The Canadian government didn't take too kindly to this explanation (especially since they had assisted the USAF with the search and rescue operation), stating emphatically that none of their aircraft had been involved in the incident.
The USAF was, however, able to find evidence of a RCAF C-47 in the area. So case closed, right? Not exactly.
Upon being questioned, the pilot of the Canadian aircraft not only claimed to have no knowledge of being intercepted, but never saw or heard a radio transmission from Moncla's plane.
That's when the Air Force decided to go with Plan B: Insinuate unfounded claims about the dead because they won't be able to defend themselves.
The USAF tried to say that Moncla may have suffered from vertigo, which is what caused him to somehow crash into an unidentified object without leaving any wreckage or remains. It apparently also wasn't a deterrent from sending him up in the air to intercept an unidentified, high speed aircraft that had illegally entered American airspace.
Even Bono wouldn't buy the 'Vertigo' theory.
So what really happened?
There have been a few leads, but they have all ended up being dead ends or create more questions.
-On October 30, 1968, the Sault Daily Star reported that aircraft wreckage had been found on the eastern shore of Lake Superior (on the Canadian side). Despite a United States military official claiming that the parts were from a military aircraft, the Canadian government claimed to have no records of the find.
-A railway crew in Ontario, Canada reported hearing a crash shortly after the time of the Kinross incident. American and Canadian searches, however, turned up nothing.
-In 2006, some douche bag (or group of douche bags) calling themselves the Great Lakes Dive Company claimed to have found and photographed the underwater wreckage of Moncla's aircraft. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a hoax.
Because making the friends and families of missing people
falsely believe they will finally experience closure is hilarious!
The Kinross Incident has not been as widely publicized as the Mantell Incident. But unlike that case, this one still does not have a rational explanation. As of now, the case remains unsolved and unexplained.
First Lieutenant Felix Moncla and Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson are presumed dead; their cause of death will most likely always remain a mystery.
Felix Moncla Memorial at Sacred Heart Cemetery in his home state of Louisiana