mystery surrounding the 1953 "Kinross Case"
may well be on its way to being solved. The "Kinross
Case", so called for the name of the air force base
(AFB) from which the plane departed, involves the disappearance
of a fighter jet and its crew, pilot Felix Moncla and
radar observer Robert Wilson, sent to investigate an unknown
object that was tracked on radar.
is a photograph of a F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.
Michigan based company, The Great Lakes Dive Company,
announced in 2005 that they had discovered the wreckage
of a F-89 and an unknown object at the bottom of Lake
Superior. The objects were located at a depth of at least
250 feet. Ufologists, who have been investigating this
case, have been waiting for the results of side scan sonar
and remotely operated vehicles (ROV) imaging that was
to commence in 2006.
company is owned by a group of Michigan engineers and
divers who share a common interest in shipwreck hunting
and historical preservation.
history and mythology of the Kinross Case began on November
23, 1953. A US Air Force F-89 jet fighter was scrambled
from the Kinross AFB in Michigan. The plane known as the
Scorpion was sent on an "active air defense mission"
to intercept an "unknown object." Speculation
as to the identity of the object has been the subject
of debate for over 50 years.
officials claim that the object was simply a Canadian
aircraft, while Canadian officials deny the claim, citing
that there were no Canadian aircraft in the vicinity at
the time of the incident.
following is extracted from the official accident report:
took off at 2322 Zebra 23 Nov 53 on an active Air Defense
Mission to intercept an unknown aircraft approximately
160 miles Northwest of Kinross Air Force Base. The aircraft
was under radar control throughout the interception. At
approximately 2352 Zebra the last radio contact was made
by the radar station controlling the interception. At
approximately 2355 Zebra the unknown aircraft and the
F-89 merged together on the radar scope. Shortly thereafter
the IFF signal disappeared from the radar scope. No further
contact was established with the F-89. (The next 16 or
so letters as well as the entire next sentence have been
blacked out by Air Force censors) An extensive aerial
search has revealed no trace of the aircraft. The aircraft
and its crew are still missing.
operators claim that the F-89 and the unknown object seemed
to merge on their radar screens. At about the same time
as the "blips" seemed to collide, both voice
and identification friend or foe (IFF) contact were lost.
According to reports, after the two objects came together,
only one object, the original rogue object remained and
it appeared not be affected as it continued on its original
course and speed.
large scale search was immediately launched. Its important
to note that the aircraft was lost in late November and
although the weather was stable, it was winter, snow covered
the ground and the water of Lake Superior was freezing.
the summer of 2005 The Great Lakes Dive company was testing
some new equipment - wide trajectory side scan sonar and
were so impressed by the initial results that they decided
to search for a pair of French minesweepers, named the
Cerisoles and its sister ship the Inkermann, that were
lost in lake Superior in 1919. Unfortunately, they experienced
glitches with their equipment and by the time the problems
were corrected it was too late in the year for a full
search that could take several months to complete.
image of the missing plane. Used with permission
of The Great Lakes Dive Company.
they put off their search for the minesweepers and decided
to attempt to solve the mystery of the missing plane,
known as the Kinross Case. Radar information
and the original search grid were available as to where
the F-89 was believed to have gone down, so the company
had area to investigate. They had just begun searching
the area, using the new wide trajectory side scan sonar,
and on their first pass located an object on the bottom.
It was a plane and the scans proved it was a F-89. The
port (left) wing was missing, probably sheared off as
well as a piece of the rear tail wing. The starboard (right)
wing was partially buried, due to the crash or the gradual
build up of silt over the years.
evidence was uncovered using Hi Res scans which show that
the canopy and the fuselage of the aircraft were intact.
The groups took a total of 28 passes over the area, but
were unsuccessful in finding the missing wing and tail
section. "We have not been able to confirm that the
bodies of the two pilots are inside the aircraft",
explained Adam Jimenez, spokesman for the company ,"but
with the canopy intact, one would assume that would be
the case. However, the ROV survey would tell the tale."
stated, "We have confirmed the identity of the F-89
using several techniques. First, the general design of
the aircraft is a complete match. Our scan shows an upswept
tail section which is a design characteristic of only
the F-89 (hence the model name "Scorpion").
Second, this aircraft has a wing pod. Also a design match
to the F-89. Also the canopy location is a match. There
are also other exact matches that I can't go into at this
time. There were no other F-89s or similar aircraft lost
over the middle of Lake Superior."
search area surrounded the point where the
radar signature of the F-89c had disappeared.
describes the unknown as, "The object that the F-89
collided with is metallic and plowed into the lake bed
in a similar manner as the F-89 south of the aircraft
wreckage. The object bears a strike mark that matches
a hole where the port side wing of the F-89 used to be
(this supports the collision theory). We are a little
baffled by the actual physics of the crash though...if
you can imagine a plane colliding with another object
and a wing shearing away, it seems as though the plane
would spin out of control and disintegrate on the surface
of the lake. Also, the plane is in deep water, yet appears
to be plowed into the lake bed, how could the plane (or
object for that matter) maintain enough power to accomplish
this. I'm telling you this because we don't have all of
the answers to this mystery yet. Our best guess is that
the collision took place at or near sea level at relatively
low speed. This scenario would preserve most of the aircraft
structure, but still doesn't account for the plowing.
We do have side scans of the object, and are currently
discussing the possibility of releasing them."
has been a lot of discussion within the team about the
mystery object... but without ROV footage, it is very
hard to determine what exactly it is. It is not a part
of the F-89, and does not appear to be a part off of another
aircraft...it is simply a mysterious object.
like all great quests this one has hit a snag!
began as an ambitious project season for us, we were looking
forward to further work at the F-89 site", said Jimenez
. He added, "Then we received some bad news. The
Canadian government refused to allow us to use our ROV
at the wreck site without first providing them the GPS
coordinates of the site and allows either a Coast Guard
escort or government official to accompany the expedition.
We were stuck, we don't want to give up the site (especially
because of the object, and it's potentially huge significance)
but we need stay on the good side of the Canadians due
to our Gunilda project which involves a lot of other contributors."
as it stands now, we have just issued a letter to the
Canadian government essentially abandoning work on the
F-89 site this season", sums up Jimenez.
company plans to produce a feature length documentary
of the search and discovery of the F-89 and its mysterious