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First Lieutenant Felix Moncla and Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson

The 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.


This is a photograph of a F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.

A 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.

The company is owned by a group of Michigan engineers and divers who share a common interest in shipwreck hunting and historical preservation.

The 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.

American 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.

The following is extracted from the official accident report:

Aircraft 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.

Radar 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.

A 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.

In 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.


Actual image of the missing plane. Used with permission
of The Great Lakes Dive Company.

So 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.

Further 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."

Jimenez 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."


The search area surrounded the point where the
radar signature of the F-89c had disappeared.

Jimenez 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."

There 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.

But like all great quests this one has hit a snag!

"2006 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."

"So 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.

The company plans to produce a feature length documentary of the search and discovery of the F-89 and its mysterious companion.

 

Sources:

http://www.ufodigest.com/news/0806/kinross.html
http://listverse.com/2011/03/14/top-10-people-who-vanished-in-airplanes/
 
No infringement intended. For educational purposes only.