The Kinross Incident

Investigation Report by Gord Heath, UFOBC

Kinross Air Force BaseKinross Air Force Base - 1950s - near Sault Ste. Marie, MI

On November 23, 1953, a US Air Force F-89C jet fighter interceptor was dispatched from Kinross Air Force Base near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to identify an intruder that had appeared on radar. For thirty minutes, the jet raced out over Lake Superior under guidance from radar operators at a remote station on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Suddenly, the return from the jet merged with that of the bogie it was chasing. The IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) signal from the jet was lost. The radar blip from the F-89 never reappeared. An extensive search of the lake and shoreline over the next five days yielded no trace of the F-89 jet or its crew, pilot Lt. Felix Eugene Moncla Jr. and radar operator Lt. Robert L. Wilson.

The incident was documented as a UFO encounter throughout the book "The Flying Saucer Conspiracy" written by Major Donald Keyhoe and published in 1955. The USAF officially stated that the "UFO" was an RCAF Dakota C-47 flying east over Lake Superior. Is this a true account or is this just a cover story for a fatal encounter with a UFO?

Since 2001, I have been investigating this incident and trying to find the truth behind this mystery. This report presents my findings which I hope will shed some light on the still unsolved mystery.

Opening Questions

From my investigation of the F-89 disappearance, there are at least three key questions that form the core of the mystery as it relates to what happened to the F-89 and crew on that snowy night in November, 1953.

What Caused the Alert?

The primary unanswered question that still seems clouded in mystery is what caused the alert at Kinross which resulted in the F-89's mission over Lake Superior?...

What Merged on Radar?

A second unanswered question is what was it that the F-89 merged with on radar before contact was lost with the F-89?...

What Happened to the F-89?

A third unanswered question is what happened to the F-89 after radar contact was lost with it?

Incident Reconstruction

F-89 Intercept MapF-89 Intercept

Based on available information, I have tried to reconstruct a timeline and narrative of the Kinross event as described from available sources. The event reconstructions are an attempt to place all of the events into a logical and consistent framework which best fits the information we have about the incident.

Each of these reconstructions describes what might have happened that night according to what is known and recorded from various sources.

RCAF C-47 Intercept?

Newspaper Articles

The following are articles appearing in newspapers relating to the Kinross Incident, or the F-89 crash which happened the same day in Madison, Wisconsin.

News Story

2 Truax Men Killed in Jet's Crash Here
(Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 23, 1953): F-89 flown by Lt. Moncla's neighbor and friend, Lt. John Schmidt, crashes into marsh on shore of Lake Wingra in Madison, where Lt. Moncla's 433rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron was based.

Second Truax Jet, 2 Fliers Missing
(Capital Times, Nov. 24, 1953): News Article about missing F-89 over Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Hides Jet's Fate
(Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 24, 1953): News Article about missing F-89 over Lake Superior.

Other Accounts Relating to Kinross Incident

The Kinross Incident as told through standard UFO lore is dominated by unanswered questions relating to the merging of the F-89's return with that of the unidentified craft over Lake Superior. While there is certainly much to doubt in the various official explanations for the event, there are also several other mysteries which tie into the F-89's disappearance.

Parts Found

Lt. Mingenbach's Statement and Testimony

Railway Crew Heard Crash

Aircraft Parts Found in 1968

The Crew Chief's Story

The Battle Creek Witness

Destination Tokyo

Other Strange Plane Accidents and Disappearances

Parts Found

1952 Flight to Oblivion

1953 Hunrath and Wilkinson Disappearance

1954 Grouse Mountain F-86 Crash

1955 Lt. Inalakdere F-86 Disappearance

1948 Mount Deception C-47 Crash in Alaska

Other Information

Moncla Wilson

Persons Involved in Kinross Incident

Remaining Questions


Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax

USAF Accident Report Documents

H-19 HelicopterH19 lands in Wawa Schoolyard - Residents of Wawa, Ontario converge on a USAF H19 Helicopter which made an emergency landing in a schoolyard in the fall of 1953. It is believed this helicopter is from Kinross Air Force Base and was engaged in a coastal search of Lake Superior for debris from the missing F-89. Photograph displayed with the permission of its owners, the Township of Michipicoten Heritage Committee and the Wawa Historical Photo Album website.  For more information on the history of the Wawa region, visit