Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Mystery of "The Kinross Incident" Deepens

Kinross F-89 & Diver
Lake mystery still unsolved

The Mining Journal

The truth about a vanished Air Force jet is out there ... somewhere
     KINROSS — Fifty-three years ago this month, a U.S. Air Force F-89 Scorpion jet vanished from radar screens over Lake Superior after being sent to intercept an unknown aircraft.

On the evening of Nov. 23, 1953, Air Force radar tracked the missing jet until it merged with an unidentified object 70 miles off the Keweenaw Peninsula, at an altitude of 7,000 feet.

Newspaper reports said the missing plane, which had left the Kinross Air Force Base at 5:22 p.m. “was last heard from when it radioed the base from somewhere out over the lake.”

Pilot 1st Lt. Felix E. Moncla Jr., 27, of Mercauville, La. and radar operator 2nd Lt. Robert Wilson, 22, of Ponca City, Okla. were presumed dead, likely somewhere under the snow-swept waters of Lake Superior.

The U.S. military said the object the plane chased was a Royal Canadian Air Force Mohawk C-47 transport plane, but that claim was later denied by the Canadian government, saying there were no such aircraft in the area at the time.

Algoma Central Railway workers roughly 100 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie said they heard a crash that occurred shortly contact with the F-89 was lost by the military. But after a search, no sign of the crew or fighter jet was discovered.

In autumn 1968, prospectors in the Cozens Cove area of Ontario found mechanical parts north of Sault Ste. Marie, including a tail stabilizer section, that military officials said were from a high-performance jet aircraft.

A newspaper article from the time said the parts were thought to have perhaps been from the missing Kinross plane, but that idea was later discounted. The article doesn’t say why.

Over the years, a great deal of speculation has surrounded the “Kinross Incident,” with some UFO investigators suggesting the Scorpion may have struck, or even been devoured by, a craft from another planet.

“It is a compelling mystery with an interesting UFO twist,” said Gord Heath, a British Columbia resident interested in the Kinross incident since 2000. “Many people at radar tracking stations observed the F-89’s return merging with the blip from the other craft before it disappeared. The possibility that a UFO ‘swallowed’ the F-89 makes this an interesting puzzle.”

Now, more than five decades after the crew disappeared without sending a distress signal, the mystery of what happened to Moncla, Wilson and the Scorpion jet has been given new life.

Reports from The Great Lake Dive Company — a downstate venture said to be made up of Michigan natives with a common interest in shipwreck hunting and historical preservation — say they used side-scan sonar equipment to discover the missing plane, along with a piece of the object it presumably collided with.

The jet is reportedly located in deep water, lying upright on the lake bottom, mostly intact. The port wing and starboard tail stabilizer are missing. Cockpit structure is said to be in place, suggesting the pilots may still be inside.

Reportedly, the find was said to be made in an area off the Keweenaw Peninsula in summer 2005, with the dive company waiting a year before announcing its discovery.

“Frankly we came away surprised,” said Adam Jimenez, dive company spokesman from Oakland County. “We expected, at best, to locate an engine, wing or other small debris. Finding the plane together was really unexpected.”

The company reportedly made a positive identification of the F-89. The second object reportedly shows an impact trace that shows how it landed and stopped a little more than 215 feet from the plane’s wreckage.

Jimenez reportedly claimed the mystery object was confirmed to be metallic with a mark from being struck that could match a wing from the fighter jet. The missing wing from the plane’s wreckage may be buried in lake sediments underneath the teardrop-shaped object.

In August, Jimenez contacted The Mining Journal with a news release, saying the company was still in the process of documenting “the mystery object,” with “a lot of wreck site forensics to complete.”

Reportedly, there is nothing else located on the bottom of the lake for miles, leading dive company researchers to conclude the plane and second object being found so close together means they must both be related in the crash.

“We feel bittersweet,” Jimenez wrote. “On one hand, we set out to answer this thing and did. But on the other hand, you realize this was a tragedy that claimed the lives of two American pilots.”

Jimenez said a documentary on the history, search and discovery of the F-89 and mystery object was being planned.

But like the F-89 Scorpion jet itself, Jimenez and the dive company unexpectedly dropped off the radar screen.

Now researchers are wondering whether the reported find and purported sonar images circulated were a hoax, or whether Jimenez and his associates have simply sought a lower public profile with their claims remaining valid.

“While it may be too early to reach any definitive conclusions, there certainly seems to be many more questions than answers concerning Great Lakes Dive Company and the alleged F-89 discovery,” said Dirk Vander Ploeg, editor and publisher of and in an on-line commentary. “About the middle of October, the Great Lakes Dive Company Web site suddenly went blank. It was at this time that Adam Jimenez stopped returning phone calls and e-mails.”

Jimenez has not answered Mining Journal requests seeking interviews for this story and Internet searches for the company have failed to produce new contact information.

Heath, who has contacted several principals in the case and maintains an extensive Web site on the Kinross case, said he believes there are several intriguing possibilities concerning the whereabouts of the missing F-89.

“The best possibility towards solving the mystery will be to find the aircraft, with or without the remains of the crew,” Heath said. “I do think it is possible that the F-89 is either on the bottom of Lake Superior or perhaps somewhere else in the region.”

Are the remains of Wilson and Moncla with their plane on the bottom of an inland lake or lost in a dense Canadian forest yet to be discovered by a hunter or trapper? Was the wreckage actually recovered by prospectors along Lake Superior in 1968?

Perhaps the missing Scorpion jet indeed sits upright off the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in more than 250 feet of water in Canadian jurisdiction? Or does the real answer to where the crew went lie somewhere beyond the stars?

As the popular science fiction television program “The X-Files” would say: “The truth is out there.”

More . . .

See Also:Stunning Development



  1. Jimenez,the "Great Lakes Dive Company" and this report have largely been discredited since this 2006 article.

    There has STILL never been any remains of this aircraft found

    1. J. Griffin,

      Thanks for taking time to make comment.

      The Great Lakes Dive Company debacle was a hoax created out of whole cloth.



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