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When an Air Force Jet Scrambled to Intercept a UFO and Disappeared

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Article by Darryn King                       January 7, 2020                     (history.com)

• On the night of November 23, 1953, US Air Defense Command noticed a blip on the radar of a UFO in restricted air space over Lake Superior at the U.S.-Canadian border. An F-89C Scorpion jet, from Truax Air Force Base in Madison, Wisconsin was dispatched to intercept. The two crew members in the jet were the experienced pilot, First Lieutenant Felix Moncla, and radar operator Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson.

• In his 1955 book: The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, Donald Keyhoe wrote about the incident calling it “one of the strangest cases on record.” According to Keyhoe, the Air Force jet had trouble following the UFO which kept changing course. Flying at 500 miles per hour and with ground control radar directing them, the Scorpion gradually closed in on the UFO. As the jet dropped from 25,000 feet to 7,000 feet to intercept, radar operators on the ground watch as the pair of radar blips merged about 70 miles off Keweenaw Point in upper Michigan.

• Once the two radar blips merged, the F-89 simply “disappeared from the ground statin’s radar scope, according the official 1953 Air Force Accident Report (see here). Then the radar return for the UFO itself ‘veered off and vanished’. The US Air Force, US Coast Guard and Canadian Air Force all conducted an extensive search-and-rescue effort. No wreckage or sign of the pilots were ever found.

• The Air Force put out an official news release to the Associated Press about how the Scorpion jet simply vanished from radar, and the Chicago Tribune published the story with the headline “Jet, Two Aboard, Vanishes Over Lake Superior”. But the Air Force retracted their original story, and claimed that ground control had ‘misread’ their radar. They insisted that the F-89 Scorpion had successfully intercepted the UFO, which they identified as a Royal Canadian Air Force C-47 Dakota flying some 30 miles off course. Then, according the revised story, the pilot Lieutenant Moncla was ‘probably’ stricken with vertigo and crashed the jet into Lake Superior. The Air Force attributed the ‘abnormal radar behavior’ to unusual “atmospheric conditions”.

• Canadian officials, however, said that no military flights had taken place in the area that night. Then, two separate Air Force representatives provided Lieutenant Moncla’s widow with contradictory explanations. One told her that the pilot had crashed into the lake, while the other told her that the jet exploded at a high altitude. The wreckage could not be found in the deep water of Lake Superior.

• Private civilian UFO investigators later discovered that all mention of the incident had been expunged from official military records. The Air Force’s National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena says, “There is no record in the Air Force files of sighting at Kinross AFB on 23 November 1953… There is no case in the files which even closely parallels these circumstances.”

• Private investigative UFO groups came up with two explanations. One said that the Air Force jet had crashed into the UFO’s protective beam and disintegrated. The other suggested that the jet had been “scooped” out of the air and taken aboard the alien spacecraft.

 

The night an Air Force jet mysteriously disappeared over Lake Superior—November 23, 1953—was a stormy one.

          First Lieutenant Felix Moncla

Near the U.S.-Canadian border, U.S. Air Defense Command noticed a blip on the radar where it shouldn’t have been: an unidentified object in restricted air space over Lake Superior, not far from Soo Locks, the Great Lakes’ most vital commercial gateway. An F-89C Scorpion jet, from Truax Air Force Base in Madison, Wisconsin, took off from nearby Kinross AFB to investigate, with two crew members on board. First Lieutenant Felix Moncla—who had clocked 811 flying hours, including 121 in a similar aircraft—took the pilot’s seat, while Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson was observing radar.

The men would not return from their intercept mission.

What followed, according to Donald Keyhoe, the former Marine Corps naval aviator and UFO researcher who wrote about the incident in his 1955 book The Flying Saucer Conspiracy—was “one of the strangest cases on record.”

                 F-89C Scorpion jet

Once airborne, Lieutenant Wilson had difficulty tracking the unknown object, which kept changing course. So with ground control directing the aviators over the radio, the Scorpion gave chase. The jet, traveling at 500 miles per hour, pursued the object for 30 minutes, gradually closing in.

On the ground, the radar operator guided the jet down from 25,000 to 7,000 feet, watching one blip chase the other across the radar screen. Gradually, the jet caught up to the unknown object about 70 miles off Keweenaw Point in upper Michigan, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, approximately 160 miles northwest of Soo Locks.

At that point, the two radar blips converged into one—“locked together,” as Keyhoe would put it later. And then, according to an official accident report, the radar return from the F-89 simply “disappeared from the GCI [ground-controlled interception] station’s radar scope.”

                        Donald Keyhoe

And then the first radar return, indicating the unidentified object, veered off and vanished too.

The United States Air Force, United States Coast Guard and Canadian Air Force conducted an extensive search-and-rescue effort. No wreckage, or sign of the pilots, was ever found.

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The Reality Behind ‘Earth vs. The Flying Saucers’

by Robbie Graham              March 16, 2018                   (mysteriousuniverse.org)

• One of the most significant UFO movies of the 1950s is Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956). The film is loosely based on Donald Keyhoe’s 1953 non-fiction documentary book, Flying Saucers From Outer Space, which drew extensively from the U.S. Air Force’s own investigations. When the movie was released, however, Keyhoe was dismayed to find that that they had made it into a ‘schlock sci-fi B-movie’.

• Nevertheless, the film retains a considerable amount of UFO detail from Keyhoe’s source material. Special effects supervisor Ray Harryhausen received acclaim for his ‘realistic’ design of the alien saucer, with a stationary central dome, a rotating outer-rim, slotted vanes and a high-pitch whirring sound. These were based upon real-life descriptions by Keyhoe and George Adamski. (Watch 3:38 video clip of contemporary film director Joe Dante interviewing Ray Harryhausen with regard to Earth vs. the Flying Saucers below.)

• Another example of similarities to real life were the glowing balls of light that hovered over a house in the film and are casually explained as ‘foo lights’. This is a reference to the anomalous flying fireballs often reported by military personnel known as ‘foo fighters’. The Air Force conducted a two-year program at Holloman AFB known as Project Twinkle to study these types of anomalies.

• In the movie, a dying alien species arrives on Earth seeking a new home. Naturally, the Earthlings take this as an existential threat and use sonar pulses to disable and bring down the alien saucers. The movie’s sonar device closely resembles an invention by Wilhelm Reich that ostensibly would draw orgone energy from the atmosphere through 15-foot long aluminum pipes connected to a body of water by cables which he called the “cloudbuster”. Reich claimed to have used his cloudbuster device to successfully attack and ‘suck the energy’ from ‘hostile’ alien UFOs over Tucson AZ in 1955.

• Finally, when the protagonists remove the space-suit from one of the dead aliens, the being bears an uncanny likeness to the alleged Roswell beings as described by witnesses in 1947, although these testimonies would not come to light until more than twenty years after the release of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.

 

One of the most significant UFO movies of the 1950s was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), which was very loosely based on Donald Keyhoe’s 1953 non-fiction book, Flying Saucers from Outer Space. In the movie, the last of a dying species of aliens arrive on Earth seeking a new home. The aliens request a meeting with world leaders to discuss their plans for occupation, but the US military, assisted by one America’s top scientists (played by Hugh Marlowe), formulates a plan of attack involving the use of sonar canons mounted on trucks to be fired at the alien saucers—the sonar supposedly interfering with their propulsion and navigation systems, and disabling their force fields.

Conspiracy writer Kenn Thomas has noted that the fictional battle strategy in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers seems to have been directly inspired by real-life UFOlogical events which occurred just one year prior to the release of the movie when legendary scientist Wilhelm Reich claimed to have used his “cloudbuster” invention to attack UFOs (which he believed were hostile) by sucking the energy out of them. Reich’s cloudbuster was an atmospheric device constructed from two rows of 15-foot aluminium pipes mounted on trucks and connected to cables that were inserted into water. Its appearance and functionality were strikingly similar to that of the sonar cannons in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Reich believed that his cloudbusters served to unblock cosmic ‘orgone’ energy in the atmosphere, which he said would be beneficial to human health. Apparently, Reich also found them handy for shooting down alien spacecraft in what he described as a “full-scale interplanetary battle” in Tucson Arizona in 1955.

The production history of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is intriguing. In 1955, Donald Keyhoe, then a jagged thorn in the side of the US government’s UFO secret-keepers, was approached by a group of Hollywood producers seeking to buy the rights to his aforementioned non-fiction book. The producers told Keyhoe their film was to be a serious documentary about UFOs. Although initially suspicious, Keyhoe eventually went along with the deal. Big mistake. Upon its completion in 1956, the “documentary” turned out to be the schlock sci-fi B-movie of our discussion. Keyhoe was outraged and demanded that his name be removed from the film’s credits, to no avail. Someone, it seemed, had it in for this outspoken advocate for government transparency on UFOs (perhaps the same “someone” who, two years later, censored Keyhoe’s statement on live TV that flying saucers were “real machines under intelligent control”).

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