November 23, 1953 - Over Lake Superior, Disappearance of Lt. Felix E. Moncla
Below we provide an article by Donna Culotta of the Marksville (Louisiana) Weekly News, which appeared in that newspaper during the summer of 2002. In addition, we provide an excerpt from the book, "The Flying Saucer Conspiracy," by USMC Major (ret.) Donald E. Keyhoe, (published in 1955 by Henry Holt and Company), who investigated the incident shortly after it had occurred.
ARTICLE BY DONNA CULOTTA
Marksville Weekly News
Avoyelles Parish has connections to a UFO mystery that goes back 49 years. Gordon Heath from Surrey, British Columbia was in Marksville recently to investigate the background of Lt. Felix E. Moncla who disappeared along with another crew member, Second Lt. Robert L. Wilson, over Lake Superior on Monday, November 23, 1953.
According to Heath, who is a UFO hobbyist, Moncla was on temporary assignment at Kinross Air Force Base in Wisconsin when he was sent to identify and unidentified craft over the Soo Locks, which is restricted airspace. Moncla, in an F-89C, pursued the craft for about 30 minutes flying at 30,000 feet over the middle of Lake Superior. He was flying about 500 mph when he was instructed by ground radar to descend to 7,000 feet. When the unidentified craft was finally on radar it was noted that the two radar images, the UFO and the Air Force jet, were very close and at some point they intersected but only one remained. Heath says that the unidentified craft flew north and disappeared from radar.
Lt. Moncla's jet mysteriously disappeared without a trace.
Heath, who is a computer systems engineer, has been interested in UFO's for quite awhile and while surfing the Internet found the story about Moncla and the incident that caused the jet to disappear. To add to the mystery, there were no remains of the jet found and no remains of either pilots' bodies. Lt. Moncla graduated from Moreauville High School and received a BS degree from Southwestern Louisiana Institute. He was attending the LSU School of Medicine when he applied for a commission in the Air Force and called to active duty after the outbreak of the Korean war. He was the son of Yvonne and Felix Moncla Sr. and was married with two small children when he was killed in the flying accident.
There is a memorial stone for Lt. Moncla in the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Moreauville. The inscription reads: "Disappeared Nov. 23, 1953 intercepting an UFO over Canadian Border as Pilot of a Northrup F89 Jet Plane." Heath was in town to talk to members of the family and friends of Moncla and asked if any one has any information that he can use to please call the newspaper at 253-5413
EXCERPT FROM "THE FLYING SAUCER CONSPIRACY", by Donald Keyhoe
...Under Section III any pilot who reveals an official UFO report can be imprisoned for one to ten years and fined up to 10,000 dollars. (Title 18, U. S. Code, 793)
Three months later, in December, 1953, I discovered the second order, which carries court-martial penalties. For several days I had been checking on a strange story from Kimross (sic) Air Force Base, near Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. The facts had been hurriedly covered up, after a brief Air Force admission... It was the evening of November 23, and wintry darkness had settled over Michigan. At an isolated radar station Air Defense operators were watching their scope in a routine guard against possible enemy attack.
Suddenly the "blip" of an unknown machine appeared on the glass screen. The Ground Control Intercept officer took a quick look. The "unknown" was flying over the Soo Locks--and no aircraft was scheduled near that important target. Whatever it was, it had to be identified swiftly. In less than two minutes an F-89 from Kimross (sic) Field was streaking toward the locks. At the jet's controls was Lieutenant Felix Moncla, Jr., a veteran at 26. Behind him was Lieutenant R. R. Wilson, 22-year-old Oklahoman, acting as radar observer. Guided by Ground Control, Moncla climbed steeply toward the "unknown."
Back at GCI, the controller watched the jet's blip on his glowing radarscope. As it moved toward the UFO's blip, the strange craft changed course. The controller called Moncla, gave him the new bearing. From the scope he saw that the F-89 was now over Sault Sainte Marie, though to the crew the city's lights would be only a blur, quickly lost behind.
The UFO, flying as fast as a jet airliner, was heading toward lake Superior. At over 500 miles per hour the F-89 raced after it, out across Whitefish Bay. Nine more minutes ticked by in the tense quiet of the GCI radar room. Gradually the F-89 cut down the gap. By now, the controller knew, Wilson should have spotted their quarry on the fighter's short-range radar. Watching the chase, he cut in his microphone and called the flight's code name.
"Target should be visual. Still bearing--"
He broke off, staring at the scope.
The two blips had suddenly merged into one.
Whether the strange machine had abruptly slowed or Moncla unaccountably had put on full power, no one in the room could tell.
But one thing seemed grimly certain: the two machines were locked together, as if in a smashing collision.
For a moment longer the huge, ominous blip remained on the glass. Then it quickly went off the scope.
Marking the position, the controller flashed word to Search and Rescue. Moncla and Wilson might have bailed out in time. Both had life jackets and self-inflating rafts; even in the icy water they might survive for a little while. The mystery craft and the F-89 had come together far off-shore, about 100 miles from Sault Sainte Marie and 70 miles from Keweenaw Point. As quickly as possible, search planes with flares were roaring over Lake Superior. After a fruitless night search, boats joined the hunt as American and Canadian flyers crisscrossed a hundred-mile area.
But no trace was ever found of the missing men, the F-89--or the unknown machine...
Source: "The Flying Saucer Conspiracy," by USMC Maj. (ret.) Donald E. Keyhoe, 1955, Henry Holt & Co., pp. 13-15.
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