The Battle Creek Witness
During the coarse of my investigation, I have often searched the Internet for any new information which I was able to find which relates to the Kinross Incident. A few years ago, I located a web site which reported the account of a witness who stated he was present at an Air Force radar station in Battle Creek, Michigan at the time of the incident.
The witness testimony follows:
"....I'd like to fill in the gaps in the UFO "anomoly" incident over Lake Superior in 1953. I was stationed in Battle Creek Michigan at a radar AC&W (Air Craft Control and Warning) and was on duty when the incident took place. When we were notified of the "bogey" to the north of us, we increased our radar range. We spotted the target, which was stationary, by a bright blip on the screen over the east end of the lake. Two F-89"C" interceptors were heading west from Kinross AFB. One of the F-89's had to abort the flight because of mechanical problems. The pilot, aborting, asked the other pilot if he wanted to return home or wait for another wingman. He (Moncla) said "Negative" to both and continued to intercept. I was watching it unfold and was able to monitor the transmissions from the air craft to his ground controller. The transmission was something like this:
The first report from the pilot "No Joy" (No Contact) On the scope he was closing in on the bogey. As he got closer he announced (slight static) "I have an eyeball on the target, am going in for a closer look" (more static) Each time he transmitted the static became more and more unintelligable, the static louder each time he transmitted. As his air - craft converged with the target, there came steadier and louder static each time he transmitted until they merged. Then all was silent. From my position the now merged blip started northwest for a short time and then disappeared. The strangest thing about the incident was the closer he got to the bogey, the fewer words were heard due to the increase in static. The static was present only when he transmitted. A word here and there was heard - as the targets merged there was a long blast of static. His last transmission ???"
When I read the account, I was quite sceptical as key details did not match the information I had retrieved about the events that happened that night. A key part of the witness testimony is this statement:
"Two F-89"C" interceptors were heading west from Kinross AFB. One of the F-89's had to abort the flight because of mechanical problems. The pilot, aborting, asked the other pilot if he wanted to return home or wait for another wingman."
On the evening of Nov. 23, 1953, there were four F-89s in total that were sitting on standby in four 4 alert hangers. There were also four crews on alert. When the scramble horn was sounded, Lt. Moncla and Lt. Wilson were on five minute alert along with Lt. Mingenbach and his radar observer.
Just arriving from dinner and preparing to take over five minute alert were two crews on fifteen minute alert. One crew included pilot Lt. Nordeck.
During the course of the intercept, there was only one F-89 in the air, the plane which was flown by pilot Lt. Moncla with his radar observer, Lt. Wilson.
The next plane in the air was piloted by Lt. Mingenbach. After Lt. Moncla and Lt. Wilson responded to the scramble, Lt. Mingenbach went to the mess hall for dinner with his radar observer. When he returned from dinner at 19:00 EST, Lt. Mingenbach called Naples GCI and requested a CAP mission. He was airborne in the second F-89 at 19:15 EST, about 20 minutes after Lt. Moncla and Lt. Wilson's F-89 disappeared from radar.
At 19:42 EST, the alert crews received a scramble order and Lt. Nordeck took off with his radar observer in the third F-89. At 21:30 EST, Capt. Bridges took off in the fourth aircraft with the directive to proceed to the point of last radar contact with the missing F-89.
This information is contained in the three witness statements signed by the pilots of the other three aircraft, Lt. Mingenbach, Lt. Nordeck and Capt. Bridges.
Although I initially discounted the witness testinmony, I later determined that perhaps the person had been a witness to the incident and had perhaps mixed up some of the observations made that evening.There were, after all, two F-89s in the air over the eastern side of Lake Superior - these being the aircraft flown by Lt. Mingenbach and Lt. Nordeck. Lt. Mingenbach was first in the air and circled over the area where they had lost contact with the F-89 flown by Lt. Moncla. Lt. Mingenbach's plane was unable to descend to the lower altitudes as he feared that the inlet screens on his F-89 would ice up in the icing conditions which were expected. (Note: The F-89 flown by Lt. Moncla had retractible engine screens, whereas the plane flown by Lt. Mingenbach did not have retractible engine screens)
One of the planes was unable to descend through clouds due to mechanical problems - the screens on the engine intakes were not retractible, plus the pilot was worried that his de-icing equipment might be inoperable. It would certainly have been risky to enter icing conditions with an aircraft equipped with non-retractible screens in icing conditions, as they were certainly liable to ice up and cause an engine failure.
From what I can tell, all three planes were ordered to return to base at about the same time, but the plane flown by Lt. Bridges landed earlier because he was last to get into the air and was closest to base when the search mission was called off.
The witness reports that he was stationed at Battle Creek AC&W and was on duty on the night of the intercept. Would it be possible for the radar station to witness the events over Lake Superior using the radar equipment from that era?
Battle Creek is approximately the same distance from the intercept point over Lake Superior as Selfridge AFB which is where "Horsefly" GCI was based. The accident report indicates that the intercept was ordered by someone at "Horsefly" who must have had a high level of authority in the military control of air space over Lake Superior. This implies that Selfridge must have had some ability to observe the area over Lake Superior, although it wasn't given responsibility to control air missions over the area. While it was possible to increase the range of the radar to a much larger distance for observation of airspace, the accuracy and reliability was reduced below acceptable levels for control of aircraft intercepts. Therefore, the closest radar sites were used to control the intercept.
I think it is quite an important point to note that the decision to request the alert was apparently made by a higher ranking officer in EADF at Selfridge. This might possibly be an indication that the mission was considered to be of high importance from an air space security point of view.
One part of the witness testimony which I find interesting is the comment relating to static on the radio. We know that both ground stations ("Pillow" and "Naples") were having trouble reading the radio transmissions from Avenger Red (Moncla's F-89) in the early part of the mission. Lt. Stuart states that the reception improved about the time that the pilot was asking if he should discontinue the mission due to the radio transmission problems.
Is it possible that the radio transmission problems were caused by the bogey - possibly due to some sort of electromagnetic field? Perhaps this is also the reason that Stuart listening at the radar station near Calumet never heard any pilot transmissions in the last few minutes before the returns merged on radar.
Maybe witnesses at other bases heard the last radio transmissions from the pilot and maybe they were somewhat similar to those recalled by the Battle Creek witness.
Although I have no corroboration so far for the Battle Creek witnesses account, I think it might be important and it is possible that other witnesses who heard the pilot's last radio transmissions may yet come forward.