Mysterious Disappearances: Felix Moncla


In 1953, a mysterious aviation disappearance took place – with First Lieutenant Felix Moncla vanishing while attempting an interception. Moncla simply appeared to vanish after merging on the radar with the object he had been tracking. There has been no trace of Moncla ever since, with his aircraft’s fate too unknown. Inconsistencies in case reports have given rise to several questions regarding Moncla’s fate. This case is well renowned by Ufologists. In this article, we look at the disappearance, along with theories.


person sitting on chair on seashore
Lake Michigan appears to be a key area in this case. Photo by Oleg Magni on

Moncla was a First Lieutenant in the US Air Force. He had served for the US Army during both World War Two and the Korean War. In the early 1950s, Moncla trained to become a pilot, and excelled in a range of aircraft’s. By 1953, Moncla had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant, and was stationed in Michigan at the time of the disappearance.


On November 23, 1953, radar operators at a Air Defense Command post identified an unusual flying object on their map. To investigate the object, a jet – piloted by Moncla – was scrambled from the nearby Kinross Air Force Base. Others watched on back at the post, with second Lieutenant Robert Wilson also observing.




Wilson struggled to track the object, meaning ground operators were forced to direct Moncla to the target. Moncla was able to close in within 9,000 feet of the object in altitude. Back on the ground, operators witnessed the aircraft and object getting closer and closer, before appearing to merge as one. Operators waited for the aircraft and object to separate – but they didn’t. Eventually they would go out of the proximity of the radar – with no confirmation of what had happened.


Efforts were made to contact Moncla via radio, but there was no sign. A search and rescue by both the US and Canadian Air Forces were hastily launched. Yet neither found any trace of any plane, object or pilot. Poor weather hindered the search, which continued for days. The official American report suggested Moncla had crashed into Lake Michigan while chasing a Canadian Air Force jet. However, the Canadian Air Force adamantly denied they had a jet in the area at the time.


Little is known of what came of Moncla


In 2006, long after the case had been declared cold, there was an unexpected development. A hoax, which was widely reported on, was created which suggested remnants of Moncla’s aircraft had been found. The UFO community and several media outlets reported on the finding. A ‘spokesperson’ for an apparent group of divers that had found the ‘remains’ even appeared on a late-night radio talk show – Coast to Coast. But the story became more and more elaborate as days went by – leading to many questioning the validity of their ‘finding’. In the end, the hoax was uncovered.



  • Vertigo and subsequent Crash: Many suggest the most logical explanation is what was put forward by the US Air Force. Moncla – who had bouts of vertigo in the past – may have become disoriented and confused during the flight, leading to an episode of vertigo. Amidst the confusion, he could have crashed. Lake Michigan is vast, meaning it is realistic that he wouldn’t ever be found. Further to this theory, in 1968, parts of a military jet aircraft were found in the area where a crash would be likely. However, this doesn’t explain what the object Moncla was chasing was.
  • Pilot Error: A relative of Lieutenant Moncla told how the US Air Force had told the family of Moncla that the pilot had been flying too low, and must have crashed into the lake. Something that taints the chances of one of these two theories being true is that no debris was found; it would be unusual for an aircraft to crash into a lake, yet remain fully intact.
  • UFO Abduction: The Kinross Incident has become a legendary case for Ufologists. This case is listed alongside the likes of Roswell and the Cash-Landrum Incident in terms of events that could show interations between the human race and extraterrestrials. Many believe that the object Moncla was chasing was a UFO. Perhaps the object hijacked Moncla’s jet and essentially took it over – which would explain how the object and aircraft merged. No definitive wreckage has ever been found of Moncla’s jet – making this a well-supported theory.
  • Intentional Disappearance: The only other theory that has been put forward is that Moncla may have tried to fake his disappearance. However, Moncla would have needed incredible timing to merge with the object he was chasing. No parachutist was noticed, and Moncla was never spotted again – making this theory unlikely, but not improbable.





The mysterious disappearance of Felix Moncla has led to much confusion. An apparent covering up of any evidence and a limited search for Moncla has hardly helped against conspiracy theories in this case. Different reports don’t align with one another, making this case a complete mystery. For Ufologists, this is a highly-important case. While a crash in Lake Michigan does seem plausible, it doesn’t quite explain what the object was that Moncla was chasing. Questions will continue to be asked.





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The image used in the header comes courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons. By Gordheath at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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