By David Hoes - Most followers of the UFO phenomenon are familiar with the Thomas Mantell case, where an F-51 was lost attempting to intercept a UFO. Also, most have heard of the Kinross incident, where F-89 pilot Lt. Felix Moncla Jr. and his radarman disappeared while attempting to intercept a UFO over the Great Lakes.
However, the Air Force once disclosed that other aircraft have been lost while attempting to intercept UFOs. In this specific incident, an F-94 crashed in Walesville, NY on June 30, 1954, at 12:30 pm. Although the crew bailed-out and survived, four persons on the ground were killed.
Initially, the Air Force described the incident as a routine flight of two F-94 C Starfires out of Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York, that had been diverted to intercept a small aircraft that was flying in prohibited airspace. They allegedly made visual contact with the aircraft, determined that it was no threat, and headed back to base.
After the intercept, the temperature in the cockpit of the F-94 suddenly rose dramatically. A light went on indicating an engine fire. The pilot contacted the radar observer, placed the throttle in the idle position, and both crew members ejected. The Air Force reported that the plane exploded while in flight.
There is, of course, more to this story. We do know that the initial Air Force explanation was not fully accurate. In the Project Blue Book report on the crash, the off-course aircraft was identified as a military C-47 and not a "small" plane. However, following this, the F-94 was apparently then directed to intercept a SECOND unidentified aircraft. This second aircraft was NEVER positively identified. According to the report, the only information we have is that Ground Control Intercept stated that the second aircraft was probably low and was probably letting down for a landing at Griffiss Air Force Base. Strangely, there was no evidence that it actually DID land.
Also not mentioned in the Blue Book report was the fact that later that day, over 1,000 phone calls from the Utica New York area were made to the local newspaper concerning a sivery, balloon like object seen high in the sky. Many more calls were made to law enforcement and to the Air Force. A Mohawk Airlines pilot spotted the object at about 20,000 feet, and said he saw a light shining from the object, which rules out it being a balloon.
In his 1955 book The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, Major Donald Kehoe claimed that the F-94 was in the process of attempting to intercept a silvery disk-shaped object when it was struck by a wave of heat. Kehoe seems to suggest that the unidentified craft had fired a weapon at the F-94 when it got too close. He also claims that the pilot was somehow disoriented by the UFO. Unfortunately. Kehoe did not provide documentation to support these claims.
Nevertheless, the story on the second aircraft interception doesn't make sense. Why would a jet be instructed to intercept an aircraft that appeared to be landing at an Air Force base? Any aircraft preparing to land at a controlled military field would first make contact with the tower. And why did the report about the explosion change? The Air Force later stated that the explosion probably occurred when the aircraft hit the ground.
Why was nothing mentioned in any of the reports about the second F-94? Did it pursue the UFO? Why is there no statement from the pilot or radar officer in Blue Book records? Neither was seriously injured. And most of all, what happened to the object that was being intercepted? Was it ever identified?
Fast forward to 18 January, 1959. In an article in the New Jersey Star Ledger by Staff Writer John Lester, the Air Force Chief of Air Intelligence, Spencer Wheedon stated that the search for flying saucers had cost the Air Force an estimated $200 million. $75 million was spent on investigations, and another $25 to $30 million involves planes lost or destroyed chasing flying saucers.
According to this article, "Officially, only three planes have been acknowledged lost or destroyed in this manner. The three are an F-51...an F-89... and an F-94....from Griffiss Air Force Base." Wait -- now, the F-94 is being classified as having been lost while chasing a UFO? When did the official Air Force story change?
Another obvious question raised by this article is the cost of lost aircraft. The cost of the F-51, F-89 and F-94 total less than $3.5 million dollars. What about the other $21 to $26 million in lost aircraft? These questions prompted calls for a Congressional investigation into UFOs. Unfortunately, no open public hearings were held and no answers were ever provided.
As a footnote, less than two years after the F-94 C crash, Griffiss Air Force Base would be the site of another UFO incident, when they ordered a passenger plane to chase a UFO. The attached article tells of an airliner's encounter with a UFO in the skies over Griffiss.
projectbluebookarchive.org MAXW-PBB20-1268 to 1274
UFOs: A History 1959 January—March By Loren E. Gross Page 23 http://sohp.us/collections/ufos-a-history/doc/1959-Jan-Mar.php
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