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Mount Slesse, BC Plane Crashes Into Mountains, Dec 1956

News Clipping of the Site of Crash Mt. Slesse Memorial Site.jpg Mt. Slesse Memorial.jpg Mt. Slesse Crash Site.jpg Mt. Slesse Crash Debris Field.jpg University of Iowa Football Player Cal Jones who died in the crash




Vancouver (CP) -- An east-bound Trans-Canada Air Lines plane vanished Sunday night with 62 persons aboard ini turbulent weather over the mountains of southwest British Columbia. No trace of the plane has yet been found, and the search is being hampered by rough flying conditions.
It was last reported near Hope, 100 miles east of Vancouver, at 7:09 p.m. PST.
"There's more to this than meets the eye," Sqdn. Ldr. G. L. SHEAHAN, RCAF searchmaster, said today in briefing the 97 airmen taking part in the search.
"We feel the aircraft is likely down in an area southeast of Hope," he said.
Two RCAF Cansos taking part in the search returned to the Sea Island base here two hours after the 7:30 a.m. PST takeoff due to turbulent weather.
"The extreme turbulence over the mountains is buffeting even the biggest planes," said RCAF Sqdn. Ldr. SHEAHAN. "But we'll stick with it as long as possible."
Nothing was heard from the plane after 7:09 p.m. when the pilot turned around to come back to Vancouver. He said a motor had failed.
"He could have lost his radio control, he could have blown up," said Sqdn. Ldr. SHEAHAN.
"You'll be looking for wreckage and the signs of an explosion and in that case you'll probably see bits and pieces of a tail assembly."
"You'll be looking for signs of life, of course. White this is purely conjecture, that is all we have to go on."
Footballers Aboard.
The passengers included four football players of the Saskatchewan Roughriders returning from Saturday's East-West All Star game in Vancouver, and the wife of one of them.
The football players were MEL BECKET and GORDON STURTRIDGE, who played in the game, MARIO DeMARCO and RAY SYRNYK, who were spectators. STURTRIDGE was accompanied by his wife, the former MILDRED ALFORD of Winnipeg.
Also reported to be aboard was CAL JONES, All-Star guard of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who had played a prominent part in the Shrine game.
If all those aboard the aircraft were killed, it would be the worst aviation disaster in Canadian history.
The North Star was a tourist flight which left here at 6 p.m. PST with 59 passengers and a crew of three. It was flight 810 and was due in Calgary at 9:15 p.m. From there it was scheduled to fly on to Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
Skipper of the missing plane is Captain ALLAN CLARKE, 35, of Montreal. His first officer was JOHN BOON, 26, of North Vancouver and the stewardess was DOROTHY BJORNSSON, 24, of Swan River, Man.
At first light, 18 planes -- the 12 RCAF aircraft and six others -- took off from airfields here and on Vancouver Island to search an 100 square mile area extending from the B.C. coast east to Hope and as far south as 10,000 foot Mount Baker in Washington state.
30-Mile Focal Point.
The search will be concentrated in an area within 30 miles of Hope.
Three paratroopers were standing by at Vancouver prepared to board an aircraft and jump when the wreckage is sighted.
Also standing by at Vancouver were an air force medical team of two doctors and two nurses. A land search team was being formed at Vancouver to go to any area to which evidence points as the place where the airliner came down.
Sqdn. Ldr. SHEAHAN said two radar stations obtained fixes on an aircraft at 7:10 p.m., a minute after Capt. ALLAN CLARKE, 35, of Montreal radioed that he had passed Hope and was turning back to Vancouver. His No. 2 motor -- the inner one on the port side had stopped. The plane's altitude was 10,000 feet.
The searchmaster believes the pilots's report was incorrect. The radar fixes showed the plane could be up to 30 miles from Hope.
A. RANKIN, superintendent of flight operations for TCA here, said: "The plane carried no flares or emergency radio -- only extra blankets."
Weather conditions were expected to be "fairly good" this morning.
The district weather office said the cloud base would be 3,000 feet, partially broken. However, overcast conditions were likely to prevail by midday and by evening the weather will be "generally unstable."
The weather in the Hope district at the time the airliner disappeared was extremely bad. Reports from that community of 1,200 Sunday night said that the wind was blowing in gusts up to 50 miles an hour and the sky was overcast.
The area where the plane is believed down is mountainous and rugged, pocked with lakes, carved by canyons and gorges. Hope itself is at the western end of the Fraser Canyon.
A report that a bright light seen for a few minutes atop a 4,000 foot mountain in the Okanagan valley at 11 p.m. PST Sunday might be the lost plane was considered "highly improbable" by the searchmaster.
Peachland, where the light was seen, is about 100 miles east of the search area.
A radar station that plotted the lost plane reported it just east of Hope at 7:09 p.m. The station is at Birch Bay, Wash., close to the Canadian boundary.
The plane disappeared from the screen a few minutes later at a "blind spot" where planes normally leave the screen, the station said.
An RCMP officer at Hope said he heard a big plane pass over the district between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Other people there also heard it, said the officer.
"It sounded all right," he added. "No reports of a crash were received here."
Icing Conditions.
At the time, icing conditions prevailed from 4,500 feet upward.
Crews of planes that took part in the early hunt Sunday night said winds in the area reached 90 miles an hour. More moderate weather prevailed later, with temperatures in the high 40s. The forecast for today was 50 above zero in the Hope area.
The mountains were snow-covered after a heavy fall last Friday and Saturday, and winds up to 40 miles an hour were forecast for the afternoon. Icing conditions might be experienced late in the day.
"This is going to be tough searching weather," the searchmaster told his crews. "Try the peaks first and get down within 100 to 200 feet of the ground you are searching."
"But for God's sake be careful."
PAUL BRINDAMOUR, official at the Hope airport said: "My wife heard the plane when it was out here, but we weren't in radio contact with it."
"Weather conditions were pretty bad about 7:30. The wind was up to gale force and very gusty."
"We didn't see it -- we just heard the engines."
Radar Track.
RCMP at Hope said they had no definite information about any crash. An officer said a numbre of people had reported hearing planes at various times.
An aviation expert said there is only one airport between Vancouver and Hope large enough to handle North Stars -- at Abbotsford between Chilliwack and here.
As far as could be determined, the North Star did not make contact with Abbotsford airport.
Thre is an airfield at Chilliwack but it is small.
Three senior TCA officials -- HERB SEAGREIM, vice president of operations; L. ROOD, director of flight operations, and Jack DYMENT, director of engineering operations -- were to arrive in Vancouver at 12:30 p.m. today from Montreal.

Continued, Official Passenger List on Page 2


TCA Mount Slesse crash, Dec. 1956

Hello Mr. Beitler,

I appreciated finding this article as my mom and I were booked on that fateful flight. Her name was Mrs. Joan Wright and I was her 2 year old daughter, Laurel Wright. We were bound for Calgary as my mom's father had just passed away suddenly in Calgary (Dr. Lyle Davis). My mom was not feeling well when we arrived in Vancouver that day from Nanaimo as she was threatening to miscarry. My dad and her decided that she would be much more comfortable on the train. Our names were apparently still on the mainfest when the plane was reported missing. My uncle, Gordon Davis, was waiting at the airport in Calgary and thought that we were gone. (My mom miscarried on that train trip, yet we believe that the baby saved our lives.)

If you have any info on the original guest manifest, I'd appreciate it. My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones on that flight.

Laurel (Wright) Russell

TCA Mout Sleese Crash

Hi Laurel
Thank you so much for sharing your story of your experiences involving the TCA crash. Sometimes there are not any straightforward answers for why, when and how things happen. Some things have meanings that brings sorrow and thankfulness very close together.
I'll look into your question for you, but I may not have the success I'd like. If I find any additional information I will add it to the site of the British Columbia crash.
Again . thank you so much for writing . I always like to know my work is appreciated.

North Star crash 1956

I was just 9 years old and living in penticton,BC when the crash was anounced on the radio. My dad worked at a hardware store and his boss had left the day before to go to Vancouver and then to Calgary,,,,he didn't make it ! At first they thought it had crashed around Princeton but later it was near the mountains around Chiliwack,BC.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Man what a memory,,,,,so far !

hi there im CONSTABLE

hi there im CONSTABLE WILFRED EMDE, RCMP, great neice :) im so sorry about all your loses

The Eight Americans Aboard....

Eight Americans, Including three professional football starts, were among the 59 passengers and crew of three aboard the 4-engine North Star airliner, a plane similar to the American DC-4.

Anthony Folger, Dallas, Texas, geologist was one of the Americans aboard. M. L. Bright of Fort Worth was another passenger.

Mrs. A. A. Kafouri of Portland, Ore., and Mrs. L. C. Burt of San Francisco were among the other Americans....

One of the players was 1955 all-American guard Calvin Jones, Steubenville, Ohio, who played for the University of Iowa. He helped Western Canada team defeat the Easterners 35-0, in the Shriners' all-star game here last Saturday.

Among the Americans aboard the plane was Russell S. Stratton, 52, Los Angeles, director of trade relations of the Merganthaler Linotype Company and a veteran of 25 years with the St. Petersburg, Fla., Times.

The other American football stars aboard were Mario de Marco, a native of Boonton, N. J., who played guard for the University of Miami (Fla.) and starred in the team's 13-6 victory over Holy Cross in the Orange Bowl in 1946, and Mel Beckett, 26, a center who played end at the University of Indiana and played this year with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 11 Dec 1956

Cal Jones

[Cal] Jones was to fly home to Winnipeg, gather a few possessions, and then fly to Pasadena to watch Gilliam in the Rose Bowl after the CFL All-Star game.

On December 9, 1956, Jones overslept his scheduled morning flight from Vancouver, so he scheduled an afternoon flight to stop at Calgary then travel to Winnipeg. Cal Jones' flight on Trans-Canada Airlines #810, from Vancouver to Calgary crashed at Slesse Mountain, killing all 62 people aboard, including one CFL official and four players from the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Coincidentally, that matched his jersey number at Iowa - #62.

Gilliam and the rest of the Iowa Hawkeye team heard of Jones' death as they prepared for the 1957 Rose Bowl against Oregon State. The team dedicated Iowa's first Rose Bowl appearance to Cal's memory and won the game, 35-19. The team sent the game ball to Tabitha Jones, Cal's mother in Steubenville.

Calvin Jones, a University of Iowa football star, was on the cover of the [Sports Illustrated] seventh issue. He died in an accident two years later.

The Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, Chillicothe, MO 24 Jul 1979

Calvin Jones' Sports Illustrated Cover

air crash


I was a 13 year old boy, the son of the Mt. Baker National Forest, Glacier District Forest Ranger, the night of this crash. We were alerted as to its disappearance and by radio we heard that the highway department superintentent, located about 10 miles up the highway, say he thought he heard a distant explosion on the night wind. We anxiously waited as the search continued, fearing the worst.

I stumbled onto this site. I will report this to my 91 year old father. He is very alert and will remember it all clearly. I remember all the details as I read the report. It is like yesterday.

I remember the mountineers who found the plane. We were at Glacier for 8 years and this was the saddest event. All these years later, I mourn for the lost folks.

mount Slesse plane crash

I was very happy to find this excellent article about the crash.
Yesterday, sept. 24, 09 , my partner and I climbed the mountain to the
commerative plaque, which took us 4 hours. It is a very special place and you can feel
the solemnness in the whole area. It took our goverment a long time to delare this area
as a dedicated commerative area and I am glad it now has been done.
There is a cairn at about the 5000 foot level but I was not able to hike up to that area.

TCA Mout Sleese Crash

Dear Sir,

in 1959 I visited my two brothers in Vancouver. Earning some money there I hitch-hiked
then down to Mexico in 1960 and then toward NY for taking a plane back home.

In Vancouver I met a German at my age who worked with the Mercedes garage in Vancouver as a mechanic. He was from Bavaria/Germany and he was a very good
alpinist. In autumn of 1959 he invited me to one of his trips reaching the next peak
- this time the Mt. Slesse. I guess he was collecting peaks. It took us a two days trip to reach the peak of Mt. Slesse. Without carrying along a tent we stayed over night at a open fire at the timberline. Next day we climbed very steep. It started to snow and the face became more icy. Just underneath of the peak at a face-jut we did meet the place
where the plane crash happened. We walked over cloth and some other material - a huge propeller was seen at the face like it was pressed into the face. There was no other way then walking over the cloth a.s.o. as the face jut was only 15 ft wide. So most of the plane
must have fallen down some hundred feet. The face jut is just about 50 ft. below the peak
of Mt. Slesse. Comming from the East the plane would have almost made it as the Mt. Slesse is the last high mountain before reaching Vancouver airport. Later on we heard
that Vancouver tower told the pilot to circle as a holding position. This would explain the plane hit the peak comming from the West. But which tower would send a plane into a holding position when one engine is out of order? I am pretty sure the place shows to the west. As I am a pilot too I guess the plane was on a much too early steep decent getting down to Vancouver airport. I did film the whole trip with my Super-8 camera - also the place the plane hit the face. Propeller can be seen - instruments, cloth, fuselage windows . . . . .

We took down a bale of airmail-letter - but when we heard at our return in Vancouver - the place was declared as a memorial or grave yard - we left the bale in front of a post office entrance in the evening. Coming back by telling the police something new we felt so embarrassed that we never spoke about it anymore. The film I never showed to anyone.

Best Regards

TCA Mout Sleese Crash

>>>>>> The Vancouver Province said a little girl's dress, a half-buried high-heeled shoe, a dozen paper cups, some coins and bits of newspaper are among the few traces of the 62 persons who died.
Province reported PADDY SHERMAN, Alpine Club member who led a party to the wreck Tuesday, says in a copyright story that most of the wreckage was an unrecognizable mass.
A pair of earrings found were still attached to their show card.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1957-05-16 <<<<<<<<<<

This is just not the whole truth !
We found a huge layer of cloth - on top a coat as it would have been taken just out of the closet - not damaged at all - as my film shows.

We have seen a person - a women with very long red hair, her face was turned upside down - with an open back. Everything looked very fresh - guess up there are always freezing temperatures - as my film shows. When we were back I was wondering about why noone was interested in searching for more persons up there and taking them down. Any helicopter could have done this job during summer time.

So the a. m. comment must have been made during winter time when the area up there
is covered with snow and ice. If so they are right - then you cant see much. We have seen
it at autumn - the place was free of snow and ice. All we picked up was this bale of airmail letters.

As a pilot I guess the pilot did not set his altimeter to the right surrounding atmospheric pressure when turning back to Vancouver as just a little deviation does cause a blemish -
here beeing 100 ft to low when crossing peak slesse. As especially at the costline you find
an often change of the QFE - Atmosperic pressure at aerodrome elevation during the day.
It is a must that every approaching plane must ask the tower for the new QFE. Means with the new given QFE the pilot is able by checking his chart if he is still far above the highest peak. So something went wrong in this direction - which is almost normal when you loose an engine. You get nervous - and you get really nervous when you have a burning engine at the wing.

The one lost engine was not the problem for sure. Such an airliner can hold it`s altitude
easy with the remaining three engines. Even with the three remaining engines he was able to climb.

So all looks like a pilot`s mistake.


article | by Dr. Radut