100 Mile House, BC Plane Explosion, July 1965

Flight 21 Wreckage Site 1.jpg Canadian Pacific Flight 21 Airliner which crashed.jpg


100 Mile House, B.C. (AP) -- Fifty-two persons, some of them children, died when a four-engined Canadian Pacific Airlines plane apparently exploded in flight and crashed in remote rangeland late Thursday.
None of the 46 passengers and 6 crew members aboard survived.
The DC-6B was Flight 21 out of Vancouver, B.C., at 3:30 p.m. bound for Whitehorse, Y.T., with stops scheduled at Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Watson Lake, B.C. The plane was bought by the airline 12 years ago.
CPA officials said they heard three staccato cries of "May Day" -- the international distress call -- just before the plane vanished from radar screens. The tail stabilizer was found a mile from the main wreckage and officials said they believed an explosion had occurred.
It came down in rolling cattle country near this tiny shipping town 170 miles northeast of Vancouver.
Capt. JOHN ALFRED STEELE, 41, of Vancouver, about 15 minutes before the crash radioed he was changing course slightly to avoid turbulence ahead.
The plane was flying at 15,000 feet.
Then came the "May Day" calls and the plane went silent.
Three forest towers in the area spotted a plume of smoke and ordered a British Columbia Forest Service pilot, Slim Sherk, to fly his light plane over the area.
"I could see black smoke curling up into the sky 30 miles away," he said. "I had no suspicion it was anything but a forest fire."
As he flew closer:
"I could see it was a plane on fire. There was the smoke of magnesium burning. I have seen it burning before in plane crashes."
"The fuselage was smoke and raw flames. The wings were collapsing from the heat but the plane was relatively intact except for the tail section."
"It appeared as though the plane dove straight into the bush. There was no trail of broken trees."
"I counted 20 or 40 bodies until I couldn't find anymore."
Shark radioed the Forest Service and flew over the site until a ground party came in.

Star News Pasadena California 1965-07-09



Vancouver, B.C. (UPI) -- Authorities Friday, seized all flight insurance and other records connected with a Canadian Pacific DC6B airliner that exploded and crashed Thursday with the loss of 52 lives. Sabotage by bomb was among the possible causes being probed by investigators.
A senior officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the investigators were leaning heavily toward "the bomb theory."
Department of Transport (DOT) officials impounded all flight insurance, cargo manifestos, maintenance records and passenger lists.
"We have not yet found anything to definitely suggest sabotage," said Regional DOT Director Dr. Thomas How. "But there are many things to consider and sabotage is one of them."
A witness to the crash said the tail section of the plane, bound for Whitehorse, Yukon via Prince George, Fort St. John and Watson Lake, exploded in air before the craft hurtled to earth in a long spiral and smashed into a heavily wooded area of caribou ranch country near Dog Creek.
The airliner crashed about 7:55 p.m., EDT, 150 miles north of Vancouver. It carried 46 passengers,
four of them children, and a crew of six.
Two Americans were listed among the dead. They were identified as MR. and MRS. MacLENNAN of Los Angeles, Calif.
Many of the bodies were scattered through the underbrush over a half-mile area. Others were still fastened to their seats in the main fuselage, all burned beyond recognition. Some of the victims sitting near the rear who were thrown out were stripped of their clothing.

San Antonio Light Texas 1965-07-10


Vancouver (CP) -- Official passenger list, as issued by Canadian Pacific Airlines, of Flight 21, four-engined DC-6B which crashed Thursday near 100 Mile House, B.C.
There were no survivors among the 52 passengers.
All passengers except two Canadians have been identified.
Captain JOHN ALFRED STEELE, 41, North Vancouver.
First Officer WARNER MURRAY WELLS, 29, North Vancouver.
Second Officer STANLEY E. CLARKE, 26, Richmond, B.C.
Steward ERNEST WENZEL SOURAL, 31, Vancouver, formerly of Montreal.
Stewardess SUE HEINRICH, 22, Vancouver.
Stewardess MARLENE BRAUER, 20, 1250 Burnaby Street, Vancouver.
CPA officials were trying to contact MISS BRAUER'S only known relatives, in Germany.
MR. and MRS. ANGELO PIGATTI and infant daughter, of Casziar, B.C.
CPA officials were trying to contact the PIGATTI'S only known relatives, in Italy.
MR. and MRS. J. EADIE, Vancouver.
MR. ANDISON, Vancouver.
H. A. JANSE, North Vancouver.
MR. TITUS, Chetwynd, B.C.
N. HARRINGTON, Whitehorse, Y.T.
H. REILLY, Whitehorse.
MRS. A. SZONYI and child, Whitehorse.
R. G. WEBER, Prince George, B.C.
K. COONS, Dawson Creek, B.C.
D. HAY, Dawson Creek.
MRS. R. SIMPSON, Watson Lake, Y.T.
C. L. KING, Toronto.
MRS. W. K. QUAYLE, Victoria.
R. LEBLANC, Burns Lake, B.C.
DR. W. EMO, Brownsberg, Que.
MRS. D. A. HARRIS, Halifax.
MR. and MRS. MacLELLAN, Los Angeles.
MR. and MRS. ROGNERUD and two children, Oslo, Norway.
MISS E. CHAPMAN, Vancouver.
G. WHIMP, Watson Lake, Y.T.
C. BERG (hometown unavailable).
MRS. B. SEELIGER (hometown unavailable).
MR. McMURCHY, Prince George, B.C.
K. MOORE, Vancouver.
B. NESSETH, Vancouver.
DAVID CRAIG, Victoria.
G. GAITENS, North Vancouver.
D. EDGAR, North Surrey, B.C.
N. HARVEY, Vancouver.
P. ZUHROVSKY, Sardis, B.C.
S. KOLESZAR, Vancouver.
MR. and MRS. COVELLO, 866 Borebank Street, Winnipeg.

The Brandon Sun Manitoba 1965-07-09

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Another theory was a pilot who was recently fired for being drunk was observed being on this plane before it departed. All these theories, and no answers


How odd that I stumbled upon the story of this tragic flight crash which happened when I was just 4 days old, almost 51 years ago. To my surprise there was even a family of 4 fellow Norwegians who lost their lives in this crash in Canada... I looked it up on a Norwegian site, and there it said that they lost their lives in an accident where the tail of the plane was blown off due to a bomb explosion... Rest in peace, all passengers, including the Rognerud family; Helge and Liv and their children Kirsti (2 yrs 11 months) and Elling (17 months) - they were from Nordre Land in Oppland county, not Oslo as listed here...

Captain JOHN Steele. (cousin)

How Captin Steele is related. Jack was my first cousin. My Dad's sister, was Jack's Mother. I remember Uncle Jack flew me home from private school at the tender age of 15. We tried to see each other more often but in those days we didn't have the advantage to travel so much.


The pilot of this plane was my father's oldest friend. They grew up in Kerrisdale together. Jack, for the first year of my life, was my Godfather.

Jack Steele

Jack was my father's best friend. He lost a few of his buddies in WW2 and then to survive that and die this way was tragic. He was my godfather.

Jack Steele

Jack Steele was my fathers best friend and he was my godfather for my first year of my life. This was a sad day for dad. I came across this as I am researching published sources to quote his name as the pilot in Wikipedia. I have no idea why I feel I need to do this. I just do.

Jack Steel was my uncle.

Jack Steel was my uncle. Aunt Lola was my Mom's sister. I remember heading over to Vancouver from Victoria to be with Aunt Lola and my cousins John, Mike, Joe, and Mark. Mark was only 4 and didn't really understand what was going on. I adored Uncle Jack and loved his artwork.

Wow Leslie, I just came

Wow Leslie, I just came across this story and thought this may have been the crash your dad was in. What an incredible tragedy for you and your family! And not knowing what really happened must be so difficult as well. Thinking of you lots <3

CPA #21

I was scheduled to board this flight, family plans changed, and flight was re-scheduled. I feel that I've been living on borrowed time since July8/65, and have lived my life accordingly. I have several theories.

Name correction - Dennis Nesseth

Dennis Nesseth was my uncle, my Mom's brother. He was 37 years old and on his way to Watson Lake to work. July 8, 1965 brought a deep sorrow and loss to the lives of many people.