Penticton, BC (near) Airliner Crash Landing, Dec 1950


Penticton, B.C., Dec. 26 (CP) -- The dead -- the pilot and co-pilot -- and the 16 survivors of a mountain plane crash came to Penticton Christmas eve.
CAPT. QUINTON MOORE, of Vancouver, the pilot, died in lading his Canadian Pacific airlines plane last Friday on Mount Okanagan.
The co-pilot, first officer LEO DOUCETTE, of Vancouver, died on his injuries early Sunday, about 33 hours after the DC-3 airliner crash-landed on the 5,500-foot tree-studded, snow covered mountain.
The blanket shrouded bodies of the airmen were carried down the treacherous mountain trail late Sunday.
For the 15 passengers and the stewardess, LANA FRANCO of Sundown, Man., it was a Christmas "miracle."
CAPT. MOORE had performed an almost impossible feat in landing the big plane. LIke a giant pair of shears, the plane hacked through the top of pines before landing in a circle of trees.
It was a gamble -- a gamble that -- brought death to the two gallant officers. It was the only available spot on the mountain. Heavy growth surrounded the dime-sized clearing he found to put the plane down in.
The survivors -- 11 women and five men -- trudged four miles through snow, some places lining the trail to a depth of four feet, to reach a highway. From there, trucks transported them 21 miles south to Penticton.
Some left for their homes by bus or car immediately. Others stayed at the hotel search headquarters until Christmas morning.
Not one of the passengers was injured, but many still showed the effects of shock and the nervous hours spent on the mountain side.
"I didn't know I was in a plane crash until I heard the trees snapping under us," MARGARET WRIGHT, of Vancouver told the Canadian Press.
The nose of the plane was splintered, and part of the wings and tail smashed, but the fuselage was intact.
"This gave us protection from the wind," said MISS WRIGHT, who aided others in gathering fire wood and starting signal fires.
Torches of pine branches spotted the wrecked plane from air searchers early Saturday.
"We looked like a bunch of wild people carrying those burning branches," said MISS WRIGHT.
The rescue party, headed by Maj. Victor Wilson, fought through rain, snow and fog to reach the scene. An R.C.A.F. three-man para-rescue team was already at the spot.
The survivors were sitting around a fire drinking tea and eating food rations dropped to them by parachute.
Guided by the rescue trail breakers, the survivors started down the mountain, and when they were reported safe at Penticton stretcher bearers brought out the bodies.
A rescue team of 20 men struggled over the rocky wind-swept trail.
After covering two miles, an emergency call was put in for more men, called from a base camp by radio.
A message relayed via police radio to Penticton for more volunteers and a radio broadcast appeal for men brought new forces to the scene.
In an hour, 40 men reported and aided the rescue team. Nine men were assigned to each stretcher. Two followed to relieve the others when needed.
MRS. J. BLACKMER of Castlegar, B.C., a nurse, was the last of the 10 women passengers to leave. She stayed with first officer DOUCETTE until he died. She administered blood plasma dropped by an R.C.A.F. plane Saturday.
Low clouds and fog had prevented a para-rescue surgeon from Edmonton landing. Neither could a helicopter be landed at the wreck.
First Officer DOUCETTE, was semi-conscious most of the time. He suffered a broken pelvis, two broken legs, a broken arm and severe internal injuries.
CAPT. MOORE met instant death, crushed at the controls as his cabin splintered amid the pines.
The secret of what forced the mountain-side landing died with the two men. The passengers had no warning of disaster.
"It happened so fast, no one knew what was going on," said FRED SADKINOFF of Nelson, B.C.
The plane left Vancouver Friday afternoon en route to Calgary. Its passengers bound for interior British Columbia homes for the Christmas holidays.
Today an on the spot investigation will be opened, headed by executive members of the C.P.A. and technical advisers.
Two R.C.M.P. officers spent a lonely Christmas around a roaring fire of pine boughs at the wreck scene, maintaining a guard until investigators make an official survey.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1950-12-26