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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My father also died on that

My father also died on that plane. I was only 6 years old. He was on his way to work.
He just received the call to go the day before this horrible disaster in the air.

The SZONYI family of

The SZONYI family of Whitehorse.... My father knew Mr SZONYI, who had escaped from Hungary with his wife and daughter. My father said that speculation about the cause of the explosion centred on a prospector who might have taken his blasting caps into the rear aft bathroom to prepare them and save some time.

canadian pacific airlines crash in 1965

We knew the captain and his family well. The Capt was actually Jack Steel, a good friend of my dads, captain charles wilson, still alive at 85, also of north vancouver. My dad had just broken his achilles tendon and jack, who loved artwork, had just painted a beautiful flowering design on dads cast. We were on a flight returing from sydney australia to vancouver when a stewardess broke the news of the trajedy! I became so afraid of flying, I kissed the ground when We landed in honolulu. Dad helped jacks' son, michael, now 59, become a top notch captain for canadian arlines, now air canada. Jacks other oldest son, john is also a private pilot and is the head of aviation security at a major canadan city! Jacks wife married after the trajedy, but became an alcoholic and died at an early age in the 80's.From what I can recall, Investigators determined A passenger on that flight, who worked with explosive material in the mining industry had committed suicide, placing a bomb in the toilet of the airplane. Many of dads fellow pilots, were killed in aircraft accidents! One plane crash can devastate many lives! dave wilson, contributing writer and pilot, beech18.net discussion forum, and other aviation sites.

cpa crash 1965

I haven't been to this website since last September and I was so pleased to find other comments........I have found over the years that no one is really interested but it did affect our family forever also and we just can't let it go.........in 1995 I wrote a letter to the 5th estate but they were only interested in Air India.................take care all..............

Jack R Woodward

Sadly missed...he was my grandfather and this was quite a sad day for our entire family. The day the crash occurred was the same day that I was rushed to the hospital with third degree burns on my arm. I was just seven months old. Not only was my family dealing with my accident, it was at the hospital that we learned that my grandfather was killed...

My uncle was Slim Sherk, the

My uncle was Slim Sherk, the pilot who first discovered the crash site.
I still have the Province newspaper telling of the disaster.

14 july 1965

My dad was on this flight. The best source I found was by visiting the staff at the Williams Lake Tribune and going through there archived articles on the incident. There are also local people with eye witness accounts and pics. My thoughts are with you. Steve


My Grandfather was Slim Sherk, the pilot who discovered the crash. he talked about it often and it stayed with him his entire life

1965 crash

oh, my God..
My Stepfather was on this flight, kind of by destiny as he was to take another flight and ended up on this one. My mom never got over it and died heartbroken over his death. he was only 33 years old at the time. This is the most detailed info i have found to date. If you have any more, I would appreciate any details..

Kind regards,


George Whimp

My grandfather (mother's father) was a passanger on this flight. The story we were told was that he was having medical tests in Vancouver, the doctor wanted him to stay another day and at the last minute he rushed to catch the flight. I believe he was flying to Watson Lake.
The path taken or not is a life changing decision!