Cranbrook, BC Airliner Crashes On Landing, Feb 1978


Crankbrook, British Columbia (UPI) -- DAVE WHITE, one of seven survivors of the crash of a Pacific Western Airlines Boeing 737 that killed 41 persons, says he is alive only because "somebody up there must like me."
An airline spokesman said Sunday the twin jet carrying 43 passengers -- one of them an infant -- and five crew members crashed and burned while trying to land in a snowstorm at Cranbrook, 350 miles east of Vancouver.
"The pilot was attempting to abort his landing and crashed to avoid hitting a snowplow on the runway. That was our first report and it was confirmed later by witnesses who saw the crash from the ground," the spokesman said.
"But what we haven't been able to determine yet is what caused the plane to crash. And we won't and can't even speculate on that."
The crash Saturday was Canada's worst air disaster since an Air Canada DC-8 crashed near Toronto in July 1970 killing 109 persons.
WHITE, 20, a physical education student, was one of six passengers and a stewardess who survived the crash. He walked away from the wreckage unhurt except for a pulled abdominal muscle.
"All I can think of now is that I was lucky," said WHITE, who boarded at Calgary and sat in the rear of the plane. "Somebody up there must like me."
WHITE said that as the airliner came in to land at Cranbrook Airport, where his parents were waiting to meet him, he watched the plane explode in front of him.
"I saw a wall of yellow flame, but the heat went away from me," he said. "I didn't even have a singed eyebrow."
"I undid my seat belt and got to the stewardess who was dazed and didn't seem to know where she was."
WHITE said he and 25-year-old stewardess GAIL BUNN got out of the wreckage through an emergency door, but "heard a little girl screaming as they walked away. The stewardess said she had to go back for her."
"I have never met anyone so dedicated. I ran by her and grabbed the girl sitting among the rubble. She was belted in and screaming for her mother, but she (the mother) was dead."
Two survivors emerged from the crash unhurt and three suffered minor inijuries. Two others, who were reported in serious condition with multiple injuries and severe burns, were transfered to hospitals in Vancouver and Calgary.
The airliner, piloted by Capt. CHRIS MILES, 30, and First Officer PETER VAN ORT, 35, was on a flight from Fort McMurray, Alberta, to Castlegar, British Columbia.

Tyrone Daily Herald Pennsylvania 1978-02-13


Not sure Dev, her last name

Not sure Dev, her last name was Watson at the time of her death. Scott was her husband at the time. I think they did live in that area I've been told.

Question for you Carol....

Hi Carol...I think I knew your Mom and little Brother...at least I think they lived up the street from me in Calgary....did they live in Varsity Acres? That was in NW Calgary?


Loss of mother and brother in plans crash

My sincere condolences to you on the tragic loss of your mother and brother

My Mom/brother were on this plane :(

My mom and the infant, was my brother, they were on that plane....I was put up for adoption in 1963 by Arlene (Macfarlane) Watson and she went on to have Marty,who was on this plane. So sad that I looked to late, this had already happened :( My heart is heavy, and love her and him dearly. God must have had a different plan.

I was given up for adoption

I was given up for adoption at birth & later in life went searching for my roots. I found my grandfather and he told me my mom Arlene and baby brother Marty were killed in this plane crash. They were headed to Nelson for my Great Grandmothers birthday. I was in Grade 10 when this happened. I'm sad I will never get the chance to meet her, but thank her for having the courage to give me life. God Bless

Just wanted to let you know

Just wanted to let you know that the first officer Peter was 25 when he died not 35.