Boxtop Flight 22 Fatal Crash 1991
Just as I was flying the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-130J-30 the other day, I remebered one of the most tragic accidents in the history of the RCAF, Boxtop 22. I thought about how I had gone to the ceremony at the Canadian Forces Base near me not that long ago commemorating the crash where I was able to meet most of the survivors.
Above is an image of some of the crash survivors from the ceremony I had attended that I had the pleasure to meet and thank.
On October 30th, 1991, at 4:40pm, flight 22 (130322) of Operation Boxtop (the name of the operation) was on its final approach to the station from Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. As the CC-130 Hercules from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, loaded with 3,400 litres of diesel fuel, began its descent, the pilot flying lost sight of the runway in a heavy snow storm with little visibility.
Moments later, radar contact and communication was lost as the aircraft crashed around 16 kilometres south of the station. The crew of another CC-130, also inbound for Alert, saw the fire from the crash and identified the location of Boxtop 22 for the rescue team to be sent out.
The flight had crashed and had left the surviving passengers stranded before any sort of rescue could show up. With a snowstorm and extremely cold weather, the survivors had all huddled up in the only remaining part of the airplane, the tail of the fuselage, where they would be for the next 47 hours.
On board the flight there were a total of 18 people and unfortunately, 3,400 litres of highly flammable diesel fuel. When the flight had suddenly crashed out of nowhere, the two pilots were killed immediately on impact with 3 other passengers in the main fuselage dying from both the impact and from attempted survival in the cold and burning fuselage.
Top: Image of an RCAF CC-130 of the same type before any accidents. Bottom: The upsetting image of the crash site of the CC-130 from 1991 with the paint being we’ll preserved by the cold temperature.
As a family member of a fellow officer in the RCAF who flies C-130s, my heart must go out to the men and women who have lost their lives, lost family members and friends or had to have had remembered that moment of their life that they had thankfully survived unlike the 5 others. I can’t even come close to being able to imagine what it would have been like if I got the message my father had died in a CC-130 crash.
The names listed below are the names of the Canadian Forces members who had passed away and the survivors;
Captain John Couch, pilot, 435 Transport Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta
Captain Judy Trépanier, logistics officer, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario
Master Warrant Officer Tom Jardine, regional services manager CANEX, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario
Warrant Officer Robert Grimsley, supply technician, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters, Ottawa
Master Corporal Roland Pitre, traffic technician, 435 Squadron
Robert Thomson, civilian, Canadian Forces Base Trenton
Susan Hillier, civilian, Canadian Forces Base Trenton
Captain Richard Dumoulin, logistics officer, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters
Captain Wilma DeGroot, doctor, Canadian Forces Base Trenton
Lieutenant Joe Bales, pilot, 435 Squadron
Lieutenant Mike Moore, navigator, 435 Squadron
Master Warrant Officer Marc Tremblay, supply technician, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters
Sergeant Paul West, flight engineer, 435 Squadron
Master Corporal Tony Cobden, communications researcher, 770 Communication Research Squadron, Gander, Newfoundland
Master Corporal David Meace, radio technician, 1 Canadian Division Headquarters and Signal Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario
Master Corporal Mario Ellefsen, communications researcher, Canadian Forces Station Leitrim, Ottawa
Master Seaman “Monty” Montgomery, communications researcher, Canadian Forces Station Leitrim
Private Bill Vance, communications researcher, Canadian Forces Station Leitrim
Thank you for your service and rest in peace.