A chartered military plane crashes after take off.
On December 11th 1985, the 101st Airborne unit of the U.S. Army left Cairo, Egypt, on a chartered Arrow Air DC-8. They were going home to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, after a six-month peacekeeping mission in the Sinai. After one stop in Germany, they landed for refueling at the Gander Airport, in Newfoundland, Canada. Just after takeoff, the DC-8 suddenly crashed, killing 248 soldiers. Wreckage was strewn over nearly a quarter mile.
Almost immediately, a terrorist organization, Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility. But U.S. Army officials quickly dismissed the possibility of terrorist involvement. Later, a Canadian Board of Inquiry stated that ice on the plane’s wings had brought it down.
However, four of the board’s nine members publicly disagreed, insisting that ice didn’t cause the crash. Aeronautical Engineer Les Filotas was one of the dissenting board members:
To the four dissenting board members, the crash itself seemed highly irregular. Usually, in a takeoff crash, large sections of the plane remain intact, and many passengers can survive. But at Gander, according to Les, the wreckage was extremely fragmented and no one survived:
The U.S. Government strongly denied that either explosives or ammunition were carried as cargo. However, eyewitness reports from the Cairo airport contradict the government’s claim. They say that several large wooden boxes were loaded onto the airplane. Many believe the boxes contained some type of classified weapons. One of the rescue workers, Harvey Day, said he saw five wooden boxes at the Gander crash site:
Day said he also saw an unusual pile of wreckage burning out of control. Two firefighters were trying to put it out with water:
Within weeks, Harvey and several other rescue workers began to complain of health problems. The symptoms sounded suspiciously like radiation poisoning. Robert Cox is the president of the Union of Canadian Transport Employees:
Harvey Day said he received some disturbing health news:
According to one unnamed source, the U.S. government sealed its records of the crash for seventy years. However, several government agencies, including the Department of Defense and the National Transportation Safety Board, deny that any such records exist.
Zona Phillips stepson died in the crash:
U.S. government investigators did appear to behave strangely. For one thing, the crash site was bulldozed within three months, a highly unusual practice. The U.S. Army says it was done simply to discourage souvenir hunters. As a rule, downed airplanes are reassembled in order to study the crash. But in a highly unusual move, authorities quickly buried wreckage from the Gander site in a dump.
Dr. Douglas Phillips and his wife Zona were troubled by the official reports. Their son died in the crash and they formed an organization called Families for Truth about Gander. They requested several pieces of the wreckage and were surprised when the government actually sent them. An expert hired to analyze the scraps claimed that the edges were bent outwards, showing that a blast had occurred inside the plane. For Doug Phillips, this meant only one thing:
Dr. Phillips turned up one final telling fact. Autopsies revealed that many of the dead soldiers had a significant amount of carbon monoxide in their bodies:
In 1990, Congress convened a hearing on the Gander disaster. The committee faulted the government’s investigation, but didn’t insist on a new one. The families of the soldiers who were killed at Gander have been left to wonder why and how their loved ones really died.