A chartered military plane crashes after take off.

Firefighters in forest at night trying to control a fire

The flames were impossible to extinguish

Guns and ammo boxes laying next to eachother

A witness saw weapons and ammo boxes


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.

Harvey Day a rescue worker in suit and tie

Harvey Day, rescue worker

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:

“There was certainly some kind of an explosion. A small explosion that disabled the control system. But what caused that explosion, whether it was sabotage or whether it was the accidental detonation of some kind of military equipment that was carried against regulations, we really don’t have a better idea than we had in 1988.”

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:

“A normal kind of take-off accident can be quite serious and can involve a fire, but basically, the aircraft isn’t completely destroyed.”

Wreckage showing broken metal fanning out

Wreckage suggests explosion inside plane

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:

“I decided to walk down to see what was in this area. And I saw five large wooden boxes. They were black, a bit burnt from the fire, and I saw things like missiles, and little metal boxes, they looked like ammunition boxes. And it was all piled up very neatly into this cordoned off area.”

Day said he also saw an unusual pile of wreckage burning out of control. Two firefighters were trying to put it out with water:

“And the minute he took the water away, it just flared back up again. And he said, ‘We have to do this until it burns out or it cools down to the point where we can remove what’s there.”

Robert Cox in suit and tie

Robert Cox, “ … it got to be rather scary.”

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:

“I think we had over thirty members who described some type of malady or sickness as a result of the crash. They range from liver problems to what people thought were heart attacks, and just general illnesses. And this is what was checked out and it got to be rather scary.”

Harvey Day said he received some disturbing health news:

“When the medical reports came in, the receptionist called me. And I went to him, and I’ll never forget this, he said, ‘Harvey, how much do you drink?’ I said, ‘Pardon me?’ He said, ‘How much do you drink?’ I said, ‘I don’t drink. Why?’ He said, ‘You’ve got a liver that is equivalent to somebody who’s been drinking excessively for 20 years or more.’ I couldn’t believe what he said.”

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.
Doug Phillips is the father of one of the crash victims:

“The files on the Gander incident would not be sealed for seventy years if it was simply ice. We know that there had to be something politically embarrassing that could have been very harmful to the Reagan administration that had to be covered up.”

Zona Phillips stepson died in the crash:

“As one family member put it, she wants to know if her family member died protecting this country or if he died because our government was protecting itself.”

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:

“The airplane exploded in mid-air and then went down and hit the ground with a gigantic fireball when the fuel ignited. But there’s no doubt in my mind that there was a fire or explosion, while the plane was still in flight.”

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:

“The toxicology report showed that the victims had indeed breathed in carbon monoxide prior to the plane hitting the ground and exploding. This had to be from a detonation, a fire or explosion on board the craft.”

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.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. Patrick

    My comments are about the production team and the high quality of the opening sequence. The numerous photographs of the victims of this crash at the start of this segment were very impressive and moving.


  2. Jeannie

    I miss my brother John everyday for 35 years I have missed him, and that feeling of him to come to the door has never left, I wish that they could bring this episode back to life again maybe it would shed some light or something.


    • Joel

      I will always remember this crash as it was almost a year to the day I was a service man returning from overseas on the same route through Gander. I have always heard that some of the records of the investigation we sealed. I hope you have found some peace over the years. It is not forgotten.

      Sincerely Joel


    • Gilbert Thetgyi

      John hated you


  3. Donald Norup

    Jay look me up at roasted 437@gmail.com
    I was in c 3/502. CURRAHEE MY BROTHER


  4. Donald Norup

    My heart is in such pain I lost my brother’s in arms,I will never forget I was a part of that peace mission, c 3rd 502 inf. I MISS THEM DEARLY .CURRAHEE WE STAND ALONE TOGETHER.


  5. Robert

    I also read while researching this incident years ago that we (US Government) sent a team up there to clean up the crash site. It was cleaned up the way a contaminated site would be cleaned up, not just cleaning up debris. Like after there was radioactivity….as someone stated earlier, you do not seal the records of a crash due to icing. Many witnesses saw the explosion yet the officials stick to the airhead icing story like we’re stupid or something. It exploded and likely had a dirty bomb on board. Reasons…unknown.


    • Sam

      It’s fairly common today to do something like this. My thinking is that they had their weapons and arms with them, rather than leaving them behind. An AD could have caused problems and caused the crash, which is common. Then, the heat could have set off the ammo or weapons. WP, thermite, and others burn hot and contaminate. I see nothing suspicious about this crash other than a lone terrorist threat. Possibly a prank or possibly accurate, but no cover up.


    • Anon Amos

      If you still don’t understand that a VERY SMALL AMOUNT of ice can bring down a plane, perhaps it is you who is the airhead.


  6. chris

    I had always heard the rumor that the plane was blown up because there were CIA operatives on board. I never put much stock in this. Then I was stationed with the MFO in 1992-93 with 2/502d Infantry. While I was there I saw some historical documents about the MFO. The civilian contractor prior to the Gander crash was a company called E-Systems and they were replaced by another company a few months after the crash. I made no correlation to this until about a year after I returned from the Sinai and saw a 60 Minutes piece on E-Systems discussing that it was a CIA front company (the 60 Minutes piece did not discuss E-Systems MFO contract or the Gander crash). I thought that was quite a coincidence.


    • Sam

      CIA and others are known to break rules. No smoking, no weapons, and more could have contributed to a fire or the crash. However, I have not heard that there were officers on the flight. I suspect a weapons issue if there was anything amiss on the flight. Ice sounds valid and then the crash lead to an explosion.


  7. Brad

    I fly on an Arrow Airline DC-8 in 1985. It was the worst flight I have ever had. It was a “contract flight” from Toledo
    to Germany. We had stops, I believe in Ganders and Shannon. The planes engine had a problem, so we didn’t take off initially, so it was worked on the ramp. We bordered again. Made the trip over and back.
    A short time after, the December crash, the local paper said it was the very same craft. I wish I kept my pictures of it when it was on the ramp.


  8. Anna S.

    Some very odd people on this site making comments…very odd, indeed. People claiming to have relatives on the plane or to have supposedly supposed to have bon it themselves. Wow. People will do almost anything for a little attention.


  9. Anonymous

    It was a cover up, due to nature of the classified info.


    • robert hedrick

      i wasa military police officer at that time and did the trip that year i came home two weeks early on a civilian plane ticket paid for by the red cross after receiving a red cross message my father was dieing. i should have been on that aircraft and now the army wont verify my my dd form 214 they say i was never there . hedrick robert g. 522 29 3857 101 mp co 101abn div. 1983- 1986 ad ra


    • stephen hale

      don’t forget that smokers can have as much as a 15% CO level at anytime while living.


      • Sam

        Good point. I forgot we smoked a lot then, since I don’t smoke. On a confined craft, all could show a high content. Plus, a fire could add to this, such as one started by a lost smoke or match.


    • M palmisano

      I do believe that it was a cover-up and that there was an explosion, I have a little piece of a letter that my mother-in-law had in her Bible that states that the president and a colonel at that time had lied to Congress. And what saddens me because at that time it wasOur president Ronald Reagan.


  10. r stack

    I visited the Gander NF Airport in 2010 and met two people still working there who had been working at the time of the takeoff and crash of the Air Arrow. They both witnessed an explosion in the air. They also said that no one from the US ever came and asked anyone at the airport any questions.


    • Sam

      Sadly, typical. Some know everything. Some make up a reason and set to it, regardless of facts. Many people are in prison for this.


    • Marianna Palmisano

      Well, I’m here to say sorry for your loss, my mother-in-law had a son that was on that airplane which she never really talked much about because I understand it was very devastating. She has passed a year and a half ago and then one for Bibles. There was a partial letter which I think the rest of it was tore up, but! The only thing that I saw written on that piece of paper is that President Reagan, and one of The lieutenant colonels lied to Congress. That’s all that’s on the piece of paper. I wish I had the rest of it to read, but she did say she got a letter from her son, which is very scary after she read it. She told me she destroyed it so I have no idea what was in it, it’s a very sad situation and God bless. Everyone of those brave soldiers are in heaven now.


  11. DigifanUM

    was an accident or sinister motives a cover up by the US and Canadian Governments?

    I remember watching this on Local NBC Station WAVE-TV 3 in Louisville This very frighting thought that the government would want those kind of weapons perhaps to fight Hussein? Cuba?

    but we’ll probably never knows


  12. Blue bird

    Was it Suicide? Could It Be Possible That he Or She Had Carried Explosions Aboard And Had Intended To Kill Everybody But Again I Suspect It was a conspiracy But The Question Is This What Was Really Going On? Good Luck Unsolved mysteries! And I Love Each And Every one Of U!


  13. Sam Christopher

    The families all received payment from the airline. No one wins here just release the correct information so everyone can move on. I lost my brother on this flight. My father who was military also had been on that same plane a few months before and he most definitely held the airline responsible.


  14. K. Anderson

    When isn’t there something strange where our government and especially the military are concerned. I don’t think the US government has a truthful bone in any of its bodies.


  15. B. Clemmer

    I flew to Egypt on that plane. I was in 3/60 Infantry from Fort Lewis WA. That aircraft barely got off the ground when we departed Mc Cord AFB. The investigators of this accident should be ashamed of themselves.


  16. Mike

    It’s very strange that controversy even exists. Takeoff weight was underestimated and the presence of ice and the extended length of runway required to leave the ground demonstrate ice contamination on the wings. Entering these conditions into a flight simulator reproduced the disaster. There was no explosive residue, and the aircraft left no parts behind before striking trees, the bomb theory is definitively disproven. Simply impossible.

    The objection about loss of air speed is frankly stupid, when the plane stalled it’s nose up attitude deprived the engines of air flow causing loss of thrust, and caused visible flames trailing the engines from unburnt fuel. The way the wreckage was shredded is also a ridiculous argument, when an aircraft crashes into a dense forest st 165 knots, there is nothing about the direction of shredded metal that means anything whatever.

    As a result of the incomprehensible, stupid controversy, the danger of icing was not recognized until after two more crashes and loss of scores more lives.

    The dissenters themselves are contributing factors of two subsequent disasters.


    • B.Glenn

      So you believe the NTSB, FAA, & airlines relied up skeptics of the Arrow Air crash for setting de-icing policy ? I promise you that’s not how it’s done. And this was prior to social media being a part of public forum. Lab analysis and commercial costs are the drivers of de-icing policy.

      But you cherry pick your arguments concerning the crash. No one has yet fully addressed the list of questions & contradictions. And the fact that so many lies were exposed concerning Iran-Contra it is highly probable the Govt is still keeping some things secret.


    • Tom

      That’s really interesting. Thank you for the information.


  17. john smith

    American government had nuke weapons on a passenger plane. not smart. it blows up, kills everyone, American government lies and covers it up. typical. can NEVER trust the government.


  18. Anonymous



  19. Deepak Sarkar

    The Big Picture is Obvious: President Kennedy Rejected Military Operations Northwoods against Cuba – Gets Assassinated -> Files locked for 40 Years

    Israel Destroys USS Liberty Killing 34 US Marines Injuring 177. President Johnson Covered it Up, US Military Failed to Help

    5- EYE Covert Intelligence Alliance Formed (UK-SIS, CIA, Canada-CSIS, Australia-ASIS and New Zealand-NZSIS ) to Re-Annex USA for the United European Monarchy!

    Loyal US Military Deliberately Sent US Marines VIA Canada, Once Enemy Territory, where 248 US Marines (Would be Higher Ups as Peace Keepers) would be perished clearing the Path for Loyal Re-Annexation. President Reagan and George Bush Covered Up The Accident, sealing documents for 70 years, and were Knighted by Queen of England.

    That led to 9/11/2001 Military Attack Against USA by US Air Force and NORAD hijacking Passenger Jets Remotely and destroying Sovereign Economic Structure WTC and Military Structure Pentagon. George Bush sealed 9/11 documents for 50 years.

    9/11 Was A Military Coup For Re-Annexation of USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI2_VChpo-c




  20. Dottie Ziegler

    I truly believe the United States Government knows the truth about why the Arrow Air plane crashed in Gander, Canada Dec. 12, 1985. The Families of the loved ones lost deserve to know that truth.Z


  21. GC (Ford) Mercer

    A terrible horror- as one of the hundred Canadian BDF Base Defense Force Members; the 12 Dec never leaves our memories. We the chosen res-ponders will forever see The gallery carpet ,Gift wrap, coke cans, sandwiches strew-en about the crash site around the never forgotten souls whom we carefully and genteelly repatriated home from the horror of this air crash. To the loved ones we send our heartfelt wishes and sympathy’s from afar. Every year forever amen.


  22. jdt40u@yahoo.com

    Arrow Air’s N950JW

    In December, 1985, a horrific crash occurred at Gander, Newfoundland. It involved an Arrow Air DC-8-63, N950JW out of Miami, Florida. According to factual events and eye witnesses’ statements, the following will attempt to give explanation to the survivors of the victims of this event/
    I was an operations manager for AMR Services at Kent County International Airport at the time. Today it is known as the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, or KGRR, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. AMR Services is a subsidiary of AMR Corporation along with American Airlines. AMR Services was contracted to American Airlines to service and maintain passenger aircraft at KGRR. We also contracted servicing to charter operators such as Arrow Air. It should be noted that I do not work for, or am I retired from AMR Services, at this time. Also, I do not speak on their behalf.

    About November 15, 1985 , Arrow Air’s DC-8, N950JW arrived at KGRR at 2000 EST. The empty aircraft was ferried non-stop from Frankfort Germany. It was there to make a troop move to pick up 100 U.S Marines. When the aircraft landed, it was parked on the southeast corner of the main terminal tarmac. On the following evening it was scheduled to depart KGRR at 2300 EST. An air stair was put up to the forward cabin door, and as it opened, I was greeted by an agent of Arrow Air. It was his responsibility to act as a liaison in regard to ground servicing needs prior to the next day’s flight. Immediately upon boarding the aircraft, I noticed a smell similar to marijuana smoke. Also, there was a small open cooler with beer and ice located just outside the cockpit door. I asked the flight engineer how much fuel he would need. His reply was, “I don’t know. I have three fuel tank quantity indicators that are inoperative, and the fuel totalizer doesn’t work either. I guess I’ll take my chances until we get to New York.” I suggested the need for maintenance, but he declined. Additionally, there is a procedure to visually check the fuel quantity, which he failed to do.
    After the flight crew left for their hotel, I spent time with Arrow’s agent going over the needs for the next night’s flight. He told me that the cockpit crew did not have an approach plate, used to identify terrain and landmarks on approach to the destination airport, for the Toledo airport. I didn’t have one available, and he said they would go without it. When I asked him about potable water for the aircraft, he told me, “We’ll have to guess at it. The water quantity indicators don’t work” The water system was also leaking, which can create a large ball of ice on the aircraft while flying at high altitude. A large ball of ice on the outside of the airplane can disrupt the airflow and hinder the aerodynamics of flight. Also, as the plane approaches its destination airport, it descends into warmer air and the ice ball falls off, potentially causing damage where it finally lands. He also told me that the emergency flashlights in the cabin did not work. I checked them and he was right. He requested regular batteries to replace them. I advised him that regular flashlight batteries in a rechargeable system would get hot and create a possible fire hazard. The next evening he replaced them with regular batteries anyway. After he left, I did my usual walk-around inspection of the aircraft. I found that the right, aft tire on the left main landing gear truck was smaller than the other three and wasn’t even touching the ground. Three main landing gear tires were worn beyond limits. The fellow that worked for me as a night shift supervisor was with me when I said to him, “This airplane is doomed to crash”. He replied, “I know.”

    N950JW was scheduled to depart KGRR at 2300 EST the next evening. It was a clear night, and the winds were calm. The flight crew was scheduled to arrive at 2000 EST. The Marine unit that was to board that evening arrived as scheduled. The flight crew was an hour late. The military gear was to be loaded in the aft cargo bay. This is correct for the aircraft type. The Marines insisted on loading their own gear onto the aircraft. I do not believe this is a good practice. Line service personnel are trained not only to load cargo properly, they are also trained to inspect the inside of the cargo bay. After all was loaded, it was discovered that two of the cargo doors would not indicate “closed and locked.” The flight crew elected to fly as is.

    While the cargo was being loaded, the flight attendants made the decision to seat all of the passengers as far aft in the cabin as possible. The thinking was that it would be faster to board the rest of the passengers in Toledo. Now the plane was tail-heavy, and the fuel load unknown. Overall, there was a noted lack of professionalism and training in regard to the cabin crew.

    After the crew and passengers had boarded, including Arrow’s agent, I was on a headset in front of the aircraft and in communication with the captain. I started to run the engine start checklist: brakes set, etc. The pilot told me, “I don’t have time for a checklist. I just want to get the hell out of here. Clear to start #3?” “Clear to start,” I replied. #3 engine rotated but failed to start. The pilot then informed me he was going to let it spool down and try again. He tried #3 again with the same result. I could hear the igniters firing in #3 as he tried to start it. The engine igniters make a crackling noise, sort of a static sound in the ear. If the engine is rotating at about 18% of RPM and there is fuel going to the engine, the igniters will create spark and the engine will start. One possible reason for this engine not starting could be a bad fuel control valve. I asked him if he wanted maintenance, and he declined, saying the #3 engine had been past its time before overhaul (TBOH) for a long time, and he didn’t want it in the logbook. He said he was going to start engines #1, #2 and #4. He would then come back to #3. The other three engines started without incident, and then #3 engine finally started. I signed off with the flight crew, wished them “Safe skies,” and watched as they taxied toward the runway for an eastbound departure. I then went to the operations office to wait for the crew to call me with their times off the gate and in the air. When I had his numbers, I would then call Arrow Air.

    GRR is a small airport and very quiet late at night, it wasn’t hard to hear a DC-8 on a take-off roll. I didn’t hear N950JW depart after waiting a reasonable amount of time. I called the control tower and asked them if Arrow Air had departed. They told me that the aircraft lost the#3 engine on take off rotation and the tail had hit the runway. Subsequently, the airplane slammed down on the main landing gear and then the nose gear. Normally, this would require an inspection of the underside of the tail and all landing gear. This did not happened. The control tower said that the airplane was stopped on the parallel taxiway. I then called the captain on the radio. He told me that the #3 engine had failed on takeoff and he had to abort. He said was trying to get it started while the flight attendants moved some of the passengers forward for better weight distribution. He said he thought that the aircraft was tail heavy. I again asked him if he wanted maintenance. He declined. The #3 engine eventually started, and the aircraft took off without further incident.

    Arrow Air’s Flight 1285

    I was in my office at KGRR on the morning of December 12,1985. It was no surprised to me when I was told that Arrow Air’s N950JW had crashed at Gander. I was angry and upset, but not surprised. Almost a month prior to the crash, while handling this airplane, years of experience had told me that this was going to happen. It was only a matter of a few minutes. and the phone started ringing. The media was relentless in their efforts to find out any possible detail they could. Nothing had been mentioned in the Grand Rapids Press after the incident that had happened in November. However, on December 12, and December 13, 1985, the incident in November dominated the front page. It was stated in the press that some of the troops wanted to get off of the airplane when the first takeoff attempt failed the previous month in Grand Rapids. Their commanding officer refused. He had no idea of the condition of the aircraft. He trusted the cockpit crew and Arrow Air.

    My first responsibility that morning was to call my director in Arlington, Texas. When his secretary answered the phone, she told me to call American Airlines public relations office. I knew this girl from seeing her during many visits to AA’s headquarters in Arlington. I talked to her almost daily. I called again, and she acted as if she didn’t even know me. It was then that I remembered signing a document when I came on board with AMR. That document was a disclaimer, saying that AMR would not support me in any way in the event of an accident. That was it. AMR had “hung me out to dry.” It was shortly after the crash I quietly left AMR Services. I “resigned.”

    On the afternoon of the day of the crash, an agent from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) came to my office. He told me that he wanted to talk to the person that acted as Arrow Air’s agent, saying that he worked for me. I explained to him that this person did not work for me; he worked for Arrow Air. I had somewhat assumed that he went down with the airplane. He had told me that he was always with the same airplane. As it turned out, Arrow Air’s dispatcher had told the FAA that he worked for me. I could not convince the agent that didn’t work for me. He then told me that I was going to be charged in a conspiracy with Arrow Air. How could this be? This agent was the first person to get off of that airplane and the last to get on the next day, back in November. The agent said the control tower had told him that a pick-up truck had gone out to the aircraft as it stopped on the parallel taxiway while the pilot was trying to restart the #3 engine. I knew nothing about this pick-up truck. I didn’t even have one in my equipment inventory. He insisted that I did.

    The next day I had to fly down to Arlington, Texas. My director wanted any and all paperwork regarding N950JW. On the way back, I stopped in Chicago at KORD. I had a friend there who was the chief of maintenance for American Airlines. He and I talked about the crash, and I told him about my situation with the authorities and Arrow’s mysterious agent. He was very surprised. He asked me to walk with him to the other side of the hangar. As he opened the exit door, there sat one of Arrow Air’s DC-8’s. He told me it had flown in the night before. The same agent had come with it and was in Chicago. I flew back to KGRR and went home. The next day I went to the FAA office at the airport. I told them that Arrow’s agent was in Chicago with one of Arrow Air’s airplanes. It was like nobody cared. They just said “Okay.” There was no other comment or discussion. They didn’t even ask how I knew or where, at the airport, he was.

    On the morning of Dec. 12, 1985, Arrow Air’s DC-8, N950JW was loaded and ready to depart the Gander airport. Based on my experience with Arrow’s operations, the fuel load was unknown and the weight of the cargo was unknown or inaccurate. The weather was light drizzle and overcast but acceptable. It is safe to say that instrument flight rules prevailed. Previous arrivals and departures on that morning did not indicate visibility or runway problems. Some surface icing was reported. N950JW was cleared for takeoff and turned onto the active runway. Very shortly after rotation, the #3 engine suffered catastrophic rotor disintegration. This would explain the fire that witnesses reported on the right side of the fuselage. I have witnessed more than one four engine aircraft lose an engine on departure climb out without further incident. The DC-8-63 is designed to continue flight under these circumstances. However, there had also been an ongoing problem with the #4 engine. Months prior to Gander, a mechanic at another airport reported that #4 had serious fuel control valve problem and refused to sign off on the engine. He informed the crew and tried to ground the aircraft. Arrow flew anyway, just as my experience with the aircraft at KGRR. It is very likely that debris from the #3 engine could have been ingested into the #4 engine, or the #4 engine also failed on its own. The cockpit crew had their hands full. With two engines out on the right side, the aircraft was rolling to the right and the nose wanting to pitch up. The pilot had his foot deep into the left rudder, with full power to the left engines. He was hard left with the yolk. He had little power and very little time to do, in this case, the impossible. I don’t believe he had any control over where the plane would impact the ground.

    When an airplane crashes, almost anywhere in the world, a cry for help goes out, and the investigation begins. The NTSB, the FAA, the aircraft’s manufacturer, the engine manufacturer, and many others head to the crash site with great dispatch. They look at every piece of the aircraft and chart all of it, including the location of the victims’ remains. They search relentlessly. They look at the weather and the terrain. They look at the positions of the flight controls. They check the cockpit and the instruments. In some cases, the aircraft is reassembled in a hangar, a tremendous amount of work. Nevertheless, we always have a responsibility to find the truth, a responsibility to the victims and their survivors, a responsibility to the aviation community, and to the next passenger. We create an awareness in manufacturing and operations that makes the industry better and safer. All of us have watched the news too many times and seen the relentless searches being conducted. We watch……..and we wonder……..why…… why did we not do the same at Gander? Why did we not find truth? Why do we not have the answers? So, sadly we wait as they drift farther away, as the evidence deteriorates, and the last witnesses die.

    In February of 2005 I wrote the following on the Sanford.org website:
    “The tragic loss at Gander is certainly something that still needs to be looked into. “Gander: The Untold Story” has become a stopping place for many that are seeking the truth. I’m sure, to most, that it is convenient to read and imagine or, in some cases, even believe. When our government is involved in something like this, people tend to thrive on conspiracy theories. The first story is told, and anything said to suggest that it is wrong is considered to be another conspiracy to cover up the first. 
I feel badly for the families that have suffered over the years. They deserve to have answers to their questions, and I feel sure that our government has let them believe anything that has been written or reported. I say this because I don’t buy any of what has been reported or written.
I was familiar with DC-8-63, N950JW. It was a flying death trap. I worked this aircraft about a month prior to Gander. I knew that it was doomed but kept my mouth shut in the interest of corporate greed. I have regretted this for the last 19 years. I have spent years doing research on this accident. I have talked to others that have done the same. I have also interviewed people that had flown on this aircraft on its last flight before Gander. We all agree on the same answer. Whether or not Col. North was carrying on a covert operation has nothing to do with why this happened. If there is a cover up, it is to keep the American public from finding out that our government used a negligent charter operator to carry our troops. I somehow doubt that many will have interest in this. It may not seem as intriguing or as exciting as covert operations, special forces, bomb theories, etc. However, it lays the blame exactly where it belong: with the U.S. Government. N950JW was a maintenance nightmare and was allowed to keep flying, even after previous and serious incidents indicated it was in bad need of repair. No one cared.”

    In the final analysis, the “Pilot in Command” is responsible for the safety of his aircraft and the souls on board. Passengers and crew members put their trust in him. They have a right to assume that they are in the hands of a well-trained and disciplined professional. They have a right to assume they are safe. This was not the case at Gander. It was not the case at Grand Rapids. The captains in both cases knowingly elected to fly an unsafe airplane. This speaks to the culture of the whole airline. In Grand Rapids, Arrow Air’s pilot knowingly endangered the lives of about one hundred U.S. Marines and his crew. In Gander the result of the negligent decision by the captain to fly an unsafe aircraft caused the death of 255 other people in the worst aviation accident in the history of Canadian aviation.
    However, let us not forget the culpability of the United States government. Who is responsible for the oversight of air charter operators carrying our troops? How could it possibly be that Arrow Air could continue to operate with poorly trained crews and unsafe equipment? Arrow Air’s negligence was no secret in the airline community. We all knew how dangerous their operations were. Why didn’t our government know? Or did they?


    • Leigh

      Amazing story. Thanks for taking the time to document the horrific details of negligence that you witnessed.


    • B.Glenn

      Thank you for your detailed response. Given your experience and observations, I suspect the jet was loaded with weapons & maybe bodies in Egypt, and suffered mechanical emergencies upon leaving Canada. Two scandals rolled into one tragedy.


  23. sabomar1285

    There is footage from a Swedish family, the film shows Arrow Air 1285 behind the family being filmed, being properly de iced. Thanks to many Canadian ground crew members that have spoken up, we know something bad happened to this aircraft and the sealing of records for 70years just admits it. The crash if just an accident would have taken months of investigation to come to a conclusion that is based on evidence. But instead it was hastily concluded with no investigation and the crash scene was scrubbed. Criminal or ordinary crash investigations when loss of life are present take time. Theories have to be proven or dis-proved based on as much hard evidence as can be found. it’s not what you can prove but how you can prove it. Crash of Arrow Air 1285 was never allowed the vetting the families deserved.


  24. keta

    look at who the oil executives were on that plane


    • Skip

      There were no Oil executives on the plane – Strictly members of the 101st and the air crew. The personnel originated in Multi-National Force and Observers base Sharm El-Sheik. They flew by C-130 from Ras Nasrani Afld to Cairo International, boarded the Arrow Air after a delay for maintenance. Arrow Air flew to Germany – I believe Frankfort or Rhine Main before landing at Gander. It is unlikely Oil executives would have boarded a government chartered flight.


  25. jj



  26. Demolition boy

    People are on about records being sealed for 70 years, at the same time various agencies are denying that any records exist…….How can something that does not exist be sealed for 70 years.
    Also the fact that the site was bulldozed and crucial evidence and items were buried shows something was not as someone wants it to appear.


  27. Gar

    The 70 years clause indicates certain people were worried it might harm their careers. Thus, they seal such damning files long enough so that those political leaders, corporate executives and other powerful and wealthy individuals who were involved with the cover-up are long dead before the truth is revealed.


    • E1craZ4life

      The way the sentence is worded states the claim to be that the records had been sealed for 70 years. But that can’t be true, as it hasn’t even been 30 years since the accident.

      Also, if an explosion did blow out the exterior of the plane, there should’ve been something from the plane that landed between the runway and the point of impact. And yet the tract of land between those two points has yielded nothing that could have come from the plane.


  28. Anonymous

    The didn’t say they HAVE been sealed 70 years but their ARE sealed for 70 years….a common government practice. Files are sealed for a determined amount of time in hopes that when they are unsealed everyone who is important or who may have to answer for past actions will be dead.


    • E1craZ4life

      “According to one unnamed source, the U.S. government sealed its records of the crash for seventy years.” The context being implied is that they had been sealed for 70 years by the time this episode was made, even though it hasn’t even been 30 years since the accident took place.

      But what about what Filotas said? That a crash on takeoff can’t cause a plane to disintegrate on impact? Because that’s exactly what happened in the following crashes:
      – American Airlines Flight 191
      – Scandinavian Airlines Flight 686
      – Northwest Airlines Flight 255
      – KLM Flight 4805 (Tenerife)
      – Comair Flight 5191
      – Air Midwest Express Flight 5481
      – 2011 Lokomotiv hockey team crash
      – Air France Flight 4590 (Concorde)
      Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed into a heavily wooded area, so there’s bound to be an extreme degree of carnage in that kind of impact.


    • Skip

      If the files are sealed then there would be an official document from the government saying as much. So far a lot of talk about a 70 year seal yet no documentation. I have to question the authenticity.


  29. grahamclayton

    Definitely something fishy going on.


  30. E1craZ4life

    If this isn’t a poorly made argument, I don’t know what is.


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