Friday, July 30, 2010

FLIGHT 621 | Brampton's LARGEST Air Disaster

FLIGHT 621 | Toronto's Largest Air Disaster *** REVISED ***

ONE OF A FEW book cover mock-ups I'm considering for my book about Flight 621.

This is the only one I'll be showing. For now. I like another mock-up I did… that I feel is much better, more sombre, reflective… but I'm always curious about feedback.

So have your say, below, if you wish.

I was reviewing an OPP police photographer's 40 year old Flight 621 crash photos recently, when I saw something in one of the photos.

So I called Mike and said, "Mike, tell me, tell me, THAT ISN'T what I think it is."

After, both his wife, Audrey and he looked over the photo in question, the sad response came back.

"I think you're right, Paul."

I thought to myself, God… always prepares the way. And you won't see that until you're right in the middle of it. If you see it at all. Whatever He has, later for you… to be right in the middle of.

Only six months ago I was watching the excellent series about World War II, entitled, "The World at War" which, of course, is the definitive documentary about that war. Had I not seen the plentiful war stills of the battleground deceased, I might never have spotted "the clue".

But half a year later, there I was… now "prepared" to make an unsettling discovery.

"Paul, you're right… it is a little girl. I don't know how I didn't see that before!"

Mike had taken the photos forty years ago, yet had somehow missed that sad detail.

Those World at War documentary stills had captured so many soldiers, then at rest, with deceased hands launched in so many distinctive angles and positions that I guess my mind was imprinted with these sad images.

When I chanced upon similar in Mike's photo… I was compelled to look closer.

So, in the Flight 621 photo, I saw her peaceful hand, emerging from a sleeve, and lifelessly draped over an inner tubular structural piece of smashed DC-8.

I followed the hand to its source.

Somebody's little girl was sitting there, right there… in her final resting spot.

Her thick black hair, untossled. A defiant, thick, white hair tie-back-clip could readily be seen, keeping her hair perfectly in place amidst the horror!

The clip, however, could actually be one of those funky 70s style pair of big glasses pulled back over her forehead.

We'll never know.

I sat, in silence, with that photo for quite a while.

The picture was taken in the first hour of the crash. There are police officers and first responders busily walking around in the background, obviously, oblivious, to her.

I bet that didn't last long.

She is right out in the open, but also concealed within a medium sized mangled piece of fuselage wreckage! And somehow, she remained INTACT!


How did that happen?

I imagine that within the second hour, maybe the third, after these first hour photos were taken, she was found.

Likely, someone just walking by who had to do a double-take.

What a horrible, horrible, discovery.

It certainly was, for me. And I was only looking at a photo.

I'll be interviewing an OPP first responder this weekend. John Cooper. He was there the first day of the crash and also the second.

I'll keep you posted.

Finally, THE COVER above…that's how 621 looked seconds before impact. She corkscrewed over onto her back. This remains the primary reason why there are no crash photos of the wrecked Air Canada DC-8-63 with her tail readily seen… as one can see in most airliner disasters these days. The tail is usually spared in every airline disaster.

Nothing was spared when Flight 621 crashed in Castlemore, Ontario on July 5, 1970.

1 comment:

palisadesk said...

I think the cover is fine, but your instinct to go with something more sombre and reflective is probably correct. Not that there's anything "wrong" with the design as posted -- but my choice would be for something more evocative.

Not that it needs to be evocative in the same way, but the cover for Lynda Fishman's book, which I recently read (profoundly moving yet inspiring story) strikes the right balance I thought.

I'm surprised to learn that not even the tail was recovered. The recent Afriqiyah Airbus crash in Tripoli reminded me of this crash, in that the aircraft impacted the ground at high speed and was reduced to rubble and small pieces, but the tail was recognizable. A small boy was thrown clear of the carnage somehow and survived, though most casualties, as in Flight 621, were not recovered intact.

Seeing the photos of the little girl would be very unsettling. Any chance she might have initially survived the crash, a la little Cecelia Cichan in the Northwest crash in Detroit back in the 80's? Horrible to think something might have been done, but was not...

I look forward to your book and your analyses of the causes, the missed opportunities to avert the crash, and more about the people involved.