Monday, August 30, 2010

JILL HETHERINGTON : Streetsville Secondary School ALUMNI

WHEREVER, JILL HETHERINGTON is tonight…she still adorns the athletic wall at Streetsville Secondary School in the City of Mississauga. Streetsville was once, the "City within a City", but we'll leave that for another day. And a school that should remember her…doesn't have a clue~

Jill, now head coach of the Washington Huskies tennis team…had an illustrious tennis career (for a Canadian) gathering 14 pro doubles titles. Doubles play was her forte. Jill became the first Canadian player to reach the semifinals and finals in Grand-Slam tournaments, the semi-finals at Wimbledon, and the 1988 final of the US Open. These were some of the highlights of her tennis career, certainly not the whole story.

The Huttonville girl's potential gift for tennis was first spotted by a tennis coach at Brampton Tennis Club where Jill's family had gone to play family…badminton.

Extraordinary hand-eye co-ordination. Speed. Enthusiasm. And soon she was attending high school, but was allowed to cut classes to bus it down to Cobblestone Courts for specialized tennis instruction.

There was some loudmouthed guy at Streetsville who once challenged Jill to a tennis match…stating he could beat her. So why wouldn't she prove to everyone that she could beat him, if, she was so good, etc. Blah, blah, blah…

Of course, he could only win in such an arrangement. All the pressure would be on Jill.

However, Jill's coach soon "fixed" that guy.

Her coach told him that Jill would indeed play, but for money. $1000!!

So Jill's coach would put up Jill's $1000, and the challenger would put up a matching grand, with winner taking all!

Suddenly, Captain Tennis wasn't so keen on the arranged tennis match! He backed right down, and out.

My connection to Jill came because I used to weightlift with her brother, Phil.

Jill became the first person any of us knew who actually owned a Sony Walkman at the time. I listened to Phil Collins on that marvel and couldn't believe the excellent sound quality! I had asked Jill to pose as my girlfriend once to save me from the affections of a rogue female who lived next door to me at the time. So we struck a bargain.

I never followed through on my end.

Jill, I'm sorry I didn't take you to the Dominion Dance as promised.

It's been a few years…but I'm going to go out on a limb here…all is forgiven, right?

Right? Hello…?

:::: Will AIR CANADA Keep Crashing? ..:::..


You know for any business, and certainly for an airline PR is usually a big part of the biz package considering it encompasses how you present yourself to the community, and the rest of the business world at large. Getting public relations right is usually a biggie.

But NOT always.

Certainly NOT with Air Canada.

Air Canada Flight 621 (DC-8-63 registered as CF-TIW) crashes in Castlemore, Ontario on July 5, 1970.

Everyone is killed, all 109 pax (passengers) and crew.

In the most horrendous way possible.

In a 150 tonne missile that went nose first into a Castlemore farmer's field at 400mph. All occupants onboard…absolutely terrified right up to the very end. And then crushed, or worse, atomized.

Three minutes previous these people were safely landing at Toronto International Airport…for the first leg of their long journey…and now they were high in the sky above Castlemore, until finally nosing down toward the ground…when the spent DC-8's structural integrity finally burned away the last secured section of that airliner's starboard wing.

The fatally crippled jet now lurched downward on its final descent. Yes, now these people who were almost safe at Toronto International moments before…had actually touched momentarily on Toronto's 33L runway…just 180 seconds previous…now all these people suddenly, unexpectedly, were going to die.

When I recalled aspects of this tragedy to a friend, I added an unusual question, and the response was venomous.

Harsh. Instant.

How could I even say such a thing…even suggest such a thing?

I had asked the seemingly disrespectful question, what if Air Canada's Flight 621 crashes again??

Seemingly being the operative word.

Because my question was a very real question, a very pertinent question…in the world of Air Canada.

It is not common knowledge, but… AIR CANADA, unlike JUST ABOUT EVERY OTHER airline in the world (as my friend assumed, incorrectly) does not, I repeat, DOES NOT, retire the affected flight number when one of their own flights crashes…with lives lost.

Say , what?

You heard me.

Well, why would they?

Why treat your customers with the ultimate dignity and respect…and as the irreplaceable human beings that they actually are by solemnly retiring flight numbers? So, silly~

As it turns out, Air Canada no longer uses Flight 621, though!

There is just too much on the internet NOW connected with that flight. None of it good. So I guess that flight number was set aside out of utility, not respect.

But what about other deadly Air Canada flights?

TCA (the precursor to Air Canada) Flight 831(118 lives lost), Air Canada Flight 797 (23 lives lost), and Air Canada Flight 189 (two lives lost) continue to fly again…as a DIRECT INSULT to surviving family members of all the victims, on all these ill-fated flights.

But Air Canada will AT LEAST change the flight route. The start point, and/or destination.

How thoughtful.

So Air Canada Flight 831, 797, and 189 keep flying today!

And yes, THEY COULD crash again or have loss of life!

Can you believe it?? Can you actually believe it??

It gets better, folks.

No, I won't tell you here about the Air Canada Flight 621, and the Alfred Hitchcock connection, since that will be saved for the book, but…

AIR CANADA, back in1970, had promised a memorial to the crash victim's families of Flight 621…ON SITE!

Yes, at the crash site in Castlemore!

AIR CANADA later changed the memorial location to adorn the Mount Pleasant FLIGHT 621 cemetery plot in the centre of Toronto. There, a little over 50 of the victim's bodies are buried to this day.

Yes, the promised memorial is there, in Toronto, some 30 kms away.

NOT where, or what, the Flight 621 families were promised at the time regarding said memorial.

But when you aren't even retiring flight numbers when tragic death is involved, can an airline like that really be expected to honour promises of on-site memorials that were to be a token and permanent sign of consolation, made in good faith, to the then-grieving family members?

C'mon, get real.

In fact, from July 5th to October 1970 over a hundred people a day were visiting the crash site. Many indeed were family members.

But there's more…

Eric Weiczorek, who lost his stewardess wife, Gundi, in the Flight 621 crash can be seen in the incomplete heart-wrenching film clip above. Taken at the 40th Anniversary ceremony last month, right at the crash site, Eric relays his grief at being so shabbily treated by Air Canada at the time of the crash.

He wasn't the only one.

A phone call, a limousine, a letter, and (hey!) Air Canada's duty to Eric was done!

Linda Fishman (author - Repairing Rainbows), who lost her mother and two sisters on that flight made a recent overture to Air Canada just before this summer's 40th Anniversary event. An olive branch extended, if you will, to AC a week or so, before the event.

When does the dawdling airline get back to her? Two days before the actual event. And they have conditions you, know. They want to meet with Linda and any other victim's family members only two hours before the start of the event! And whatever the outcome of that meeting…they are to be allowed to attend the 40th ceremony!

Habitually posturing, using pressure tactics with the still grieving, even after all these years, as if AC is still in the driver's seat… still trying to unsuccessfully manage the continuing fallout from Flight 621 without actually doing something new. Something uplifting, something positive.

Well, in short order, because of the disrespect, once again shown to the families…Linda told those AC execs to well…go fly a kite.

Because…we know they can't fly airplanes.

Well, actually they can…they've kept a pretty clean record since…its their public relations that won't fly!

I do want to be fair to Air Canada. They were named best North American airline for 2010.

AC was also capable of doing some good leading up to the Flight 621, 40th Anniversary Ceremony event.

Bruce Sultan, who lost his wife and two kids was given free tickets by Air Canada to fly up to Toronto to attend the 40th Anniversary. Lucie Raymond, who lost her father on the flight was also given tickets to fly to the ceremony. Both parties were thankful for the olive branch offering. There may have been others, as well.

These people, the victim's families, are being quite reasonable in their final demands.

If I was running Air Canada, I could solve this festering PR disaster in one day.

In a single day.

And here's how I'd do it.

1) Pay for the new monument at the crash site, plaque, benches etc.

2) Assess where the deficits are and issue formal apologies to all the victim's families acknowledging those especially wronged. Many wanted a genuine apology at the time. Eric saved the apology he received from the Navigator's Association at the time. It was handwritten, the writer expressed sorrow (likely by placing himself in Eric's shoes*hint*) and thoughtfully and earnestly attempted to reach out to Eric in his time of sorrow with offers of emotional support.

Air Canada sent him…an open, unsigned, letter of condolence!

How important is a current apology from AC, admitting as an airline that maybe we got some of the process wrong, back then? Is it important, even after forty years??

Well, one widower turned down over $200,000 in compensation from Air Canada for the loss of his whole family BECAUSE the financial recompense offer DID NOT COME with a written apology from the airline. He walked away from the table, never to return. Judas kept the money, and Mr. –––––––– kept his dignity.

So yes, a new apology would make a huge difference. Put your teams of lawyers away, no one is looking for money, people want acknowledgment that they were treated shabbily. If you doubt me, meet these people! Stop hiding behind your lawyers, and an unforgivable wall of silence.

3) Give all victim's family members free flights to the official opening of the Flight 621 memorial in 2012. The Castlemore on-site memorial process is going forward regardless. Air Canada has to decide if they want to be a part of the remaining healing process of 621 families, or not. As Air Canada CEO for a day, I would decide that we do want to be a part of that process.

And we, as an airline, don't need to lead the way. We can walk with these people in their sorrow. And not just for PR reasons. Because its the right thing to do. Now.

Remember the present "open" status of Flight 621 is most unusual. It won't be resolved until 2012.

There are still victim's bones being unearthed in the crash field to this day. And that is not Air Canada's fault. One has to look to the Office of the Coroner for that one. But AC could certainly commiserate with the families on this delicate issue. It wasn't only customers who were lost July 5, 1970. It was also some of the Air Canada family that was lost. AC employees.

4) Officially retire Flight 621, and all other Air Canada flights that crashed and/or resulted in loss of life.

That Flight 831, Flight 797, Flight 189 still fly to this day is a horrendous and UNBELIEVABLE lack of respect for the families who suffered untimely loss of their cherished loved ones. Did their untimely deaths not earn them this, at the very least? Is Air Canada run by communists, or Canadians?

Air Canada does a lot of good works in the community, helping aviation museums nationwide with notable donations, which I personally consider quite important.

More importantly though, Air Canada is "involved in a broad range of initiatives to improve the lives of children" through their KID'S HORIZON'S program.

So why leave these crash flight situations, unresolved…a recurrent black mark when it could so easily be resolved!

Air Canada can't bring those family members back…but they can ensure these people are properly acknowledged by additional positive action taken today.

Amen, brother.

Addendum: CF-TIW crashed and killed all 109 occupants. C-FTIW was reregistered and flown again.

In 2007 C-FTIW crashed killing the sole occupant.


And C-FTIW flies again today as a chopper. Sheer stupidity. Yup, those are call letters I would want!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Crash of AIR CANADA FLIGHT 621 : The First Hour : The Mike Quatrale Collection

HERE IS SAD HISTORY, that you're looking' at. On July 5, 1970 Air Canada FLIGHT 621 crashes in Castlemore. It would become the worst accident in the Toronto region with 109 people killed.

Within the first hour, Mike Quatrale, Emergency Services, was there.

And here is the first roll of pics that he took. This is the contact sheet that was hastily created so that photos could be selected for worldwide publication. Four of Mike's photos were published internationally.

I came across Mike's photos first in the Montreal Gazette. And through further research I was able to find Mike who is now retired and resides with his wife, Audrey, in Brampton. I was welcomed into his home to see the rest of his Flight 621 photos. Mike's photos appear in the Documentary: Disasters of the Century: Out of the Blue episode which covers the story of Flight 621.

Mike's photos have been invaluable to our Flight 621 research, in putting some of the pieces together.

Mike's photos are unique because he was the only media photographer allowed to photograph throughout the entire crash arena. Within the cordoned off crash site, itself. Other local photographers took photos using zoom lenses. Mike was right there amidst the crash, he didn't need to.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

::: AIR CANADA’S WORST CRASH: Flight 621, DC-8 Radome Artifact ..::..

IT'S STILL HARD to believe, what one can find…even now.

With Apple iPhone 3GS in hand I find a nosepiece of Air Canada's "Stretch" DC-8, CF-TIW that was lost on July 5, 1970. A part of the radome, specifically. I photo capture the GPS co-ordinates. At almost 9 pm at night. July 2, 2010, almost 40 years after the crash.

FLIGHT 621 has remained AIR CANADA'S WORST aviation accident with 109 lives lost in Castlemore, Ontario. Seven years previous, TCA lost 118 people, in St. Therese du Blainville, Quebec.

But that was Trans-Canada-Air-Lines…not Air Canada.

What's a RADOME??

The RADOME is usually found on the nosecone of any aircraft.

FLIGHT 621's Air Canada DC-8, numbered internally 878, it's radome housed the jet airliner's radar antenna and thus protected the aircraft's sensitive radar from the elements, both at 40 below and at 600 mph. The spherical covering also reduces drag so that DC-8 is more aerodynamically streamlined as she hopscotches across the continent.

By the numbers…

1) GPS co-ordinates of the actual radome find.

2) Thin, crushed, painted black metal of 878's radome. Remember, only a very small section of the Air Canada's DC-8 livery was painted semi-gloss black. The upper nose portion, as pictured. The fuselage aluminum just up from the nosecone, or radome area, is about double the thickness of the radome aluminum and is tempered to a harder standard.

3) ORIGIN AREA of the radome artifact, its actual area of location…as highlighted on an Air Canada DC-8.

Monday, August 2, 2010

FLIGHT 621 : Brampton (Toronto/GTA's) WORST Aviation Disaster - Denise Goulet

MY RESEARCH PARTNER out in Quebec, Pierre Tremblay, who has done extensive research on all Flight 621 victims from the province of Quebec, disclosed to me that he had actually known Denise Goulet (pictured above) back in the summer of 1967!

Pierre had spent a good part of his summer at EXPO 67 which was being held in Montreal. He went several times to the Bell Canada Telephone Pavilion, and there chatted with the ever cheerful hostess Denise, as he was then fascinated by telecommunication.

And maybe a little by her, as well.

The crash of Flight 621, of course, was front page news in the Montréal-Matin on July 6th, 1970, the day after the crash.

Pierre saw the Montréal-Matin crash headline, and was immediately riveted by the coverage of this unexpected Air Canada crash that had occurred the previous morning, on the clearest of days, somewhere in the Toronto region. Still in a state of shock and wonder about the horrific DC-8 crash that had claimed all 109 lives, he quickly read through the front page coverage and followed up on page three. There, his eyes fell on those ominous row pictures of the now deceased Air Canada flight crew, and its stewardesses.

One picture stood out.

Pierre was floored!

There was Denise!!

Oh, poor Denise—

While Pierre had met the exotically attractive Denise when she was then working at the EXPO 67 Bell Canada pavilion, she had already applied to, and been accepted to take the stewardess course. Immediate employment for Denise in the fall, at Air Canada, once EXPO 67 had wrapped up in October.

Aviation, not tele-communications, was Denise's first love.

At 17, Denise already had her first parachute jump under her belt.

And while Miss Denise Goulet had been working as a stewardess for Air Canada for almost three years, she had set her sights on being a pilot!

And guess what? Her father, Henri-Paul, was a pilot!

I guess the apple didn't fall too far from the tree, as they say…

When her father was reached for comment on his daughter's premature death, he told the media,

“Denise always dreamt of aviation. Aviation was in her blood.”

Mr. Goulet, himself a pilot for 25 years, was on duty the morning of the crash when he learned about the terrible tragedy. Henri-Paul was a pilot for the Yvon Fournier company from Trois-Rivières, and had to sprinkle insecticide on the transmission lines of Alcan in Lac St. Jean.

Denise, who was to be 23 on July 12, died seven days short of her birthday.

She had made special arrangements to be aboard the Air Canada "California Galaxy" (Montreal-Toronto-Los Angeles) flight, one of the airlines' new connoisseur flights, in order to meet with her brother, Andre. She was looking forward to journeying to Los Angeles to see her brother, who now resided there. She was going to take a few days off.

In August, Denise was quite excited to be travelling to Paris, with her mother, on an already arranged vacation for the pair.

It was not to be.

On July 10th, sadly just two days before she was to have turned 23, a funeral mass was held for Denise at 10.00 A.M. at St. Odilon Catholic Church, in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. There was a large turn out of family and friends to pay their final respects.

Had Denise not died that day, today she would be 62 years old.

And now she looks back at us from eternity, forever only twenty-two…