Sunday, February 13, 2011

FLIGHT 621 ::: The Lost Photographs

FOR THE LONGEST TIME, I thought the Terry Waddington photo was the only photo in existence that captured CF–TIW, the Air Canada Stretch DC-8 that crashed in a Castlemore farmer's field on July 5, 1970.

But…I was wrong.

There were two other photographs taken of the ill-fated aircraft. On the very day of the accident!

The Terry Waddington photo was taken just a month or two before the aircraft was delivered to Air Canada. That photo, which is the top photo depicted here, shows us the brand-new Air Canada DC-8 (tail fin number 878) Canadian registration CF-TIW doing engine run ups amongst a host of other pre-delivery DC-8s at the old Long Beach, California McDonnell Douglas aircraft plant.

But, back to the other photographs…

Apparently, a travellor racing along in a cab on his way to the airport (somewhere in the northeast corner of Mississauga) snapped two photographs of the disintegrating Air Canada DC-8—just as it was beset with three explosions, and just as it really started to break apart. Timeline about 25 seconds before it actually crashed.

After these photographs were taken of the fatal flight, the photographer knowing he had captured something significant…turned them over to the proper authorities, likely the RCMP, when he arrived at Toronto International Airport in Malton.

One problem though—nobody knew where the hell he had taken them from! And no one thought to ask the photographer before he departed on his flight!

I mean…where was the racing cab barrelling along, where was it actually located, when the telltale photos were snapped? Back in the 70s, it was rare for folk to be walking around with a camera! Not like today! On top of that, it was even rarer for photos to be taken of an airliner moments before it crashed. It takes a certain presence of mind, and a steady hand to capture such a horrific and fast-moving event. It's there…and seconds later it's gone. And camera settings were not automatic, back then! Let's remember the skill level involved, shall we?

Of course, everyone remembers the ominous grainy photo of a 180 degree banked, sideways flying American Airlines DC-10 ( Flight 191) as it passed over the terminal at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, only seconds before it crashed. I mean that photo was famous! And here, we have not one, but two(!) photos of an airliner in crash sequence and these never make it to the Toronto papers, were kept secret at the time, now can't be found, and no one even knows where to look!

Oh, the secrecy! In Canada with our multiple layers of worthless bureaucracy, it isn't enough to say the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing…it's more serious than that! It is more accurate to say the right-handed thumb, doesn't know what the right-handed index finger is doing!!

Anyway, before I lose my marbles at the sheer stupidity of that fact which is resettling in on me, and before my BP reading goes right off the dial…lets return to the subject of the missing Flight 621 photos.

Mississauga Roads and Construction with copies of the photos in hand, were sent out to determine the exact spot the photographs were taken from. The photographs were incredibly important to the crash investigators, because miraculously, these photographs were able to certify, beyond any doubt, investigators assumptions that three explosions had indeed taken place aboard the struggling airplane moments before it crashed in Castlemore, Ontario.

The diagram in the lower right-hand part of the book page was created from the two, now missing photos. Investigators noted that the three explosions were visible within the photos as "puffs of smoke".

Engine #3 is seen separating and falling to the ground, followed thereafter by the starboard wingtip, and finally joined by Fuel tank #4's upper plating. Then the still brand-new DC-8 crashed. I've taken the liberty of adding Air Canada DC-8s to the diagram, in the approximate position and angle, the photographer would have captured the crashing airplane in—for the benefit of the reader.

One final mystery remains to this day. No two! Who was THAT photographer? And where the hell are these photographs today?

We have the diagram…but we don't have the photos!

That—could only happen in Canada!


How did the stewardesses, look back in 1970? SEE:

The FLIGHT 621 stewardesses had these exact uniforms with one noted exception. Some of the stewardesses on board that day, the day of the crash, would have had the Galaxy-themed uniforms which would be the same style, but they would be blue in colour, not Air Canada red! CF-TIW was a Galaxy-themed DC-8.

(As with all my articles…this is a first post that will be revised several times in the weeks and months ahead.)

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