November 15, 2018

CP Airlines Crash Remains Unresolved


The case of the bombing of a Canadian airliner in 1965 remains unresolved after more than 50 years.

Canadian Pacific Airlines flight 21 from Vancouver to Whitehorse crashed near 100 Mile House in British Columbia’s interior in 1965 with the loss of 46 passengers and 6 crewmembers.

It was at around 15:40 on July 8, 1965 that air traffic controllers in Vancouver heard three Mayday calls from the stricken airliner, reporting that an explosion had caused the aircraft’s tail to break away. The pilots were unable to recover control of the spiralling aircraft.

A coroner’s inquest at the time determined that a bomb had detonated in the left aft lavatory of the Douglas DC-6B airliner.

However, who set the bomb off and why has had investigators stumped for over a half a century. The CBC launched an investigation into the incident this year, gathering investigation reports from RCMP, Transport Canada and others. They report that, after investigating the backgrounds of the passengers, the RCMP zeroed in on four potential suspects:

  • A gambler who purchased life insurance moments before boarding;
  • A young man described as a loner with an interest in guns and gunpowder;
  • A mining-explosives expert who had a criminal record;
  • An individual who had carried a gun onto the plane and was described by his psychiatrist as having a “deep madness towards the world.”

However, the RCMP were never able to arrive at a final determination. The case remains one of commercial aviation’s greatest mysteries.

The CBC investigation resulted in a short documentary shown on The National news program early this week and is available for viewing here.

*Photo above is of the same model of aircraft as the one that was bombed. Photo courtesy of the Ken Fielding collection.