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Cessna 185 float plane damaged

Conflicting stories about where forced landing occurred

Lynn Lau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Oct 22/01) - A small float plane made a forced landing on the open tundra near Inuvik Oct. 9.

A passenger aboard the Beaudel Air Cessna 185 said there were three passengers, and a pilot when the plane went down, apparently because of a fuel shortage, about 75 kilometres northeast of Inuvik.

NNSL photo

The damaged plane sits in a lot near Beaudel Air's office at Shell Lake. - Lynn Lau/NNSL photo

During the landing, both wings and the tail were damaged, but no one was injured.

Garrett Ruben, 67, and his wife Olga were coming into Inuvik from Paulatuuq Oct. 9, after chartering the plane to pick them up from their hunting camp at Delese Lake about 110 kilometres south of Paulatuuq.

Ruben praised the pilot for the way he handled the rough landing, saying his skilful maneuvering probably saved their lives. "This pilot knew what he was doing, I can tell you," Ruben says. "He was a good pilot. He kept informing me of what we were going to do. I see him he's trying to get low enough to the ground, so we don't bounce up."

Ruben says the engine cut out just before the plane landed. The ground was mostly smooth, but the plane skidded into a depression just after touching down, and tipped sideways into the ground.

"It was scary," Ruben says. "It sounded like big thunder when we hit." After the crash, a helicopter was called to bring them to Inuvik.

Ruben says he remained calm because he had survived a helicopter crash in 1971. "Somebody said I must have had nine lives since I've crashed a few times in my life."

The owner of Beaudel Air, Willard Hagen, told a different story when contacted about the wrecked plane last week.

He said there were only two passengers and a pilot aboard the plane when it landed on Shell Lake just off Inuvik's Airport Road.

Hagen said the wings clipped brush at the lake's edge because the pilot had underestimated how much ice was already on the lake, and too much ice makes it difficult to control the plane.

He said the plane sustained about $30,000 of damage, but the aircraft is recoverable.

The accident was reported to the federal Transportation Safety Board in Edmonton as a minor occurrence. Harry Boyko, manager of air operations said he would look into the incident again, since he had since been informed that there was damage to the aircraft.

The agency must be informed of all accidents, but it rarely investigates crashes of lighter aircraft where there are no injuries.