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Pilot injured in crash at Diavik

Buffalo DC-4 hits navigation light while landing

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 30/02) - A pilot sustained minor injuries in a crash of a Buffalo Airways DC-4 at the Diavik mine site on Wednesday.

The four-engine aircraft clipped a navigation light as it descended on final approach to the 5,000-foot long gravel runway at Diavik.

The plane landed short of the runway, coming down so hard that a wing was torn from the fuselage and a small fire erupted, said Tom Hoefer, spokesman for Diavik.

A Diavik emergency response team put out the flames.

The crash happened at about 5 p.m. A Buffalo crew flew to Diavik that evening to bring home the crew members. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the accident by telephone from Edmonton. Investigator John Pearson said it is "doubtful" the agency will visit the site.

At press time, Buffalo was co-ordinating efforts to remove the wreckage from the site. A crew shift was scheduled for Thursday morning, but was delayed while the runway was closed. The plane was carrying general freight, said Hoefer, and the only people on board were the two pilots.

Details on the identities of the two pilots or the cause of the crash were not available at press time. Buffalo Airways makes regular cargo deliveries for Diavik.

The DC-4 that crashed was purchased by Buffalo in November, 2000. Its previous owner was a company called Millardair. The aircraft was built in 1944. Douglas DC-4s have a maximum cruising speed of 380 km-h and a cargo capacity of about 9,000 kilograms.

Buffalo Airways owner Joe McBryan did not return calls for comment.