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Survivors' tale

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 29/05) - When Daryl Dolynny and Jon Motyer boarded one of Air Tindi's flagship planes for Blachford Lake Lodge, they were hoping to collect a 40-pound trout story.

But their harrowing account of a near-death experience will have a shelf-life longer than any fish tale.

Daryl Dolynny (left) and Jon Motyer stand beside the pontoon of a single Otter they were in when it crashed on takeoff Friday in Yellowknife Bay. The Air Tindi plane with nine persons aboard was headed for Blachford Lake Lodge.

Dolynny and Motyer were among the passengers on a single Otter that crashed just after takeoff on Yellowknife Bay. Amazingly, nobody was seriously hurt.

"It was dead quiet as it went down," Motyer said. "It happened very fast."

Dolynny described it as "eerie silence" - nobody said anything and there was no screaming.

Dolynny owns Shoppers Drug Mart in Yellowknife. Motyer, a salesman from Calgary, was adding the weekend fishing adventure to a business trip.

'Uncomfortable, vertical feel'

"We were in the air for 30 or 40 seconds maybe, and then the plane took a very uncomfortable, vertical feel," Dolynny said.

"Just as I had going through my head 'this doesn't feel right' the plane went completely vertical and stalled."

According to Dolynny's interpretation of the event, although the engine didn't quit, there wasn't enough wind producing lift under the wings to keep the craft in the air.

He compared it to the deliberate stalls seen at air shows; but since the Otter was barely airborne, the pilot didn't have enough room to make a correction and they crashed.

The Otter struck hard on its port side, shearing off the wing. Dolynny and Motyer said they knew they had to be quick, or they would sink with the plane.

"There wasn't really enough time to think - the only thing was when we crunched, then there was 'get my ass out of here, this is going down,'" Motyer said.

"I was just thinking 'I can't believe this is happening to me, protect your face,' that's it," Dolynny said. "Literally it's like your worst nightmare amusement ride come real."

They say they never thought of dying, but knew "it was really bad."

Dolynny helped his friend through the escape hatch near the back as the pilot got others out through the front. They sat on a pontoon, soaked in fuel and freezing water until Archie Buckley and his family helped them to shore.

Some other passengers were in shock, some crying and others silent, but none seriously hurt. Dolynny said the images of the crash are burned into his mind.

"It was difficult sleeping that first night - it's not a nightmare, but reliving it, rehashing it," Dolynny said.

Both are thankful the Buckleys quickly picked them up, and thankful the cargo was secured. They were at the back of the plane, and had cargo come loose they might have been crushed. Instead, they escaped with some bruises and sore backs.

They never made it out to the lodge but, Motyer isn't altogether unhappy about the outcome.

"If you catch a big trout, you can brag for a while but the story gets tired. This one, I'm gonna' get big miles out of."

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the crash.