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The power of rumour

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 23/05) - A weather delay of a flight from Yellowknife, a real plane crash in the U.S. and a series of frantic telephone calls combined to launch an investigation into a missing plane, Tuesday.

The problem was the Yellowknife flight never did go missing, according to one furious RCMP search and rescue co-ordinator for the NWT, Jack Kruger.

"It took a lot of resources of police," said Kruger.

It all began after the First Nations Cup hockey tournament in Yellowknife last weekend.

Weather caused a delay of a flight carrying a team to High Level, Alta.

The plane carried players from Meander River, Assumption and High Level.

Meanwhile, a team from Deline had made it back home, and telephone calls among friends started from Deline to Tulita to Meander River to Yellowknife.

Along the line, the delay of the flight to High Level was somehow combined with TV images of a real and fatal plane crash in Miami. The rumour was off and running that the High Level plane crashed in between Yellowknife and High Level.

The rumour was strong enough to circulate around the NWT, into Alberta and even to Ontario.

One person even called the Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Centre in Trenton, Ont.

However, the report was "erroneous, false and misleading," said Kruger.

That conclusion came after six hours of investigation Tuesday night by RCMP detachments in High Level, Yellowknife, Tulita and Deline.

Kruger said the whole thing turned out to be nothing but a wild goose chase.

However, no actual search was launched, he said.

"We have to establish a plane is missing before we go searching for it," said Kruger.