Arctic Mystery C-47 at Isachsen, Canada


The wreck of a crashed U.S. Air Force plane that lies partly submerged in the shallow waters of Hole in Fog Bay at the abandoned weather station at Isachsen, Nunavut, will be used for a simulated plane crash exercise by members of a Canadian Forces sovereignty patrol.

The twin-engined aircraft, an overloaded C-47 cargo plane (also known as a DC-3 or Dakota), crashed on takeoff at the weather station at 10:10 a.m. on Oct. 9, 1949. The plane had 10 people on board, an Air Force crew of six and four civilian passengers. The passengers were two U.S. weather bureau employees, a Canadian weather bureau employee, and an RCMP constable.

Three of the aircrew received cuts and bruises and everyone else escaped injury. The subsequent USAF investigation blamed the accident on the plane being overloaded and attempting to take off with ice building up on the cockpit windshield and wings. At the time of the crash there were five inches of snow on the mud runway, a light snow fall and some fog.

The investigation found the plane lifted off and fell to the ground several times as it went down the runway and was in the air when it struck an eight-foot snow covered embankment and skidded for 3,000 feet on the frozen bay next to the runway.

The impact tore off the undercarriage and the plane's skis, which were retracted, and ripped the engines from the wings. The plane stayed upright, did not burst into flames, and the crew and passengers scrambled out of the plane virtually unharmed.

"Although I was slightly dazed from a bump and a small cut on the forehead I was able to leave the wreckage by the top escape hatch in a minimum amount of time and the pilot followed," First Lieut. Edward J. Kahoun, the co-pilot, told crash investigators. "The engineer left by way of the emergency exit in the left side of compartment 'B' which was torn out by the left propeller. The rest of the crew and passengers abandoned the aircraft through the rear door in a very expeditious manner. Only very minor cuts or bruises were experienced by any of the crew members or passengers."

The plane was based at Pepperrell Air Force base in Newfoundland and was conducting a survey of the remote weather stations at Isachsen, Mould Bay and Resolute Bay. The stations were operated jointly at the same time by Canada and the United States. The plane had landed at Isachsen the day before the crash and was leaving for Mould Bay and Resolute Bay. It flew to Isachsen to determine whether a large transport plane could land on the runway to bring in winter supplies.

The three weather bureau employees and the Mountie had routine business at the weather station. A weather station employee who witnessed the crash told investigators: "An area survey showed that the aircraft had flown into a low hill of about eight feet elevation, careened into the air, and recontacted the ground about three hundred feet further on an and then slid to rest."

The pilot was Major Andrew B. Creo, a 34-year-old air force pilot with considerable experience flying in the Arctic. The crew of six consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator and two engineers.