||April 12, 2002
A Final Look at Plane Crashes
The following plane crashes were unknown to me a month ago, but several
readers have alerted me to them, and I thought they would be of interest,
especially to people in Powassan, Callander, and Restoule, where they took
A Peck of Trouble.
|The Grunman Avenger Torpedo Bomber flown to Powassan by an American
pilot by mistake in 1967. Nugget photo with insert from the Hilton
During the summer of our Centennial, 35 years ago in 1967, two Americans
didn’t realize they were going to be something of an event here themselves.
Cecil Peck wanted to make some money crop dusting in Ohio, and bought a war
surplus WWII Grunman Avenger torpedo bomber to do the job. On August 18th,
he and a friend took off from their base in Connecticut in their new plane with
a new but malfunctioning compass to fly to Akron, Ohio. A few hours later he
realized that, like Wrong Way Corrigan, he was lost and low on gas.
He circled a community, which he found out later was North Bay, and turned
south following highway 11, looking for a place to land when his motor started
to sputter over Powassan. He quickly decided to try to land in a farmer’s
field. That field was on the farm of Jim Hilton, just east of highway 11 on the
north end of Maple Hill Road, where it crosses the South River. Mrs. New, who
was renting a house on the property, was picking beans in her garden when she
saw the low flying plane coming at her over the tree tops and sputtering badly.
The plane clipped some tree tops, and Mrs. New said the noise from the big
plane was deafening. The plane touched down, scattering several cows, and headed
directly for her. The plane turned right at he last second, and found another
fifty yards to try to stop. It didn’t have enough room, and as the plane
approached the trees bordering the South River, Peck applied hard rudder and
swung the plane around in the opposite direction and coasted to a bumpy stop.
Eleven year old Doris New was the first on the scene, finding two white faced
men leaning on the plane laughing. The pilot asked where they were and Doris
said "Powassan." She then added, "Ontario." Bud Barry, the
Nugget reporter who covered the event, quoted Peck as saying, "We’re
serious young lady, where are we? We’re lost." When Doris replied
"Canada," Peck said, "The hell you say!"
By this time Mrs. New had arrived, confirmed the location, and took the men
to her house, where they called the OPP, the Department of Transport, and their
families in the States. They had supper with Mrs. New and were taken to the
local motel for the night. The visitors had nothing but praise for everyone,
including the motel manager who lent them his car to get back to the plane. They
were soon refueled and ready to go. Peck gave Doris a photo of his daughter and
asked him to write her. The plane took off safely and the crowd dispersed,
leaving a pleasant centennial memory behind. Jim Hilton provided the newspaper
clipping with the photo of the plane, and his daughter Lynn Brown provided the
photo insert of her (front left) and her sister Betty (back) and brother Richard
(front right) in front of the plane.
F-86 Sabre Jet Crashes Near Callander
When thirty-sex year old Gordon Troke, who flew a spitfire in WWII,
re-enlisted in the RCAF he was the oldest pilot in North Bay’s 430 squadron of
F86-E Sabre Jets. In June 1952 Flying Officer Troke was flying
his single-seat Sabre on a training flight over Lake Nipissing and heading
toward Callander when his engine stalled and flamed out due to a failure in the
fuel system. He lost altitude but got the plane going gain as he approached the
||Charles Champagne holding part of the F-86 Sabre that
crashed behind his home on Derland Rd. in Callander in 1952. Doug Mackey
Captain "Mac" Mason was standing on the dock and noticed the plane
was in trouble as it flew by. Three miles away, on Charles Champagne’s farm
(two miles from the Quint home) on Derland Road the plane, streaming black
smoke, hurtled through the trees, hit a rocky hill, and plowed into a second
hill. Charles Champagne and some of his neighbours, the Corbeils, found the
pilot wrapped in his parachute, dead, a couple of hundred yards from the
Champagne home. The recent photo shows Mr. Champagne with a piece of the
plane’s wing, which he recently recovered from the bush behind his home.
Restoule CF-100 crash
Dan Nielen of Restoule called to report on his research on a CF-100 crash on
October 27, 1953 near the eastern tip of Bass Lake, seven miles north west of
Restoule. Edgar Edwards, an RCAF Ground Observer, saw two planes flying low over
Restoule around 8:15 that day, when one dipped and disappeared, followed by a
flash in the night sky. A local crash crew immediately set off to seek survivors
and found the site at 2:00 am. They found burning trees and wreckage strewn
everywhere. The body of one of the pilots was found immediately. Other search
parties arrived in daylight and the other body was found. The officers were
identified as Flying Officer Charles and Flying Officer Ormiston.
Dan Nielen recommended the definitive CF-100 book "The Avro CF-100"
by Larry Milberry (Canan Books, 1981). The North Bay Public Library has two
copies. Since most of the crashes reported here were CF-100s, the book was of
particular interest. An appendix in the book lists the number of crashes of the
692 planes built. There were 103 crashes in the thirty year history of the
CF-100, with seventeen in the North Bay area. In seven, there were no
fatalities, in one (the one in Chisholm) there was one fatality, and in 9 others
both pilots were killed, for a total of nineteen deaths. The book has several
North Bay photos including one of the CF-100 at Lee Park being towed down Main
Street on its way to the display site.
My thanks to Gaetan Proulx of Callander for pointing out that the jet at the
North Bay Air Museum is not a CF-100 but a Voodoo CF-101, and for drawing my
attention to a display in Northgate Square by 22 Wing North Bay, just inside the
main entrance, opposite Precision Optical. A black model of the CF-100 with some
interesting information about it is on display there and is well worth a look
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