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1965 Canadian air crash remains a mystery

All airline disasters are tragic, but some remain puzzling, even to this day. Such is the case with the Canadian air liner that fell out of the sky on the afternoon of the 8th of July, 1965.

Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 21 was on its way from Vancouver, B.C. to Whitehorse in the Yukon. Along the way, it was scheduled to stop at Prince George, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Watson Lake.

It didn’t make it.

The airplane was a DC-6B and it apparently exploded in mid-air near 100 Mile House, in B.C.’s Caribou area. On board were 46 passengers and six crew members. None of them survived.

An inquest determined that the explosion was the result of a bomb, but the source of the bomb was never determined.

The DC-6B was nick-named “The Empress of the City of Buenos Aires” and the lead pilot was Jack Steele, a veteran of World War Two.

News reports later told us that an explosion had taken place in the aircraft’s left aft lavatory. Reportedly, the tail separated from the fuselage. The aircraft spiraled and crashed into a wooded area.

Traces of potassium nitrate and carbon, consistent with a "low-velocity explosion" were found. The explosion damaged bulkheads in the lavatory, severed pipes in the tail and tore a metre-wide hole in the side of the fuselage.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation focused on four passengers although none was a suspect. Charges were never laid.

The source of the explosion remains unknown. And the mystery continues.

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