Crash of Arrow Airs DC 8 Flight 12 12 85 Term Paper

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Crash of Arrow Airs DC-8 flight on December 12, 1985. Thesis: "The crash of Arrow Airs DC-8 flight on 12 December 1985 was caused by terrorists." (Gander, Newfoundland) Research concludes that this flight carrying soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division actually crashed due to terrorists act. Five sources are used. MLA.

The Crash of Arrow Airs DC-8 Flight December 12, 1985

It had been nearly two decades since an Arrow Airs DC-8 jet crashed just after taking off from a refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland on December 12, 1985. The plane rose less than 1,000 ft., then crashed, tail first, into a small hill, disintegrating in flames about a half-mile from the end of the runway (Magnuson 22). It has been listed as the worst military air disaster, killing 248 American soldiers along with eight crew members. There is still much speculation as to the cause for the crash, although icing on the wings was immediately suggested (Rowan 33). "However, recent discoveries and investigations have shown that this crash may not have been caused by ice, but rather by some type of incendiary device placed on the plane. Although the United States and Canadian governments have stood firmly behind their icing theories, many of the unusual events during the preparation for flight, governmental investigations, and toxicology reports point toward a deeper, more hidden, cause behind this tragic accident" (Sandford pg). This information points to the fact that the crash off Gander, Newfoundland, of Arrow Airs DC-8 flight on December 12, 1985 was caused by terrorists.

Although, Islamic Jihad terrorists, shortly after the crash, boasted of being responsible for blowing up the plane, it was quickly dismissed by officials. However, in 1989, a connection to the tragedy was revealed. The charter company, Arrow Air, turned out to be one of Lieut. Colonel Oliver North's regular arms shippers. Most of the crash victims belonged to the U.S. 101st Airborne Division stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, returning from six months duty with the multinational peacekeeping force in the Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, enforcing the Camp David Accords of 1978. But there was also more than twenty Special Forces personnel trained for counter-terrorist missions on board. Suspicions have deepened through the years that they were the target of an terrorist attack, like the attack against Charles McKee and the members of his hostage-rescue team on Pan Am Flight 103 crash (Rowan 33).

The 101st Airborne division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky was one of four divisions that constituted the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), whose sole purpose was to operate checkpoints, reconnaissance patrols and observation posts along the international boundary. Many times they had been the targets of hostile acts by the Islamic Jihad. The rotation of these troops every six months involved a massive, cooperative effort between the Egyptians and the U.S. And required that the utmost of security precautions be taken (Sandford pg). However, from the moment the troops from the 101st were destined to leave for home from the Sinai, an unusual sequence of events occurred. All troops serving in the Sinai had always departed from the Ras Nasrani airport in the southern part of the Sinai. However, on this flight, Army officials were notified that this airport was not available for use by large planes due to construction on the main runway. Thus, the soldiers were flown by Egypt Air Boeing 737s to the Cairo International Airport, where they would then depart on the larger Arrow Air DC-8 (Sandford pg). This required all baggage be transported by way of truck to the airport in Cairo. The trucks arrived in Cairo on December 10, a whole day before the troops even began to leave the South Camp in the Sinai (Sandford pg). On December 11, when the loading began by an Egyptian-contracted loading firm, the pilot of the plane noticed the Egyptian guard would disappear several times from his post, sometimes for as long as an hour. He also noted there was no light around the aircraft for a period of time due to a power cord pulled out on the tarmac. Moreover, there was no U.S. personnel supervising.

"When the cargo bays of the DC-8 were full, an interesting situation arose; there were still 41 of the soldiers' duffel bags that could not be loaded. Many bags were bumped off the plane due to several "large, wooden crates" that were loaded onto the plane first. One of the 10 to 20 of these crates had not been transported on the baggage truck with the other baggage and boxes, but had been flown in the belly of one of the 737s to Cairo. Despite attempts to identify the contents of these boxes through Army records, no official records of the boxes, or their contents, have been found" (Sandford pg). After the crash, the U.S. And Canadian governments seemed determined to literally bury any evidence. Major General John Crosby arrived within hours of the tragedy and ordered that the crash site be bulldozed immediately (Sandford pg).

In 1988, the nine member Canadian Aviation Safety Board issued a split verdict. Five attributed the crash to ice formation, but four, including two aeronautical engineers disagreed so vociferously that a former Canadian supreme court justice was appointed to see if a new investigation should be opened. One of those dissenting member was Les Filotas, who wrote "Improbable Cause" exposing the deceit and dissent in the investigation. Filotas says, "Many of the experts involved in the investigation didn't realize they were participating in a cover-up" (Rowan 33). After poring over forensic evidence, M. Gene Wheaton, a private investigator hired by the Families for Truth About Gander, Inc., became convinced that the plane had suffered a pre-crash explosion and that there had been a U.S.-Canadian conspiracy to conceal the cause of the accident. Wheaton believes, "If the truth about this crash had gotten out in 1985 it would have exposed the Iran-contra scandal one year before it became public" (Rowan 33).

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police obtained sworn statements from five witnesses who saw the plane in flames before it fell. Rescue workers described charred bodies hanging from unscorched trees, indicating victims were already burned when they fell. Autopsies also disclosed lethal doses of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide in body tissues, proving the passengers were still breathing when the fire and explosion occurred. Furthermore, four members of the refueling crew have sworn there was no icing problem before the plane took off (Rowan 33).

According to Democratic Congressman Robin Tallon of South Carolina, "Even though it is standard procedure to investigate terrorism as a cause in any air disaster, no U.S. agency… ever investigated for the possibility of terrorism or foul play…. despite the fact that the terrorist group, Islamic Jihad, tried four times to take credit for the crash (Tallon E1163). Still the issue lives. Filotas, continues to press his cause. "In my mind, there's no question there was an explosion on the plane" (Cox A16). All evidence regarding the crash of Arrow Airs DC-8 on December 12, 1985, points to a terrorist act of retaliation.


Thesis Statement:

This information points to the fact that the crash off Gander, Newfoundland, of Arrow Airs DC-8 flight on December 12, 1985 was caused by terrorists.


a. Arrow Airs DC-8 jet crashed in Gander, Newfoundland on December 12, 1985.

b. Crash may not have been caused by ice.

11. Terrorist Connection Revealed

a. Islamic Jihad terrorists boast of responsibility

b. Special Forces personnel on board possible target

111. Movement of Troops and Security

a. Troops rotated every six months

b. Unusual procedures used to move troops

1V. Canadian Aviation Safety Board

a. Evidence of cover-up

b. Evidence plane was on fire before crash

V. Conclusion

a. Congressman Tallon's statement

b. Filotas conclusion

Work Cited

Cox, Matthew.…

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