Passengers, crew safe after Air Tindi makes emergency ice landing

Passengers, crew safe after Air Tindi makes emergency  ice landing
An Air Tindi flight made an emergency landing on frozen Great Slave Lake last week. No one aboard was injured.Photo: File photo.

It was a happy ending for unfortunate travelers, whose Air Tindi flight to Fort Simpson on Nov. 20 was interrupted when harsh weather forced them to crash land on the north end of Great Slave Lake.

After several hours of search and rescue operations, the five passengers and pilot were retrieved and safely returned to Yellowknife around noon the same day.

Yellowknife and Behchoko RCMP were put on alert after responding to a call around 7:30 a.m. that morning regarding a fallen Air Tindi Caravan just northwest of Yellowknife by Boundary Creek.

After encountering cool temperatures of around -11°C and drizzly conditions, the pilot made the decision to turn the flight back towards Yellowknife. But the choice was made too late and the aircraft forced to land on the ice-covered Great Slave Lake. All were safely evacuated from the aircraft and able to stay warm with a campfire.

Weather broke later in the morning and by 11:30 a.m, three helicopters, discharged by Air Tindi’s sister company Great Slave Helicopters, located the stranded passengers.

Search and rescue operators carried out their mission after pooling together resources from Yellowknife and Behchoko EMS and RCMP detachments, the Yellowknife fire department and the department of Transportation.

“We had snowmobiles on scene and there was also what’s called an ARGO, an all-terrain vehicle that the Yellowknife fire department and emergency services have to utilize for rough terrain,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Todd C. Scaplen.

“The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), which is essentially the military, were able to dispatch some of their assets and were able to assist should we have needed them. We had weather issues here, of course; we weren’t able to get any rescue helicopters into the air because of our weather situation at the time,” Scaplen said.

The Royal Canadian Air Force had sent out a Hercules aircraft but, at the end of the day, its assistance wasn’t required.

By noon, the passengers and pilot were safe and sound in Yellowknife, where they received precautionary medical attention at Stanton Hospital.

“The report that I have is despite going through the ordeal of landing a plane on Great Slave Lake on the ice, everybody seemed to be in good spirits,” Scaplen said. “They were able to help out and get some information to our investigators.”

The Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada have been informed of the incident and will carry out an investigation with assistance from the RCMP.

“I’m just glad everybody is O.K. That’s the main thing,” Scaplen said.

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