June 1979 -
Oakland AP 1967
Featuring the ONA CREW FLIGHTDECK!
TED STOWE - ROLAND LAVALLEE - DC-8 UNSCHEDULED LANDING
Ted Stowe F/E,
Captain Milt Marshall (RIP)
and Margareta Thaute
at New York 2003 reunion
Roland Lavallee sent me below photos.
DC-8 UNSCHEDULED LANDING
I live in Canada and am trying to follow up on a story about an Overseas
National Airways stretch DC8's unscheduled landing in Norman Wells, in
Canada's Northwest territory on May 15th, 1970.
I've made contact with Bill Parks, flight engineer for ONA, and he passed
on your email as someone who may be able to shed some light on this event.
From what I understand from Mr. Parks, the aircraft was piloted by Captain
Stinky Davis and co-pilot Olie Cupp. He mentions Dave McCloy and Jack Gold
as others who may have information.
Hope to hear from you, Roland Lavallee - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
at email firstname.lastname@example.org
PAM GAINES HOLT ON NORMAN WELLS DRAMA
I don't remember who else was on the crew (Stinky was the Capt.).
To expand story: Stinky called me into the cockpit to say that we
were in deep doo doo, I am paraphrasing - and that we needed to
prepare the cabin for a crash landing. We were trying to go over
the Pole and had lost all our instruments. The crew had been trying
to raise "the dew line" for some time with no luck. The story below
was the 1st time I had heard how they happened to raise someone.
We were about 900 miles off course and Harry told me we were
planning to try an approach with the weather 3,500 broken, as the
story you printed says it was more like 2,000 solid and as I recall
it had begun snowing by the time we taxied in. As a flight attendant I
learned at least 1 lesson... when I left the cockpit I stopped at
the forward galley and spit out this is it, time to remember your
emergency training and make sure this galley is secure. Having seen
the look on the other gals face I changed my approach in the rear to
...no big deal just a short runway and the captain wants us to go
through the drill. If I remember correctly one of the F/A's in the
front had little tears in her eyes when we finally stopped. We took
the passengers off on a DC3 ramp with boxes on top, as the local
reported they had parked us with our wing blocked by a pole/light?
Stinky was not a happy camper. I doubt that they found all the
cargo piled around the runway after ONA moved a stretch 8 using
Roland Lavallee - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I'll introduce myself as a 61 year old who's on his last year as air traffic
controller in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. On May 15th, 1970, I was a radio
operator employed by Canada's Department of Transport stationed in Norman
That morning at about 6am, I had just returned to the airport after a failed
attempt to fly south with fellow radio operator Marv Keyser in his Ercoupe.
Marv and I got up to the 'radio shack' intending to have a coffee but were
just in time to hear ONA865 attempt contact on VHF to any station. The radio
operator on duty, Ron Slemko, intercepted the call and was told that their
two gyro's were at odds and a sun shot was not possible. Slemko asked if
they had an ADF aboard since that was at that time the most common form of
navigation in that part of the country. This was well before the
installation of VOR's in Canada's north, and as you state, magnetic
compasses were erratic at best.
When asked, the pilot initially did not think that they had an ADF but soon
realized that they actually had two. After suggesting the one ADF be tuned
to the Fort Good Hope NDB (GH), approximately 100 miles north of Norman
Wells, and the 2nd to the Norman Wells (VQ) NDB, Slemko and the crew were
able to establish the rough position of the aircraft in proximity of Fort
The pilot advised that they were going to let down for GH (3500 foot gravel
strip) but Slemko talked them into VQ with its 6000 foot paved runway (paved
the year previous).
Your information seems to dispute this point when you say that co-pilot Cupp
had knowledge of Norman Wells and wanted to land there.
Is it possible that at the point when they finally got their directions
sorted out, that they were so low in fuel that Fort Good Hope became an
In any case, after relaying all the required instrument approach plate
information to the pilot (no radar coverage and uncontrolled airspace below
fl180), the crew performed what appeared like a perfect NDB approach (VQ had
no ILS at the time) and landing. The weather at the time was, to the best of
my recollection, an overcast at roughly 2000 feet.
The aircraft taxied in to the Esso pumps, at which point the pilot asked
Slemko if it was okay to leave number 4 running while they refueled. As
Slemko was attempting to contact the refueler, John Prokopuk, the aircraft
supposedly ran out of fuel. You explain this as possibly caused by an
improper transfer of fuel.
As for the lamp medium incident, the Norman Wells airport ramp actually
accommodated the likes of DC6's and C130's, and within a few short years,
that same apron handled B737's of Pacific Western. The space was not the
issue; it was simply a miscalculation by the taxi marshal, Airport Manager
John Williams, who underestimated the wingspan. The aircraft was stopped
just in time to avoid the port wing making contact with the light medium.
The only way out of that jam was for the pilot to use reverse thrust and
that action created an interesting situation with debris flying all over.
The passengers were allowed to de-plane and some wondered onto the runway,
others into the airport maintenance garage. One male passenger I vividly
remember had a decent command of the English language and kept wanting to
peek at the typewriter log the radio operator maintained (at that time
before the introduction of tape recorded logs, any radio transmission made
or received would be typed on a continuous ream of paper); what I would give
to get my hands on this but it would have long ago been destroyed.
Anyway, we had to chase him out of the aeradio office 4 or 5 times however,
he did manage to gather enough information that when it came time to board,
he absolutely refused. When the lone RCMP officer explained to him that
since customs were not available, that his options were to take up lodging
in his jail or to get back on the plane. He left.
The take-off was spectacular in that the DC8 taxied to the very threshold of
runway 26 and was at what appeared almost full power for upwards of 30
seconds before the brakes were release. Three quarters of the way down the
runway the aircraft disappeared in a cloud of blown snow before reappearing
in its climb over the Imperial Oil refinery. There likely wasn't much