Red Deer man joins plane search

A Red Deer man hopes to find a plane missing since 1950 in the Yukon.

A veteran Red Deer air search and rescue pilot is joining an operation to solve a 66-year-old aviation mystery.

Jim Thoreson has joined a team that hopes to locate the wreckage of a C-54 Skymaster transport plane that went down in the Yukon on Jan. 10, 1950 with 44 passengers and crew on board.

The plane left Elmendorf Air Field in Anchorage, Alaska to head south to Great Falls, Montana. The journey was a routine flight to ferry members of the military out of Alaska. Two civilians, a woman and her infant son, were also on board.

It was an eight hour journey but two hours in something went wrong. The pilot checked in by radio at Snag, Yukon and was on course. But that was the last anything was heard.

Despite a massive search effort the plane was never found. More than 7,000 people were involved in searching 560,000 square kilometres before the search was called off on Feb. 20.

A renewed search effort is expected to be filmed by a TV crew as part of a series expected to run on the History and Discovery channels.

Thoreson, who has been a pilot with the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association for more than 24 years, learned of the project through a friend and aviation historian living in Whitehorse.

He was then contacted by a TV producer associated with shows such as Ice Road Truckers, was who creating a show on missing aircraft.

“She asked if I wouldn’t mind reviewing the file to see if there is anything that was missed,” he said.

Since then, he’s put a “ton of hours” into the project, he said.

A tantalizing piece of evidence exists in the account of a man who found an orange and silver piece of aluminum consistent with the colours of the missing plane.

That was in 1975 and the man, who found it while riding his horse, never told anyone at the time.

Last August, searchers tried unsuccessfully to find the piece again.

Thoreson and civil air search and rescue members, including ground search and rescue members, will return next spring and renew the search into the summer. It’s hoped they will be able to bring long sophisticated scanning technology able to pinpoint metal debris from the air.

“You can fly it on a plane or helicopter to detect if there is any metal on the ground below us.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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