North Star Falling — Death rains from the sky over Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Part 8)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


Just one book about TCA Flight 9 exists — Mid-Air Moose Jaw, by Larry Shaak.1 In the last chapter, Shaak writes about the unveiling, in 2006, of a cairn in Moose Jaw commemorating the victims of the collision. Col. Alain Boyer, commander of 15 Wing, RCAF Station Moose Jaw, offered his perspective:

As the years have gone by, the memory of the 1954 collision have begun to fade. But to the families of those that died and the citizens of Moose Jaw, and the airmen and air women stationed at 15 Wing, the memories of that day will never fade.

One of the poignant moments of that day was the meeting of two people who certainly will never, ever forget. Jim Bell, the son of TCA Flight 9 pilot Capt. Ian Bell, and Bill and Larry Hadwen, whose mother, Martha, was the only person on the ground who died when the North Star fell from the sky, met for the first time. “This,” Shaak writes, “was a meeting of brothers from two families who had something deeply tragic in common.”

Another aviation tragedy

The collision between the TCA Flight 9 North Star and an RCAF Harvard trainer was not the only aviation tragedy on April 8, 1954, nor the most famous one by far.

About three hours after the remains of the TCA North Star and the RCAF Harvard plunged to earth in Moose Jaw, a South African Airways de Havilland Comet 1 jetliner, registered G-ALYY, took off from Rome’s Ciampino Airport, bound for Cairo and Johannesburg. Approximately half an hour later, it disintegrated in flight.

The loss of the Comet, coming on the heels of another Comet crash, three months earlier, triggered an investigation that revealed a previously unknown hazard of jet flight — metal fatigue caused by repeated flexing of vulnerable portions of the pressurized fuselage. Read more about this crash and its impact on the world’s aviation industry at A Comet Falls.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

  1. Mid-Air Moose Jaw, by Larry Shaak, published in 2007, has been the primary source for this web page. It’s out of print but currently available from the Advanced Book Exchange. Shaak, who died in 2013, was a schoolboy in the town of Herbert, Saskatchewan, on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Moose Jaw, heard about the collision over Moose Jaw on the radio when he was home for lunch. He was already fascinated by airliners, and in his book’s preface he writes of the sense of wonder he had regarding the crash and of the many unanswered questions he had about it, questions he later was able to answer by writing Mid-Air Moose Jaw