Hercules aircraft reaches passengers and crew of Air Tindi crash in N.W.T.

Air Tindi’s building near the Yellowknife airport, pictured in August 2021. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

A Hercules aircraft has reached 10 people stranded about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, after a Twin Otter went down Wednesday afternoon.

Air Tindi president Chris Reynolds said passengers and crew are now waiting for pickup in heated tents.

Wind gusts have also calmed significantly, Reynolds said, and the crew is hoping to land at first light.

In an email, the public affairs officer of the 1 Canadian Air Division and Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters, David Lavallee, confirmed that a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules was on its way to the site from 17 Wing Winnipeg last night.

Lavallee said they were able to assess the 10 people on the ground. Six had minor injuries, while two had “moderate to serious” injuries but are improving, he said.

According to Reynolds, DND search and rescue technicians parachuted in last night around 8:40 p.m., about 8 hours after the incident.

They had been circling overhead starting at 7 p.m, but could not jump because of 60 km/h winds.

“We are extremely thankful for the courage and ability from our military’s search and rescue team. They are second to none,” Reynolds said in a text message early Thursday morning.

Original story:

A Twin Otter aircraft carrying eight passengers and two crew members has gone down about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

The privately chartered flight went down at 12:45 MT and crew are reporting only minor injuries, according to Chris Reynolds, president of Air Tindi, a small N.W.T.-based airline.

Military search and rescue has been dispatched to the site where passengers and crew have taken shelter, Reynolds said, and the airline’s own aircraft has also been working to get to the group.

As of 7 p.m. MT, Reynolds confirmed that the military would be trying to parachute in two search and rescue personnel this evening.

“We were taken by surprise. There was no warning that it was going to happen. So we’re just not sure what happened,” Reynolds said, adding that he’s currently focused on getting everyone out safely.

Air Tindi specializes in flying to remote parts of the North and has been in operation since 1988. Its fleet includes six Twin Otter planes and several others of different models. According to its website it operates daily scheduled flights, Air Ambulance services, and chartered flights catered to tourists or the needs of people working in mining and government.

Reynolds said the plane, which was on skis, went down in the area of the Diavik diamond mine camp, but the plane was not carrying passengers either to or from the camp.

Reynolds said those involved know exactly where the passengers and crew are sheltered thanks to satellite tracking and another plane that was able to fly over the area and spot them.

“We’re not sure at this time if they’re gonna have to spend the night, but they’re in a shelter there by the aircraft,” he said.

“The weather is quite poor and blowing snow. Winds are very strong up there, so it’s hampering getting to the aircraft, but we’re working on that right now,” he said.

Speaking to CBC News around 5:30 p.m. MT, Reynolds said he had not yet seen the crash site himself, and did not offer information on the condition of the plane or how it landed.

Once the group is rescued from the site, they will be taken to Yellowknife where those with injuries will be treated.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Crashed helicopter recovered in Canadian Arctic, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s only aircraft manufacturer loses prototype in Lapland crash, Yle News

Norway: Electric planes could arrive sooner than we think in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Helicopter crash might add power to Russia’s push for new base in Svalbard, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Poor cockpit communication behind fatal plane crash in Arctic Sweden, Radio Sweden

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