Say Goodbye to a Remarkably Lucky Airplane

Accidents/Incidents, Air Canada

The Gimli Glider, one of the greatest “feel good” stories in aviation history, was retired by Air Canada yesterday. The plane flew from Montreal to Tucson before heading to Mojave where it will probably meet its fate as a bunch of Molson cans. Actually, there is hope that someone will rescue it, but the future is up in the air right now.

For those who don’t know, you’ll be surprised to hear the the Gimli Glider was not some newfangled type of aircraft. It was just a 767-200. Actually, it was this ship:

08_01_25 gimliglider

What you’ll be amazed to know is that back in 1983, it ran out of fuel at cruising altitude due to an error converting between metric and imperial measurements. The skilled crew was able to glide the airplane down for over 100 miles, line up with an old abandoned military runway that was being used for go-kart races at that instant, and successfully bring the plane back to Earth without killing a single person. Sure the nose gear collapsed, but the plane was to be repaired and fly for 25 more years.

Where is Gimli, you ask? It’s about 55 miles north of Winnipeg. Where is Winnipeg? Find the border between North Dakota and Minnesota and head north.

If you’d like some more reading on this topic, there’s a good article on the retirement here. You can also buy a book and a movie that were made on the subject.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

2 comments on “Say Goodbye to a Remarkably Lucky Airplane

  1. Yeah, Winnipeg is 55 miles south of Gimli!

    Here are a few more facts about the incident, which can be found through Wiki or elsewhere…

    – The pilot was an accomplished glider pilot, calculated optimal speed to slope and knew advanced gliding techniques.
    – The co-pilot was an ex Canadian Air Force pilot. The only reason they found the airport is because he was stationed there!
    – A maintenance crew was dispatched to Gimli to inspect the dammage. They ran out of gas on the way there!

    What is it with Canadian pilots and gliding. (Ait Transat 236)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier