Museum staff map decades-old crash site

Forty-five years after a Pacific Western Airlines cargo jet crashed on approach to Edmonton’s International Airport, pieces of the Boeing 707 are still scattered among the trees in a wooded area of Leduc.

Officials with the city want to clear the site to build a park but they also wanted to preserve the remaining details of this historic crash.

Alberta Aviation Museum Curator Lech Lebiedowski answered the call. Along with 418 Suadron Archivist Ryan Lee, the pair documented dozens of small pieces that remained at the site.

PWA Flight 3801 was inbound from Toronto with 86 head of cattle on the evening of December 31, 1972, when it crashed short of runway 29. All five crewmembers were killed in the burning wreck. The final report into the crash blamed a number of factors including fatigue, bad weather and pilot error.

“This is part of our local history,” says Lebiedowski. “Many people still remember the crash because everyone died and it was one of the largest aircraft at the time.”

In return for its efforts, the museum has obtained a section of the fuselage, complete with the PWA markings, for a future exhibit. The rest of the pieces are being kept by Leduc for their own archives.