Rock collector believes he’s found pieces of Arrow Air Flight 1285
A local rock collector discovered more than interesting quartz earlier than month when scouring the shores of Gander Lake.
Kyle Smook, originally from Peace River, Alta., was walking along the shore on Aug. 4, looking for rocks, when something else caught his eye.
He didn’t think anything of it at first, but then it dawned on him.
© Matt Molloy photo
Kyle Smook, a rock collector, went searching for rocks by the shores of Gander Lake on Aug. 4, but came across something much more interesting. He has in his possession what he believes to be pieces of ArrowAir Flight 1285 that crashed just after takeoff in Gander on Dec. 12, 1985.
“The first piece I found was on Aug. 4. I was just looking along the beach, I’m a rock collector, too, so I was just looking for some cool rocks. That’s when I came across a piece of metal,” said Mr. Smook last Thursday, pointing towards one of the approximately 40 pieces of metal he had sealed inside a Ziploc bag. “I thought, that’s strange, and then I put the connection in my head that it might be from the crash.”
The wreckage he’s talking about, of course, is the ArrowAir Flight 1285 that crashed just after takeoff in Gander on Dec. 12, 1985 on route to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The crash took the lives of all 256 passengers and crew on board.
It’s been the topic of conversation for the past 28 years, and one that is marred with controversy.
So, after finding his first piece on Aug. 4, Mr. Smook decided to go back to see if he could find more.
“I kept going back every couple of days whenever I had the chance, and I just kept finding more pieces,” said Mr. Smook. “The pieces I found were all by the shore, although, this piece was up by the woods. I think it’s part of the wing, maybe. You can see where the rivets went.”
Mr. Smook held on to the pieces, but then remembered a story he had read in The Beacon in August 2012.
Lew Howell, owner of a local business in Gander, had got in touch with The Beacon after he, too, came across a big chunk of metal he believed to be from the same crash.
Mr. Smook got in touch the business owner to see what he had to say about his own findings.
“I saved them for a bit, but then I thought about it, I read an article last year (in The Beacon) where you interviewed the owner of the gift store in the mall,” said Mr. Smook “I took it to him, and he said they’re exactly like the ones he found.”
Now that he has them, Mr. Smook would like to know exactly what he has in his possession.
“I’m hoping this will help the investigators. Maybe they’ll find something useful with the pieces.” Kyle Smook
Were they a part of a wing? Were they a pivotal part of the landing gear? What exactly does he have in that Ziploc bag?
He may need some help finding out, as the pieces are melted into odd shapes.
“I would like to know what parts they are but it’s hard because they’re melted,” said Mr. Smook. “You can see what the intense heat did to the pieces. You can see by how it melted there must have been quite a bit of heat.”
For now, Mr. Smook will hold on to his findings, but if the proper authorities wanted to speak to him regarding the pieces, he would have no problem sharing what he knows.
Mr. Howell informed Mr. Smook the U.S. government might be interested, so if that’s the case, Mr. Smook just hopes his pieces would be of help.
“I’m hoping this will help the investigators,” said Mr. Smook. “Maybe they’ll find something useful with the pieces.”
In the meantime, Mr. Smook said he would like to go down to Gander Lake again to see if he could find even more pieces.
He knows there’s more down there, so he plans on going down with more tools, and maybe even a metal detector.
“It’s unique because there’s never two rocks that are ever the same. There are some rocks at Gander Lake with pieces of gold in them, and I don’t know if many people know about that,” said Mr. Smook. “Just like these pieces, there’s no two that are the same.
“I do know there are a more pieces down there that are wedged under rocks, so I’m going to go back with some tools to try and get those out, too. I think when the explosion happened, maybe the pieces of metal just went right in and melted and dried,” said Mr. Smook. “They seem like they’re bigger pieces.”