The Downing of Flight 108
Every now and then, Flight 108 made a pit stop at Forestville, a lumber town halfway between Quebec and Baie Comeau, depending on whether a passenger was scheduled to disembark or board there. That day, there was no call for that, and ten minutes out of Quebec, Flight 108’s pilot was told over the radio that he could skip the Forestville stop. He acknowledge receipt of the message, and that was the last anyone heard of him.
It was a beautiful day, with nice weather, and Flight 108 was serenely winging its way through the skies. Suddenly, at roughly 10:45AM, people on the ground near the tiny fishing village of Sault au Cochon, forty miles northeast of Quebec, heard an explosion in the sky. Looking up, they saw an airplane, with white smoke coming out of its left wing root. The plane made a sharp turn to the north, then dove straight down into nearby Cap Tourmente, a tree covered hill.
With 23 fatalities, it was one of Canada’s worst air disasters, so it attracted considerable attention. Even more attention was caused by the fact that the dead included three prominent American businessmen – the president, president-designate, and vice president of Kennecott Copper Corporation. As investigators swarmed over the crash and began interviewing witnesses, it quickly became clear that the crash had been no accident, and that Flight 108 had been deliberately blown up by somebody.
Guay’s plan had begun to unravel as soon as Flight 108 crashed where it did. Calculating flight time and path, he had set the timer for the bomb to go off while the aircraft was over the Saint Lawrence River, so it would plummet into the waters below. As Guay saw it, and with good reason given the state of technology back then, if the plane crashed into the river, it would be extremely difficult, and probably impossible, for forensics investigators to piece together what had happened. Unfortunately for him, the flight took off five minutes late, and that delay wrecked Guay’s careful calculations
Because the plane took off late, instead of crashing and vanishing into a big river, the bomb went off five minutes earlier than Guay had wanted. Flight 108 thus ended up crashing on land, where its debris were readily available for forensics examiners. Between the dynamite residue, evidence of an internal blast, and the reports of eyewitnesses on the ground that they had heard an explosion in the sky, it was not long before examiners shifted gears. The Flight 108 investigation became a criminal matter, seeking to find the culprit responsible for what was then Canada’s biggest mass murder.