On Oct. 30, 1991, the Canadian Forces transport aircraft CC-130H Hercules 322 left Greenland on a routine airlift of supplies to the isolated Canadian Forces Station Alert, an electronic listening post on the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island in Canada’s High Arctic.
Everything—personnel, food, supplies, fuel—had to be airlifted into the station, situated 817 kilometres from the North Pole, far north of any settlement.
Flight Boxtop 22 was scheduled to arrive at the Alert airfield in the dark at 4:30 p.m. On board were a crew of five, 13 passengers and 3,400 litres of diesel fuel.
When the airport lights came into view, Captain John Couch started his descent for the runway. He was less than 10 minutes from the airfield when he radioed that the aircraft was in trouble.