One of Canada’s best flying stories has caught the attention of Hollywood. Inkubate Entertainment is in the early stages of putting the story of the Gimli Glider on the silver screen. “The latest we’ve heard is that they’ve hired two scriptwriters,” Bob Pearson, captain of fuel-starved Air Canada Boeing 767 told CTV “We never know, but we are hopeful, and it’s, of course, something very interesting to be involved in.” Pearson, who is now 82, was in the left seat of the brand new widebody on July 23, 1983, when it inexplicably ran out of fuel at 38,000 feet over Northern Ontario. “There was a loud bong and the cockpit (and) the flight deck simply went black,” said Pearson. “We (were) a great big glider.”
He and First Officer Maurice Quintal, who has since died, initially headed for Winnipeg for an emergency landing but calculated they wouldn’t make it. The former military airfield at Gimli was closer and they turned toward it. The abandoned runway was filled with families attending go-kart races when the huge aircraft swoops silently into view, side slipping to lose altitude and speed. Although the nosegear wasn’t fully deployed and collapsed on touchdown, there were no injuries on board or on the ground. The aircraft was repaired and went on to fly for the airline for more than 30 years. A mix-up between metric and imperial measures led to insufficient fuel being loaded for the flight from Montreal to Edmonton.