Improbable Cause: Deceit and Dissent in the Investigation of Canada's Worst Air Disaster


553 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7704-2488-0
DDC 363.12'465'09718






Reviewed by Peter Henderson

Peter Henderson teaches history at Douglas College in New Westminster,


This book deals with the 1985 crash of an Arrow Air DC–8 at Gander,
Newfoundland. In the worst air disaster in Canadian history, 256 people
were killed. Apart from the crew, all were American servicemen returning
from the Middle East.

Filotas examines the extreme probability that the aircraft was
sabotaged by Arab interests, and then goes on to describe and document
what is nothing less than an amazing cover-up by the Canadian Aviation
Safety Board. The author, a member of the board, dissented from the
finding that the crash was caused by ice on the plane’s wings. He
tells a sobering story of how crucial evidence can be ignored and
subverted by a government body in Canada no less than in any other
country, even when dealing with a topic of such vital public interest.

It is unfortunate that the book is too long, and includes what is, to
this reviewer, excessive detail of the later stages of the board’s
proceedings. Nevertheless, it is a tale that deserves to be told.


Filotas, Les., “Improbable Cause: Deceit and Dissent in the Investigation of Canada's Worst Air Disaster,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 16, 2024,