Arrow Air 1285 Crash and Iran/Contra

Charred weapons found in the wreckage of Arrow Air Flight 1285. Courtesy:

Charred weapons found in the wreckage of Arrow Air Flight 1285. Courtesy:

One of the country’s worst military air crashes is linked to Iran/Contra

Robert O’Dowd Global News Centre

(GANDER, Newfoundland) - Arrow Air Flight 1285 was the one of the worst military air crashes in US history, killing 248 troopers from the 101st Airborne Division and 8 crew members on December 12, 1985, at Gander International Airport, Newfoundland. The Arrow DC-8 fully loaded with 45,000 liters of jet fuel took off from Gander and seem to have difficulty gaining altitude, according to witnesses.  Witnesses on the highway saw a “bright glow emanating from the aircraft before it struck terrain just short of Gander Lake and crashed… 3,000 feet from the end of the runway.” [1]

The highlights include evidence supporting that a planted device sold exclusively by Accuracy Systems Ordinance Corporation to the CIA caused the explosion;[2] Lt. Col. Oliver North was involved, a Special Operations team boarded the aircraft at the last minute in Cairo. The aircraft may have been blown up to prevent them from blowing the whistle on an aborted suicide mission to use a nuclear backpack to blow up an Iraqi nuclear facility; Gene Wheaton had evidence that there were two Special Forces nuclear backpacks and TWO and Law anti-tanks missiles in the belly of the DC-8; an Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the explosion, which was summarily dismissed by the White House without any FBI investigation of terrorist involvement; and the FBI report on the crash had hundreds of pages redacted for national security reasons.

Flight 1248 had 3 legs:  1. Cairo to Cologne, changed crews and refueled, 2. Cologne to Gander, refueled and 3.  Gander to Fort Campbell.[3]<

The Canadian Aviation Safety Board (CASB) investigated the crash and released a report after several years’ delay stating that wing icing was the cause of the crash.  Professional aviation experts on the CASB refused to sign the majority report, wrote a dissenting report stating there was no evidence of wing icing and the crash could have been caused by an on-board explosion prior to impact.[4]

US Army Bulldozed Wreckage

The aircraft, fully loaded with jet fuel, burned for hours after the crash.  What was not consumed by the fire, the US Army bulldozed. At the scene, US Army Major John Crosby ordered the debris buried.  There were two empty hangars on the airfield that could have pieced the remaining wreckage together, which is the normal practice followed to determine the cause of a major air disasters.  From what little wreckage remained, there are blast holes inside to the outside, which supports proof of explosion in the aircraft. Nothing in any official Canadian report or US report would indicate that explosives were involved in the crash of Arrow Air 1285 with the exception of the minority report from the professionals on the Canadian Aviation Safety Board (CASB).

Why would the US government send a US Army Major General with no background in air crash investigations to Gander?  MG Crosby had been the Commanding General of Fort Sill, OK, before his selection in June 1985 for a third star and a new assignment in Washington.  Fort Sill is the home of US artillerymen but that’s a long way from aircraft and aircraft crash investigations.  There’s nothing to indicate that MG Crosby had any experience in aircraft investigations. Was his assignment necessary to ensure that only ‘the right dots’ were connected and all incriminating evidence was buried on the site?  Arrow Air was one of Ollie North’s favorite airlines and carried munitions for the Contras in the bellies of their aircraft, which was a violation of federal law to carry any explosives in passenger aircraft.  It’s within reason to believe that MG Crosby’s primary mission was to destroy debris that could be identified as TOWs and other munitions destined for the Nicaraguan Contras taken from the US cache in the Sinai.  Public disclosure of the use of Arrow Air to fly munitions for the Contras could have led to impeachment of President Reagan.

Gene Wheaton, well-known former US military investigator, became involved in the Gander Crash at the request of families of troopers killed in the crash.  In an interview with “Declassified” on Public Radio uplinked to Public Radio Satellite System on 8/22/2001, Wheaton said that he had evidence that there were two Special Forces nuclear backpacks aboard the plane, one had not been destroyed in the crash and fire and Gander firefighters became “permanently disabled from blood, liver, and kidney diseases”. [5]

Wheaton said that, “They [the families of dead servicemen] hired Dr. Cyril Wecht, a world-famous pathologist to analyze the pathology reports on the bodies…. somewhere up to 75 to 100 of the passengers on the airplane had inhaled lethal doses of carbon monoxide and HCN, hydrogen cyanide…you cannot get that into your system unless it’s inhaled in your lungs…meaning that those troops breathed those poison gases while the plane was in the air, while they were still alive.” Wheaton had confirmation that the plane had two Special Forces nuclear backpacks. According to Wheaton, there was opportunity to plant a bomb at Cairo and the plane flew out without clearing customs clearance available from the US Army but prevented from getting ramp passes to observe the loading of the aircraft by the peacekeeping forces on the aircraft.  No doubt the nuclear backpacks would have caused some concern on both the part of customs and the Arrow Air 1285 pilot.  Easy answer:  don’t give ramp passes to the US Army team responsible for ‘clearing customs’.  The nuclear backpacks give support that a Special Operation team was on the aircraft as alleged by Charles Byers (see below).[6]

This and other evidence support a pre-crash explosion, according to Wheaton. This includes sworn statements taken by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stating that Arrow Air 1285 was on fire as it lifted on the runway and that “it exploded in the air”.[7]

Wheaton obtained a copy of the roster of the troops aboard the aircraft. It included a nonexistent Company “E.” All of the men in Company E, except one, had the same military occupational specialty, which was TOW [Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided weapon wire-guided heavy anti-tank missile produced by Raytheon Systems Company]. TOWs were sold to Iran as part of an operation run by Lt.Col. Oliver North, the White House staffer who was the point man for the Iran/Contra Affair. The Iranian knew they were paying too much for the weapons but they were at war with Iraq and needed the weapons.  Under these circumstances, it’s unlikely that the Iranians would plant a bomb on the flight that would cut off weapon sales with the US.

Who were the men of the nonexistent Company E?  It’s highly doubtful that U.S. military personnel were involved in training Iranians on the use of TOWs.  Wheaton claimed that ‘the enterprise’ operated by Ollie North diverted weapons from US military stockpiles; the inventory procedures in the Siani peacekeeping force were weak and allowed TOWs and other weapons to be taken from stock and sold to the Iranians.  Arrow Air pilots told Wheaton that they illegally few weapons in the bellies of aircraft all over the world in DC-8s.  While that may be factual, it still doesn’t answer why TOWs would be in the belly of Arrow Air 1285 on a flight back to the states, unless the TOWs were rejected by the Iranians as defective or intended for use by the Contra forces in Nicaraguan.  This story gets even more scary.  The men assigned to the nonexistent Company E may have been part of a contingent of Special Operations force who boarded the aircraft in Cairo at the last minute whose mission was to rescue hostages and destroy an Iraqi nuclear weapons facility with nuclear backpacks. In either case, Arrow Air 1285 has Ollie North’s fingerprints all over it.

Aircraft Destroyed by CIA?

Charles Byers, president of Accuracy Systems Ordinance Corporation, New River, AZ, in a letter to the US House Intelligence Oversight Committee alleged that the CIA planted a device to blow up the Arrow flight at the Gander airfield. The device was manufactured by Byers’ company and sold exclusively to the CIA.

Special Operations personnel boarded the flight in Cario with two nuclear backpacks, according to Byers.

Byers alleged that Special Operations personnel aborted a suicide mission to blow up an Iraqi nuclear weapons development facility to make it seem like an Iraqi nuclear accident. This mission “seems to have been under the direction of Lt. Col. Oliver North.”   It was a suicide mission and may have been aborted when the Special Operations force realized they had no chance to outrun the blast from the nuclear explosion.[8] Did these men abort the mission on their own authority and now were literally expendable?  Even this was a suicide mission, would our government be so callous to kill those involved and take the lives of innocent bystanders?  There wouldn’t be a problem with a failed rescue mission but using a nuclear backpack to blow-up an Iraqi nuclear facility would not only destroy the facility but kill many others and cause an international uproar, if confirmed.

According to Byers, orders were given by the US Government to destroy the plane before it reached the United States. “A bomb was planted during a stop at Gander and remotely detonated shortly after the landing gear retracted upon takeoff…” If Byers is correct, who gave the order to kill?

Byers’ letter to Congressman Goss contains allegations that the CIA planted the explosive device at Gander to murder everyone on the aircraft.  The motive was to prevent a Special Operations Force from returning to the US and blowing the whistle on the aborted suicide mission to destroy an Iraqi nuclear weapons development facility to make it seem like an Iraqi nuclear accident.  Byers’s letter stated that the Special Operations Force was under orders from NSC staffer Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North. 

Death of LA Bomb Squad Confirms CIA Connection

We only have Charles Byers testimony for it but he wrote that Arleigh McCree, the head of the L[RO1] A bomb squad and a friend, visited him in his Phoneix museum.  Byers had samples of his special ordinance devices on display.  McCree “saw of these items, he excitedly proclaimed that it was the device that blew up the plane [this was about three weeks after the Arrow Air 1285 crash].  McCree allegedly told Byers that he would have to “get federal clearance to discuss this in more detail with me.”  McCree and his partner were killed in a bobby-trapped pipe bomb four weeks later.  Byers said that he started to ask questions and this led to “difficulties with federal agencies.  Following this, a bomb was mailed to Byers but opened by his plant manage who was killed in the explosion.  The ‘kicker’ is that Byers said his company manufactured and sold the explosive device identified by McCree exclusively to the CIA.[9]  

Honorable Portor Goss
Chairman House Intelligence Oversight Committee
US House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

February 14, 1998

My knowledge of CIA involvement in the crash of the Gander Arrow Air DC-8 and PAN AM 103

Dear Chairman Goss,

My specialized knowledge of ordinance, explosives and pyrotechnics may provide the missing insights needed to solve several major terrorist crimes. For 15 years my company ACCURACY SYSTEMS ORDINANCE CORPORATION, provided specialized explosive devices to law enforcement, the military, Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency.

As you read this letter Accuracy Systems’ former munitions manufacturing facilities in New River, Arizona are under occupation of the BATF who moved onto the property Sept. 20, 1997 and have been occupying the facilities there at considerable expense to the tax payers ever since. Their intent from the start has been to “blow up” the explosives magazines and burn our former research and development workshop and its contents — and in the process — destroy certain evidence that can link U S aircraft bombings to the CIA, a former client of Accuracy Systems.

Specifically, I wish to bring your attention to a device that Sgt. Arleigh McCree, the renowned head of the Los Angeles Police Bomb Squad Unit, felt certain was the device responsible for blowing up the US Army chartered ARROW AIR DC-8 passenger transport that crashed in Gander, Newfoundland December 12, 1985. All of the 248 servicemen and the 8-person flight crew died when the bomb exploded immediately after take-off. The plane then traveled a short distance in the air before it crashed and burned. Our firm designed and manufactured the responsible device exclusively for, and sold it only to, the Central Intelligence Agency.

This crash, which was the worst military air disaster in United States history, involved more strange occurrences than any other crash on record. While the wreckage still burned on the ground, White House Spokesperson Larry Speaks announced that the plane had crashed “probably as a result of icing on the wings.” This was the official cause that the US government forced on the Canadians, who have subsequently repudiated it.

There are compelling reasons to believe that this air crash involved a nuclear accident.

Within hours of the “crash”, U S Army General John Crosby arrived with a Broken Arrow Nuclear Disaster Team, and, without conducting any normal investigation, ordered the area bulldozed over with 6 feet of soil. There was a glowing white-hot object the size of a large grapefruit that had burned through the plane and through the body of a stewardess. This object continued to glow “white-hot” for 16 hours even after fire hoses were trained on it. This is NOT chemical behavior. It is what can only be expected of a sub-critical core of a nuclear bomb whose explosive shell had burned but did not detonate. The presence of this white-hot glowing object is the key to the motive for the bombing.

Most of the military victims had been part of the 101st Airborne who were returning from Cairo, Egypt, where they were part of the U. N. peacekeeping mission enforcing the Camp David Accords. However, in addition to these troops, there was also a small group of Special Operations personnel who boarded the plane at the last minute. Sources found to be reliable told me that these personnel smuggled a nuclear backpack bomb aboard in Cairo because they had discovered the true nature of their recently cancelled hostage rescue mission.

Their mission included surreptitiously transporting and detonating a small, man-portable nuclear backpack bomb at an Iraqi nuclear weapons development facility to make it seem like an Iraqi nuclear accident. This mission seems to have been under the direction of Lt. Col. Oliver North who frequently utilized Arrow Air to smuggle arms and other contraband in conjunction with the Iran-Contra operation. The soldiers were not told that they would not have the chance to outrun the blast that would destroy them. Thank God it is the duty of every soldier to disobey an unlawful order or the world would have seen its third intentional tactical nuclear detonation and the mass destruction of innocent civilians by a nuclear bomb.

Orders were given by U S Government personnel that this plane be destroyed before it reached the United States of America. A bomb was planted during a stop at Gander and remotely detonated shortly after the landing gear retracted upon takeoff. Enclosed color photos of the downed Gander plane show internal damage from an explosive. The blast holes are clearly from the inside to the outside.

I have since been informed that there was a completely new water system installed in Gander— courtesy of the US taxpayers. Was this because of nuclear contamination from the crash?

Three weeks after this disaster, Arleigh McCree, head of the LAPD bomb squad and a professional friend of mine, was visiting with me in Phoenix and examining items in our museum. This was where we kept samples of all of the different “Special Ordnance Devices” that we had produced over the previous twenty-something years. When Sgt. McCree saw one these items, he excitedly proclaimed that it was the device that blew up a plane. He said he would need to get federal clearance to discuss this in more detail with me. He did not reveal the exact plane at the time. Just four weeks later Arleigh McCree and his partner were killed disarming a pipe bomb that was booby-trapped. You will see from the enclosed article on this tragedy that these two deaths were also very unusual. In fact these are the only two members of the LAPD bomb squad to ever die this way.

Some time later when I began asking questions in professional circles I started to develop serious difficulties with certain agencies of the federal government. I was framed and convicted for a crime I did not commit. An attempt was made to implicate me in a plot to assassinate Corizon Aquino. On the same day that a sophisticated assassination weapon arrived in Australia for this purpose a bomb arrived in the mail addressed to me. It killed my plant manager instead. Certainly I would like to investigate the wrongs by these federal agencies. However, the real reason I am sending you the reports of federal efforts to silence me is to emphasize the value of the specialized knowledge that I possess. As a second example, I present photos of the detonator that initiated the bomb on PAN AM 103. I know where this circuit board was manufactured in Florida, not Europe, and that it was sold exclusively to the CIA— not to the Libyans!

As you can see from the letters of support attached to this letter there are persons in key positions willing to stick their necks out to proclaim my innocence. But there are far greater issues here than the fate of Chuck Byers. I am ready to provide all that I know whenever and wherever you think best.

Literally hundreds of American citizens and soldiers have been blown out of the sky. These mass murders need to be investigated and the guilty persons brought to justice!

I am sending this letter to every member of Congress in the hope that each of you will support my efforts to find answers to the haunting questions raised by the facts presented in this letter.

All of my current efforts to have local and federal law enforcement agencies (including their parent agencies in DC) investigate these matters have been unsuccessful. In fact, our US Attorney has actually defended the perpetrators and local US District Court judges have refused to act on my requests, or, in most cases, simply Dismissed them or ruled in favor of the U S Attorney. In spite of overwhelming evidence that not only am I telling the truth, but the Federal Agents are lying, filing False Affidavits or otherwise knowingly misleading the Court.

Since this matter represents a situation of extreme national importance, I am requesting you to immediately initiate hearings before the HOUSE INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE to thoroughly investigate these charges and to bring the guilty perpetrators to justice.

Charles M Byers

The professionals on the CASB concluded that an on-board explosive or incendiary device caused the Arrow Air 1285 crash.  Terrorists claimed responsibility for the crash.  The US quickly dismissed the terrorists’ claim within hours of the crash.  No follow-up on terrorist involvement was done by the FBI.  The FBI report on the crash contained hundreds of redacted pages, which is a strong clue that the politically correct term “national security interests” was in play.  Arrow Air was a charter airline that the NSC used to run guns to the Contras and may ship TWOs and HAWKs to the Iranians in the infamous Reagan Administration Iran/Contra guns-for-hostages’ fiasco.  A few weeks before the crash, the Iranians complained loudly about being over-charged for defective HAWK missiles. The security at the Cairo airport was inadequate at best and could have allowed the planting of an explosive or incendiary device or the aircraft.  The forensic evidence supports inhaled lethal doses of carbon dioxide and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) into the lungs of passengers.

No one survived the impact of the crash so a fire on board the aircraft while it was in flight is the only reasonable explanation for the lethal doses of poisonous gases. If terrorists were involved and that to me seems to be a stretch, then there’s no reason not to allow the FBI to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the terrorist group so that the US could take punitive action.  This gives more support to Charles Beyer’s allegation of CIA involvement and the deliberate destruction of the aircraft and the murder of 248 101st Airborne troopers and 8 crew members.  The remains of Special Operations nuclear backpacks were reported by Gene Wheaton on the aircraft. LTC Tom Badcock, the base nuclear officer at Gander Air Force Base, was called to the crash site; he confirmed the finding of a portion of one of the nuclear backpacks not completely destroyed.

[2] “Gander, Newfoundland, Crash Remains a Mystery to Canadians and American Public,” House of Representatives, July 20, 1989, The Congressional Record, page H4025, stated that, “Four of nine members of the Board [Canadian Air Safety Board] released a dissenting opinion from which I [Mr. Tallon from South Carolina] will quote:  “…We cannot agree-indeed, we categorically disagree—with the majority findings…The evidence shows that the Arrow Air DC-8 suffered an on-board fire and a massive loss of power before it crashed…The fire may have been associated with an in-flight detonation from an explosive or incendiary force.”
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Declassified, “Transcript of Gander Crash Program,”
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] John Byers, former member of Navy Seal Team Six, wrote Representative Portor Goss on February 14, 1998,”…Their mission [Special Operations team] included surreptitiously transporting and detonating a small, man-portable nuclear backpack bomb at an Iraqi nuclear weapons development facility to make it seem like an Iraqi nuclear accident. This mission seems to have been under the direction of Lt. Col. Oliver North who frequently utilized Arrow Air to smuggle arms and other contraband in conjunction with the Iran-Contra operation. The soldiers were not told that they would not have the chance to outrun the blast that would destroy them. Thank God it is the duty of every soldier to disobey an unlawful order or the world would have seen its third intentional tactical nuclear detonation and the mass destruction of innocent civilians by a nuclear bomb…”.


Bob O’Dowd is a former U.S. Marine with thirty years of experience on the east coast as an auditor, accountant, and financial manager with the Federal government. Half of that time was spent with the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia. Originally from Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 19, served in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings in 52 months of active duty in the 1960s.

A graduate of Temple University, Bob has been married to Grace for 31 years. He is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of two boys. Bob maintained a blog site on former MCAS El Toro at for several years. This subject is where Bob intersected with site founder Tim King. Bob served in the exact same Marine Aviation Squadron that Salem-News founder Tim King served in, twenty years earlier. With their combined on-site knowledge and research ability, Bob and Tim and a handful of other ex-Marines, have put the contamination of MCAS El Toro on the map. The base is highly contaminated with TCE, trichloroethelyne

You can email Bob O’Dowd, Environmental and Military Reporter, at this address: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Web Design BangladeshBangladesh Online Market