Relive the incredible story of a pilot forced to glide an engineless 767 to safety, from over 26,000 feet in the air.



(as Dave Gabriel Bene)

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Episode cast overview:
Narrator (voice)
Robert Bockstael ...
Captain Pearson
First Officer Quintal
Rob Desjardins
Susan Jewett (as Shelley Findlay)
Russell Ferrier ...
Rick Dion (as Russ Ferrier)
Valentin Nedialkov ...
Dryce Dell (as Valentine Ned)
Dino Calvert
David Fraser ...
Ron Hewett
Air Tech #1


Relive the incredible story of a pilot forced to glide an engineless 767 to safety, from over 26,000 feet in the air.

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Release Date:

14 May 2008 (Canada)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the 767 approaches the Gimli airstrip, it's free of any obstacles. When it touches down and slides down the runway, it is still completely free. Then, a metal guardrail appears in the middle of it, allowing the aircraft to slow down quicker. When the aircraft comes to a stop, the guardrail is still there; when the passengers are evacuated and the racers help the Captain put out the smoke, the guardrail again disappears. See more »

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User Reviews

Out of Gas.
10 September 2016 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Those interested in knowing more about this incident might want to look up a TV movie from 1995, "Free Fall: Flight 174." An Air Canada flight, a Boeing 767, has just passed the half-way point on its trip from Montreal to Edmonton in 1983, when warnings show up that two of the three gas tanks are low in pressure. The problem may be with the fuel pumps or with the amount of fuel available but other instruments show plenty of fuel. The pilot decides to head for the nearest airport, Winnipeg, only 120 miles away. At 26,500 feet -- still 75 miles from the airport -- both engines fail for lack of fuel. All the electrical equipment except the most basic is lost.

The First Officer calculate the distance and the rate of descent and informs the captain that they'll hit the ground before they make Winnipeg. The decision is made to switch to an abandoned air force strip at Gimli.

The pilot, Pierson, has a hell of a problem. Approaching Gimli, the airplane has too much altitude. If he descends normally he'll overshoot the strip and crash. If he noses down to lose altitude, he'll pick up speed and without any engines the airplane will roll off the end of the runway and crash. So Pierson sideslips the mammoth aircraft, crossing the controls so that the airplane is actually flying sort of sideways into the air, which cuts down its speed and drops its altitude. It's easy enough in a light airplane. I've seen it done with no trouble. But in an airplane weighing several tons it's a trip into the unknown.

But Pierson does get it down on the strip. The main landing gear drop and lock through gravity but the nose wheel fails to descend, so the Boeing lands and skids along with its nose on the airstrip. The problem is that Gimli is no longer an airstrip but has been converted into a drag race strip. No cars or humans are hit, but two young boys, staring at the airplane skidding towards them at 100 miles per hour, turn their bicycle around and try to outrace it. It never occurs to them to get off the strip, although it occurs to the pilot, who is close enough to see the terror on their faces.

So why did the Air Canada flight run out of fuel half way to its destination? The answer is simple, human, and easily rectified.

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