After a few months or years of working rotating shifts at the Diavik Diamond Mine, flying to the site can become routine.
Employees file into a twin-propeller plane, exchange small talk with the crew and then tend to put their earbuds in and try to catch some shut-eye before their shifts, says Sean Farmer, a pilot who until recently worked with Northwestern Air Lease Ltd. Mr. Farmer flew all over the North, including twice-monthly flights between Fort Smith, NWT, and the Diavik mine, about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
This past week, that routine was tragically disrupted when a Northwestern plane crashed just after takeoff on Tuesday, roughly a kilometre from Fort Smith. The crash killed six people – four mine employees and the two pilots – and left a sole survivor with injuries.
Mr. Farmer, who is in his mid-20s, was close friends with the younger pilot, who was also in his 20s, and mentored by the older one. Within hours of the incident, Mr. Farmer spoke with the young pilot’s devastated parents in Edmonton. He also reached out to former housemates – who worked with him at Northwestern Air – in Fort Smith, but none of them wanted to talk much about the crash.
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