Two British fighter planes crashed during a refuelling manoeuvre in the skies above James Bay on Aug. 1.

The pilot and navigator of the first plane had to eject, and spent nine hours in a lifeboat on the La Grande River. Their Tornado fighter crashed, but Canadian and British military authorities didn’t know the location of the wreck when we went to press. The occupants of the second Tornado succeeded in doing a crash landing at the LG-2 airport. There were no serious injuries.

The two planes were being refuelled in mid-flight by a special fuel plane when the two Tornadoes collided. The crash occurred at 6 p.m. on Aug. 1. The occupants of the plane that crashed were picked up at 3:30 a m. by a Canadian military helicopter fromTrenton, Ont. According to a Canadian military spokesman in Goose Bay, Nfld., one of the two occupants had problems with his flotation device. A Canadian Hercules transport plane, also from Trenton, was able to drop off a new flotation device and emergency supplies earlier in the evening.

The two fighters were returning from exercizes in Alaska to their base in Goose Bay. The Canadian Forces Base in Goose Bay is a major international centre for training fighters and bombers in low-level ground-attack missions. The training base was developed during the Cold War for attacks against Soviet forces. During their training missions, the fighters fly at high speeds just above tree-top level in the Nitassinan Territory.

The flights are strongly opposed by the Innu living in the area, who have conducted a civil disobedience campaign against the flights for years. The Innu say the flights do major damage to local wildlife and the environment.

Although the Cold War is over, up to a dozen British fighters are still based in Goose Bay at any one time, according to Squadron Leader Angus McFee, the defense attache at the British High Commission in Ottawa. McFee said the downed Tornado was worth about $25 million.