Shawinigan Tower

Freak Accident Leads to
Record-Setting Blast

By Brent Blanchard

(Originally published in The Journal of Explosives Engineering USA, Explosives Engineering UK, Demolition & Recycling International, Demolition Magazine and Construction News UK)

 
At 1,217 feet, the tower was only 30 feet shorter than the Empire State Building
 
UPPER QUEBEC PROVINCE, CANADA - An emergency demolition project related to a bizarre plane crash has reportedly set a new world record for tallest structure ever explosively demolished.

On Sunday, April 22nd 2001, 38-year old Gilbert Paquette was killed when his single-engine Cessna 150 struck a 1,217-foot tall communications tower while flying in heavy fog over a remote region of upper Quebec Province.

At first, local townspeople and rescue crews were perplexed by the lack of debris at the crash scene. It wasn’t until several hours later that a policeman poring over the site happened to look upward and notice the aircraft’s main fuselage firmly wedged into the tower approximately 1,100 feet above the ground. Within a short time, the local coroner had surveyed the wreckage via helicopter and pronounced Mr. Paquette deceased.

Beyond the obvious human tragedy, tower technicians dispatched to the site described the accident as a “technological nightmare.” The plane’s impact had knocked the massive structure several feet off-center, affecting Quebec’s primary Canadian Broadcasting Company transmission point as well as a host of radio station, GPS and cell-phone transmitters.

 
Rescue and salvage teams gathering at a security checkpoint
 
Homes and businesses within a two kilometer radius of the tower were quickly evacuated as officials from several Emergency Management agencies converged on the scene. Within 48 hours, a team of structural engineers reached consensus that the tower was too unstable for salvage crews to scale, and officials struggled to find an alternative method of recovery.
 

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INTRODUCTION
THE DILEMMA
THE BLAST
EPILOGUE

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