updated 4/17/2009 12:01:50 PM ET 2009-04-17T16:01:50

A man aboard a small passenger plane fought to push open the aircraft's door at 23,000 feet over northern Canada and leaped to his death, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing with the door ajar, police said Thursday.

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The Adlair Aviation plane with two pilots and two passengers was flying from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay, a community in western Nunavut, when the man jumped Wednesday night, said Staff Sgt. Harold Trupish of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Beechcraft King Air 200 twin-turboprop was about 110 miles (180 kilometers) from the Cambridge Bay airport when the man jumped, he said. Police were searching for the body of the 20-year-old, whose name was not released.

Trupish said the pilots reported the passenger became unruly and they struggled to keep him from pushing the door open and leaping out.

"The plane came in with the door open," he said. "Somehow they were able to control the aircraft to land. The three other people are all OK."

Paul Laserich, general manager of the small family-owned airline that has operated in the Canadian north for more than 25 years, praised the pilots for getting the plane and their remaining passenger down safely with frigid Arctic air roaring into the cabin through the opening.

"They brought the ship safely back. Everybody is OK. They are a little shaken up. They are OK. That is what is most important," Laserich said.

He said the pilot was too distressed to talk to reporters.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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