Monday, 9 September 2013

An Early Glider Crash at Umtali

By Lewis Walter (Intaf)

 Does anyone remember what may have been the first glider crash in Umtali ?

 In the late 1930s an "air show" was organized at the Umtali landing ground. This may in fact have been the opening of the Umtali Gliding Club in April 1938, but I was only about five at the time, so cannot be sure.

 To little kickers like my brother Austin and me, this was a most exciting event - particularly to Austin who was to be given a "flip" in Mr. Perrem's aeroplane in an effort to cure his whooping cough.  I can't remember if it cured his cough, but he certainly enjoyed the experience.  Mr. Perrem then offered to take me up, but I refused point blank unless Daddy came up also - which he did with me on his lap.

Later there was a gliding display.  We all watched in fascination as the glider circled overhead, gaining height - and then gasped in horror as it seemed to go out of control and plummeted to the ground.  Everyone rushed to the site, and I have a clear recollection of crumpled wings and struts, and a young man (probably in his late teens or early twenties) still strapped into his harness and begging the medics "Please don't tell my Dad - I promised him I wouldn't go up".  His main injury was a broken spleen, so presumably Dad was later fully informed of the event !

I don't know if the young man was the pilot or passenger, but have often wondered if he went on to join the Air Force and serve in the Second World War which was then on the not-too-distant horizon


Thanks to Lewis for sharing this memory with us all.

If you can assist with information or would like to record a comment (complimentary ones please) please send them to Eddy Norris at

A flip in a glider for whopping cough! Jeepers we all know what the cure for a tummy ache was in those days - the old and faithful village pump ( enema) came out and you were soon sprinting sensation.

I know that in the 2000s a family from a small village in the Eastern Districts used "Worm Tablets" for an upset tummy.

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At 13 September 2013 at 10:47 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Wendy Grobler (nee Marneweck) Writes:-
Have just read about the first glider crash in Umtali and remember that my brother, Dave Parsons, crashed a glider there. He survived and I think came away with a lot of bruises but nothing broken. If anyone knew Dave Parsons and remembers the accident I would love to hear what actually happened. There was a 12 year age difference between us so I just remember he crashed.

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