Monday 10 December 2012

Five Hurt As C.A.A. Plane Crashes In Mist Near Blantyre

From Our Correspondent
Blantyre,. Sunday.

When a Central African Airways Beaver aircraft made a forced landing and crashed 11 miles from Blantyre last night, the pilot, Mr. R. M. Holmes, who had one leg broken and had injured the other, crawled back into the wreckage to rescue one of the passengers

There were four passengers in the plane, which was on: a scheduled flight from Lilongwe to Blantyre. When the pilot and the passengers were being taken to hospital by car, the car skidded into a ditch but they were able to proceed.

The four passengers were Mr. R. W. Kettlewell, Director of Agriculture, Nyasaland, Mr. I. Berry, of the Federal Civil Aviation Department, Salisbury, Mr. G. McCalman, a Nyasaland Labour Officer, and Mr. F. I. Scott, of Nyasaland..

Mr. McCalman told me the story of the crash.

"We were going down the Shire River," he said. "It got dark early and then the real difficulty came when cloud and mist closed In.

"The pilot followed the railway line, flying very low to the ground, but after a time he told us that unless he put down we might go into the hills around Blantyre. We fastened our belts and waited.

Wings Torn Off

"The pilot found a little open space and we set down, but it was too short and the trees rushed towards us; tearing off the wings.

"We were tossed all over the place.

" When the plane came to rest it was on its port side. The engine had fallen out.

"The starboard door was opened and the others crawled" out, but I found that my left arm was trapped by the seat. The others had a look and: found that the whole weight of the. plane was trapping me.

"Then the pilot crawled back into the plane to see if he could help. He must have been pretty brave to have done that for he knew he had a broken leg."

Above: Mr. R. KETTLEWELL, one of the passengers who were Injured on Saturday when a C.A.A. Beaver aircraft made a forced landing in Nyasaland.

Further Newspaper Cutting
Air crash victim in hospital Mr. F. I. Scott, one of the passengers injured when a C.A.A. Beaver aircraft crashed near Blantyre on Saturday night, was flown to Belvedere Airport yesterday.
He was taken to the Salisbury hospital in an ambulance.

The pilot of the aircraft, Mr. R. M: Holmes, is expected to arrive in Salisbury today.

End of newspaper reports

Dave Vermaak recalls:-
For info. the accident took place on Saturday 21 April. Mike was the last to be moved from the accident site by ambulance. To add insult to injury the ambulance en route to the tar road ran into a ditch before it could get underway again with young Mike.

He was fairly newly married and I collected his wife next day at Chileka Airport and took her to the old hospital in Blantyre to lavish further care and attention to speed his recovery! I think they went back to Salisbury on the Monday or Tuesday.

His widow Val now resides in Pretoria. For info. whilst undergoing his flying training in the SAAF at Dunotter he had his Harvard's wing taken off by another aircraft and he had to bail out!
Using the Irving parachute to save his life made him a member of their Caterpillar Club and earned him a Golden caterpillar lapel pin.

Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris from the December 1959 publication which was made available by Dave Vermaak

Thanks to Dave for sharing his memories with ORAFs.
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