The Rhodesian Viscount Disasters
There cannot possibly be a greater anxiety than being in an aircraft and knowing that it is going to crash. Absolutely nothing can be done to prevent this. The only option is to sit and wait for disaster to happen.
But that which awaited the civilian passengers and crew on Air Rhodesia’s Flight RH 825 flying between Kariba and Salisbury in 1978 defied any horror that they could have foreseen when a SAM7 missile slammed into the starboard wheel bay and exploded with an almighty bang.
With all starboard controls damaged and pressurized fuel lines feeding a raging fire that could not be put out, the stricken plane lurched in the sky and had to be put down fast. On the ground, another terrorist group watched the doomed aircraft plunging toward earth. With communist rhetoric echoing in their minds, they hurriedly fixed bayonets to their AK47’s and ran toward the rising plume of smoke. In a cruel twist of fate, the miracle that there were crash site survivors turned into one of the most heinous acts of barbarity known to mankind.
From Torty King
Well done Keith…its about time an in depth publication was done on the tragedy. I personally knew Brenda Pearson ,one of the air hostesses murdered and her parents were good friends of my family. I look forward to reading your book.
When the SAS parachuted into the crash site the following morning, a grizzly scene awaited them. Nearby the wreckage lay the bodies of women, children and a baby who survived the crash landing, only to be bayoneted, and shot to death. When Joshua Nkomo, leader of the Matabele faction, bragged in a BBC interview that his ZIPRA forces were responsible, shock turned to anger. The people howled for retribution and demanded justice. Five months later, another Viscount airliner, the ‘Umniati,’ was also struck by a heat seeking missile and turned into a fireball in the sky and came down and crashed at high velocity into a ravine, instantly killing all 59 onboard.
This is a rare story by a member of the Rhodesian SAS that tells of unrelenting Rhodesian resolve to avenge the Hunyani and Umniati tragedies and the mission to locate and eliminate the Viscount Missile Gang before they attacked more civilian aircraft. It could only be told by someone who was there. I was there – but a mere pawn in the plans of Destiny. For many years, it didn’t occur to me that to leave this story untold would surely be an injustice. Be prepared….