Incident de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide VP-KEA,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 25859
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Sunday 24 January 1954
Type:Silhouette image of generic DH89 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide
Owner/operator:East African Airways
Registration: VP-KEA
MSN: 6890
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Muchison Falls, Butiaba, Lake Albert -   Uganda
Phase: Take off
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Butiaba, Lake Albert, Uganda
Destination airport:Entebbe, Uganda
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
C/no. 6890: Taken on charge as NR814 at De Havilland Witney 31.5.45. C of A 7223 issued 1.9.45. Sold 7.9.45 to KLM. Registered as PH-RAA [C of R 369] 19.9.45 to Ministerie van Verkeer en Energie/Rijksluchtvaartdienst (Ministry of Transport and Energy, Civil Aviation Authority, The Hague); operated by KLM until 1.11.46. Re-registered as VP-KEA (C of R 103) 8.5.47 to East African Airways Corporation, Nairobi. UK C of A renewed 16.7.47.

Written off (damaged beyond repair) when crashed on take off and destroyed by fire whilst attempting to lift off from a disused airstrip near the Muchison Falls at Butiaba, Lake Albert, Uganda; aircraft was rescuing occupants of a crashed Cessna 180. The occupants of the crashed Cessna were Ernest Hemingway his wife Mary and the pilot if the Cessna, they were also on board the crashed Rapide. According to contemporary newspaper reports ("The New York Times" January 25 & 26, 1954 - see links #6 & 7):

"Hemingway Out of the Jungle; Arm Hurt, He Says Luck Holds
Entebbe, Uganda, Jan. 25--
Ernest Hemingway arrived in Entebbe today after having survived two plane crashes in the elephant country of Uganda. His head was swathed in bandages and his arm was injured, but the novelist, who is 55 years old, quipped: "My luck, she is running very good."

He was carrying a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin. With him was his wife, the former Mary Welsh. She had two cracked ribs and was limping as Mr. Hemingway helped her from an automobile that brought them here from Butiaba, 170 miles away.

Although he declined an offer to fly out of the jungle after his second crash yesterday, Mr. Hemingway said with a grin that he would fly again as soon as he had found another plane. He waved a swollen arm, wrapped in a torn shirt, and appeared to be in high spirits as he shrugged off the crashes.

He joshed his wife, saying her snoring had attracted elephants as they camped overnight near the wreckage of the first plane that crash-landed Saturday near Murchison Falls on the upper Nile near Lake Albert.

"We held our breath about two hours while an elephant twelve paces away was silhouetted in the moonlight, listening to my wife's snores," Mr. Hemingway roared. Mrs. Hemingway, a former war correspondent, smiled. Mr. Hemingway was examined by a doctor at Butiaba, scene of the second plane crash. An X-ray was advised, but he apparently was not badly hurt.

The first accident occurred when a Cessna, piloted by Roy Marsh, cracked up near the 400-foot falls while making an emergency landing. Search pilots who flew over reported herds of elephants near.

The second accident occurred Sunday 24th after the Hemingways had been taken by a tourist steamer to Butiaba. There a plane, piloted by T. R. Cartwright, ground-looped into a sisal plantation and caught fire.

Mr. Hemingway said the blue and silver single-engine Cessna they had hired for the flight to Murchison Falls crashed when Mr. Marsh dived at low altitude to avoid hitting a flying flock of ibises--black and white jungle birds big enough to smash the canopy of the plane.

Landed on Elephant Track

Mr. Hemingway said that to miss the ibises the plane had to land either on a sandpit where six crocodiles lay basking in the sun or on an elephant track through thick scrub. Mr. Marsh chose the scrub and landed the plane with minor damage. They spent Saturday night around a campfire surrounded by the elephant herd and caught a ride yesterday morning in a launch filled with tourists back to Butiaba on Lake Albert.

When the second plane ground-looped and caught fire. Mr. Hemingway said he butted open the rear door and scrambled out. His wife and the pilot also escaped, but all their luggage was destroyed.

Even when the first crash stranded them overnight in the jungle, Mr. Hemingway said he was not worried. "We had emergency goods, but were short on water," he said. "We took turns going to the river, but the elephants were very stuffy about it. There were lot of hippos and crocs wandering around the river bank."

According to Michael Palin, writing in his diary when he visited the spot:

"Hemingway's survival of two consecutive air crashes was news across the world, and generally the cause of much rejoicing. But it had come at considerable cost. Writing to Harvey Breit ten days later, Hemingway assessed the damage.

'I ruptured the kidneys, or maybe only one, the liver, the spleen (whoever she is) had the brain fluid ooze out to soak the pillow every night, burnt the top of the scalp off, etc. Also...had to take two breathes in the fire which is something that never really helped anybody except of course Joan Of Arc.'

He didn't mention the sprained arm and leg and the crushed vertebrae and the paralysed sphincter and the temporary loss of hearing and eyesight."



Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
07-Dec-2010 13:28 Anon. Updated [Aircraft type]
02-Jan-2012 05:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
12-Dec-2013 18:42 TB Updated [Source, Narrative]
13-Dec-2013 16:03 TB Updated [Location, Narrative]
01-Dec-2018 13:41 Cobar Updated [Nature, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
22-Feb-2019 21:57 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
22-Feb-2019 22:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
16-Jan-2022 06:17 Ron Averes Updated [Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314