TWENTY-EIGHT LIVES LOST
IN AIR DISASTER
One Man Survives After A.N.A.
PERTH June 27.-ln Australia's worst air crash late on Monday night 28 persons lost their lives out of
the 29 aboard.
The sole survivor was an elderly engineer from Adelaide, who was found in a dazed condition near the plane by two local men who were the first on the scene.
The plane was an A.N.A. Skymaster, the "Amana." It left Perth at 9.15 o'clock on Monday night on a scheduled flight to the eastern States, and crashed in heavily-timbered country near York, 50 miles away. It carried 24 passengers, including two in- fants, and a crew of five.
FAILED TO REPORT
Alter taking off the airliner set a course east and had reached the vicinity of York, which is about 50 miles east of Perth, when the disaster occurred.
First concern for the airliner was felt when the Amana did not report to the air traffic control at the first check-point on its route. Later, Captain Richards skipper of a Trans-Australia Air lines' Skymaster which left Guild ford for the Eastern States about a quarter of an hour after the Amana, reported seeing an ex plosion and fire in the area where the Amana was later found.
Ground search parties were or ganised immediately and about 11.30 p.m. (WA time) two local men, Mr W. Inkpen, and Frank McNamara, found the crashed airliner. They found the plane in heavily timbered rough counry on the Ferry Brown es- tate, about eight miles from the nearest road.
The airliner was still burning
and nearby was the sole survivor, his clothes afire and badly in- jured. He was identified as Edgar Forwood (67), engineer, of Hen- ley Beach, South Australia.
Plunging into the smouldering wreckage, Inkpen and McNam
ara found that the other 28 per- sons had been "cut to pieces" in the crash. There was no possi bility of any of these having sur vived the first impact, it was re- ported later.
PLUNGE THROUGH FOREST As it crashed the airliner cut a 400 yard long and 22-yard wide swathe through the forest, tear- ing down large trees as if they were matchsticks. It plunged deep into the earth, ripping up all undergrowth in its plunge through the timber.
According to the usual flight plan for Skymasters leaving Perth for the Eastern States the Amana would have just been levelling off from its climb pre- paratory to setting forth east- ward when the crash occurred.
The Amana is the first large modern four-engined civil airliner to crash in Australian air history.
SOLE SURVIVOR'S STORY
"The noise from the burning plane as it descended fast and hit the trees was awful," said Edgar Forwood, the sole survivor af the crash. "I thought I was going to die. The next thing I knew I was outside the ring of wreckage on fire. I rolled about on the ground."
Forwood, referring to the crash said "I felt the plane suddenly going down; then there were screams from the passengers, it was terrifying. We hit and I fell
Eight men carried Forwood, who remained conscious despite his bad burns, three miles on their shoulders, as the country was too rugged for any type of vehicle.
STORY OF RESCUERS.
Mr. F. McNamara, who, with Mr. W. Inkpen, was the first on the scene of the crash to-day, re- lated their experiences. He said that Inkpen reached the scene of the crash a little ahead of him and called out: "Quick, I've get one of the passengers."
McNamara, who has some know
ledge of first-aid, elected to stay with Forwood while his com panion set off for help. The first thing McNamara did was to ask Forwood his name. He gave it quite lucidly, mentioned his pro- fession, gave his address and even the address of a sister.
Forwood then asked if they had found his luggage and his wallet. Forwood seemed to be content. McNamara told Forwood to keep calm as it looked as though some of the petrol was going to explode.
Seconds afterwards the tank ex-
ploded and flames flared up.
After he had been given mor phia Forwood was lashed to a bush stretcher and was taken four miles to the nearest point to which a vehicle could be brought. Mr. Forwood is managing direc- tor of Forwood, Down and Co., engineers of Adelaide, and is aged 67. He has been using air trans- port for business trips for the last 20 years, but this was his first visit to Perth for over 30 years. He is a bachelor, but has two mar- ried sisters.
Captain R. K. MacDonald, who was in charge of the T.A.A. Sky
master which followed the ill- fated plane from Guildford aero- drome last sight, said to-day that a vivid flash of yellow light like a terrific bolt of lightning lit up the horizon for six seconds not long before he passed over the burning wreck in heavily timber- ed country.
A deep swathe was cut through the tall trees, and a number of small fires surrounding the main blaze indicated that the aircraft had crashed on to a 1000 foot slope before its 2500 gallons of petrol exploded.
"I took the T.A.A. Skymaster McDouall Stuart (VH-TAD) on to the runway at Guildford aero- drome at 9.50 pm, Western time," Captain MacDonald said. "The A.N.A. Skymaster was about 13
minutes ahead of me. It was a clear night with very little ground wind. At 10:13 p.m. when we had been up about three
minutes and were flying at 1500
feet above Guildford, I set a
course east-north-east to Cunderdin.
VIVID FLASH OF LIGHT
"Suddenly, about 35 miles ahead, dead on my course, I saw a vivid flash of light like a bolt of lightning. It mushroomed up and lingered over the horizon for miles around for about six sec onds. The passengers were about to bed down. We did not take particular notice of the flash at this moment, because there are often fires in this district At 10.24 pm. when we were at 7000
feet we saw through a break in the clouds what appeared to be a fierce fire on the ground. We reached Cunderdin, 83 miles east north-east on our track from Guildford to Kalgoorlie, a few minutes later. It occurred to me then that I had not overheard the A.N.A. plane check back by radio to Guildford as it passed over Cunderdin."
At about 10.30 pm Captain MacDonald radioed Guildford
and was told that the airport had not heard from the A.N.A. plane. The airport then tried to radio it and later told Captain Mac- Donald that it was unable to get a message from the aircraft.
"We then described the explos- ion we had seen and we suspected then that there was a connection between it and the Skymaster," Captain MacDonald said.
Guildford aerodrome im mediately told him to return to
the fire and investigate.
"We went back about 45 miles, passed over the fire at 7000 feet, and circled four or five times at a low altitude," Captain MacDon- ald said. "On the slopes rising to about 1000 feet, we could distin- guish a swathe several hundred yards long through the trees... It was characteristic of the track made by a crashing aircraft. There were a number of bright but smaller fires surrounding the main blaze. There was little doubt then that the machine had gone down there, although we could not distinguish the outline.''
HEARD ENGINE CUT OUT
"About 10.20, I heard the engine of a plane cutting out and it seemed to be very close. I ran outside and saw a flaming mass in the sky," said Mr. F. Mc- Namara, who appears to have been one of the few eye-witnesses of the Skymaster crash.
"It lit up my farm like a light- ning flash. It was obviously an aircraft on fire. It disappeared from view and I heard a loud explosion," said Mr. McNamara. "I jumped into my utility truck and raced in to inform the York police." Three ambulances were rushed from Perth and one of these picked up McNamara, who had set up search headquarters
McNamara and his two sons said the Amana roared over their house so low that the windows and doors rattled.
Two engines seemed to be cutting out," said Frank Mc
Namara. Seconds later, the
horror-stricken watchers saw a sheet of flame leap into the air from high country about four miles away.
At the same time, Mrs. O. Rob- ert Reimes, at her husband's farm on the other side of York road to the crash, heard a noise which she described as "the screaming of engines." "Then, though I did not hear a crash, I saw a terrific glow which lit up the whole of the sky," she said.
A.N.A. and Civil Aviation auth- orities inspected the Amana wreckage in the early morning light. There were indications that the starboard wing tip had been sheared off by one of the first trees touched. Practically every part of the plana wa man gled twisted wreckage. The largest part was a 20-foot piece of fuselage. One engine was thrown forward about 50 yards clear of the rest of the Skymaster. The other three were scattered along the course of the plane. Trees up to three feet in diam- eter in the path of the plane
were shattered. At the begin- ning of the Amana's course, one big tree had its top branches clipped level.
NINE BODIES LOCATED
Nine bodies were located early to-day and it is expected the still smouldering wreckage will re- veal more. The body of the plane captain, the least mutilated of all, was found thrown clear, with his tunic pulled up around
his face and head.