Air Rhodesia Flight 827

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Air Rhodesia Flight 827
Air Rhodesia Viscount
Crash from Missle Shot summary
Date12 February 1979
SiteVuti Purchase Area
Aircraft typeVickers 748D Viscount
OperatorAir Rhodesia
Flight originSalisbury
Last stopoverKariba

Air Rhodesia Flight 827 was a scheduled flight carrying 54 passengers and 5 crew members that was shot down shortly after departing Kariba. The plane was hit in the jet pipe of the inner port engine by a SAM-7 missile launched by the soldiers from Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe Peoples Revolution Army (ZIPRA). The plane burst into flames and crashed out of control into a ravine in the Vuti African Purchase Area. All 59 people on the plane died.[1] The plane crash is the country's worst ever by number of fatalities.


Air Rhodesia Flight 827, a civilian aircraft commonly referred to as Umniati (for Munyati), had just left Kariba Airport (KAB/FVKB) at 5PM and was headed to Salisbury Airport (HRE/FVHA) . The plane was flown by pilots Captain Jan Andre de Plessis and First Officer Michael Thomas Moolman [2] and was full.

Soon after take-off, ZIPRA soldiers launched anti-aircraft missles (some reports have said "Strela 2"[3] ) one of which hit the plane, sending it crashing down at approximately 17:06hrs. It came down about 46 kilometres due east of Kariba, in the Vuti Purchase Area.[4] The plane was damaged beyond repair.

Air Rhodesia general manager, Captain Pat Travers, announced that a "distress signal was made from Viscount VP-YND operating flight RH827 from Victoria Falls, Wankie and Kariba."[4]

Crew and Passengers on Flight 827


Kathryn Jane Creigh-Smith (29), Caroline Lynette du Chemin (21) and Regina Chigwada (23) a trainee air hostess.[4]


Lynnette Ballentyne, Arthur Bensusan (67), Brenda Betts (36), Mark Betts(11), Russell Betts(9), Annette Billington, Marinda Blignaut, Desmond Boyd (53), Gladys Boyd (51), Noel Boyd (26), Ian Boyd (25), Andrea Boyd (16), Leonie Boyd (14), George Dardagan, Ursula Dardagan, Margaret "Margo" Davies, F. Deleplangue, Pauline Delport, Ian Dempsey, B. Derham, T. Descampe, Y.Descampe, Derek Ebben, Alec Fairlie, Nancy Fairlie, Rouche Francois, John Gobey, Donald Goldin, Peter Grey, Andrew Hardinge (14), Michael Harraghy, Ron Isitt, S. Maere, Maere, Lt Andrea Mason, Susan E. Morgan, B. Muzando, R. PLouvier, Spike Powell (A Rhodesian Army Lieutenant ‘Spike’ Powell who had worked with British pseudo-gangs in Kenya during the Mau Mau emergency of the 1950s), Denise Quinese, Mitze Rees, Gillian Tabor, Paul Tasker, John Teede, Sheila Teede, Linda Thomson nee Mann, Henry van der Merwe, J. Viljoen, D. Viljoen, Rob Virgette, Deirdre Wakefield, Ted Wigg (37), Loris Zucchini (58)[2]


With the sole exception of the International Airline Pilots Association, there was no condemnation by the international community for the attack. Western governments Britain and the United States, apparently did not condemn the attack fearing it would considered support of Ian Smith’s white minority government.[3]

Secretary general of Zimbabwe People's Party, Lovemore Chiyangwa expressed sympathy for the loss of life, and deplored the "act of terrorism" commenting to the Herald that "If such acts of barbarism are to continue, the Transitional Government should think again on the necessity of having elections under such conditions."[4]

In 2013 a motion in the British Parliament was moved by Labour MP Kate Hoey to have the shooting of Air Rhodesia Viscount RH827 condemned and commemorated. Hoey argued that civilians in the flight were killed and there was need to give February 12 official recognition. The motion was condemned by Zimbabwean politicians with Zanu-PF's Rugare Gumbo describing it as racist. MDC's Kurauone Chihwayi said the motion had been moved by misguided elements. Mavambo Kusile Dawn’s Tendai Kwari said the motion was opening healing wounds saying “I would like to remind MP Kate Hoey that thousands of poor Zimbabwean refugees were massacred by the Rhodesians at Tembwe and Chimoio. These two camps had schools and clinics and thousands of children were butchered.” [5]


  • ZIPRA was also responsible for shooting down an Air Rhodesia Viscount on 3 September 1978. The crash site of Flight 827 was only about 50 kilometres north-east of the spot where the sister Viscount, the Hunyani, was shot down on September 3.[4]
  • Rhodesian SAS soldier, Keith Nell, wrote a book and released a DVD titled Viscount Down: The Complete Story of the Rhodesian Viscount told by a SAS Soldier recounting the event.


  1. Criminal Occurrence description, Aviation Safety Network, Published:Unknown, Retrieved:11 February 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crew & Passengers of the Viscount Disasters.,, Published:Unknown, Retrieved:11 February 2015,
  3. 3.0 3.1 Books and DVD's covering the shooting down of the civilian Air Rhodesia Viscounts by ZIPRA terrorists during the Rhodesian Bush War., Books of Zimbabwe, Published:Unknown, Retrieved:11 February 2015,
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Terrorist missile speculation as second airliner crashes, The Herald title Published:13 February 1979, Retrieved:11 February 2015,
  5. House of Commons Rhodie motion ‘a racist stance’, The Herald, Published:11 February 2013, Retrieved:12 February 2015