Ernest Hemingway and Mary Welsh Survive Two Plane Crashes
In the summer of 1953, Ernest and Mary were involved in two plane crashes in two days while in Africa. Following the first accident, word had spread that the writer died, many publications prematurely publishing his obituary before the couple finally arrived at their destination of Entebbe. Though both were injured, Hemingway suffered yet another traumatic brain injury with a fractured skull.
- [Narrator] As a Christmas gift for his wife,
Hemingway hired a small plane
that flew them over the Ngorongoro Crater,
the mountains of the moon,
and the mighty Murchison Falls in Uganda.
As the plane dipped low above the gorge,
so Mary could take photographs,
the pilot encountered a flock of birds,
dove to avoid them and hit
a telegraph line.
The plane plunged into the bush.
Mary was knocked unconscious,
two ribs broken.
Hemingway suffered a torn shoulder.
They spent the night high above the bank of the Nile
for fear of elephants.
Fortified by a bottle of Scotch
that had somehow survived the crash
and listening to the cries of hyenas.
A search plane spotted the wreckage
but failed to see the survivors.
Word quickly spread around the world
that the great writer,
Meanwhile, Hemingway had flagged down
a passing launch
and when they reached the landing
on the Eastern shore of Lake Albert,
a policeman and a bush pilot offered to fly them
on to the Ugandan capital, Entebbe.
They climbed aboard.
But as the ancient plane rattled down
the rutted runway,
the fuel tank exploded in fire.
The pilot helped Mary
and the policeman get out through the windows.
Hemingway was too big to follow them.
Twisted metal barred the door,
flames were rising.
Hemingway was trapped.
He hurled his head against the door again and again
until he battered it open.
He insisted to newsmen gathered in Entebbe
that he had never felt better.
"she is still good,"
he said and he looked forward to reading all
the premature obituaries
that had already been published around the world.
- [Ernest] In all obituaries or almost all,
it was emphasized that I had sought death all my life.
Can one imagine that if a man sought death all
of his life he could not have found her
before the age of 54.
- Who else gets in two plane crashes
in two days in Africa,
has the word go out all over the world
that he's dead and reads his own obituaries?
No one does that.
- [Narrator] Surviving two airplane crashes
in the interior of Africa,
Ernest Hemingway and his pilot,
Roy March returned to Nairobi in high fetal.
On the second crash,
Hemingway suffered a bad bump on the head
Mrs. Hemingway, however,
came through unscathed. (upbeat music)