S1 E3 | CLIP

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.

AIRED: April 07, 2021 | 0:03:07

- [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.

(engine booming)

A search plane spotted the wreckage

but failed to see the survivors.

Word quickly spread around the world

that the great writer,

Ernest Hemingway,

was dead.

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.

(engine popping)

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.

"My luck,

"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)


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