By ELLIS PLAICE, Air Correspondent Daily Mirror 11th April 1973
A RAGING blizzard caused yesterday’s Vanguard plane crash in which 110 Britons nearly all of them women died on a day trip to Switzerland. The captain of the four-engined turbo-prop is thought to have changed his mind about landing at Bale Airport because of the appalling visibility.
Captain Ivor Terry probably decided that his plane a type which was first flew fourteen years ago– was not well enough equipped to try to land. The Vanguard, which had no blind-landing equipment, circled the airport, over- shot and headed into one of the worst disasters ever to hit a British air- craft. The plane – call-sign: Papa Oscar-smashed into a tree, and crashed on to a wooded mountainside. A spokesman for the Vanguard’s owners, Invicta Airlines, said in London that there were thirty-five survivors out of the 145 passengers and crew.
Last night twenty of the survivors were in hospital, Nine of them were thought to be seriously injured The plane’s women passengers were on a one- day sightseeing and shop- ping trip from Somerset. The Vanguard, which set out from Bristol at 8.20 a.m., crashed two hours later near the Swiss village of Hochwald.
Rescuers who tried to get to the scene were hindered by driving snow and thick fog. A local farmer said it took him an hour to find the wreckage after he first heard the shouts survivors. “The temperature was minus one degree centigrade, and the injured were huddled together for warmth,” he said. Nearly all the survivors were in the tail of the plane, which broke from the rest free fuselage on impact. The snow was so heavy that the injured survivors did not reach hospital until four hours after the crash. A farmer’s wife who went to the scene said: “It took two hours before we could find all the bigger pieces of the plane because of the heavy snow and thick fog, It was a horrible sight. There were bodies either on top of or in the snow”.
The Invicta company has had financial problems recently. In January it had to return its fleet of Vanguards to a hire company. In February, the giant European Ferries shipping group stepped in to acquire a big stockholding. Invicta arranged to buy the five Vanguards-and It was back in business.