Daily Telegraph April 12th 1973. By TERENCE SHAW in Basle
Women clambered along luggage racks in upturned plane, led to safety by stewardess.
WOMEN survivors from the Vanguard airliner which crashed near Basle-Mulhouse airport on Tuesday in low cloud and heavy snow told in hospital at Dornach yesterday how they prayed and sang as they huddled together on a hillside waiting for rescue. Mrs Agnes Rose White, 68, from Cheddar, Somerset, said yesterday: We sang Stand up for Jesus’ and It’s a long way to Tipperary.’ Then a young Swiss boy found us in the snow and went away to give the alarm. “We were never SO. glad to see people than when the rescuers came.” Mrs White was one of seven members of Abridge Ladies’ Guild recovering from minor injuries in hospital at Dornach.
The others were Mrs Pam Churches, 21, Mrs Shireen Hart, 22, and Mrs Nelly Long, 53, from Abridge; Miss Susan Dyer, 23, Mrs Eileen Edgington, 36, and Mrs Edgington’s aunt, Mrs Mary Carpenter, 50, from Cheddar,
Mrs Hart said: ” The first thing that we noticed was that the plane seemed to be going too fast and that the flight was very bumpy. But since for most of us it was our first flight we had no idea whether this was normal for a landing. We seemed to have ploughed into some trees and the plane somersaulted with the front breaking up and the tail coming to rest upside down but more or less intact.
We were hanging head down from our safety belts. We got out of our seats and then started walking along the luggage racks on the roof until one of the two stewardesses who seemed unhurt guided us through an emergency exit.” Miss DYER said: ” Suddenly we were outside and stumbling around in two feet of snow. It was very cold. Most of us tried to help to get other passengers out, and a stewardess handed us clothes and any bits and pieces she could find in the wreckage to keep us warm.”
Mrs Edgington which cost said the trip, guild members £16:50, plus 75p for insurance, was a combined birthday and Christmas present from husband. This was my first air trip, and I shall never fly again. We hope to leave hospital today, but I would rather walk home to Britain than fly.” Mrs Carpenter said: ” Ten minutes we before we were due to land were told to fasten our seatbelts, began to realise that it was rather long 10 minutes, in fact a more than half an hour passed. We seemed to have missed the runway and then tried to get up again. But we could not see much because of the blizzard. When I found myself outside the plane in the snow I just thanked God that was alive and shouted for help, There were people screaming all around the aircraft but a stewardess guided the survivors uphill away from the wreckage.”
Passengers sick Mr Benjamin Gillow, 17, from Bath, a courier with Fair Court Tours, who was in the hospital with shock and bruises, said it had been very foggy and bumpy and several of the passengers had been sick on the flight. I think we touched down at the end of the runway but we started climbing again. It seemed as if we were climbing up a mountain. Then we hit something and then crashed into the actual mountain. There was a big bang and I saw the seats and everything fly forward. I was in the very back of the plane. I got out immediately but I don’t know how.
About 20 gathered in to the 25 of snow us about 200 yards from the wreckage. We heard a dog bark and cried for help, but nothing happened. We were all very shocked and tried to start a fire to keep warm as many of us were without coats. “Then we started singing hymns and praying. We waited there about one and hours and then a half small boy came with a dog. He did not understand English, but I think he got the meaning. I ran down with him to the village of Hochwald about 15 minutes away, and was the first of the survivors to arrive there. Then I was taken to hospital.
Mrs Alice Rodgers, 67, from Redhill, Somerset, said, all I remember is having to jump several feet from the aircraft and then clamber uphill to where I saw some other people. It is strange that before I left I said to my housekeeper if we happen to crash in the alps I’ll send you a postcard.” Mrs Rodgers and other survivors praised the who helped to local farmers them. rescue and tend ” They were she said. wonderful,”