The Plane Crash

Pinelands residents had expressed their concerned about low-flying aircraft. Their fears were confirmed on a mid-afternoon Monday, 26 November 1956.

Regina Barten and Marie Roe, both aged 10 years, had often played together on the wide grassed island between Morningside and Avonduur, adjacent to Julianveld.   While they played Regina had noticed a Venture Bomber, used for training, flying very low over Pinelands and Maitland. Later Regina noticed the aircraft coming closer, but Marie was unconcerned until the aircraft hit a tree and came crashing toward them. They ran as fast as they could joined by some ladies who were running and screaming in terror.

The bomber belly landed, knocking out a tree before hitting an electric pole on the corner of Sunrise and Avonduur. It slid onto the island where it just missed the two friends by about 5 metres. Continuing its journey, the plane gouged a path across Morningside where it snapped another electric pole on the pavement which in turn caused a third electric pole to collapse. It finally came to rest on the far side of Julianaveld about 40 metres from the houses in Julianaveld South.

Mrs Holderman of 23 Morningside rushed across to help. She was relieved when, in the cloud of dust, a hatch opened, and the pilots clambered out of the aircraft unharmed. The two pilots, 2nd Lt Nel and 2nd Lt Palk seemed dazed, but they calmly walked to 13 Julianaveld South with Sheila Hamilton where they phoned Ysterplaat.

According to the pilots the problem arose when one of their engines failed after they had been flying around the Maitland area. Julianveld was the only open space they could find.

The bomber itself was badly damaged with its fuselage snapped almost in two and looped in electrical wires from the second electrical pole. A section of its wing had been left behind, crumpled around the first pole it hit.

Two days later the Minister of Defence said that two engines had failed after it took off from Ysterplaat and that the pilots had put up a creditable performance under difficult circumstances. Later the pilots were blamed for failing to check that the fuel taps were opened during the pre-flight check routine resulting in no fuel to the engines.

The Pinelands Town Council was not impressed and demanded that the training ground at Ysterplaat as well as the use of obsolete aircraft be transferred elsewhere – needless to say, this request was ignored.