On the morning of July 13th 1994, the headline news read “SAAF Plane Down in Desert”.
Avro Shackleton, number 1716 was one of eight four-engined maritime patrol aircraft commissioned by the South African Air Force in 1957.
1993 saw an ambitious plan to restore one of these decommissioned aircraft and turn it into a flying museum. The name of this aircraft: Pelican-16.
July1994, after ten years on the ground and two years of restoration work this magnificent aircraft flew again. Following an invitation to take part in the 1994 summer air-show circuit in the UK, Pelican-16 and its crew of 19 took off from Cape Town and headed north.
But then in the dead of the blackest night, high over the Western Sahara the unthinkable happened; two engines on the starboard side failed within a period of just ten minutes. The aircraft and its crew went down.
Flight commander Eric Pienaar and his crew performed a miraculous crash landing from which all walked away unaided.