1950 November 3,, " MALABAR PRINCESS
", a Lockheed Constellation of the Air India company, registered
VT-CQP, was connecting Bombay to London via Cairo and Geneva,
the next stopover.
It is a flight reserved for the transportation of forty soldiers of the Indian navy who, returning of permission, joined their ship, based in Newcastle upon Tyne in the U.k..
The crew includes: the Chief Pilot Alan R.SAINT 34 years, British (1745 h/v), the copilot V.Y. KORGAOKAR (4052 h/v), the navigator S.ANTIA (965 h/v), the mechanical-navigator F.GOMES (2267 h/v), the radio P.NAZIR (2263 h/v), the additional mechanical-navigator D.RANGHURAM, the steward S.GANESH and the hostess Mrs. GROSTATE.
9. 37 AM Radio-navigator It NAZIR enters in connection with the control- tower of Geneva to communicate its position:
" 45º22' N & 5º44 ' E, Verticale Nord/Ouest of Grenoble France "
The Air-controller announces the weather:
(Q.f.a) Alps................................Prévisions on the Alps.
(Q.m.i) 8/8-1000/7000............Nimbo-stratus from 1000 to 7000 Mr.
(Q.b.a) 4/6 Km..........................Visibility from 4 to 6 km.
(Q.a.o) 35/5000.......................Wind of 35 nodes to 5000 Mr.
(Q.f.t) Mod/Var/-30/3000....... Freezing Variable with -30°à 3000m.
(Q.f.t) 1500/2000-....................Isotherme 0° of 1500 m with 2000 Mr.
Chief Pilot Alan R.SAINT to his copilot:
" Waen them behind, that goes shaky!"
9h 39 ' Radio-Navigator Nazir:
- " "I repeats, arrival at 11. 15 instead of 9. 45
Winds much stronger than forecasts "
(Q.a.o) approximately 50 to 60 nodes with gusts with 75 ".
Control tower of Geneva The Air-controller:
-"What is your altitude?"
-"14500 feet "
The Air-controller of Geneva:
- " Go up imperatively to 15500 feet."
- " Which is your course?"
9h 41 ' Radio-navigator NAZIR:
-"No course (No Q.t.i) let us try to climb with 15500 feet!"
9h 43 - " Let us pass on 348 for QDM "
The storm redoubles violence, shaken by turbulences, the plane made incredible yaws...
The Chief Pilot Alan R. Saint, sweat
beading with the face, fights with the handle to maintain the
Suddenly, the plane is grabbed-up by a dynamic ascent.
Horrified, the pilots discover right in front of, haloed of a light blafarde, the Top of Mont Blanc which has just emerged from the clouds...
The Chief Pilot Alan R. Saint:
" My God! Go up... go up!"
The marines are rather pale. Nose of the plane master keys the edge of rock and ice... Thanks! there are at least three meters of distance...
A tenth of a second later, when the wings cross the edge with their tower, the mass of air is reversed in a downward depression; some pilots of the area know well this aerological phenomenon "
folding back it of the Spinner " the plane is brutally plated on the mountain! The right wing hangs the rock and is torn off in the explosion of its two right engines.
The fuselage of the plane tears into two, the back rocking instantaneously while being crashed to pieces on the slope, side Italian while before its race in a total flashover continues....
The two left engines explode with their tower, propelling in the flames and smoke, a plume of black snow....
The cockpit divided on the level of the gate before share out of barrel on the slope, restored continues out of toboggan to finish its race while rocking in an enormous crack which absorbed it!
Funny of silence succeeds the crash, mixed with the whistle with the storm, with the crackling of the blazing inferno of the fuselage and of the engines... but one hears any cries, no complaint...
Snow unrelentingly covers the traces with the tragedy, the few bodies scattered are covered soon with an immaculate shroud... only exceeds a torn off arm, the index pointing the sky...
Further, painted on a piece of the fuselage having escaped to the flames, funny of Indienne dancer carries out a macabre dance...
Control tower of Geneva:
Hello Air India 245 do you hear me?
No more radio contacts with MALABAR PRINCESS
On the circular screen of the radar, the small green point representing the flight (Air-India 245) came to disappear!
During 2 days, one is unaware of where it could be crushed.
Search is carried out, in all the alpine areas by the army and the gendarmerie accompanied by volunteers.
The noise of the crash had been heard by monks at " Petit Saint Bernard" as well as workmen building the dam of "Tignes".
Vanoise, Tarentaise, Maurienne and even parts of Switzerland are passed to the fine comb.
November 5 with 15h 30, the wreck is located to 200 m of the node of Mont Blanc, by a pilot of Swissair.
It would seem impossible to distinguish if there is some survivor among the forty passengers and the eight members of crew.
A caravan of help is at once installation by the Military academy of High Mountain and the company of the guides of Chamonix.
Chamonix on November 6, 1950 - 12AM.
Great effervescence in front of the E.M.H.M.
Commander FLOTTARD is into full brieffing. Journalists and badauds had rushes for the news.
" The first caravan has to return, the way is traced up to 2500 meters approximately... we will send the second cord. It will be made up of lieutenant JAY, the guides Rene PAYOT and Pierre LEROUX and of eight alpine hunters.
Lieutenant, as from this moment, you are the head of this mission."
" A your commands my Commander ", then being turned over towards the soldiers:
" Hunters, divide you to them equipment: cables, rockets, radio apparatuses, flags, stretchers, firewood and food... "
They first of all borrow the cable car of the Glaciers which brings them directly to 2414m.
At 2 PM, They tackle the rise by the
normal way with like objective: the refuge of the "Grands-
Mulets" (3062 m) where they must spend the night.
To reach the point of half-turn of the first caravan, they must brew between a meter-fifty and two meters of fresh snow.
Rene PAYOT walks at the head since a good moment.
" Rene, it is my turn to pass at the head "
" Waits! I exceed these cracks, I trace half of the slope and you will make the remainder to the refuge. That will avoid us operations "
" OK ! Go ahead! I assure you.
PAYOT engages prudently, " zigzaging " between the two enormous cracks out of baffle which bar the road to them. Suddenly, whereas it finds second crack upstream, a dry cracking is heard! A crack appears on the slope 50 m above him! A broad plate of snow starts to slip more and more quickly.
" Take care, Rene!"
PAYOT has just time to plant its ice axe violently, to roll up the cord around, and to be studded vigorously. It resists a short moment but the force of the avalanche tears him off unrelentingly, and it rocks in the crack, completely buried.
LEROUX which retain it on its cord is trailed on several meters.
Instantaneously, JAY, LEROUX, helped by adjudant MONANGE and gendarme VEZIN arm themselves with shovels and start to dig frantically to try to tear off PAYOT with its shroud of ice.
They are obliged to cut out blocks of snow to be able to release it more easily.
At the end of one hour, it reach finally PAYOT with nearly 8 meters of depth. Under him, the crack is prolonged with-less the fifty meters!
It to lie inanimate on the back and seems in a state of advanced hypotermy.
During two long hours, in the icy night, the rage in the heart, his companions try to revive it. But in vain!
It is necessary well to be resigned, at 9 PM, this 6 November 1950 the guide Rene PAYOT died!
The news is announced by radio to the PC of the helps.
The command of Commander FLOTTARD is formal:
" Too dangerous, give up!"
The body of PAYOT is fixed on a stretcher and the caravan is turned over from there sadly, with the gleam of the flashlights! In bottom, it is consternation; the news was spread at any speed and one observes their return to the binocular.
Already the journalists feed all the rumours, one speaks about a significant personality, a cargo of ingots of gold!
However, this information will quickly be contradicted by the authorities: tiny a entrefilet in the local newspaper.
A third caravan, leavesSt.Gervais the same day, made half-turn 300m after the refuge of the Eyrie.
It includes 5 guides and a gendarme: Charles and Marcel MARGUERON, Andre CHAPELLAND, Louis JACQUET, Louis VIALLET and the Sergeant Chief PIGNIER. Folded up on the Lachat Mount, they is there, worms 23 hours whereas they eat the soup when the telephone rings.
VIALLET will answer. When he returns, he is upset:
" The caravan of Chamonix had an accident... PAYOT died!"
They decide nevertheless to continue if the weather allows them.
The following day, November 7, at dawn, the weather is nice, but a very sharp cold. They take again the direction of "Tete Rousse".
They spend two hours to carry out 300m by taking turns every 10 meters. Already informed, Commander FLOTTARD is furious.
He entrusts to pilot GUIRON, the delicate mission of releasing of, by plane, the messages bound for the rescue squad.
At 11.30 AM, Guiron is ready to take off, with three specimens of the message on board. They are long rolled papers, ballasted of a stone to which a piece of fabrics of color is attached.
The text is precise:
" The Prefect of Annecy asks that search to be stopped."
12 AM, GUIRON accompanied by Guide PIRALY Chef of the rescuers of Saint-Gervais released the messages with the top of the team.
At 12 30, it see one of the men who is detached from the caravan to move towards the message.
In fact the man returns, without anything to have collected.
GUIRON lands in Fayet, it immediately telephones FLOTTARD to announce to him that the cord approaches the refuge of "Tete Rousse".
1PM, Marcel MARGUERON who gave up returns to the Lachat Mount.
3 PM, it follows to the binocular, the arrival of the cord to the Needle of Tasting.
At 3 30 PM, they made a success of the unthinkable one: the Needle of Tasting by the way of summer.
3 40 PM, GUIRON receives a new command to try to stop them, but impossible to start the plane.
345 PM, controlling It FLOTTARD returns to the load: search should imperatively be stopped.
From Saint-Gervais tourist office, everyone follows with passion the progression of the rescuers.
For the local mountain dwellers, they crossed the bad master key! They will arrive there! These guy are wonderfull. What seemed impossible, they did experienced it
After a functioning testing through the immense one from snow, one night in the Vallot refuge per 40 ºC below and a wind of more than 100 miles per hour at the top, the team of the five of St.Gervais reaches the wreck on November 8 with at 10h 10 AM.
With the favour of a break, they discover the horror.
The Sergeant Chief PIGNIER, lack to turn of the eye, pushes cries of fear. In front of him, a torn off arm, planted in snow, the hand is closed again but a raised index pointing the sky!
The plane is cut into two, it ran up against the north-western edge against the height of the "rochers de la Tournette"; five meters higher, that passed.
The tail of the plane crashed to pieces on the Italian side, leaving a long track of blood: the last sign of the passengers.
In spite of the cold, they took of theyr
cap and signed.
All around them, distributed on nearly thousand square meters, innumerable calcined remains, shredded bodies, twisted armchairs, broken luggage, and mail, letters per hundreds...
On the other hand, not the least trace of the black box;where all datas are recorded; this one will never be found.
Further, painted on a piece of the fuselage
having escaped to the flames, a strange Indian dancer carries
out a macabre dance...
On return to St.Gervais the heroes are celebrated in the joy, not without " a débrieffing " by the mayor and the prefect before speaking with the press.
In Chamonix it is sadness and meditation for the funeral of Rene PAYOT.
Sir Guranath BEWOOR (President of Air India in Chamonix 10/11/1950):
" I did not think that in any country of the world, alive men, can sacrifice themselves for dead men...
" He did not imagine that sixteen years after MALABAR PRINCESS, on January 24, 1966, the " KANGCHENJUNGA " a Boeing 707 of the same company " Air India " was going to be crushed at the same place!