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The crashes of Air Rhodesia Flight RH825 and Air Rhodesia Flight RH827 were two of the deadliest aviation incidents in the history of Zimbabwe—and they weren’t accidents. In this in-depth exploration of a little-known piece of southern African history, Ian Pringle tells a true story of terrorism, sabotage, and survival.

Pringle, who lived in Rhodesia at the time of the crashes, collected interviews from survivors, witnesses, pilots, ground staff, accident investigators, family members, and experts. These testimonies reveal stories of heroism and courage in the wake of a major tragedy.

Air Rhodesia Flight RH825 was the first airliner ever to be shot down by Russian surface-to-air guided missile. The surviving passengers tell the story of the crash and its horrific aftermath. Five months later, Air Rhodesia Flight RH827 was downed in the same way. This time, there were no survivors.

In addition to presenting vivid first-person testimonies, Pringle examines how the attacks—and the ensuing collective rage of the Rhodesian people at those responsible—contributed to the instability of the country. He shows how these tragedies indirectly led to the rise of Robert Mugabe and laid the groundwork for a very different future for the African nation.

Paperback, 240 pages.

Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
A tragic tale of two terrible civilian airliner shootdowns.

Pringle is an excellent writer, moving the narrative along at a good pace and building the tension taking place at each site, whether it be Kariba Airport, Air Rhodesias operations centre, or anxious relatives standing at Salisbury wondering why the plane they had expected to land was, to use that drastic euphemism airlines use - delayed.This is a deeply personal story and much of the book is devoted to the lives and loves of the victims involved. Obviously a huge amount of research has gone into the writing and it shines through in the text. The technical aspects are well covered enabling the reader to almost feel that they are right there in the plane as the engines are powering the Viscount higher and higher and ultimately into oblivion. It is one of the saddest books I have read.On a personal note it was a poignant read as I flew several times on Air Zimbabwes Viscounts in 1987, one of the flights being the Kariba to Harare flight. At the time I was 21 and to me it seemed like 1978/9 was a lifetime ago Captain Stirling was the pilot (a name I have never forgotten). As a young 21-year old I watched him and his first officer walk past me at Harare with a sense of awe. Having visited Karibas basic airport and also used the domestic terminal at Harare I can vividly picture the scenes portrayed in the book.My mother personally knew Miss Mitze Rees (21) whose young life was cut short in the second disaster. In fact writing this I have just realised that I was the exact same age as she. Both of us were holidaymakers flying out of Kariba, having experienced the resort, the wonderful lake and all its activities. The difference was she was flying in 1979 in a war zone, in a plane that was a sitting duck to the SAM7 missile crew, and I was flying in 1987 in a country in peacetime.What struck me as truly tragic is that the counter-measures put in place after the first disaster were so poor. Without giving details away to would-be readers, do you not think 100 of them wo...

A Tragic Story

Ian, excellent book portrayed with compassion and respect both for the families and the people who died so tragically. The insight to how and why has made this a must read John Hood and his crew were friends and colleagues. Thank you for dedication in writing this book.

Five Stars


Four Stars

Still reading but seems very good.

A well written account of events surrounding these two disasters.

A well researched and very balanced account of events surrounding the two Viscount disasters, appropriately interspersed with personal stories of the victims and their families and friends. As to be expected from this author a well written book.


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