Name ID 1942
Hemingway, Mary Welch How it was
Page Number: 342 on
Chapter 17 covers the Hemingway safari in 1953/4, including their plane crash near Entebbe
Ondaatje, Christopher Kilimanjaro: Genius in an African dawn
Page Number: c
Extract Date: 1953
Hemingway planned to return to Africa the very next year, but in fact his plans were stalled for 20 years. Once again he landed in Mombasa in the autumn, though this time with a different wife in tow, and once again he was to be led by Percival, now in his late sixties, who came out of retirement out of loyalty to his old client.
Hemingway was fortunate to survive his second trip to Africa. As a late Christmas present, he had arranged for a pilot, Roy Marsh, to take himself and his wife Mary on a sightseeing journey over Africa in Marsh's Cessna. All went well, until they reached Murchison Falls in Uganda. As Mary photographed the falls, Marsh suddenly swerved to avoid a flight of ibis and ripped into an abandoned telegraph wire which sliced off the rudder and radio antenna. The plane crashed in the bush about three miles from the Falls, but incredibly, all three emerged relatively unscathed. Next day a boat took them safely to Butiaba.
After such a lucky escape, no one could have expected lightning to strike twice, but almost as soon as Reggie Cartwright's 12-seater de Havilland took off from the short, ragged landing strip, it crashed and burst into flames. Mary, Marsh and Cartwright managed to squeeze out through a window, but Hemingway, too bulky to get through, was forced to bash the stuck door open using his head – his arms still bruised from the previous day's crash – exacerbating his wounds with every battering attempt to save his life.
Blessed with the constitution of an ox, Hemingway was used to bouncing back from the blows his active life dealt him, but recovery was slow and some biographers have seen the African crashes as marking the beginning of his physical and psychological decline.