Tragedy on Devils Peak and the end of the SAAF H.S. 125 Mercurius fleet

Tragedy on Devils Peak, 26 May 1971. Three South African Air Force Hawker Siddeley 125 Mercurius jets, on a practice formation flying above the Cape Town peninsula, in preparation for a massive 220 aircraft flypast for a Republic day display,  slam into the mountain just above Rhodes Memorial with the loss of eleven lives.

The mountain was shrouded in mist and it is believed the lead aircraft most probably miscalculated the arch of its turning circle coming from the direction of the Athlone cooling towers.  The lead aircraft’s error in judgement meant the other two tragically followed it into the mountain with the loss of all three.

The accident decimated this fleet, as the SAAF where left with only one H.S. 125 Mercurius jet which was not included in this formation flight.  This was a tragedy which took a long time to overcome and in many senses is still quite raw in SAAF circles and memories even to this day – lest we forget

Photo Copyright; Cape Argus

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