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Mannheim Air Show, August 1982, Chinook crash

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by sonofgreenfinch, Aug 30, 2007.

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  1. A personal note I guess, and without access to a former Parachute regiment site, I just wanted to pay tribute to a couple of guys who were former members.

    They died 25 years ago, in the above incident, as part of a parachute display team. I believe the Chinook fell out of the sky and none on board survived. It was the last week of August 1982.

    I recall one was Frankie Fofana who married an air hostess from N.Ireland; alas I can't recall the other guy's name.

    The point is, they basically were Swansea Parachute Club (not sure it survived their passing). They were top blokes, who taught me to jump there a couple of months earlier.

    You'll know the date (hence the poignancy); we came down from Swansea airport that lovely sunny evening to celebrate our 1st jump at the White Rose in Mumbles - to learn from the BBC News that "white flags are flying over Port Stanley". It became a much wider celebration.

    Sadly neither the Western Mail nor the Swansea Evening Post seem to have picked up the anniversary. I just wanted to commemorate to any who knew them that they are warmly remembered.
     
  2. Sky

    Sky

    The crash of the Chinook helicopter in 1982 that was to become known as the Mannheim Disaster was actually on September 11th and subsequently has been overshadowed by the events of 9/11 in New York.

    You are not too far off the mark with Frank's name - he was actually called Frank Fonfé - his then buddy being Paul 'Kipper' Kibblewhite. To my knowledge neither Frank nor Paul were ever in any of the Parachute Regiments, but I could be wrong of course.

    Forty-four skydivers lives were lost, from UK, France, Germany and the USA. There is a beautiful stained glass window dedicated to them all in St Mary's Church in Swansea City Centre.
     
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  3. When I was at 636 VGS in the late 80s, the mum of one of the killed lads would come every month to visit the memorial plaque on the old Parachute Club hut across the road, always inconsolably upset. It was very sad. The hut is long gone now, so I hope they found a new site for the plaque.

    Swansea Parachute Club did survive for many years after the disaster - I lost most of my brain cells and a sizeable part of my liver in their epic parties and had a couple of very cheap jumps. The club moved to Shobdon in the early 90s, though there is now another parachute school there.
     
  4. His name was Frank Fonfe. He was a great mate of mine in 6th Gurkha Rifles. Before he joined us he was with RAF Regiment. A top man who also was a Contract Officer in the Sultan's Armed Forces. I was actually on a transport plane from Hong Kong back to UK when I read about the accident in the on-board newspaper. He was supposed to be on his honeymoon but his wife, an Air Hostess, told him he should go and jump as she could swing a trip to Canada and they could holiday on her return. A real tragedy. RIP - a good soldier and great mate.
     
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  5. I currently work with an ex US infanteer who was on duty that day and was part of the recovery team. He seems still pretty messed up about what he and his mates had to see and contend with in the immediate aftermath.
     
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  6. Sadly there's been no parachuting at Shobdon for a while.
     
  7. Apparently the aircraft crashed due to 'walnut grit' cleaning agent in the transmission.
     
  8. I knew Kipper and Chris who were on that load. Never forgotten guys. I'll post the mag scans on facebook.