Caledonian 'Star of Robbie Burns' Crashes, Killing 111

In November 1961, a fledgling Caledonian Airways leased its first aircraft from Sabena, it was a Douglas DC-7C. She was registered G-ARUD and was named “Star of Robbie Burns”.

The aircraft went down into a swamp on the edge of a jungle on take-off from Douala, Cameroon, on March 4th 1962, with the tragic loss of all 111 passengers and crew.

The accident investigation was extremely thorough and was undertaken by the Directorate of Civil Aviation in Cameroon. The inquiry was held in Paris, Cameroon being a French colony at that time.

The highly skilled crew fought to save the passengers and aircraft, but where likely overwhelmed by a mechanical failure.

Caledonian Airways Flight 153 was a multi-leg nonscheduled passenger service from Luxembourg via Khartoum, Lorenzo Marques (nowadays Maputo), Douala and Lisbon, before heading back to back to Luxembourg.

On March 4, 1962 a Douglas DC-7C flying the route, registration G-ARUD, crashed shortly after takeoff from Douala International Airport, Douala, Cameroon in a swamp on the edge of a jungle 1.5 miles off the airport.

The heavily-laden DC-7 was making a night takeoff from Douala runway 12 in conditions of high ambient temperature and humidity. After a long takeoff from the 9350 feet long runway, it gained little height. Some 2300yds from the runway end, 500yds left of the extended centreline, the left wing struck trees 72 feet above aerodrome elevation. The DC-7, named "Star of Robbie Burns", crashed into a tidal swamp and exploded on impact.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "In spite of the very numerous expert examinations and all the tests on the ground and in flight which the Commission of Inquiry has carried out or caused to be carried out, the state of the wreckage and its position in an inundated forest area have prevented the Commission from determining with absolute certainty the cause of the accident to DC-7C G-ARUD. The commission considers, however, that there is evidence to show that an elevator spring-tab mechanism may have jammed before impact. This jamming would have resulted in abnormal elevator control forces during the takeoff.