Sunday, March 10, 2013
Papa's Last Safari
New York Times, January 26, 1954
Hemingway Out of the Jungle; Arm Hurt, He Says Luck Holds
By THE UNITED PRESS
Entebbe, Uganda, Jan. 25--Ernest Hemingway arrived in Entebbe today after having survived two plane crashes in the elephant country of Uganda.
His head was swathed in bandages and his arm was injured, but the novelist, who is 55 years old, quipped: "My luck, she is running very good."
He was carrying a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin. With him was his wife, the former Mary Welsh. She had two cracked ribs and was limping as Mr. Hemingway helped her from an automobile that brought them here from Butiaba, 170 miles away.
Although he declined an offer to fly out of the jungle after his second crash yesterday, Mr. Hemingway said with a grin that he would fly again as soon as he had found another plane.
He waved a swollen arm, wrapped in a torn shirt, and appeared to be in high spirits as he shrugged off the crashes.
He joshed his wife, saying her snoring had attracted elephants as they camped overnight near the wreckage of the first plane that crash-landed Saturday near Murchison Falls on the upper Nile near Lake Albert.
"We held our breath about two hours while an elephant twelve paces away was silhouetted in the moonlight, listening to my wife's snores," Mr. Hemingway roared.
Mrs. Hemingway, a former war correspondent, smiled.
Mr. Hemingway was examined by a doctor at Butiaba, scene of the second plane crash. An X-ray was advised, but he apparently was not badly hurt.
The first accident occurred when a Cessna, piloted by Roy Marsh, cracked up near the 400-foot falls while making an emergency landing. Search pilots who flew over reported herds of elephants near.
The second accident occurred Sunday after the Hemingways had been taken by a tourist steamer to Butiaba. There a plane, piloted by T. R. Cartwright, ground-looped into a sisal plantation and caught fire.
Mr. Hemingway said the blue and silver single-engine Cessna they had hired for the flight to Murchison Falls crashed when Mr. Marsh dived at low altitude to avoid hitting a flying flock of ibises--black and white jungle birds big enough to smash the canopy of the plane.
Landed on Elephant Track
Mr. Hemingway said that to miss the ibises the plane had to land either on a sandpit where six crocodiles lay basking in the sun or on an elephant track through thick scrub.
Mr. Marsh chose the scrub and landed the plane with minor damage. They spent Saturday night around a camp fire surrounded by the elephant herd and caught a ride yesterday morning in a launch filled with tourists back to Butiaba on Lake Albert.
When the second plane ground-looped and caught fire. Mr. Hemingway said he butted open the rear door and scrambled out. His wife and the pilot also escaped, but all their luggage was destroyed.
Even when the first crash stranded them overnight in the jungle, Mr. Hemingway said he was not worried. "We had emergency goods, but were short on water," he said. "We took turns going to the river, but the elephants were very stuffy about it. There were lot of hippos and crocs wandering around the river bank."
The trip around Africa, he said, is his wife's Christmas present.
Mr. Cartwright, who flew here from Butiaba, brought the first details of the two crashes. He said that when he asked Mr. Hemingway about his adventures the novelist merely replied that he was "very impressed" by the wealth of big game.
The Hemingways found big brush fires burning near the edge of the Upper Nile when they first landed and set backfires to save themselves and the plane, Cartwright said.
At twilight they were forced to move back from the banks of the Nile, tormented by swarms of mosquitos.
For the last few weeks he and his wife have been on a safari on which he is writing a series of articles for Look Magazine. One of his first stops on his return to Africa after twenty years was the towering peak of Kilimanjaro.
It was Kilimanjaro that signified death to one of his heroes.