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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 27581
Last updated: 23 January 2020
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Type:Avro Ten (Fokker F.VIIb/3m)
Owner/operator:Australian National Airways (1930)
Registration: VH-UMF
C/n / msn: 241
Fatalities:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Deep Creek, Snowy Mountains, Kosciusko, near Tumbarumba, NSW -   Australia
Phase: En route
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Mascot, Sydney, NSW (SYD/YSSY)
Destination airport:Moorabbin, Melbourne (MBW/YMMB)
On 21 March 1931, VH-UMF "Southern Cloud" took off from Sydney at 08:10 and disappeared in a severe storm developing on the aircraft's route.
The eight persons on board were: Captain Travis W. Shortridge (34, pilot), Mr Charles I. Dunnell (co-pilot) and passengers Ms Elsie "May" Glasgow (40), Mr Clyde C. Hood (early 30's), Mr Hubert A. Farrall (42), Mr Julian Margules (30), Mr William (Bill) O'Reilly (25) and Miss Clara (Claire) Stokes (25).

Weather conditions en route were hazardous and much worse than predicted. The aircraft never reached its destination and disappeared.

The search for the missing aircraft lasted eighteen days and involved over twenty aircraft. No trace of the aircraft was found. Airline co-owner Charles Kingsford-Smith searched for the missing aircraft and "may have flown over the crash site, but with the aircraft having burned it would be very difficult to distinguish from the air and so the discovery wasn't made."

It was Australia's first major airline disaster. Australian National Airways folded later that year as a result of both this and another loss (the crash of VH-UNA in Malaya on November 26 1931). A film inspired by the accident, "Secret of the Skies", was released in 1934.

No trace was found of the "Southern Cloud" until 26 October 1958, when a Snowy Mountains construction worker Tom Sonter (22) stumbled across the wreckage when out for a walk in the bush. The wreckage was in heavily timbered mountainous terrain at Deep Creek, within the Snowy Mountains, in the Kosciusko National Park, near Tumbarumba, New South Wales, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of the direct Sydney–Melbourne route (at approximate co-ordinates 35°53′South,148°19′East)

There were no survivors; however, as the wreckage was not found for 27 years, it was not possible to ascertain if all on board had been killed on impact, the subsequent fire, or had died later of exposure. On the other hand, it was recorded that burnt human remains were found in the vicinity of the wreckage.

Today a memorial for the Southern Cloud stands near Cooma, NSW, containing pieces from the three radial engines. It is a reminder of the price that had to be paid in the quest for safety in aviation.




Photo of VH-UMF courtesy

Goulburn (YGLB / GUL)
; (c) Ben Dannecker (via David Carter)

Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
12-Nov-2008 01:04 angels one five Updated
09-Jun-2010 10:24 TB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
10-Jun-2010 06:46 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Source, Narrative]
18-Jun-2010 02:14 angels one five Updated [Narrative]
28-Dec-2011 10:42 angels one five Updated [Source, Narrative]
09-Mar-2012 05:24 TB Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
29-May-2013 08:09 angels one five Updated [Narrative]
08-May-2014 00:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
08-May-2014 00:29 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
06-Dec-2016 22:30 angels one five Updated [Narrative]

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