Little Bits of History

Air Force One – Not

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 17, 2012

Ramon Magsaysay

March 17, 1957: A plane leaving from Cebu, Philippines disappears before reaching Manila. The Douglas C-47 plane was a two-engine, newly refurbished aircraft operated by the Philippine Air Force. It had recently been purchased and had less than 100 hours of flight registered. Five Air Force officers crewed the plane piloted by Major Florencio Pobre. It was the official plane of the seventh Philippine President, Ramon Magsaysay. It was called Mt. Pinatubo after the then-still inactive volcanic mountain of Magsaysay’s home province of Zambales.

President Magsaysay was very popular and was fairly certain of winning the upcoming elections in November. He arrived at Cebu City and on March 16 gave several speeches. His day was filled with four different speaking engagements and then a party at the home of Cebu City mayor, Sergio Osmeña, Jr. Magsaysay finally got to Lahug Airport and boarded the presidential plane shortly before midnight with the mayor’s father and former Philippine President ( the fourth), Sergio Osmeña seeing Magsaysay safely off.

The plane took off at 1 AM and headed toward Manila, about 400 miles away. The weather was clear. People on the ground later said the plane did not seem to have enough altitude as it approached the Balamban mountain range. At 1:17 AM the plane radioed the Malacañang Palace, home of the President, informing them of a 3:15 AM estimated time of arrival. No one ever heard from them again. When the plane failed to arrive, a massive land and sea hunt was instituted. Much of the flight plan was over open waters.

By mid-afternoon, locals were reporting a loud crash and subsequent fire in the mountains of Balamban, Cebu. There was only one survivor of the 1:40 AM crash, Néstor Mata. The reporter from the Philippine Herald was badly burned and it took 18 hours to transport him down the mountain, and another six months to recover from his burns. He is still alive. The President, many other government officials, and journalists perished in the crash. There was some speculation of sabotage since Magsaysay led the fight against the communist Hukbalahap movement. The crash was due to metal fatigue. As the plane tried to gain altitude, the shaft of the right engine carburetor snapped and caused a loss of power.

I believe that government starts at the bottom and moves upward, for government exists for the welfare of the masses of the nation.

I believe that a high and unwavering sense of morality should pervade all spheres of governmental activity.

I believe in the majesty of constitutional and legal processes, in the inviolability of human rights.

I believe that the free world is collectively strong, and that there is neither need or reason to compromise the dignity of man. – all from Ramon Magsaysay

Also on this day:

Wearing of the Green – In 493 or 461, St. Patrick died.
Golda – In 1969, Golda Meir became the Prime Minister of Israel.
Rubber Bands – In 1845, rubber bands were first patented.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on March 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    To them Air Force One-Yes! Being freed by American forces two times in the 20th century they have gone crazy naming things American everything. Many Apple Pie Streets and Lanes and more!

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