4 Killed in plane crash

October 6, 2010 at 7:06 am (Angoram, expatriates, Papua New Guinea, PNG) (, , , , , , , )

Donald Gordon, Niels & Mary Madsen – Angoram, 1960s  

 Photo supplied by Norm Wilson

Angoram tragedy

On the morning of Sunday, July 28, 1968, Niels Madsen’s recently purchased plane took off from the Angoram airstrip with four people aboard. It arrived in Mt Hagen. In the afternoon the plane crashed  after taking off from Mt Hagen airport and all aboard were killed.

People who were in Angoram on this day would remember it well as a tragic and anxious day. David Bretherton was in charge of the station and Peter Johnson ran the radio in the local post office. Ivan Solomon, Don Bosgard and Des Hill were all there, but they are no longer with us.

Niels and Mary Madsen were significant members of the expat Angoram community.

I’ll alert a number of people to this post who were in the Sepik at this time and perhaps they might like to comment.

(The newspaper report got the spelling of Madsen wrong. Niels was known to us as ‘Mads’.)



  1. Stephen Smith said,

    Still remember the shock of hearing this. I remember as a young Cadet
    Kerry Leen, the Deputy District Commissioner, roughly equivalent to God as far as I was concerned, wanting to visit Amboin, As he was in a hurry we borrowed Niels speedboat with a 100hp Mercury on the back. Barreling up the Karawari River flat out we hit something and ripped out most of the transom, as we sank gently into the river I said to Kerry “sorry Sir” He replied “Well Smithy looks like your career in TPNG is over” Niels was pretty cool about it and told me he knew the boat was overpowered to blazes. DDA paid for the repairs which he carried out. Vale Niels and Mary Great people, great times.

  2. graeme jones said,

    I remember this tragedy very clearly. Ron Perry and myself were invited to fly with Mads and Mary to Mt Hagen on a sightseeing trip to buy and bring back fresh vegetables to Angoram. Mads had just obtained his open licence using the previous 2 weeks to build up his flying hours. He was restricted to Angoram air space until that fateful day.
    Ron and I were both busy that weekend, Ron packing his artifacts for shipment to Madang and myself organising the loading of our (Jim McKinnons) ship,’ The Stormbird’, with kwila timber from Jim’s sawmill. I arranged for the ship to leave Monday and not Sunday as originally planned. Mads said he would be flying
    to Mt Hagen the following weekend as well and that it may be best to stick to the original plan of the Sunday afternoon departure for the Storm Bird. Ron and I agreed to this and we stayed back to get the ship on its way to Madang with Ron’s artifacts and the timber.
    We arranged to to have dinner that night with Mary and Mads at their place when they returned from Mt Hagen. As always,each weekend I would go to the market at the Angoram jetty early and buy all the kindams (prawn),3 for a shilling and take them to Mary. She would butterfly and bread crumb them. She loved doing this for us and enjoyed our company.Mads ,Ron and I also enjoyed many brown S P lagers That night was going to be special. fresh vegetables were going to be on the menu.
    Ron and I arrived at Mary and Mads at dusk but they were not home. We both thought
    they’d decided to stay at Mt Hagen due to bad weather and fly back the following day.
    The Angoram Club was our next stop, where we enjoyed some S P Brown and listened to music played on the club record player. Diana Ross and the Suprems were very popular then. It was around 8 PM that night when news of a plane crash in Mt Hagen was broadcast over the radio. It was Mad’s plane. Every one on board perished. The rest is history. Ron flew out of Angoram on Tuesday in shock. I stayed on in Angoram for the next 9 months before returning to Queensland. Ivan Solomon and family moved into Mary and Mads place and Ivan took over the management of the Briggs sawmill on Tobacco Rd. I was 18 years old then, I am now 60 and loving it.

  3. David Wall said,

    Graeme, thanks for your extensive and informative piece about that tragic day. Dave

  4. deberigny said,

    The following was received from a friend:

    Just re-read the Madsen crash item of yours. I think his
    name was Nils, but am not sure and can’t find any written evidence, although
    I do have letters from him somewhere.”

  5. Mark Dodge said,

    In my search for more details regarding the discovery of a US Navy Transport that was discovered during the search a missing civilian plane, I want to share my thanks for this incredible story. Should there be other readers who have details of the search for wreckage of Piper Aztec (VH-SPM) and the 4 aboard who left KOKODA and crashed high atop Mt. Scratchley or the US Navy plane with 17-Sailors aboard found not far away back in 1970, please contact me. I am planning a memorial event during 2014 to commemorate the events. Your support to help document and share thanks to those who risked their lives to make sure the other could rest in peace would be greatly appreciated and honoured. If it were not for the SAR team, ‘Streetcar 708’ might still be one of the hundreds of ‘missing aircraft’ still waiting to be found across PNG. With my regards, Mark Dodge – Streetcar708Project@gmail.com

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