Wednesday, 16 April 2014

SAA 295 - The Helderberg

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

The emotional fallout for an aeroplane crash is always  much more than simply the sum of lives lost and families devastated.

We  are reminded that we are after all, only insignificant and very mortal humans and not the Gods we believe ourselves to be....not the omnipotent beings that the digital age and its attendant consumerism would have us believe.

Every time I  am  at an airport and see a 747 trundle down the runway, I hear a  voice in my head saying , 'Lift off, we have a lift off'...every time.
Every time I see a plane.
Every time I am a passenger.

'V1' and the nose starts to rise.

'V2' and it heaves itself off of the ground, grasping its way into the air, the wheels leaving the safety and surety of the earth for the impossibility of intangible air.

We can understand intellectually the Bernoulli effect;'fluid dynamics';and Newtons Third Law.
But that's not what we see.
What we see is opportunity.
What we see is in fact evolution writ large - mankind crawling out of the mud, then reaching for the stars.

What we experience is the same sense of awe that man experienced when he first understood and utilised fire for his own benefit - a sense that we are in control of our physical environment and that a brave man can push back the darkness and fear

On that cold December morning some 110 years ago , Wilbur and Orville Wright didn't just make the first powered flight...they  proved that the collective reach of humanity  is beyond that of our simple  single caveman grasp and  they unlocked the door to an unimagined future.

For South Africans, the fire on board SAA 295 26 years ago and the subsequent loss of life remain a mystery.

Against the backdrop of Apartheid , and the iron grip of the securocrats , the loss of the Helderberg , and in particular the questions surrounding its cargo of alleged components of rocket fuel mean that the conspiracy theories are difficult to ignore.

And the  transcripts of the Margo Commission; the various archival footage available on YouTube ; and  the David Klatzow book do little to settle the mind against the charges that the State perpetrated a wilful cover up .

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