Capt. M. G. F. Morton
SAAF
24 sqn

Buccaneer SMk.50

418

15th May 1975

2.Lt. A.P.Rousseau Grootfontein
Reported mid-air with second Buccaneer near Grootfontein, SWA
 

Captain Matthew G. F. Morton

Matthew Morton (Captain M. G. F.  Morton), a former Fleet Air Arm pilot who flew Buccaneers for several years from Royal Navy aircraft carriers before joining the South African Air Force, was the pilot of the jet which crashed on an armed raid on southern Angola on May 15 1975.

 

As he recalled the incident to me in Johannesburg the following year, his was one of four SAAF Buccaneers which had taken off from Waterkloof air base near Pretoria on a low-level mission. 

 

The crash occurred during a low-level sector (around 500 feet as I understand it) when the flight leader called for a station-change. At that time SAAF rules meant that the English language was used in R/T transmissions on certain weeks and Afrikaans on others.  Whatever the reason, one of the pilots misjudged his position and abruptly changed course, colliding with Morton's aircraft and instantly sheering off the tail plane.  He immediately called for the navigator to eject, and both exited their Buccaneer with less than five seconds to spare.

 

Matthew Morton received back injuries as a result of his ejection, and remembers regaining consciousness still strapped to his parachute, which was dangling from a tree.

 

The other three aircraft flew overhead to mark his position, and a SAAF helicopter quickly arrived on the scene to casevac the two crewmen back to Waterkloof.

Morton remembers that his then wife, Sheila, had given him a packed lunch that morning which was with him, still uneaten, when he had to eject.

 

His wife went to visit him in hospital shortly after he arrived back at Waterkloof, and he was still in a dazed state from pain-killers when he said to her: "Sheila, I'm sorry I lost the lunch!"

 

Matthew Morton went on to fly the Buccaneer for several more years, and later flew weather recces for the SA government in a Learjet  before joining Cathay Pacic in Hong Kong.  He ended his career as a 747 captain and now lives on a houseboat in France.

- I hope this info is useful.  - Ian Black

in email 13th November 2006