Crash site Nairobi/Embakasi Airport, Kenya
Airline Deutsche Lufthansa
Aircraft Boeing 747-130  –  D-ABYB  –  Hessen
Route Frankfurt – Nairobi – Johannesburg
Crew 17  –  13 survivors
Passengers 140  –  85 survivors


The crash

Shortly after take off from Nairobi the crew felt vibrations. The captain, suspecting wheel imbalance, raised the gear. A lack of acceleration forced the crew to lower the nose in order to maintain airspeed. The Boeing continued to descend however and at 07:54 the plane hit the ground 1120 m past the end of runway 24 and struck an elevated road a little further on. The aircraft broke up and caught fire before coming to rest 454 m past the initial point of impact.
The accident was caused by the crew initiating a take-off with the leading edge flaps retracted because the pneumatic system which operates them had not been switched on. This resulted in the aircraft becoming airborne in a partially stalled condition which the pilots did not identify in the short time available to them for recovery. An other factor was the lack of a warning of a critical flap positions.


The mail

On board the plane was mail destined for South Africa and Botswana and sent from a wide range of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.
A part of the mail was recovered. Contemporary newspapers talk of 10.000 letters being recovered – most of the mail came from Germany.
The South African Post applied a special handstamp on all the recovered items.

As to Nordic mail I have recorded the following number of items:


  Denmark Finland Norway Sweden
To South Africa 10 1 2 4



Bilingual – English/Afrikaans.
Red and shades of purple.
Size: 63 x 18 mm.

Probably more identical handstampe were produced, as they appear in a variety of colour shades.





Examples of mail


Cover from Denmark postmarked BROVST 18.11.74 to Transvaal, South Africa. The cover show very little damage and was forwarded with the usual crash handstamp.
Thiesen Collection.


Cover from Copenhagen, Denmark with metermark KØBENHAVN 18.11.74 to Cape Town, South Africa. The cover was forwarded with the usual handstamp type A.
Thiesen Collection.


Cover from Denmark with metermark BAGSVÆRD 18.11.74 to Johannesburg, South Africa. The cover which was badly torn was forwarded wit the usual crash handstamp type A.


A philatelic cover from Finland postmarked HELSINKI/HELSINGFORS 18 11 74 and addressed to Stamp Society, Club or Collector in Johannesburg. The South African Post tried to find someone at P.O. Box 10026. The cover show the usual crash handstamp.
Ala-Honkola Collection.


Cover from Norway postmarked BERGEN 18.11.74 to Durban, South Africa with crash handstamp type A.


Cover from Sweden postmarked SUNDSVALL  18.11.74 to Durban, South Africa. Forwarded with crash handstamp type A.
Thiesen Collection.


Cover from Sweden postmarked TRANÅS 18.11.1974 to Cape Town, South Africa with the usual crash handstamp.