1976 Sabah Air GAF Nomad Crash (Double Six Tragedy)

On 6 June 1676, a GAF N-22B Nomad plane crashed while on approach to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI).

Tun Fuad Stephens, Chief Minister of Sabah at that time was inside the aircraft. There were no survivors in the crash.


Passengers

10 passengers together with 1 pilot died during the crash. Their names are listed below:

  1. Captain Ghandi Nathan, pilot and captain of the aircraft
  2. Corporal Said, bodyguard of Tun Fuad
  3. Chong Thien Voon, Sabah Works and Communication Minister
  4. Darius Binion, Assistant Minister
  5. Datuk Peter Mojuntin, Sabah Minister of Local Government and Housing
  6. Datuk Salleh Sulong, Sabah Finance Minister
  7. Datuk Wahid Andu
  8. Dr. Syed Hussin Wafa, Director of State Economic Planning Unit
  9. Johari Stephens, trainee pilot with Sabah Flying Club
  10. Tun Fuad Stephens, Chief Minister of Sabah at that time
  11. Datuk Ishak Atan, private secretary to Tengku Razaleigh (Malaysian Finance Minister at that time)

The Aircraft

The aircraft is GAF Nomad N.22B, 13-passenger civil version of the GAF Nomad. It it registered to Sabah Air, with registration number 9M-ATZ.

The aircraft was not fitted with a black box to to record flight events. Therefore, there is no Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) or Flight Data Recorder (FDR) recovered from the crash.

The aircraft carried heavy cargo from Labuan such as golf equipments as well as colored television sets.

The Crash

The aircraft is supposed to be operated by two pilots. Johari Stephens, a trainee pilot at that time, asked to be seated at the co-pilot. His request is granted.

The aircraft was supposed to land at Kota Kinabalu at 3:30 PM and the weather at the airport was fine at that time. The aircraft circled and approached the airport from the north. At 3:40 PM, the aircraft was about 600 feet from sea level, flying at 86 knots and approaching the runway from the north. Locals said the plane seemed to stall, with one wing dipped down and the plane spiralled down. The aircrat completed one and half turn before it hit the shallow water in Kampung Sembulan. There was some indication that the pilot tried to recover but he had no chance.

Reports later revealed that the aircraft was supposed to approach the airport runway from the south. Unfortunately, it was asked to go past the airport to give way to a MAS aircraft and land from the north instead. There were claims that conflicting instructions happened at ground control. The reports were later denied.

The crash site as about 50 feet from the nearest houses in Kampung Sembulan, which is about five minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu. Fortunately, it did not hit anyone in the village. Otherwise, the casualty rate would have been greater.

The time of impact is 3:41:27 PM, which was what recorded by a clock that stopped at the moment of impact.

Immediate reaction

 

Firemen were the first to arrive at the scene. Policemen arrived later and sealed of the area. The aircraft was in total wreck and axes need to be used to open the aircraft. 11 bodies were removed from the aircraft. Among the items recovered include 2 revolvers, 5 watches and cash worth RM 6,000.00.

Aftermath

Investigation by GAF

The aircraft manufacturer, Australia-based Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) has decided to launch an investigation in order to prove that the crash was not caused by mechanical defect.

 

Double Six Monument

Double Six Monument 2017-03-25 16.37.40
Double Six Monument 2017-03-25 16.37.40
Double Six Monument 2017-03-25 16.39.46
Double Six Monument 2017-03-25 16.39.46

Not long after the accident, a memorial was constructed in Sembulan area near Grace Garden housing complex in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. It is named as Tugu Peringatan Double Six (Double Six), marking a significant tragedy in Sabah history. The monument is erected on the exact spot of the crash.

Double Six Monument 2017-03-25 16.38.44
Double Six Monument 2017-03-25 16.38.44

 

Decades after

As of 2015, Malaysian government has yet to release full report of the accident, even after 39 years it happened.

Sources

  1. Double Six Crash – mysabah.com
  2. Double Six Monument – Sabah Tourism Board
  3. Peter J. Mojuntin The Golden Son of The Kadazan by Bernard Sta Maria. Published in May 1978. (C) Bernard Sta Maria
  4. Tun Fuad Stephens – Wikipedia
  5. GAF Nomad – Wikipedia
  6. 1976 Sabah Air GAF Nomad – Wikipedia