Air Rhodesia Flight 827

Air Rhodesia Flight 827, the Umniati, was a scheduled civilian flight between Kariba and Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) that was shot down soon after takeoff on 12 February 1979 by Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) guerrillas using a Strela 2 missile. The circumstances were very similar to the shooting down of Air Rhodesia Flight 825 five months earlier. As of 2022 it remains the deadliest aviation incident in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.[1]

Air Rhodesia Flight 827
Air Rhodesia Vickers 748D Viscount Wheatley.jpg
Similar Air Rhodesia aircraft
Airliner shootdown
Date12 February 1979
SummaryShot down with a Strela 2 missile by ZIPRA guerrillas
SiteVuti African Purchase Area
16°25′S 29°26′E / 16.417°S 29.433°E / -16.417; 29.433Coordinates: 16°25′S 29°26′E / 16.417°S 29.433°E / -16.417; 29.433
Aircraft typeVickers Viscount
OperatorAir Rhodesia
Flight originSalisbury International Airport, Rhodesia
Last stopoverKariba, Rhodesia
DestinationSalisbury International Airport, Rhodesia

Incident descriptionEdit

The flight's departure from Kariba had been delayed, and so it did not take the time to climb over a lake to get above the ceiling of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles before heading for Salisbury.[citation needed] ZIPRA had information that the Rhodesian Security Forces Commander General Peter Walls was on board, and they tried to assassinate him. However, he and his wife missed the flight and caught a later one, which landed safely in Salisbury.

The plane was damaged by a SAM-7[2] missile and came down in rough terrain in the Vuti African Purchase Area east of Lake Kariba.[3] None of the 59 passengers or crew survived.[1]


Following the second incident, Air Rhodesia added shrouding to the exhaust pipes of their Viscount aircraft to reduce their infrared signature, and painted the aircraft with a low-radiation paint as countermeasures against heat-seeking missiles.[citation needed]

On 25 February 1979, the Rhodesian Air Force, with covert assistance from the South African Air Force, launched Operation Vanity, a retaliatory bombing raid against a ZIPRA camp near Livingstone, Zambia.[4]


  1. ^ a b Ranter, Harro (1979). "Description of Air Rhodesia Flight RH827". Aviation Safety Network.
  2. ^ "Again, death on 'Flight SAM-7'". Time. 26 February 1979.
  3. ^ Nyarota, Geoffrey (2006). Against the Grain: Memoirs of a Zimbabwean Newsman. Zebra Books. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  4. ^ Ottaway, David B. (18 February 1979). "Rhodesian Aircraft Attack Guerrilla Camps in Zambia". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286.