Far Away in the Sky: A Memoir of the Biafran Airlift


Far Away in the Sky: A Memoir of the Biafran Airlift
By David L. Koren

Capt Augie Martin, I didn’t know him personally. He had flown a Biafran Super Constellation, a Lockheed L-1049G, a Grey Gost, registered by Hank Wharton as 5T-TAG. He crashed on landing at Uli on July 1, 1968.
Manuel Reis, A Portuguese Captain also flying Super Constellation, the Angel of Peace, told me his story. Augie Martin was a 51-year-old African American veteran of World War II. He had been a Tuskeegee Airman with the elite first black squadron of the United States Army Air Corps. He is in this picture with the Tuskeegee Airman. As a child actor, he played the character Buckwheat in the Little Rascals series of films. I remember seeing some of those films when I was a boy.
Martin was flying his Connie out of Lisbon with a cargo and arms for Biafra. Newly married, he had his wife with him. He arrived over Uli in bad weather. Making his aproach, he had to go around. As he was pulling up to go around, he gunned the throttles, and lost two engines. He kept going around on two engines. On his next aproach, he crashed one mile south of the airstrip. The accident investigation found two fuel selector switches in the wrong position. These swiches were a safety measure to prevent running out of fuel on take.off or landing. With the switches in the wrong position, the Connie’s two engines died of fuel starvation.The flight engineer was responsible for those switches.
Martin, his wife and crew were buried in Biafra in a churchyard at Ihala on the aproach to Uli.

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