A tragic coincidence: Two planes from the same airline explode against the Mont Blanc in almost the same spot.

The "Malabar Princess" Catastrophe

November 3, 1950, an airplane from the Air India fleet, the "Malabar Princess," covering the Bombay-London route begins its descent to Geneva, where it passes on stop-over. Everything has gone as planned since take-off in Cairo at 2:00 a.m. The British commandant Alan Saint knows the route by heart. The vehicle is a Constellation, a four-motor propeller plane. There were 48 passengers aboard.

Super Constellation

At 10:43 a.m., the control towers at Grenoble and Geneva receive the report, "I am vertical with Voiron, at 4700 meters altitude." Then nothing. The plane never landed.

The "Malabar Princess" hit the face of the Rochers de la Tournette (4677m) on the final arrete of the Mont Blanc.
Stormy weather held back a rescue search until November 5, when the clouds broke and a Swiss plane spotted the debris littering the French face of the summit. If the plane had been just 30 meters to the West, the accident would have been avoided. There were no survivors.

The exact causes of the accident were never clarified. An approaching altitude too low? A problem with the planes' controls? The storm, the low visibility and high winds certainly played a role in this catastrophe.

The Crash of the "Kangchenjunga"

January 24, 1966: a Boeing 707 of the Air India fleet continues on a scheduled flight between Bombay and New York by way of Beirut, Geneva and London. There are 117 passengers aboard, including 46 sailors and Homi Bahabha, the father of the Indian nuclear program. The pilot, Captain J.T. Da Souza, is an experienced aviator.

The Boeing 707 exits the Milan radar reading to be taken in charge by Geneva. The plane is at 6200 meters when it demands authorization to change altitude. At 8:00 a.m., all contact is lost.

Rescue operations had profoundly evolved with the usage of the helicopter. After rapidly arriving on the site of the accident, the rescuers do not find one surviving passenger. The Boeing held 200 monkeys in its cargo hold, meant for usage in medical laboratories. According to the rescuers, some of the monkeys had survived and were walking about in the snow.

Sixteen years after the "Malabar Princess," the "Kanchenjunga," a plane from the same fleet of Air India, crashes in almost the exact spot.

In both accidents, the two planes shattered into millions of bits that littered the French and the Italian faces of Mont Blanc. For the last 20 years, the Bossons glacier spits out of its terminal tongue the remnants of the two accidents: bits of metal, wires, etc.

In 1986, the manager of the Chalet du Glacier at the time, Christian Mollier found a wheel from the landing gear of the "Malabar Princess," on the glacier in front of the snack bar. This wheel is on exhibition at the Chalet du Glacier des Bossons et du Mont-Blanc.

Press clips from the époque of the accidents and more recent documents are assembled and on public exhibition at the Chalet du Glacier. You will travel back in time to this accident that cost the lives of 40 sailors, not forgetting the crews of the planes and the guide Rene Payot.


Chalet du Glacier des Bossons et du Mont Blanc

c/o 117, chemin des Chosalets
Tel. +33(0)4 50 53 03 89
Mobil. 06 83 45 04 43
E-mail :

  The glacier  |  The Chalet  | Hiking trails  |  The Mont Blanc  | Portfolio  | Book shop  | Acces & Maps  | Contact Us | Archives|| Links