In the next of my series of posts about memorialisation sites I have visited (see also The Tōya-maru sinking and The JL350 memorial), I’m writing about my visit to the BOAC Flight 911 Memorial (英国海外航空機空中分解事故).
I visited the site on 19 September 2017. A (currently very brief) summary of what happened to the flight itself can be found on Wikipedia. The key points are that the plane was a Boeing 707 that was flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong, with stopovers at, Honolulu, Fukuoka, and Tokyo. On the 5th of March, 1966 the aircraft broke up in mid-air and crashed into Mount Fuji due to faulty maintenance to the vertical stabiliser (Note: although this is the information on Wikipedia, most sources I’ve read about the crash tend to focus more on the proximity that the plane was flying to Mount Fuji and it being hit by severe turbulence in the clear skies). All 113 passengers and 11 crew members on board the plane were killed. The crash was the third of four major accidents that happened in Japan in 1966 (this article also provides a very good summary of how the BOAC crash was linked to the filming of the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice).
One of my main memories of visiting the site is that it was raining very heavily that day. Despite getting off at Mishima station and taking a rent-a-car to the site, which is located on Mount Fuji, I never had the feeling that I really saw Mount Fuji itself that day. I also remember driving past a large Self Defence Forces base at Takigahara as seeing service personnel around, and because of knowing that (out there somewhere) there was a large mountain, images of Close Encounters of the Third Kind sprang to my mind for some reason.
The centre piece of the memorial is a large triangular structure. In some ways it reminded me of the two towers at Irei-no-Sono, the memorial for the JL123 crash (see also Remembering the Flight JL123 Crash (2): Irei-no-Sono), but, other than the different colour scheme, it was actually more reminiscent of Doai station. There is almost no information about the crash itself at the site, so if you are visiting it’s advisable to take something with you that you can use to refresh your memory. There are some small plaques on the back of the memorial with some information – but they haven’t been well maintained & due to the reflective metal, I found them hard to read. None of the names of the victims appear to be listed anywhere.
Although there is clearly some maintenance of the site being done (e.g. the grass must be cut from time to time), it shows signs that few people visit it. There are no indications that the site has been modified in any way since it was first established and so was recorded as such in my article looking at where modifications are made to public transportation accidents.