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REVIEWS for The Flight of The Arctic Fox

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Over the past three years Rory has pieced together with dogged detective work not only his brother’s life story and final journey, but that of everyone else on the plane too. And what a story it tells. Rory describes the chaos after the crash vividly, juxtaposing tragedy with extraordinary detail… It not only tells the story of what happened on October 22 1958, but includes a fascinating look at the lives and times of those on board the plane.

Anna Lambert, Editor of Kent Life, October 2021



This is a thoughtful and thought provoking powerful book which is written with care and respect for everyone that was touched by this tragedy…you learn all about the background of the crew and passengers, and what brought them together… The book is full of stories and amazing coincidences pulled together in an easy-to-read style.

Karen Marshallsay, October 2021



The Flight of the Arctic Fox details the extraordinary lives of those on board the British European Airways flight from London to Malta that crashed above Nettuno, Italy on October 22 1958…Over the course of three years Rory pieced together the stories with the help of six researchers from all round the globe.

Nicole Baddeley, Digital Reporter Bournemouth Echo, November 2021


I have recently completed reading through your excellent book. Truly a brilliant work with great analysis and a vivid recollections of personal memories…Your writing about Desmond and Diana (Cubitt) was spot-on and well-constructed. Your writing of fellow passengers lifts a great veil from the past and helps to bring to life so many interesting personalities with a good outline of their life experiences…Your writing about Malta during the war was for me particularly interesting and revealing.

Gerald Cubitt, Writer, Author and Wild Life Photographer, and brother of Desmond Cubitt, Cape Town, South Africa, November 2021


I really enjoyed reading Rory’s book…It is such a touching and heavily emotional story. We have placed an order and will give it good exposure in our stores and online.

Malcolm Miller, Executive Chairman Miller Distribution Ltd. November 2021


…The book is very well written and incredibly well-researched. Why the gliding connection? The captain of the ill-fated flight was Frank Foster, a leading British glider pilot at that time. As you would expect the collision over Nettuno, Italy en route to Naples and Malta with an Italian air force F86E Sabre jet is covered in detail. However the majority of the book covers the lives of the five crew and 26 passengers, and in several cases in considerable detail. Back in the 1950s airline travel was very much the preserve of the rich and well off…so accordingly many of those on flight BE142 had interesting backgrounds and lives.

It is a good read, being as I have said very well written, amazingly researched for the personal details and also well illustrated.

Glyn Bradley, Gliding Heritage Museum. November 2021


…Rory O’Grady has written an unusual and enjoyable book about the lives and connections of all on board Flight 142 which was nearing the end its trip from London to Naples on October 22 1958, when an Italian F86E jet fighter, diving at 400mph, struck the cockpit, killing all 31 people on board. One of the victims was his brother Terry who was a flight attendant and just 22 years old.


The idea of a book arose when Terry Bannon, (the son of the radio operator) organised a group of relations of the victims to meet for the dedication of a memorial in Italy he had designed and erected on the 60th anniversary of the disaster in 2018, and stories were exchanged. The Captain was a war veteran (and world gliding champion) and Terry’s father, James Bannon, had been in the crew of the next to last RAF plane to escape Singapore in February 1942 when the copilot was killed by Japanese ground fire. 


Among the passengers was a quartet on a mission that might have provided the plot for an Ealing comedy. Jane Buckingham was a glamourous English model on her way to Naples to confront her lover, a wealthy Indian Prince over reports he had taken up with the Hollywood star Eva Bartok (making a film in London). Accompanying her were three of Fleet Street’s finest with hopes for a juicy scoop…


Some of course were ordinary people leading uneventful lives, but even here he has laboured imaginatively to bring them alive. Others were quite exceptional people…


O’Grady excels in writing about women such as Lady Jenny Weir, wife of the Scottish industrialist Sir Cecil Weir. Among many other services rendered to the country, he had, in 1942, convened all the pharmaceutical companies (in Britain) to cooperate in starting to manufacture penicillin (saving millions of lives)…


He has done more than pay homage to the individual victims of an air crash, he has revived their memories and placed their life stories in the context of the times and of the worlds in which they moved. 


There is much to learn and enjoy in this remarkable book.

Patrick Heren, Writer, Author and Journalist


On October 22 1958, minutes before landing at Naples where the Vickers Viscount was scheduled for a layover, the aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision with an Italian air force jet, crashing into a small Italian fishing village and killing everybody on board.

Rory O’Grady, the brother of one of the cabin crew, managed to locate and establish contact with relatives of 27 of the 31 victims…and went on to publish The Flight of the Arctic Fox (in September 2021) detailing the lives of the victims and each family’s account of the tragedy. Three of the passengers were Maltese citizens returning home from England, whilst the others were travelling to Naples or Malta on business or vacation.

…The youngest on board was 19 year old soldier and athlete Robert Chalmers who was serving with the Black Watch regiment in Perthshire, Scotland, and was on his way to spend a few days with his family who resided in Malta, before joining his regiment in Cyprus… Robert was buried in Ta’Braxia cemetery with full military honours. They were really tough and tragic times for the family when Robert’s father, Ian Chalmers, died only three months later from acute leukemia.

Other Maltese victims included Mary Vassalo LaRosa from Hamrun and Sheila Lane a serving sister in the Royal Navy based at Bighi hospital at the time who is buried at Kalkara Naval cemetery.

The author hopes that the publication of the book will result in more information to emerge (to be able to track down the families of all those on board). 

Mark Laurence Zammit, journalist for The Times of Malta, December 2021.



This is a very fascinating book…Rory has meticulously researched the lives of those 31 passengers and crew lost on that day, giving, along with interesting details of their personal lives, fascinating snapshots of what had happened /was happening in the world in the world around them, to bring them all together on Flight BE142. Many of those had changed their plans to get aboard, and it made a difference of life or death on that ill-fated plane. This book is a great tribute to all those that lost their lives above Nettuno.

Valerie Wharton, Canterbury, 6 January 2022.


The book is admirable from every point of view I can think of – but especially as a memorial and testimony for those who had to endure the tragedy all those years ago… So thank you most sincerely for what you have done together.

Brisbane, Australia, 13 February 2022


I am just over half way through your excellent book and I am riveted by the stories. It is wonderful to have done this, turning the victims into people again, bringing their names and memories back to life. It is also tremendously important and the finest tribute they could have…It has been fascinating to read how different families coped (or didn’t) and reacted over the years… How good and important that you can mark your anniversary in October.

Witness to an Air Crash at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1972 in which her two elder sisters died. 23 February 2022



This is an interesting read. Very well researched detailing the lives of those lost in the air disaster in 1958. It is sensitively written and a lasting memory for the families and friends of those who died.

West Sussex, United Kingdom 3 April 2022


Highly recommended book! Well researched, illustrated and written book.

Also very emotional.

Eduardo Numes Pimento, USA 28 May 2022




‘…I still look up when a plane flies over, and think about my Dad.’ says Dublin –born Terry Bannon. His father, James, was the Radio Officer on Flight BE142 in October 1958 where all 31 passengers and crew were killed following a mid-air collision with a jet fighter over Nettuno in Italy. ‘…I suppose I have a certain affinity with people who have lost loved ones in air crashes…Suddenly they are made public and you lose privacy when something is on the front page. There was further trauma about my father’s death in the way the media handled it…’Bannon says.

The media also impacted the mother of British author Rory O’Grady whose brother was a crew member on the same ill-fated flight. He recalls it in The Flight of the Arctic Fox, which chronicles the tragedy and the life stories of its victims, how she was learnt of the death of her eldest son when she was passing a newsvendor’s stall, saw a picture of him on the front page, and collapsed.

O’Grady met Bannon (in Nettuno) at the 60th Anniversary of the tragedy which was only possible because Tenacious Terry, as Bannon’s mother used to call her son, walked into the Italian Embassy on Dublin one day in 2004 and started a process that lead to a permanent memorial being erected at the site of the crash. Bannon then set out to locate the families of the victims which included a Canadian spy and a honeymoon couple, where the husband was related to HRH Camilla, the Queen Consort, who were ironically called Charles and Diana.

‘…Rory wanted to write this book because it is a great story’, to which Bannon replied ‘It’s not a great story its 31 stories’. Rory agreed ‘That’s how I will do it’ he replied.

Bannon continued ‘After my father was killed I almost felt a sense of guilt. It made me a different person, not so much a loner, but I felt I was on my own when dealing with things’ This has added poignancy to the way Bannon has worked tirelessly to find the families of those that perished. …The whole thing for me was the satisfaction of providing somewhere for them to go to commemorate their loved ones, and to take others who understood how they felt.


For birds of a feather who flock together find comfort and hopefully healing.

Fiona O’Connell, journalist on the Sunday Independent, Dublin 26 Feb 2023


This is an extract from an interview Fiona O’Connell had with Terry Bannon at his home in Instioge, County Kilkenny, Ireland.  For the full interview go to the following link Sunday Independent 26/02/2023

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