Ode to Big Bird (Flying Tiger 923)

A Memorial Poem For the “Big Bird” Flying Tiger Flight 923
By Garret  Ahern, Dublin, Ireland

‘Big Bird’

Out from New Jersey,
Big bird spreading wings,
Trundling east-ward, in
War-cold nineteen-sixty-two.

Three-score souls and ten-
And more aboard,
Service by the
Rhine in mind.

Far beneath lies rolling
Equinoctial ocean,
Unfriendly to the stricken
Super-Constellation.

Big bird descending,
Inevitable ditching.
Frantic prayers implore –
Then impact, devastation.

Plucked from the inverted,
Overcrowded, life-raft,
The lucky greet new
Friends and shipmates.

In time, diverted,
The good ship “Celerina”
Nears its rendezvous.
Green fields plain to see.

By Galley Head, the
Helicopter’s clatter
Stampedes a flock of sheep,
Away west, wave-battered
Big bird settles,
Low in the briny deep.

© 2012, Garry Ahern


Ahern - PoemGarret Ahern, presently of Dublin, Ireland, was a member of the first Emergency Rescue Team at the brand new Cork, Ireland Airport in 1962. His team participated in the evacuation process which delivered 17 of the most seriously injured from the Swiss rescue ship, The Celerina, to Cork’s Hospitals.

Many years after the tragedy while taking an adult education course on writing he became very interested in the details of that day. He had to write a story. He remembered the incident and the name of the ship, the “Celerina,” but he couldn’t remember the name of the airline. His research unearthed a treasure of information from Irish newspapers, all of which he has made available to this website. The photo to the left was taken recently at a Memorial Pre-meeting at Cork Airport. Attending that meeting was the present head of the Cork Airport Emergency Rescue Team, all three members of the first emergency team which included Mr. Ahern, a fisherman who was contracted that day to escort a group of reports to a vantage point near the ship and helicopters, a passenger-survivor and a member of the Celerina crew that day, in 1962. In total, six persons who were present that day a full half century ago participated in the meeting.

About Fred Caruso

Survivor of the crash of Flying Tiger 923. at night, at sea, 500 miles off the west coast of Ireland, with 28 deaths and 48 survivors, September 23, 1962.
This entry was posted in flight crew, MEMORIALS, passengers, rescue teams. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Ode to Big Bird (Flying Tiger 923)

  1. lyricspinner says:

    FLIGHT 923

    A miracle from heaven
    God spared my life
    The Atlantic waters were frigid that night
    Jesus made sure we missed that flight
    So many moons ago
    Three propeller engines gave out
    Mayday in the clouds

    My mother arrived too late for that departure
    Three kids in tow
    We were on the tarmac
    A stone’s throw from the plane
    Military police said we had to take the next flight out of McGuire

    That night the Super Constellation (flying tiger) went down
    September 23, 1962
    I had just turned eight
    Now I’m a testimony of God’s grace
    You see, the ocean was not to be my grave
    I thought I saw my father crying as we entered the room at Rhein-Main Air Force Base
    Out of seventy-six passengers
    Only forty-five were rescued in the rough North Atlantic waters

    That plane was supposed to carry eighty people
    Four of us arrived 10 minutes late

    Gerald Henrich
    Copyright © 2008Gerald Henrich
    All rights reserved, reprinting by permission only

    Gerald Henrich resides in Springfield, Va and is currently finishing an Associates of Art degree in music.
    Please feel free to look at some of his other works @ lyricspinner.com or contact him at lyricspinner@verizon.net. Thank you

  2. lyricspinner says:

    Ode to Big Bird (Flying Tiger 923) I love this tribute to that event. Well written.Garry

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