The Angry Corrie 17: Feb-Mar 1994

Mountaineering Movies No. 3: Alive 2

Film critic Bairly Normal reveals plans for a sequel to the blockbuster movie, Alive. Set on the slopes of Britain's highest mountain, Alive 2 - Anyone for Dinner? recreates an incredible true story, probably. And why not?

For ten weeks, they were trapped on the side of a 4000ft mountain, living in a wrecked plane with temperatures at -30 degrees. The story of the sixteen survivors of the 1972 Nevis air crash is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Now it has been made into a harrowing film, Alive 2, out later this month. Today, TAC talks to some of the survivors, for whom life will never be the same. For they broke one of man's oldest taboos - they ate sheep droppings...

"Sooner or later, everyone wants to know how we could eat sheep droppings," sighs Jock Paddaro, 42. It's still a tough subject to talk about - but for us there were only two choices. Eating meant life, not to eat meant death."

For Jock and the other survivors, there was only one answer. And when the public discovered they had eaten the frozen excrement of dumb fluffy quadrupeds, all could understand the logic, none could imagine the horror.

Their nightmare began on Friday, 13th October 1972. The Old School Ties rugby team, family and friends, had set out from Edinburgh on a specially chartered flight for a tour of Tiree. Many were flying out of the city for the first time. One moment they were quaffing duty frees from the trolley, fondling hostesses' bottoms and barfing into sick bags barely large enough to stem the flow, the next they were screaming in terror.

Battling through the mist, the pilot and co-pilot were convinced they had cleared the Nevis range. But they'd miscalculated and, instead of emerging over the lush valleys of Fort William, the passengers watched in horror as the treacherous coke-can-covered lump rushed towards them.

Saw-toothed crags tore off the wings and tail and, out of control, the fuselage struck the mound of apple cores that marked the summit and careered down the mountain into a snow bank hundreds of feet below.

The 27 survivors plugged the holes in the plane's severed body with copies of the inflight magazine. As the days passed, they melted snow to survive and rationed food - a square of Kendal Mint Cake and a piece of laminated plastic from the safety instructions each day.

With no hope of rescue, and only the inflight meals remaining, the survivors had to make the toughest decision of their lives. Says Jock, "With temperatures at -30 and no more food, everyone was thinking the same thing, even if they didn't admit it. I told Stewart McPaulo, 'We have to eat the droppings.' He told me he'd had the same thought."

A meeting was called to discuss it. Later, three of the survivors trudged to a pile of fresh droppings in the snow. Taking a piece of glass, Jock cut slivers from it, then, fighting his nausea, he swallowed a piece and took the rest back to the others.

Says Jock, "It was hard to eat on the first day, but slowly I got used to it. It was cold, it tasted like any kind of crap. Better than dehydrated food though. And Country Club cuisine."

Eventually, however, the boys decided they would have to try and find help. From a Reader's Digest road atlas they found in the wreckage of the cockpit, they calculated that Fort William must be to the west and the three set out. After four days over snow, ice and a substantial path, one couldn't carry on and turned back.

On the tenth day, the remaining pair met a peasant dressed in a Viz tee-shirt and flip-flops, who conveyed the incredible news to the authorities. A helicopter rescue was arranged and, seventy-one days after they'd crashed, the boys were airlifted to safety.

Altogether riveting cinema from the first white-knuckle air crash scene, right through to the brown-knuckle, turd-eating frame. Alive 2 goes on general release in Odious Cinemas throughout the Sutherland area from February 29th 1995. Coming soon: Alive 3 - The School Dinners Saga.

Report by our movie critic - Colin Hogarth

TAC 17 Index