Air tragedy victims remembered
A plaque has been unveiled in the Pilbara more than 50 years after one of the worst plane crashes in Australian history.
The memorial was unveiled at Port Hedland’s Dalgety House Museum to remember the 21 passengers and five crew who died when the ill-fated Vickers Viscount lost its right wing over Indee Station, about 50km south of the mining town.
Everyone on board the Mac-Robertson Miller Airlines flight 1750 lost their lives in the mishap on December 31, 1968.
Author of Disaster on Indee Station and Port Hedland Historical Society vice-president Julie Arif has been co-ordinating the society’s Viscount project.
“There is nowhere that the passengers are acknowledged, that they passed away, anywhere in WA, so that was the main reason for us wanting to do this,” Mrs Arif said.
“This was a devastating event for the townsfolk of the small town of Port Hedland, as it impacted everyone — people they knew on the plane, or people who were assisting in the recovery of the bodies and investigation.”
Every passenger’s name has been inscribed on the plaque.
An identical plaque has been given to Indee Station manager Colin Brierly to add to a memorial on the property in honour of the five crew.
Mr Brierly said he was pleased with the memorial and it was “something that needed to be done” to give closure for passenger’s families, some of whom were still visiting Indee Station.
Port Hedland man Gary Silcock’s workmate Johnny Colombres died in the crash.
Mr Silcock, who was at the ceremony, said he offered to swap flights so Mr Colombres could spend more time with his young children.
“I feel terrible about it because if I hadn’t of opened my big mouth he would still be here,” Mr Silcock said.
Investigations revealed the plane lost most of its wing due to damaged sustained during maintenance work years before.
After the crash all Viscount type 700 aircraft were grounded in Australia permanently.
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