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24 September 2014
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Plane crash memorial

Memorial to those who died.

Memorial Flight

Back in April 1973 Somerset was in mourning after a day trip to Switzerland which turned to tragedy. 35 years on, Inside Out West follows one man making his own personal pilgrimage to the crash site.

Snow storm

The day had started full of excitement with members of the local ladies guild, neighbours and even a skittles team coming together for a day trip from Bristol Airport to Switzerland. 

But it ended with a plane crash in a blinding snow storm on a mountainside near Basle.

One-hundred-and-eight lives were lost - most of them mothers from the town of Axbridge and the villages of Cheddar, Yatton and Congresbury. 

Roger Keen was just 14-years-old when the tragedy took place.

He remembers watching the television, avidly listening out for the names of the 37 survivors.

It was later confirmed that his father, Roy Keen, who had taken a last minute place on the trip,  and his grandmother, Louisa Davis, were among the dead.

Roger and his plane

Ready to complete the journey to Switzerland

Finishing the journey

Now 49-years-old, Roger has over the past two years fulfilled a childhood ambition to learn to fly and wants to finish the journey they never completed.

He says, "At the time life seemed to go on more or less as normal but recently I seem to have been thinking about it a lot more."

"I think for me to fly to Switzerland to complete the flight my father never finished,  to fly to Basle and go up the mountain to see the memorial that’s there then hopefully it will draw a line under everything for me."

Roger Keen piloting his plane

Ready for take-off

At first his plans are scuppered by poor weather - a flurry of snow prevents him from taking off.

But after a few days of waiting for conditions to improve, Roger guides his small plane down the runway and up into the sky.

After nearly six hours in the air plus re-fuelling and customs stops in France, he safely touches down at the international airport in the Swiss city of Basle.

Roger says: "Coming in to land you could see the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

"Same runway, same direction - it all added to the sense of completion on landing."

Roger Keen at the plane crash memorial

Roger visits the memorial at the site of the crash

Memorial

The following day Roger makes an emotional trek up to the mountainside to see for himself the memorial which has been built at the woodland spot where the plane crashed.

Clearly moved by the whole experience, he says, "I had no idea what the memorial would be like and I wanted to see it and leave some flowers.

"I’ve now done that.  To me it’s a completion; it can never be final, just a laying to rest."

Also featured in the programme…

Skin bleaching creams

Josie d'Arby investigates dangerous skin bleaching creams being sold in Swindon, Bristol and Gloucester.

Bird survey

And Mike Dilger gets involved in Britain's biggest ever birdlife survey.

last updated: 10/04/2008 at 17:28
created: 10/04/2008

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