Nunatsiaq Online
LETTERS: Around the Arctic August 17, 2012 - 8:53 am

In remembrance of those who did not make it home: Flight 6560 survivor

"These people risk their lives on our behalf every day of the year to deliver us safely to our friends, families and colleagues"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

On Aug. 20, 2011 at 11:42 a.m. central time, a Boeing 737-200 operating as First Air Flight 6560 crashed into a hillside on final approach to Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

The impact broke the aircraft into three pieces, scattering a swath of debris over the rugged landscape. Twelve of the 15 souls on board perished in the first milliseconds of the crash. There was a post-impact fire.

Three passengers were thrown from the disintegrating aircraft while it was plowing along the rocky slope at close to 157 knots (291 km/h.)

Seriously injured and already in shock, we gathered on the hillside and limped away from the burning fuselage, stumbling upwind on broken bones to the relative safety of the tail section. It was there that firefighters from Operation Nanook 2011 found us and we began our long journey south to hospitals in Ottawa, thousands of kilometres away.

Not a day goes by that we do not recall this terrible event and the tragedy it inflicted upon so many lives. The memories are still full of raw emotion for everyone.

Yes, they are enough to make a grown man cry. We do not find it impossible to tell our stories, just difficult and deeply emotional. It is part of the healing process. It requires people to realize that it is only awkward for them to ask in the first place, not for us in the retelling. Our only decision to make is with whom we choose to share.

Every day members of our northern airline industry deliver passengers, freight and mail across what is still a frontier of aviation. People and goods arrive safely at their destinations due to the dedication and professionalism of the crews manning these aircraft and the people who keep them flying.

The words written on the Bush Pilots Monument in Yellowknife still apply to today’s air crews. This remote frontier has changed little since the early decades of the 20th century.

Next time you land at your destination, as you head for the air stairs, smile at your crew and tell them “Thanks for the ride.” It takes a few seconds and is the least we can do to show our appreciation.

These people risk their lives on our behalf every day of the year to deliver us safely to our friends, families and colleagues. They bring us the mail and freight that make our modern lifestyle possible in the North.

Today it is appropriate to remember the dedication and sacrifice of the ones who did not make it home.

Robin Wyllie – 6560 Survivor
Yellowknife



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