The effects of loss

“My father was killed in the Turkish Airlines crash in France. In 1974 I was 10 years old and my American family was living just outside of Paris where my father was working. I vividly remember rushing to the train station in Triel-sur-Seine early on Sunday morning, March 3, so that my father could make his flight to London. He said a quick goodbye and that was the last time I ever saw my father again.

My father was on his way to London on British Airways to catch a flight to Africa for business. Because of a British Airlines strike, he got a last minute flight on Turkish Airlines. On Monday, March 4, I stayed home from school because I was sick and I clearly remember reading the front page of the Herald Tribune giving details of the crash, not realizing at the time that my father was on board. By Monday afternoon, by father’s secretary called my mother several times asking if she had heard from my father, as he usually called when he arrived at his destination.

My mother spoke little French so it was very difficult for her to get any information. I remember her sitting by the phone and crying in frustration because my father had not called from Africa and she could not get any details from the airline because they didn’t have a complete passenger manifest. Given the headline in the paper, she was fearing the worst but couldn’t get confirmation.

A couple of days later it was evident that my father was missing and likely on the ill-fated DC-10. A week after the accident, we went to the crash site in the forest north of Charles-de-Gaulle airport. The trees were cleared out for 1000 yards where the plane had come down. There were still small part of the plane scattered everywhere. I remember looking up into the standing trees and seeing people’s clothes and parts of people belongings. My brother and I went through piles of people belongings that had been recovered from the site in hopes of finding something that belonged to my father. We later identified a bent and damaged ring that he was wearing. We also found his melted briefcase handle with his initials visible.

Most of the victims bodies/parts were placed in a mass grave in Paris. Fortunately my father’s body was identified by dental records and he was buried back in the United States.

In 2001, I was in Paris on business and I had a free afternoon. I took the train to Ermonville and then found a taxi driver who helped me find the crash site in the forest. I could still see the impact area of the plane because of the small trees in the area. Today there is a granite memorial with the names of the victims engraved. There are still small pieces of the plane throughout the crash site. Many of the visitors have taken pieces and placed them at the base of the monument, along with several human bones that were also found in the area.

It is a very beautiful and peaceful place but 30 years ago the events that took place there and the people that were lost had a lasting impact on hundreds of lives, including my family.”

–Michael Chard (son of Gary Chard)

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” I wasn’t in the world when that tragic accident happened. However I can guess the terrifying dimensions of this incident. I learned that my uncle’s closer classmate had lost her life in DC-10 disaster while she had been flying to London for studying English literature. And during the rescue workings, her squared, red trouser had been found and given to her depressed parents. And as a Turkish citizen, I want to give a short information. In the Ermenonville disaster, 47 Turkish passengers were killed. The name of the passenger that I have mentioned above was Gunselı Yoruker.”

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“Having been an aviation and airline Manager for many years I have followed these disasters quite rigorously. I have a copy of Moira Johnston’s The Last Nine Minutes and this details the entire episode of THY flt # 981. I lived the days when the latch over spools were a spill over to the L1011 and lights were common failures in confirmation. The inability of the manufacturer to sense the requirements for pivotal pressurization in larger aircraft and develop alternative venting systems beyond the 3.1 psi floor strength seemed to stagnate the industry, but then again who knew that the doubling of the size of aircraft hulls would result in cubed ratio of pressure and any cummulative effects ie door mechanisms, would provide that explosive charge that would disrupt cable mechanisms and severe the pilots control of the aircraft. The famous axiom is “would it work in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan” in other words, placards in english and 1″ diameter viewing ports in a blinding snow storm at sub zero temps do not invoke the confidence that passengers would require from a baggage handler or mechanic on the run. It is time to error proof these systems people and make them kaizen or error proof.”

– Brett

Information on this page courtesy of Bruno Druesne

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Bruno Druesne All Rights Reserved