Families left in heartbreak and loss
On the 50th anniversary of Australia’s second-worst airliner crash, the daughter of Capt. Brian Bayly says her thoughts are with others hurt by the tragedy.
“My thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the crash,” Jane Rushton said.
There were many families devastated by the crash, such as the wife and eight children of 34-year old Gordon Collins, who told his wife just before he boarded that he didn’t want to go.
And there was Dorothy Weir, whose husband, Gordon, was a passenger, who told researcher Anthony James that she “had a strange sensation” about the flight.
“My legs suddenly buckled under me and I could not walk. I just sat there and watched the plane until it disappeared,” she told Mr James.
There were many families left without a breadwinner and there was no formal investigation to prosecute those Ansett-ANA staff responsible, so relatives could get compensation.
In 2005, the widow of first officer Michael Nelson, Jeanette Nelson, tried unsuccessfully to have a formal inquest by the coroner but it was rejected.
In a Sunday Times article at the time, Mrs Nelson lamented the tremendous hardship of those left behind.
“The personal hardship and tragedies would make you weep,” she said.
For Mrs Rushton and her two older brothers, Tony and Ian, the anniversary brings back memories of a father who was a “gentle giant” who would regale them with stories of flying around the North West.
“Dad loved flying and he loved the North West,” Mrs Rushton said.
Capt. Bayly’s widow, Joan, died in June last year aged 94.
“Mum was always positive despite everything and she said that she had a good life,” Mrs Rushton said.
When the tragedy occurred Mrs Rushton, then 14, and her mother were at home in Nedlands.
“As I recall, Capt. Jack Murray was actually rostered on for the flight and he came to the house to tell us,” she said.
“My brother Tony heard the news on the radio and Ian was overseas at the time.”
Capt. Bayly’s daughter Jane Rushton with his first and last log books.
The plane wreckage.